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Bills pass protection issues vs. the Bengals

Terrible timing for their worst effort

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

One of the biggest reasons the Buffalo Bills came out on the losing end of their matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals was poor pass protection. The Bills had major inconsistencies in that part of the game, which in turn led to several drives stalling out. With that in mind, let’s take a look into how Cincinnati’s defense totaled eight quarterback hits and one sack against Buffalo’s offensive line.

Dawkins unable to protect Allen’s blindside

The Bengals won the blindside battle here. Pre-snap, edge rusher Trey Hendrickson was lined up on the outside shoulder of left tackle Dion Dawkins. Once the play started, Hendrickson dipped his shoulder, and then fairly easily bent around Dawkins. Josh Allen was completely oblivious to Dawkins getting beat, since it’s his blind side. This allowed for the easy hit by Hendrickson.

Defensive pressure kept Allen off his game

Defensive pressure forced Allen to make tough throws all game long. Here, we see left guard Rodger Saffold beaten by edge rusher Joseph Ossai. At the snap, Ossai bested Saffold in the hand fight, then blew past him (to the point Saffold was clearly trailing). Ossai then had a clear path to Allen, and altered Allen’s throw downfield.

Ryan Bates is manhandled

Defensive tackle B.J. Hill engaged right guard Ryan Bates at the snap. Hill pushed Bates back, and then threw him aside, getting a clear shot at Allen. This meant Allen had to make Hill miss in the pocket, and then make a throw on the run. Buffalo’s offensive line had continued breakdowns in the passing game, and forced Allen into many scramble situations.

Allen with nowhere to go and multiple line breakdowns

Hendrickson simply dominated Dawkins on this play. Hendrickson bull rushed Dawkins back, pushing him until he was out of the play. Hendrickson then forced Allen to leave the pocket and scramble right. The problem for Allen, then, was that right tackle Spencer Brown was pushed back into Allen, as he tried to scramble. This put Allen into a situation where he had no room in the pocket, and had to go around the edge to keep the play alive.

Allen once again forced to make something out of nothing

The Bills’ inability to win one-on-one matchups on the line was a major issue. Here, Bills Pro Bowl center Mitch Morse went up against the Bengals’ best defensive tackle, D.J. Reader, in a one-on-one situation. Reader engaged Morse, then got under his shoulder pads and ripped through him. This again forced Allen to have to make something out of nothing, and he attempted to run the ball on the broken play.

In summary

One of my biggest takeaways from this game is that it now appears Allen didn’t play as poorly as his stats would suggest. Allen was 25-of-42 while accounting for no passing touchdowns and one pick with a 68 quarterback rating. The inability of Buffalo’s offensive line to block too often forced Allen into making tough throws, abandoning his reads early. How much of a factor do you think the pass-blocking breakdowns were on Allen’s performance?