What was the good from Sunday’s loss? There is some, of course. We’re five weeks in, and this is the ugliest performance I’ve had to reflect on... so buckle up.
DE A.J. Epenesa
A lot of people gave up on Epenesa, as he has yet to amount to the player that the Bills thought when he was drafted. A second-round pick in 2020, Epenesa has nine total sacks from 2020-2022.
On Sunday, Epenesa had a career game against the Jaguars — two sacks of Trevor Lawrence, multiple batted down balls, and a strip sack in the red zone when the Jaguars were threatening to score. This is a welcome development for Buffalo’s defense, which now needs its depth to step up after various injuries over the course of the last two weeks.
WRs Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis
I put them together for this one because what a start it’s been for the Bills’ top two receivers. Stefon Diggs finished with eight catches for 121 yards and one touchdown. Gabe Davis hauled in six catches for 100 yards and one touchdown.
This duo has been off to a hot start, combining for nine touchdowns through five games.
Bills Mafia was heard throughout the game in London, traveling from all over the place to cheer on their favorite team. Bravo, to the best fan base in the NFL!
Statistically, the Bills didn’t have the best game on defense. The Jaguars were 10-of-18 on third down, moved the chains 29 times throughout the game, and racked up 474 yards on offense.
However, the defense still found ways to keep Buffalo in the game, giving the offense multiple chances to score. At one point, the Jaguars had five drives that went like this: Punt, punt, fumble, punt, fumble. Despite all that plus two turnovers forced by the defense, the Bills’ offense only scored seven points during that stretch.
All things considered, Buffalo’s defense rallied all day in London to keep the game within reach.
It’s only Week 5
The Bills are 3-2, with a three-game stretch coming up against the New York Giants, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They should be able to get some momentum and go 3-0, before an opportunity to exact a bit of revenge against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Buffalo’s run game was top 10 in the league coming into Week 5, but it outright disappeared on Sunday. James Cook had five carries for -4 yards. Damien Harris had three carries for 13 yards. Latavius Murray had two carries for six yards.
The Bills ran the ball only 10 times with their three-headed rushing attack, compared to 40 pass attempts. The lack of balance caused a deficiency in Buffalo’s offensive rhythm, putting them in less-than-ideal situations on second and third down.
The referees were a huge factor on Sunday, and fans have been quick to question some of their calls. One call that was questionable was on safety Jordan Poyer for roughing. Safety Micah Hyde tipped the ball in the air, and Poyer went to make a play on the receiver, led with his shoulder, and was flagged. I don’t know what Poyer could have done to avoid that penalty.
With that said, there were still too many penalties on Sunday. They were penalized 11 times for 109 yards. That’s a recipe for failure in and of itself.
Injuries happen in the NFL, everyone knows it, but no one expects it to the degree that we’ve seen thus far in 2023. Going into this matchup, the Bills were already without cornerback Christian Benford, defensive end Greg Rousseau, and cornerback Tre’Davious White. In the first quarter, they lost star linebacker Matt Milano (fractured leg, unspecified knee injury), and DaQuan Jones (torn pectoralis muscle).
Head coach Sean McDermott didn’t rule either player out for the season, but both injuries require surgery. If either player returns, it won’t be until later in the year.
Losing three players on your defense that are as important as Milano, Jones, and White will be tough to overcome.
Losing in October/November
Under McDermott, the Bills have been a great regular-season team, but have struggled in October and November. The Bills now move to 16-9 in the last three seasons under McDermott during those two months.
For people who care about attaining the one seed, this stretch of two months has hurt them in the past, and it’s already begun in 2023.
The Bills are a good football team. Everybody knows that. They are now 6-11 in one-score games over the last three seasons.
CB Kaiir Elam
The kid that everybody wanted to see, Kaiir Elam, got his opportunity on Sunday. Well, it didn’t go too well. Elam allowed six catches for 93 yards and a 113.0 rating when targeted. He was benched for practice squad call-up Ja’Marcus Ingram in the fourth quarter.
A day to forget for Elam, who the Bills needed with the loss of White and the injury to Benford.
Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and his ability to use 12-personnel was something that Buffalo’s offense expected to feature more of this season. While the formation has seen more use, the results are mixed at best.
Against the Jaguars, Dawson Knox and Dalton Kincaid combined for five receptions and 36 yards. For a team that uses 12-personnel as much as the Bills do, Dorsey and the offense need to find more ways to utilize their tight ends.