In preparation for the Bills and Texans each trying to get back to .500 on Sunday, we here at Battle Red Blog did a “five questions” exchange with Buffalo Rumblings. Thanks to noted members of #BillsMafia Corey and Sean for reaching out. Here are Sean’s answers to my five Bills-Texans questions:
1. What did the Bills do against Minnesota that they can’t seem to do against anyone else this season other than eeking out a win over the Titans? (Thanks for that, by the way).
The Minnesota game definitely looks like an anomaly, but it’s more the start of a much more positive trend at this point than anything else. After being absolutely embarrassed over the course of the first six quarters of the season (Buffalo was outscored 75-9 through a game and a half), the Bills have really pulled it together. They have only allowed 43 points over their last 14 quarters of play.
Against Minnesota, they followed a formula for success that they’ve ridden repeatedly with Sean McDermott at the helm. They forced turnovers. They didn’t turn the ball over. They controlled the tempo of the game. The other thing that happened in both the Minnesota and Tennessee games (and you’re welcome, but trust me, Bills fans love when Buffalo beats the authors of the Greatest Forward Lateral in the History of Sports!) is that each team was content to sit back and not bring much pressure against Josh Allen. Green Bay, on the other hand, brought a ton of pressure and forced Allen into turnovers, which led to easy points and a negative game script for Buffalo.
2. Josh Allen looks like he’s a ways away from being a truly effective NFL QB. What do Bills fans see as his number one weakness? Number one strength?
He is certainly raw, and there are far more negatives than positives right now. Ironically, his biggest strength has been his mobility. His ability to make plays with his legs rather than his arm is reminiscent of Tyrod Taylor, with the major difference being that Allen has not begun to see his ceiling and Taylor was at his when he was in Buffalo.
Allen’s biggest weakness, at least in my view, is a complete inability to diagnose and react to pressure. Not only does he struggle to set protections and recognize blitzes, but when they come, he can’t throw the ball quickly or accurately while under duress. It’s a huge problem. I’d blitz him every single snap.
3. What do the Bills need to do to contain DeAndre Hopkins? Do you anticipate a lot of double-teaming?
I don’t think they’ll double-team in the sense that they will literally have two guys playing him. I expect that Tre’Davious White, Buffalo’s outstanding second-year corner, will be tasked with guarding “Nuk” for most of the day. I also expect that one of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer will always be over the top to serve as a safety net. White was incredible against Stefon Diggs, holding him to 4 catches for 17 yards, but he wasn’t as effective against Davonte Adams the following week (8 catches, 81 yards).
While those two are great receivers, Hopkins is arguably the best one in the league (he’s my number one, at least, followed closely by Antonio Brown). This will be White’s biggest test of the year.
4. How do you expect the Bills’ front seven to defend against the dual threat Deshaun Watson brings to the game, assuming he plays?
Well, it makes me a bit nervous, to be honest. McDermott’s defense works best when the quarterback is under pressure, but the Bills have sometimes been too content to allow the front four to supply all of that pressure. If the Bills sit in a zone all day and bring four, Watson will shred them. That’s what I’m afraid they’ll do--play contain and hope they can hit Watson without blitzing. I’d rather they come after him right up the middle, using the double A-gap pressures McDermott learned working under late Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to his advantage. Rookie middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is also important here, as his ridiculous athleticism makes him an easy choice to spy Watson throughout the day.
If it’s Brandon Weeden, well...first team to 10 wins?
5. I am a Texans and previously a Houston Oilers fan. My parents and I actually traveled to Buffalo for the infamous 35-3 playoff comeback game. I remember the cold all too well.
And that song. That damned “Let’s Go Buffalo” song. Do Bills fans still reference that game and get a kick out of the memory, or has it faded into oblivion?
It’s the greatest comeback of all time. It will never fade into oblivion!
This is my third season writing for Buffalo Rumblings now, and I am asked about The Comeback at least once a month. It’s my earliest memory of watching a game in its entirety (long story short, I was 6 and my dad was so mad at halftime that he went out to remove all the Christmas decorations after Bubba McDowell’s pick-six. I was banging on the window trying to get his attention as The Comeback began, but he came in to yell at me for hitting the window, only to see that the game was actually worth watching again).
And I definitely sing “Let’s Go Buffalo” when “Shout” comes on at weddings. Judge me if you must!
The sound of Bills fans and the PA system singing/playing that damned song will echo in my brain for an eternity.
Thanks again to Sean for his thoughtful responses, and enjoy the game today!