No frozen tundra, just a frozen Bills offense

September 30, 2018
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I yelled at the television only one time during the Bills-Packers game on Sunday. It was the fumble from Josh Allen that was upheld after review in the fourth quarter. That play had no bearing on the outcome of the game, but I bring it up because it explains just how awful the Bills looked while getting shut out for the first time since 2008. They were so bad from the get go that I never got emotionally invested in this game, henceforth no venom was spewed, much to the relief of my wife. It was only 16-0 at halftime, but the Bills offense was so bad it felt like the Green Bay Packers were unreachable.

Actually, the offense looked like I thought they would seven days earlier in Minneapolis. Absolutely nothing worked and everyone can share in the blame. There was no running game to speak of and the Bills seemed to stop trying. The offensive line had a rough day handling the Packers pass rush. The receiving group looked like who we thought they were, a collection of mediocre talent who can’t get open on a regular basis. The rookie quarterback was not accurate like he was against the Minnesota Vikings and looked flustered and jumpy.

The offense ended up with 12 possessions and if you throw out the last two drives where they picked up garbage time passing yards, the numbers were horrendous. They went three-and-out on seven of the first 10 drives. Allen and company netted a measly 93 yards in those 10 drives. On the afternoon, the Bills ended up with just 145 yards on 56 plays, managed a frigid 19-percent conversion rate on third down and never got inside the Packers' 20-yard line.

As far as Allen is concerned, he looked shaky from the start. On the Bills' second drive of the game, he threw a slant to Kelvin Benjamin too far inside. On third down, Allen sailed a pass way over Benjamin’s head and out of bounds. On the next drive, he missed an open Charles Clay on a short pass. As the game went on and the pass rush pressure picked up, you could tell Allen was worried and, at times, he left the pocket early and got himself into trouble. However, he is a rookie and extremely raw and we knew there would be days like this. The bigger problem is the lack of talent around him.  

I’m writing this while watching the late games on the Red Zone channel. Baker Mayfield has Jarvis Landry to throw to and Josh Rosen has Larry Fitzgerald, both much better options than anyone the Bills can put on the field. Benjamin, the de facto No. 1 wide receiver, is on pace for Jordan Matthews numbers from last season. Zay Jones has shown absolutely nothing one quarter of the way through his second season. Andre Holmes should probably just play on special teams. That leaves you with Robert Foster, an undrafted free agent, and sixth round draft pick Ray-Ray McLeod III.  

When the line isn’t giving Allen time to throw and/or he doesn’t get the ball out quickly like he did in Minnesota, the Bills' passing offense is putrid. Sadly, there probably isn’t anything the Bills will do about it until the offseason when they hopefully dismantle and rebuild the offense.

It would also be nice if the Bills could get a consistent running game to help out the rookie quarterback and subpar receiving talent. LeSean McCoy has been a non-factor during the three games in which he played. That is due, moreso, to the line/blockers in front of him than the running back himself. It almost looked like offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gave up on the run after some early attempts. McCoy had just five carries in the entire game, only three in the first half when it was a two possession deficit at the break. The player for whom this offense is built around had just eight touches in total when you add in his three catches. Perhaps Daboll thought passing the ball was the way to beat the Packers since the Bills attempted 19 passes in the first half to go with nine runs. However, they have to do a better job of getting McCoy involved in this offense, at the very least to take some pressure off Allen. Neither Allen nor the weapons around him in the passing game are up to the task of having to carry the offense at this point.

The Bills' defense didn’t look as bad as it did in the first six quarters of the season, but they didn’t stop the run (Packers running backs combined for 110 yards and a touchdown), couldn’t get enough pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and weren’t able to get Green Bay off the field on third down. Green Bay was 11-of-19 for a conversion rate of 58-percent. 

One week after a stunning win over the Vikings had all of us on cloud nine. This game probably put you back where you were after the Chargers game. The growth year could make for a very long season.