Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Eagles

October 28, 2019
Categories: 

The Buffalo Bills dropped their second game of the 2019 season with a 31–13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at New Era Field.

That means we start with the arrows pointing down:

 

ARROW DOWN

  • Run defense

Simply put, the Bills were gashed all game long on the ground. They had no answer for the Eagles running the football. Several times, when it looked like they started to figure things out, Philadelphia came back with another big run. The Eagles lit them up to the tune of 218 yards on 41 carries for a whopping 5.3 yards per-carry average.
 

  • Defending the screen pass

One of the ways to beat a fast defense is to run screen passes against them. The Eagles did that to the Bills and they didn’t properly react or adjust throughout the game. Several big Eagles plays came off screen passes where Bills defenders were either too far upfield or not in proper position to make a tackle.
 

  • Carson Wentz running in the fourth quarter

It was only a one score game when Philadelphia received the kick to begin the fourth quarter. They were going against the wind. The Bills had them stopped on third down twice, and both times Carson Wentz pulled the ball down and ran for a first down. Whether it was not accounting properly for him or a schematic issue, those were huge plays that should not have happened against this defense. The drive started at the Eagles' 17-yard line and ended with a touchdown, taking 8:17 off the clock. 
 

  • The kicking game

I’m not going to put Stephen Hauschka on this list specifically, because a 53-yard field goal in the type of weather conditions at New Era Field on Sunday was very tough, but the fact is the kicking game cost the Bills four points - and all at critical times. First was the missed field goal before halftime, then it was a blocked extra point that would have brought the Bills within three points.
 

  • QB - Josh Allen

Allen wasn’t the primary reason the Bills lost the game, but he also didn’t help them overcome tough situations when they needed him to. He also had a critical turnover late in the first half when he fumbled the ball on a 3rd-and-2 from his own 28-yard line with only 1:53 left. The Eagles scored five plays later and converted the two-point conversion to go up 11-7 just before halftime. Allen finished the game 16-for-34 (47.5%) for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The weather was certainly a factor in the passing game and impacted his numbers, but Wentz played in the same conditions and was 17-for-24 (70%).
 

  • Play calling/running the ball

The Bills had a healthy 4.9 yards per-carry average running the ball, but never established any sort of rhythm or consistency. It seemed they went away from it too quickly, before it could really start to get going on a consistent basis, and then it was too late when they found themselves down a couple scores. And once again, Devin Singletary didn’t carry the ball at all in the first half. He had one catch in the first half, for minus-1-yard. In fact, Bills running backs only accounted for 12 total carries. Allen had eight carries.
 

  • Third down defense

The Bills allowed the Eagles to go 8-for-15 (53%) on third down. Last week, the Miami Dolphins went 7-for-13 (54%) on third down. That’s a two-week total of opposing offenses converting 53.5% (15-for-28) of third down opportunities. That’s far too high.
 

  • Red zone defense

The Eagles converted three of their four red zone trips into touchdowns. The Dolphins did the same last week, meaning the Bills defense has given up a touchdown six of the last eight times the opposition has been inside their 20-yard line. They came into the game giving up a touchdown on almost 65% of those trips, which was ninth worst in the NFL. That number is going to go up, and the ranking will get worse.
 

  • Penalties

Eight penalties for 57 yards. That’s already too much, but in a game with bad weather and field position mattering, it magnifies those even more.
 

  • Short drives

Not counting the final drive of the game when they had time for one play, or the missed field goal at the end of the first half they attempted after running three plays, the Bills had a total of 11 drives, and seven of them resulted in a three-and-out or a four-and-out since they went for it on fourth down. They had a total of 21 yards on those seven drives! 
 

  • Bills trenches vs. Eagles trenches 

The Bills got beaten physically by the Eagles up front, both on offense and defense. There’s no way around that. The defense gave up 218 yards rushing, much of it between the tackles. The offense didn’t have an answer for defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, and linebacker Nate Gerry who combined for 18 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles.

 

ARROW UP

  • WR - John Brown

Brown was his usual self, leading everyone on both teams with five catches, collecting 54 yards. He became the first Bills player since 1963 to have 50 yards or more receiving in his first seven games with the club.  
 

  • TE - Tyler Kroft

It was good to see Kroft finally get his first catches in a Bills uniform. He made a couple nice grabs for a total of 32 yards.  
 

  • LB - Matt Milano

The Bills defense gave up too much Sunday, but Milano’s 13 tackles has to be pointed out. It’s the most any Bills player has had in a single game this season. Three of these were tackles for loss.
 

  • Two 75-yard touchdown drives

The Bills have been excellent all season at having long drives and finishing them off with touchdowns. In this game, both of their touchdowns came off 10-play, 75-yard drives.  
 

  • Corey Bojorquez's 58-yard punt into the wind

Bojorquez absolutely boomed his first punt attempt of the day, into the wind, somehow traveling 58 yards, pinning the the Eagles at their own 19-yard line after the drive stalled at his own 23-yard line.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

There’s good news and bad news, Bills fans. 

The good news is your team is still 5-2 and sitting in a great spot, a full game and a half comfortable in a wild card position. This loss certainly did not cripple them in any way.

The bad news is they got run over and essentially blown out, in their own building, and looked like there was a major gap in talent between them and a now 4-4 team. The only two games the Bills have played against teams that currently have a .500 record or better, they lost them both, to the New England Patriots and the Eagles.

So, all that stuff analysts say about not playing anyone yet and not being nearly as good as their record that makes you so mad? Well, get used to it, because it's coming again and will be here until they win a game against one of those teams, which they might not even have a chance to do for a while, looking at the upcoming schedule.

This one can be pinned on all four phases - yes four - for different reasons.  

The defense got gashed like it hasn’t all year. The offense couldn’t get first downs, and struggled to score points, again. Special teams missed a field goal and an extra point. Coaching was out-coached by the other sideline. You can’t win much in the NFL when you’re beat in all four of those areas.  

The Bills are still 5-2. They still have everything in front of them they want to accomplish. You should still be very happy and encouraged by where they are and where it could led.

However, you should also, at least, start to take notice of what’s happened the last couple of weeks and start to be a little concerned. The offense isn’t making much progress on a week-to-week basis. They are still the same group they were the first few weeks of the season, struggling to score points and making critical mistakes at critical times. And suddenly, the defense has been giving up plays and points like they hadn’t before.

Even only coming into the game at 3-4, the Eagles are very talented. I picked them to win this year’s Super Bowl. There’s no shame in losing to them, especially considering how desperate they were for a win, but the manner in which they beat the Bills is what’s concerning. There wasn’t one area where the Bills got the better of them.  

There’s a lot to go back and watch to see what went wrong and where. There will be a lot to clean up, but they have a chance to do that this week and have a 1-7 Washington Redskins team coming to Buffalo next week. That game isn’t against a league heavy-hitter. It’s not a game the Bills will get much credit for by most media, or even a lot of fans, but none of that matters. The only thing that matters is getting to 6-2 next Sunday, a record this franchise hasn’t seen in a a long time.

The sky certainly isn’t falling, but the clouds are moving in, and just like the weather on Sunday in Orchard Park, it’s starting to get a little cloudy trying to see who the 2019 Bills are.  
 



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