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Bills vs. Commanders Analysis: Neutralizing Washington’s D-line

The Bills’ O-line played a stellar game in Week 3

NFL: SEP 24 Bills at Commanders Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills notched another victory in Week 3, defeating the Washington Commanders by a score of 37-3.

A big story line going into last weekend’s game was how the Bills would handle Washington’s supremely talented defensive line group. Clearly, things went well for Buffalo overall on Sunday, but let's zoom in on how the offensive line was able to suppress Washington’s front four in both the run and pass game.

Video Analysis

Play 1

The Bills are were empty formation on this play but used a running back or tight end on both edges to apply a solid chip block on the defensive ends. As you can see, these chip blocks took the DEs out of the pass rush completely. Allen ended up finding a nice seam and scrambling for a first down.

Play 2

The Commanders had their backup defensive line in for this play. The Bills kept it simple, confident that their line could block the backups. There was no chip on the DE, and Buffalo slid protection to its right to provide Josh Allen with a clean pocket.

Play 3

This run play is the first of a few in this article where I’ll show Buffalo’s O-line using easy angles to block down on defenders. These angles make it easier for the O-line to create a seam for the RB because they have more leverage.

Watch the TE on the play side as he fake-blocked the DE to get him to pause and take his eyes off the pulling kick-out block coming his way. This clever technique bought the puller (Guard O’Cyrus Torrence) extra time to make the kick-out block.

Play 4

The Bills used misdirection for this play to get the Commanders’ defensive line off of their spot and take edge rusher Chase Young out of the play. Notice how Young followed the jet sweep motion and took himself completely out of the pass rush conversation. Allen then had a perfectly clean pocket to throw from.

Play 5

This play is the same play as “Play 3” above, just to the other side. This wasn’t a huge gain, but it went for positive yardage. The Commanders' D-line is good and they won some battles for sure, but the Bills gave them a lot of information to process.

Play 6

The Bills were backed up against their own goal line so they brought in an extra lineman (Guard David Edwards) to help pass protect. The Bills kept eight people in to block, which meant only two wide receivers were running routes. They double-teamed the defensive tackles and left Dion Dawkins one-on-one with Chase Young. Dawkins was beat inside but he did a great job of sticking with the play and riding Young down the line of scrimmage and past Allen. This allowed Allen to step outside of the pocket and deliver a big strike for some breathing room.

Play 7

Once again the Bills used some strategic blocking angles to make the job easier for the O-line on this play. They also had the TE “fake block” the DE again, which allowed the puller (Center Mitch Morse) to deliver a solid kick-out block. In the backfield, the running backs ran a counter look (starting in one direction then bending it back the opposite way). This helped move the second level and created a big seam for Cook to run through.

Play 8

Play-action pass with a zone-block look upfront fooled the Commanders’ D-line. Two defenders bit on the run fake, which bought Allen some valuable time to throw the football.

In summary

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey prepared a solid game plan to neutralize the Commanders’ stout D-line. He used an array of motions, play actions, chip blocks, angle blocks, and misdirection to keep them on their toes. Washington’s defensive front won some battles because they’re a talented group, but overall Dorsey threw a lot of different looks on the field to keep them on their toes. Kudos to Dorsey for the game plan and job well done by the players for executing it.

Another big test awaits in Week 4 for Dorsey & Co. as they prepare for what should be a track meet to score the most points versus the Miami Dolphins.