On paper, and on the field, this was an easy call. The Buffalo Bills were the better team. I’d take any player on the Bills when compared to that position on the Raiders, including Diggs over Adams – the edge going to Diggs because of the arm throwing the ball to him. Most of the so-called experts picked the Bills (Chris Simms, where are you now?) to win and cover the spread. They did that and then some. Here are four observations from a big home opening win for the Bills.
Takeaways From The Bills Week 2 Win
1 – Josh Allen is Fine
Did we really expect another dud from Mr. Madden cover? Josh Allen is fine, and we really shouldn’t be surprised. He looked downfield still but was content to hit his outlet read – 15 of his 31 completions went to running backs, tight ends, and fullbacks. That’s nearly half. Digg and Davis combined for 13 catches and 158 yards, so the big dogs got to eat too.
The fourth and goal early in the second quarter when Allen threw over the middle incomplete, he had Harty coming open in the flat to his right and didn’t see him. That may have been his only real mistake. He got rid of the ball (two sacks this week compared to five in Week 1) and made safe, drive-extending decisions. He rarely tried to force the ball or run with reckless abandon. Then, later in the second quarter, Josh Allen made his best throw of the year when it looked like he was about to be sacked, going three-quarter side arm and slinging a bullet to Shakir, who made a great catch and then used his momentum and forward motion to slink into the endzone.
2 – The Bills Defense showed up
This is what should really worry the rest of the league. At first, there was concern, as the Raiders took the opening kickoff and promptly scored a touchdown. After that, the Bills outscored Las Vegas 38-3. The defense looked more confident, fresher, and faster. The defensive linemen and edge rushers were getting to Jimmy Garoppolo and if they didn’t sack him, they disrupted the play. The Raiders gained a meager 55 yards on the ground as a team. James Cook more than doubled that total on his own.
There were several moments when it seemed like the Raiders were going to regain the momentum and make a game of it. The defense never failed to squash the hopes of the silver and black each time. Even when the game was well in hand, the defense didn’t let up, or give up any garbage time points. The disappointment of last week fueled the pride of this week’s efforts, and it showed.
3 – The offense showed up, too
After only scoring 16 points last week, the offense did have something to prove. I was worried when the Bills appeared to be headed toward a three-running back conundrum. While the running back room is crowded, everyone got a chance in the spotlight on this Sunday afternoon. Murray scored early, Harris scored late, and James Cook looked like the feature back, gaining over 100 yards on the ground and adding a four for 36 reception stat line to boot.
Nine different receivers caught balls from Josh Allen. Allen himself only had to run the ball three times, even though he still ended up attempting to leap over a defender near the goal line in the first half. Allen had a mere six incompletions, and at least two of those incompletions were from balls thrown away under pressure. There was a calm efficiency with the Bills offense all afternoon.
4 – The Bills are closer but not quite there yet
It was a great game, a cure for what ailed the Bills all week, as they deftly washed that bad taste of the overtime loss in Week 1 out of their mouths. Frankly, they looked like a different team. The good teams learn from their mistakes, and the great ones don’t repeat them. The Bills seemed to have checked off step one; it remains to be seen if they can keep advancing.
There may well be a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. When one finds that line, it’s not wise to dance on it. Buffalo seemed to laugh at fourth downs, as if they had no other choice but to go for it when it was fourth and one. Sure, the Bills went three-for-four on fourth-down attempts. While we can live with that stat, I’m not sure it’s a stat that is sustainable all season. Given that Tyler Bass is a very accurate kicker, taking the three points is not a sign of failure, weakness, or complacency. Sometimes it just makes sense. Field goals may not win championships, but scoring more points than the other team always does.
The Bills, as of the Sunday night game, have scored more points than anyone in the league this week. Josh Allen was productive, protective of the ball, and proficient in the red zone. He wasn’t explosive, nor did he have to be. He also didn’t blow up, which ostensively is what happened last week. The Bills were definitely firing on more cylinders this week, but still not on all cylinders. Not yet. But that engine is warming up and if this week is any indication, Buffalo will be just fine.
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