Welcome to Week Two of the NFL season. Here at 300 Level Media, we will attempt to inform and educate our readers about the Buffalo Bills’ upcoming opponent and what each team might do to emerge victorious.
The Bills’ second game of the 2019 season will take place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey as they face the New York Giants. Here’s what to watch for:
BILLS’ OFFENSE A REVELATION LAST WEEK
Buffalo’s investment in adding help for Josh Allen along the offensive line and at the skill positions were on full display last week against the New York Jets. The offensive line – once viewed as potentially the worst in football – was a dominant force, blowing people off the line of scrimmage and opening holes for running backs Devin Singletary and Frank Gore.
John Brown had a big day while making plays downfield and Cole Beasley provided a reliable security blanket while playing the Wes Welker/Julian Edelman role that is emphasized in Brian Daboll’s Patriots-style system. In an offense that is built upon concepts involving option routes from the slot, downfield routes, deep dropbacks and alignments that create favorable matchups, Allen has much more to work with than he had at this time last year.
BUFFALO’S DEFENSE MORE AGGRESSIVE THAN USUAL
The Bills’ defensive unit is more or less the same as last year’s group, except for rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver stepping in for the now-retired Kyle Williams. Schematically, they rely on basic zone coverages after the snap, but before the snap it is complex – rotating their safeties to disguise their coverages keep opposing quarterbacks guessing and selective pressure looks at the line of scrimmage are Sean McDermott’s calling card (those blitz looks are usually in the A-gaps from their linebackers – for more info on McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s defense, please read: https://fromthe300level.com/2018/08/pressure-package-how-the-late-buddy-ryan-has-influenced-the-buffalo-bills-defenses-for-over-20-years/?fbclid=IwAR3iYcnJ5qvl8shWHkZJVNO50VJXPeaEx8k0-Rk1VWV_Qx2OEfsAn2NY_ys).
Last week against New York, Buffalo sent more blitzes after Sam Darnold and company than they normally do – especially from the slot, and multiple zone blitzes were also utilized. Not only did the game plan hold their passing game in check, but Jets running back Le’Veon Bell had just 3.5 yards per carry and only 60 yards rushing.
GIANTS’ OFFENSE MISSING WEAPONS
The declining Eli Manning will have some challenges to work through on Sunday. Down his top two receivers to suspension (Golden Tate) and injury (Sterling Shepard), Manning will need to rely on tight end Evan Engram and running back extraordinaire Saquon Barkley to provide most of the Giants’ offense.
The 6-foot, 233-pound Barkley evokes comparisons to Marshall Faulk and Barry Sanders for good reason. Able to make plays in both the passing and running game, Barkley possesses the strength and quickness to break tackles and slither in and out of gaps. The quote “Give me 18 inches of daylight, that’s all I need” from Hall of Famer Gale Sayers certainly applies to New York’s tailback, as he was able to make big plays last week against the Dallas Cowboys even when his offensive line didn’t open up huge holes.
NEW YORK’S DEFENSE NOT QUITE WHAT IT USED TO BE
Beyond a solid young defensive line consisting of Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill and rookie Dexter Lawrence, New York doesn’t boast much talent in the pass rush department. That is why defensive coordinator James Bettcher will dial up multiple blitzes from anywhere on the field to make up a lack of edge rushers.
Despite the additions of veteran safeties Antoine Bethea and Jabrill Peppers and rookie first-round corner DeAndre Baker to a secondary light on experience beyond Janoris Jenkins, the Giants gave up seven plays of 20 yards or more last week against the Cowboys. The Bills must target the Giants’ defensive backs on Sunday in order to have success against New York.
- The Giants like to use a lot of condensed defensive fronts, shutting down the middle and forcing the opposition to go to the outside. The Bills need to figure out a way to get around that.
- The play of Buffalo’s safeties and linebackers will be a big key on Sunday because of the need to shut down Engram. If they can take him away, that’s half of New York’s offense right there.
- New York’s defense was heavily influenced by Dallas’ shifting and motioning on offense, and also by receivers going in jet motion to the point where they were out of position and not communicating well. The Bills like to use jet sweeps with their receivers, notably with Brown, Robert Foster and Isaiah McKenzie. Could Buffalo try to use the same approach?
- The Cowboys took some bad angles against the run while defending Barkley. Gap control and tackling fundamentals should be a point of emphasis for the Bills’ defense this week.