Hey Rumblers! Did you catch the game? You did? I’m so sorry to hear that. But I think I have good news for everyone. As has been noted several times since the loss to the Tennessee Titans, most of their offensive production came as a result of very short fields courtesy of the Bills and catastrophic mistakes. How is this good news? It was a close game until late in the third quarter. Unless an entire quarter of a season was a mirage, the Bills shouldn’t be expected to keep up the pace on these errors.
And I’ll prove it by forcing you to watch the worst parts of the game again.
Allen’s first interception
The game has just started, it’s 3rd-and-4 and Josh Allen is looking to continue the success he’s had all season. He makes a decision on where to throw the ball and it’s an excellent decision. He knows that Andre Roberts is going to break inside and has a step or two on the defender well past the first-down marker.
The broadcast angle showed us all the throw pretty darn well but here’s a look from the back end. Roberts is having to adjust hard to the throw and it’s still a bit behind. This is definitely not Allen’s best work. It’s definitely catchable though. It’s fair to say Allen made this harder than it needed to be and killed any chance of YAC but most of the time this is first down Buffalo. A perfect bounce (from Tennessee’s perspective) certainly didn’t help either.
There were several times that the Bills didn’t seem to be on the same page. This is one of the more glaring examples but little things seemed off all day. Allen wasn’t as crisp on some throws, some routes were a little shaky. This is not intended to start a debate on who had “more” prep time but rather to focus on the Bills. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the schedule changes and uncertainty for this game were factors in their game prep.
Bad punt coverage
My GIF software isn’t official by any means, but using a frame count on this punt Corey Bojorquez was well over the 4.0-second mark for hang time and possibly closer to five. At 57 yards it does look like he kicked a bit past the coverage still but the bigger factor is the number of Bills at the top of the screen collapsing toward the middle. This leaves the edge open and a 57-yard punt returns a mere 17 yards when the dust settles.
Making things worse you are looking at a TIED game. The 30-yard TD drive from the Titans helped set a bad tone.
Tannehill rushing touchdown
Neither put up a ton of sack numbers because they’re often asked to contain the edges and allow interior pressure to disrupt the play. It’s not that neither ever attack but it’s a staple of the defense to have the defensive ends make sure the QB stays put from the sides. Especially when they’re only rushing four. In the case of this play and a couple others, the Bills go into attack mode. In this case Hughes ends up inside and no one on the back end is shadowing Tannehill. While he’s not especially known for running Bills fans likely recall that Tannehill was a wide receiver before trying his hand at quarterback.
This is why the All-22 angles are so popular. Every angle has its limitations so comparing several helps complete the picture. The broadcast angle made this look like an abomination of a decision. Don’t get me wrong, this angle doesn’t make me LOVE the throw by Allen. That said, there’s absolutely a window where this throw is completed. It’d almost certainly be paired with comments such as “That’s why arm strength matters” or “That throw isn’t available to every QB” but make no mistake we’ve seen Allen make harder throws than what this could have been.
To me it’s a shaky decision and an awful throw. Going frame by frame you can see Gabriel Davis slow down when he sees the trajectory. That’s further evidence that if the ball goes into the small highlighted window that we might have had a different outcome. Again, Allen isn’t blameless but this throw isn’t evidence that he’s sliding back to his rookie decision-making.
Fumbled kickoff return
And yes, you do have to give credit to the Titans. They were gifted short fields routinely but made the most out of them. They made a lot of good plays and this is one of them.
Blowouts generally occur to bad teams, unprepared teams, or through a comedy of errors that isn’t likely to repeat. Through the first four games the Bills were flawed but it’s hard to think they were a bad team and everything was a mirage. Against the Titans the Bills arguably were not prepared and there’s a good many data points of evidence. And these weren’t even all the errors. Don’t forget the bad penalties you can see in my weekly recap.
Despite that, the game was manageable until very late in the third quarter. Don’t give up hope on the 2020 Buffalo Bills just yet. Let’s see what their rebound looks like in the next couple of weeks after they shake off the wackiness of the Titans saga.