2-0. On the road. The coveted Jimmy Hoffa trophy in hand and the mythical NJ championship secured. All of that is good. Really, really good. It is too early to give demerits. There can be no style points factored in for a team that has made the playoffs once in 19 years. A win is a win is a win.
The analytical part of me wants to go all ‘Jerry Sullivan’ and pick away at the negatives. I am resisting with all the fibers of my cerebrum the instinct to do so. Pooh poohing the lack of 2nd half style points is a wasted exercise when you’ve been as mediocre as the Bills have been for so long. They won 2 games in a row on the road against teams trying to impress in their home openers. That is ALL that matters.
Now for the things I liked and those I didn’t (negative comments a possibility here but all in the context of 2 road wins). DISCLAIMER: I am not a technical football analyst. Just an old guy watching the game from my chair. Others on the internet do a great job of breaking down the x’s and o’s. These are just my perceptions as a long time watcher of the sport and this team:
- 3 beautiful long td drives in the first half. Josh Allen throwing a beautiful, accurate strike on the run to Dawson Knox. Knox making a fantastic block and sustaining it for McKenzie’s TD. The line pulling and blocking on the move. John Brown and Cole Beasley getting open and making clutch catches on 3rd downs. Singletary in space making people miss. What a difference a year makes with the offensive line and wide outs!
- Brian Daboll’s mixing and matching of personnel groupings and the variety in the play calls. I don’t see patterns and I can no longer just about guess every play that’s coming, especially on third down. He seems to have a great handle on specifically designing a plan to attack the other teams weaknesses.
- Josh Allen throwing balls away and not trying to make something out of nothing. There is clear growth. An occasional bad throw (2nd half missing Zay Jones when they could have used a positive play and 1st half overthrowing a wide open John Brown on a shot down the field) but his decision making seems much better and they are attacking the middle of the field with the pass and the edges with the rush. Having offensive linemen that can move really helps the latter.
- The D making whatever corrections they needed to after the first drive of the Giants when they were invisible.
- Batted balls by the D Line! That’s 2 weeks with multiple tipped passes. Ed Oliver batting down a pass and Trent Murphy intercepting to reward them for the effort.
- Bending but not breaking on defense after getting the lead. The pass rush didn’t get home much but the Giants dinked and dunked a lot and moved the sticks. The holes for Barkley were closed down a lot. (Glad the Bills only see him once every 4 years. He’s a load).
- Corey Bojorquez’s punting. He may have out-kicked the coverage once but he was booming the ball and angled for the sideline after that one over kick.
- Siran Neal on special teams. What a beast. Tackles all over the place. It was Taskeresque.
- Micah Hyde’s hit on a 3rd down pass to Bennie Fowler on the sidelines in the 1st half to end a Giants drive and deny them possible points. Legal. Hard. Right on time.
- Cody Ford sticking up for Allen when the Giants defensive linemen tried to posture over him. He got penalized and I know some will say it was a dumb penalty but I liked it. I like guys that stick up for their teammates.
- Lee Smith catching a pass (and a bullet at that). He blocks like a maniac and it’s nice to see him catch one now and then.
- Frank Gore’s tough inside running. He’s not as explosive as Singletary but he is still an inside battering ram that has to be accounted for.
- Harrison Phillips was good inside. 2 passes batted down, 1/2 a sack, consistent against the run. He seems to me to be starting to take some of Star’s playing time.
- False start and neutral zone encroachment penalties! God those are annoying. Way too many of them, especially in the second half. There was no crowd noise to speak of so the problem is concentration. They really have to clean those up.
- Dawson Knox whiffing on an Allen pass when they really needed it in the 2nd half. It was a fastball but you need to be ready for it.
- The 2nd half the offensive line looked baffled by the Giants blitzing. There were way too many free rushers. 4 drives and 12 yards total looked like the awful bad old days. Ugh.
- 47 seconds before half. 2 timeouts. The Bills just turned the Giants over on the Murphy INT. Attack! You need all the points you can get. It is only the 1st half. The Giants may be down from the turnover. You have a long distance field goal kicker. Victory goes to the aggressor. Playing not to lose and not to make mistakes is a sure fire way to let a team back in the game. Stepping off the gas seemed to set the tone for the whole 3rd quarter. Put the dagger in!
- Tre White seemed to get picked on a lot in coverage this week. I am hoping it is not a trend. Some of it was short but there were enough completions to concern me.
- The injury to Singletary. It looked like a hamstring problem but obviously we don’t know if it was a mild strain or a tear. He adds a welcome dimension to this team and seems certain to be prominently displayed for years to come barring injury. His ability to read blocks and get to the edge is fantastic. They have no real replacement for him and, if the injury is significant, a month or more without him would be a big blow.
- A QB draw late in a half with limited timeouts and lots of yards to go to get in scoring position. That and the 2 yard QB sneak attempt on 3rd down from last week can go. It is the timing more than the call itself I didn’t like.
Next week, home! An actual home game! I expect a VERY loud crowd next Sunday. As Darryl Talley might say, the Bills players need to plug in to the energy that crowd will generate. I wish Cincinnati was coming off a better game as I expect they will be desperately trying to get off the ‘schneid’. Do NOT look ahead to game 4! It will get here soon enough. Cincinnati. The Bengals. That has to be the sole focus.
Editor’s babble: I had visions of Dick Jauron dancing in my head when the Bills started backing off with only a two-touchdown lead. Was also not happy they didn’t at least try to get a FG before the half ended. Otherwise, a good game overall. Thanks to Joe Tauriello for his terrific contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.