I assume you know by now that the Buffalo Bills lost a game to the Cincinnati Bengals. One of the more compelling story lines for Buffalo entering the game was the newly signed reinforcements in the form of running back Leonard Fournette (didn’t play), cornerback Rasul Douglas (did play), and defensive tackle Linval Joseph (whose name is in the headline). This was especially critical on the defensive side thanks to the injury-depleted roster in that phase of the game. The defense allowed an average amount of points, which isn’t all that bad considering an extremely lopsided time of possession in favor of Cincy.
Let’s highlight a few plays from Joseph to see if he brought any exciting new wrinkles in his debut with the Buffalo Bills.
I think I’ve admitted this before, but anyone asking me about game specifics after I’ve only watched the live broadcast is likely going to be disappointed in my overall lack of information. I rely heavily on emotional distance from the game in the form of time and, more importantly, the re-watch to glean most of my deeper thoughts. What am I getting at?
I think we all recalled a specific impact play from Joseph, which is definitely in the video. Aside from that, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you how his game went. From the re-watch though, I quickly saw how much I missed.
Our first play in the video immediately caught my eye. On the first drive of the game Linval Joseph came in as the Bengals approached the goal line. That’s not unexpected, and overall he played well. It was the second drive that stood out. Joseph was lined up as a 0-tech, which means directly over the center. The Bills don’t use much 0-tech, as it’s traditionally done by nose tackles in a 3-4 defense.
So what was up? Well. The Buffalo’s defense was showing a 3-4 look to the Bengals — and it was successful, with Joseph as the nose. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver and defensive end A.J. Epenesa rounded up the linemen. Linebacker Terrel Bernard was the middle linebacker with linebacker Tyrel Dodson and edge rusher Von Miller as the outside linebackers. Joseph and Epenesa created a lane for Bernard, who was picked up by the running back — but not for long, as Bernard and Epenesa entered the backfield and created enough pressure (and QB hit) to force an incompletion.
On the second highlighted play, Joseph was lined up as a 1-tech, which is the more common alignment for Buffalo. He ate a double team at the goal line and created a clean lane for Tyrel Dodson to crash through on the chance it was a running play. It was enough for Cincy to throw a pass. Out of shotgun. At the goal line. See? It’s not just Buffalo.
Our final play shows Joseph “bodying” Joe Burrow on a QB keeper on 2nd & 1. Joseph stuffed Burrow, which was completely legal as Joe Cool was officially a runner and not protected by the roughing rules. It’s too many words for this paragraph, but Joseph used the center’s likely path to take him out of the play with a nifty sidestep that led him right to Burrow.