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2019 Buffalo Bills: Time for a Gut Check

The Buffalo Bills had an underwhelming win in Week 7 and a bad loss in Week 8. It's time they decide who they are as a football team.
2019 Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills had an underwhelming win in Week 7. They had an unfortunately timed and ugly loss in Week 8. They gave up big plays defensively and were predictable and stagnant offensively. Not a good combination for winning an NFL football game. In what has been a relatively easy schedule, the Bills have had few chances to prove their legitimacy this season. This game vs the Philadelphia Eagles was one of those few chances. Now with a record of 5-2, the 2019 Buffalo Bills need to refocus on defense and find an identity on offense.

It’s Officially Gut Check Time for the 2019 Buffalo Bills

So far this season, the Bills have been able to hang their hat on their defense. They showed up when needed vs the Miami Dolphins, but they spent a majority of that game giving up yards to one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Against the Eagles, it was more of the same. Giving up big plays and not getting stops on third down are not hallmarks of a staunch defense. For the Bills offense, they’ve been up and down all year and haven’t shown their commitment to a philosophical design. Going forward from here, the Bills need to establish who and what they are on offense. And in the same vein, show the NFL who and what they are as a team.

Defensive Lapses

Let’s not totally discount the Eagles as a football team. They’ve been hampered with key injuries week after week and though they’ve underperformed so far this season, they’re a quality football team. The problem with the Bills losing to the Eagles isn’t that they lost. It’s how they lost.

The Bills defense has been great all year. They made Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense look human. They’re the reason the Bills are where they are this season. Against the Eagles, though, the defense was a liability. They were gouged in the running game. They blew coverages against the pass. And they allowed Philly to go 8/15 on third down en route to almost 36 minutes of possession.

Their play against the run was the most troublesome of all. Take Miles Sanders and his blistering touchdown run. Safety Micah Hyde takes himself out of the play with a poor run fill. Safety Jordan Poyer takes a horrible angle to Sanders and promptly gets passed by. Hyde and Poyer have been two of the best Bills defenders and are arguably the best safety tandem in the NFL. They got worked this game. As did most of the Bills defense.

The world isn’t totally on fire here. But the poor defensive play against the Dolphins last week and against Philly this week is disconcerting at the least. Trying to prove to the world you deserve respect is hard to do if you give up points to a terrible offense, and can’t raise your game against a good one the next week. If their struggles as a unit continue, the doubts will only increase. And the struggle of the team as a whole will increase as well.

Offensive Identity

Josh Allen is a project quarterback that has made progress in his second year in the NFL. He is not a polished quarterback slinging it all over the field at will. He might be someday. Just not right now. As such the Buffalo Bills offense cannot afford to be predictable and routine in their operation.

Step one, more ingenuity in the play calling. Jet sweeps and plays that take advantage of Buffalo’s speed and keep the defense off balance have worked well. The Bills have gotten away from that the past several weeks. More involvement for a recently returned Devin Singletary would help as well. He adds an explosive element to the offense.

Step two, more consistency in their play calling. One week, the Bills are working the short and intermediate areas. The next week, it’s deep bombs and five-step drops for Allen. The next, lots of pre-snap motion and misdirection and a commitment to the running game. Variability and adaptability are important for an offense. You have to be able to vary your attack week in and week out based on your opponent. But it’s important to have an identity that everything stems from.

Who are you inherently? What’s the underlying philosophy that governs the play calling and decision making? Those questions are unanswered right now for the 2019 Buffalo Bills. Having a young developing quarterback requires you to provide him with stability and support him accordingly. There needs to be more of that in the Buffalo attack. Decide who you are. Commit to it. Establish an identity on offense.

What It All Comes Down to for the 2019 Buffalo Bills

Every team faces adversity at one point or another. What matters is how you face that adversity. The Buffalo Bills need to decide who they are as a football team. Right now. Are they a legitimate defense? Or a product of a weak schedule? What is their identity on offense and who are they going to be going forward? Several weeks ago, these questions didn’t really exist for this team. Now they’ll have to answer them as the season progresses to get to the playoffs.

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