One of the things that I have learned from being a Civil War buff is that people love to over think and make odd arguments. The classical example is who was the best Civil War general and it always goes back to Grant and Lee. Now to avoid the mental trap of the Lost Cause movement which basically idealized the idea of Lee to a point of absurdity and that he was this gentleman general who couldn't defeat Grant only based upon sheer numbers of the the North. The simple truth is much more complex but who had more key wins as the attacker? That is of course the hardest part of any military movement is being the aggressor. Defending is much easier because you can fix fortifications and really force the aggressor into certain kill zones. When Lee was the aggressor which was pretty much Gettysburg and that's it he struggled. He lost control of his followers, missed key moments and failed to capture key terrain. It ended with the destruction of General Pickett's forces in an all time military blunder with Pickett's charge.
General Grant who to this day is still being tarnished for his General Order Number 11 which he should by the way because it was filled with anti-semitism but doesn't take away from his military mind. People bring up him being a drunk which is up for debate if he was ever drunk while in command and of course his corruption while being President. What shouldn't be debated is that Grant took the west and split the Confederacy in half with his win at Vicksburg. He went to the East and was able to finally crush General Lee even with the Battle of the Wilderness and the Battle of Cold Harbor. People want to say Lincoln saved the Union, but without Grant there would be no Union. It is easy to see that Grant is the far superior general to Lee.
Why am I saying this, because looking at the Bills don't over think it. This is where you will hear arguments like the Rams are in a Superbowl hang over, the Titans have injuries and Derrick Henry is losing a step. The Bills can only play the teams ahead of them and they have completely dominated their opponents while still making some mistakes. We all have over thought something and we call this marriage. Marriage is another example of overthinking but a simple question of "Does the other person make you happy?" when answered brings simplicity. For the Bills "Are they winning and winning in good fashion?" Yes, they truly are playing at a level we haven't seen in years. Don't over think it.
Buffalo Bills Thoughts:
1.) Don't confuse the running game as only hand offs in the modern NFL. The running game to me is better to phrase it as the short territory plays. Take the five yards from the line of scrimmage with all the plays and you have the STP of short territory plays. That is the new running game in the NFL. It is a holistic approach to viewing the game based upon the rules. It doesn't need to be a straight hand off but it accomplishes the same thing. It changes defensive looks and brings safeties into the box, brings CBs into press, creeps the feet of the LBs so they can't drop into passing lanes as fast. The Bills may not run the traditional sense as much as other teams but they're really good at the STP.
2.) Can we put some love for Tremaine Edmunds and how he has grown as a player. When he first came into the league he was a puppy. Has anyone tried to train a dog with strong natural instincts? It is difficult and I think the Bills really had to retrain him to fill the role they want him to do. Edmunds also in my mind is being asked to do less this year. Obviously he is still being asked to do a lot but with more bulk at DT and maybe less checks during a play he is using his ability and showing why he is a first round draft pick.
3.) The full back position is important! But the old role of the full back is obsolete so it is now a hybrid of not as much of a sledge hammer but still a hammer but has to be able to run the ball, run crisp routes and force the defense to cover them if they go out on a route. Reggie Gilliam does both and fits the modern role of the full back. He forces defense to defend him which puts more stress on defensive game planners. If a team doesn't have a full back like this they are limiting themselves.
4.) Diggs is a different player at WR. The rumors of him being a diva were false. I would argue it was a lack of respect in Minnesota for his skills if anything happened. He is a full number one WR and it seemed that he was forgotten by the NFL and the Vikings. He comes to Buffalo and was appreciated fully for what he is and what he can do. Also, a mark of a true WR is doing it all. Diggs can do the WR screen, the quick outs/ins, going deep, and something I noticed this year is he is starting contact more than last year,
5.) Injuries are mounting up for the Bills just like every other team. A mark of a good team is having injuries and overcoming them. No Gabe Davis and the Bills didn't skip a beat. Now, the Bills need Davis to really fully function however it wasn't a death sentence like it is for other teams.
6.) The rookie CBs will make mistakes but they haven't looked horrible and frankly I'll say they have looked good. One of the things I noticed is on the sidelines and the Bills offense made a play and Elam is jacked for the whole team. It was a split second look from the camera but he is fully bought into the team and that shows his maturity for not starting. Also, Elam had a good play against the Titans and I'm happy for him considering he is not starting but has a good play. Benford is showing his football smarts and really showing up in the running game understanding leverages. Here's the thought, Tre White is still not playing and the Bills secondary will only get better.
7.) McD is not old school, he is modern. I remember that was the fear from hiring him back in 2017. He is shown he is cutting edge in terms of all modern football ideas. Was anyone else shocked when they punted the ball? I legit thought we're going for it because he is that aggressive. He has been pinnacle with the greatest development of a QB in history. Think about that for a minute, has ANY QB ever ascended to this point from where they were to now?
8.) The growth of Josh Allen is so out of no where that only Mel Kiper Jr called it and I think deep down he would admit that he wouldn't of seen this happening. But JA17 didn't do this in a vacuum and was supported. The process was building accountability and they fixed the defensive side of the ball first. Then they starting working on the offense. They added Mitch Morse as center who has an incredible football IQ. Added Diggs, Davis, Knox, Singletary, Gillium etc. They brought in Brian Daboll from Alabama and Ken Dorsey as QB coach. Daboll leaves and they bring in a good offensive minded coach to replace Dorsey as he was promoted with Joe Brady. Joe Brady was the passing game coordinator in LSU when Joe Burrow was setting the college world on fire and winning the National Championship. Coach McD has shown how to build a modern franchise along with Brandon Beane.
9.) How come I'm not shocked that Bobby Hart threw a punch and missed and hit someone else? Why? Because he misses his first punch in his pass sets all the time. The joke is there and I'm taking it!
10.) The Von Miller impact is being shown. He has to be called out every single play. Wherever he lines up that is where the offense is going to slide their protection. This forces one on ones across the rest of the line. Now, add in DTs understanding leverages and how OL will pass off lineman and how their pass rushes can affect another leads to pressures. Groot who is a work in progress is the biggest winner in all of this biggest he is getting one on ones. Groot doesn't have the bendy hips that other edge rushers have but he is lanky, fast and can change speed to power very well.
Random NFL Thoughts:
1.) Good on the Dolphins for coming back and winning against the Ravens. Tua had his best game as a pro and this is the biggest game they have had in Miami in YEARS! This is for the Dolphins a measuring stick against the Bills. It doesn't even have to be a win for the Phins for it to be deemed a success. The Bills have won the last seven games and not one was close. Bills out scored the Dolphins 258 vs 123. That is brutal and the last win was JA17 as a rookie where Charles Clay had brick hands. For the Bills the issue is the speed Miami brings at the WR position and the weather of South Florida in September. Also, anyone else waiting for the Bills going full blown Jags game? Two huge wins against the Super Bowl champs and former number one seat in the AFC. Do they have an off game?
2.) Narratives form and they're hard to break and we are seeing two narratives being broken at this time. The first is Coach Belicheck and the Patriots way is simply not true. For the Patriots way to be true he needed to continue to be an elite program. The Patriots are not, they look stuck in the past. Oh wow, you beat the Steelers who look stuck in the mud and really loyal to a fault. I watched the Patriots play the Steelers and it was awkward, it looked out of pace, it looked like a 40 year old who just got a divorce and they're going to the club wearing the best shirt they have from Kohl's. The other narrative is that Dak Prescott is only a good QB. Prescott came in and his OC was Scott Linehan which is important because he spoke the same language as the Miss St head coach Dan Mullen (Kudos to Brett Kollman for his spread offense YouTube video) so is it any surprise he came in and was successful. Simply put, Dak came in very close to his ceiling. But the mark of a Great/Elite QB is bringing up his team. Dak can't do that and once his surrounding talent has left or old it is obvious what he can and can't do on the field.
3.) BillsMafia coined the phrase "You can't spell Hackett without Hack" and if you have followed NFL Musings and Observations Hackett has replaced Bill O'Brien in terms of my head coaching disgust. Hackett is out of his league and struggling. That is obvious but lets talk about Wilson. He wants to be the "Man" so here's the truth, if you want to be the "man" you have to make some more plays. So this narrative of Wilson was being handcuffed by the Seahawks. Is it false? I'm not sure, but I can talk about it. What is Wilson's go to play? Scrambling in the back field and a deep bomb.
4.) Browns fans lets have a chat. You can think what you want to think but lets be honest, keep it to yourself. I see pictures of them defending Watson and whether you agree or disagree with what happened but stop posting cringe worthy pics on social media. Browns fans, I want to love you because I understand your pain but you're making it difficult.
5.) I don't believe the Giants make the playoffs but they're achieving something they haven't in what seems years. Competence! They look to be prepared in situational football, they look to be fully understanding of what they're being asked in terms of each play. They're playing hard and look fully functional. This to me is a step in the right direction.
6.) Good on the Cardinals coming back but I just don't buy them as contenders.
7.) Lions are not making the playoffs but they will be a tough out and I'm happy for it.