Week 3 and the Bills are still in first place!
So our defense is looking as good as the Jim Schwartz days, but the offense looks like they couldn’t beat a high school team. Who’s on the hot seat this week? The offensive coordination, Rick Dennison for SURE.
Listen below, on iTunes or Stitcher – transcript included if you don’t want to listen at all! GO BILLS.
It’s Week 3, and at .500, with only one side of the ball looking like it actually belongs in the NFL, things are getting pretty familiar around here. This is The Hurry Up!
OK, we’re gonna dive headfirst right into this. Raise your hand if before last Sunday’s game you thought the Bills would give up just nine points to Cam Newton and the Panthers and yet still lose pretty convincingly. I shouldn’t see many hands in the air because despite what anybody thought might happen last Sunday, it was still shocking in a lot of ways.
It was also vintage Bills in a lot of ways. On defense, it was vintage 4-3 Jim Schwartz era Bills. The defense recorded six sacks and single-handedly kept them in the game. But it was also vintage Bills in that one side of the ball was just a complete no-show. So while under Rex Ryan it was the offense that held their end of the bargain up and it was the defense that totally underperformed, in a totally Billsian move this week – this year – it’s the offense that can’t get anything going, and it’s the defense keeping them in games.
Any way you slice it, the Bills offense was putrid last week. One of the big storylines of this week was kind of a microcosm of that futility on offense…”The Drop Heard ‘Round WNY!” The 4th down pass where Tyrod Taylor could not connect with Zay Jones. I don’t think any one player is to blame. It sorta just showed the lack of execution overall on the day. I mean Zay Jones had a worse drop on 3rd down in the 3rd quarter that ended a drive, if we’re really going to get into Zay Jones drops. He was also genuinely distressed about it. I think he sounded incredibly profound and professional as rookie talking about processing the drop and moving on. So that’s encouraging, but overall the Bills offense needs to get a lot better in a hurry.
Also on display in the Bills’ loss to Carolina last week, the hazards of learning on the job as a first year head coach in the NFL. Sean McDermott with some suspect clock management on that last drive. If he had it over again, I think he would’ve done thing differently, probably would’ve called time-out after Tyrod Taylor scrambled.
The Hurry Up is going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s going to do better next time in these game management situations, but he’s not the only Bills coach coming under scrutiny this week. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison taking a lot of heat for not throwing the ball down field, not adjusting when the box was stacked to stop Shady. Look, if the offense can’t get Shady going, and Rick Dennison, as the offensive coordinator, can’t find other ways to get the ball to other players, it’s gonna be a long season. The NFL requires balance. You can’t ask one side of the ball to carry that much weight. So Rick Dennison is coming under fire, and probably rightfully so, because he needs to turn this around quick. And with the Broncos coming to town, and even better defense than the Panthers, it could get a lot worse before it gets better.
So with that, let’s looks ahead now to Week 3, because the Denver Broncos are coming to town. They’re 2-0, a couple years they won the Super Bowl, and they’re a pretty good team. They’re fresh off a 42-17 dismantling of the Cowboys that may have surprised some people, but certainly not head coach Vance Joseph. Like Sean McDermott he’s a first year head coach. He spent last year as the Defensive Coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, so there’s some familiarity with the Bills there. At QB they feature “Don’t Call Him A Game Manager, He Just Manages The Game” Trevor Siemian, who, oh by the way, just so happens to lead the NFL in touchdown passes through the first two weeks of the season. The Broncos also boast the NFLs best rushing attack through the first two weeks of the season, which has to sting for Bills fans because, well that’s kind of the only thing the Bills offense has going for it.
Another thing the Broncos offense does well is scoring early in games, which is something the Bills offense has not done well. The Bills haven’t scored a point yet this season in the 1st quarter. The interception Tyrod through against the Jets in the end zone is as close as they came. But the Broncos certainly have. They’ve scored a TD in each 1st quarter, including an impressive opening drive against the Cowboys last week. Scoring early let them set the tone against Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, and the Cowboys offense. It let them unleash Von Miller as a pass rusher – we’re gonna talk a little bit more about Von Miller later. It also let them line up to stop the run, which they did successfully. And, I dunno if you noticed, but the Bills aren’t exactly build to play from behind, so the some kinds of things they did against the Cowboys, the Broncos defense could certainly do against the Bills. So it’s imperative the Bills score early, something they haven’t done yet this year. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a long day for the offense, and they’re going to be once again putting a big ask on their defense.
OK, we’ll take a quick break, and when we come back, we’ll talk about our significant stat of the week!
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For our significant stat of the week, we’re gonna take a look at third downs. The Broncos are tops in the league both offensively and defensively on 3rd downs, while the Bills are very much middle of the pack, at 15th overall on offense and 13th overall on defense. Deep diving even further into the 3rd down statistics, we saw an interesting article from Geoff Schwartz about Trevor Siemian’s 3rd down passing efficiency. He’s 14/20 on 3rd down, and all 14 of those passes have gone for either a 1st down or a TD. Here on The Hurry Up, we crunched the numbers on Tyrod Taylor on 3rd down. Factoring in both passing and rushing, he’s converting just over 50% of his 3rd downs into 1st downs or TDs. So, Trevor Siemian and the Broncos definitely have an advantage there. The Bills are going to have to figure out how to be efficient on 3rd down both offensively and defensively if they want to compete with the Broncos this week.
Switching gears, let’s take a look at a couple players to keep an eye on. First, our Broncos Player To Watch this week. A major part of the Broncos early success this season, and their success in recent seasons, is All-Pro Everything edge rusher Von Miller. He’s won pretty much every award you can win in the NFL. He was Defensive Rookie of the Year, he was Super Bowl MVP, 5-time Pro Bowler, 3-time All Pro. He’s a terror off the edge. He’s gonna give the Bills nightmares, Jordan Mills in particular. I expect this is why the Bills kept so many TEs and FBs on the roster. Expect a TE, or a FB, or a Mike Tolbert even, to help out Jordan Mills as often as possible. Even then it might not matter. This is why it’s so important for the Bills to keep pace early, because if Von Miller can tee off in the pass rush, the Bills don’t stand a chance.
On the Bills side of things, it’s only fitting that our Bills Player To Watch this week actually got his start with the Broncos. This is for all our Wyoming Bills fans out there, not just because the Bills are on TV in Wyoming this week, but because our Bills Player to Watch this week is the Pride of Wyoming Football, Eddie Yarbrough! He’s actually a Denver-area kid, and the Broncos gave him his first chance in the NFL. While it didn’t work out there, it did work out with the Bills. He showed incredibly well in the preseason. He actually had his first NFL sack last week. It literally made an offensive lineman fall down. He also almost blocked a punt. And with a susceptible and banged up Broncos O-line – LT Garrett Bolles is questionable with a leg injury – AND with Marcell Dareus out, and the D-line for the Bills really needing it’s depth to pick it up, don’t be surprised if Eddie Yarbrough make some plays on Sunday to help the Bills defense.
Bringing things home with the Injury Report….for the Broncos only Garrett Bolles is questionable for the Broncos with a leg injury as we said before. Different story on the Bills side. Marcell Dareus is out. Cordy Glenn is out. It’s never a good thing when your two highest paid players are on the sideline on Sunday. Jerel Worthy is also out, still dealing with a concussion. And guys, the Bills are making weather news! And it’s not the blizzardy kind. This Sunday has the chance to be the hottest Bills game on record. So if you’re going to the game, or if you’re going to be tailgating, bring some sunscreen.
Thanks, as always, to Rise Collaborative for making The Hurry Up possible. Check out the Rise Collaborative Facebook page for all kinds of awesome stuff happening in the City of Buffalo, including The 90s Rise Again Halloween Party, taking place on October 28th.
Be sure to also check out Extra! By No Boundaries, another Rise Collaborative podcast. And, Coming Soon! “Through The Neutral Zone”, our Sabres podcast. Hockey season’s only two weeks away, and Through The Neutral Zone will have you covered for the Sabres the way The Hurry Up has you covered for the Bills.
As for The Hurry Up, a couple notes. There will be no live tweet of the game this week, as we have some Sunday obligations. But still follow us on twitter, @_risesports, and on our Rise Sports Facebook Page.
OK! It’s Week 3, it’s Bills and Broncos, and that’s The Hurry Up! Enjoy the game.