The Buffalo Bills went into Washington D.C. and took care of business against the Washington Commanders 37-3. Buffalo’s defense was flying around, getting to quarterback Sam Howell consistently and caused five turnovers.
Let’s take a look at the good from Sunday, which once again, there was a lot of it to enjoy.
LB Terrel Bernard
One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2023 NFL season for the Bills was middle linebacker. Well, Terrel Bernard has arrived, and he did so in historic fashion. Bernard finished the game with seven total tackles, two sacks, one interception, and a fumble recovery. He is the third player to have those numbers in one game in NFL history. The last player to do that in a game was linebacker Brian Urlacher in 2007. That’s some elite company for Bernard.
Bernard’s processing was on full display against the Commanders, filling run gaps and showing good instincts in coverage and on his fumble recovery. He looks to be a splash play kind of player — and look for that to continue as the season moves forward. A big test for Bernard comes this week against the best offense in football, the Miami Dolphins.
WR Stefon Diggs
As Josh Allen worked through his progressions on Sunday, he found his favorite target over and over again. Stefon Diggs continues to be the dominant play maker and weapon he’s been for the Bills since arriving in 2020. Diggs finished Week 3 with eight receptions for 111 yards.
The play of the day for the offense came on the first drive, where Allen faced some pressure, rolled out to his right, and found Diggs 40+ yards down the field right in his bread basket.
Bills’ offensive line
The biggest story line coming into the game was the Commanders’ front four against the Bills’ offensive line. Last week, Washington was able to pressure quarterback Russel Wilson and the Denver Broncos 37 times. Turning the page back to this week, the Buffalo’s front five didn’t allow a sack. Allen was hurried nine times, but took zero hits. He was pressured on 25% of his dropbacks, per Next Gen Stats.
Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has done a great job scheming the offensive line into favorable matchups, and the O-line has also done its job and responded to some big tests early on.
Bills’ defensive line
Sure, the offensive line great on Sunday — but the defensive line was even better. Buffalo’s trenches have dominated through three games. The Bills’ d-line finished with seven sacks. Edge rusher Leonard Floyd had two; defensive tackles Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones each had 1.5; edge rusher Greg Rousseau had one; and defensive end A.J. Epenesa had one.
This is all without Von Miller, who is currently on the PUP, and is eligible to start practicing in Week 5. Head coach Sean McDermott’s defense is playing inspired.
Big play Gabe
Gabe Davis had one catch on Sunday, but it was for a touchdown to put the Bills up 10-0 in the first half. Davis continues to be the downfield target the offense needs.
RB James Cook
James Cook was efficient on the ground yet again on Sunday, rushing 15 times for 98 yards. But consider his average yards per carry: 6.53 ypc in Week 3 against the Commanders.
Cook is currently third in rushing yards across the entire NFL heading into Week 4, with 267 yards
4th & 1 call
The Bills were up 16-0 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and faced a 4th & 1 on the Commanders’ 40-yard line. Instead of pushing the ball forward with their tall, athletic freak of a quarterback, they chose to throw the ball and it got batted down.
I would’ve liked to see a QB sneak there, or a run up the middle with one of the two new power running backs in Damien Harries and Latavius Murray.
Tight end Dawson Knox had a ball right in his hands for a touchdown on a rope from Allen, but wasn’t able to haul it in. Wide receiver Gabe Davis ran a nice hitch route for a first down to move the chains, but dropped the ball. The Bills then went on to stall on that drive.
This may be nitpicking, but you want both those guys to come down with those receptions, especially because one was to move the chains and the other was for a touchdown.
Red zone offense
Finishing drives is important for the Bills’ offense, but especially when you’re going up against top offenses in the NFL.
Against the Commanders, the Bills had a 50% touchdown rate in the red zone. That needs to be better moving forward.
The Buffalo Bills play the Miami Dolphins in Week 4. Buckle up.