The Buffalo Bills go into their Monday night matchup against the New England Patriots confident after winning their last two games. The Bills offense controlled a very good Jets defense. What was throughly impressive about the win was the domination by the Bills running game versus a top ranked rush defense. The Bills rushed 33 times for 148 yards and possessed the ball for 33:16. The Bills ran the ball so well that first year starter Tyrod Taylor didn’t have to make many plays in the pass game. Teams know that is the Bills formula in order to win this year. Taylor is ranked 31st in passing yards with 1,436 yds (with two missed games) and his 11 touchdowns have him tied for 21st overall. But to his credit, his yards per completion puts him at 5th overall which shows that he is efficient and quite effective when he does throw the ball. Taylor is a major difference maker in the most important department, wins. He has 5 wins and 2 losses so far this year and has put the Bills in the Wild card playoff race conversation.
One of those losses came in week two versus the New England Patriots. Taylor had his worst game as a starter for the Bills. Taylor was intercepted three times and sacked eight different times. That game was Taylor’s worst rated game according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), in fact it was the only game that he was rated in the negatives. Of the eight sacks, three were charged to Taylor for holding onto the ball too long or not pulling the trigger. Most football fans know that Bill Belichick and that Patriots love facing young and inexperienced quarterbacks and Week 2 wasn't any different. Belichick put on a clinic on how to defend a young, mobile quarterback. Most people would've thought that the Pats would have attacked Taylor by throwing complex blitzes at him. No, Belichick did the opposite. He barely blitzed. Belichick played coverage for most of the game. When Taylor wasn't blitzed in that game he threw three interceptions and was sacked six times. It was a solid game-plan because on plays when the Patriots blitzed, Taylor completed 7-of-8 passes and put up an 87.5 completion percentage. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick primarily rushed four defenders and it was a controlled rush. The defenders stayed in their rush lanes and didn't rush past Taylor in the pocket. They used athletic defenders such as Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones in ways that if Taylor left the pocket those defenders wouldn't be far behind him. They made Taylor beat them from the pocket while throwing into coverages on the back end that made Taylor hold onto the ball just a little longer. Taylor and the Bills offense will have to minimize the negative plays such as sacks and interceptions on Monday Night Football if they hope to defeat the Patriots. Lets take a look at those negative plays and see why Taylor and the Bills offense had such trouble.
1st quarter 7:04
Bills 7- Patriots 0
3rd and 9
Bills 29 yard line
11 personnel vs. nickel. Cover 1 with a robber. At the snap Woods and Watkins (bottom of screen) run an exchange. Defense only rushes four defenders and DE Sheard spies Taylor. Woods comes open but Taylor doesn't pull the trigger.
DE Ninkokich executes a contained rush. LB Collins loops around to the D gap. Sheard fakes a rush and drops to the middle of the field and spies the QB.
Taylor misses Woods, who is wide open, and leaves the pocket to run to the sideline where he goes out of bounds for a sack.
1st Quarter 2:58
Bills 7- Patriots 7
3rd and 10
Bills 10 yard line
11 personnel vs. 3-2-6 defense. Watkins and Percy Harvin at the bottom of the screen run a double in concept. Woods runs a streak and clears it for Charles Clay who runs an out route
The defense shows only three down linemen. LB Collins and the three defensive lineman rush.
Eric Wood he is being held by Chandler Jones which frees up Collins. Shady sneaks out of the backfield.
Everyone is covered except LeSean Mccoy. He is well short of the first down but you have to give your playmakers a chance.
Holding the ball leads to a sack by Jamie Collins.
2nd Quarter 15:00
Bills 7- Patriots 14
Bills 21 yard line
11 personnel vs. Dime defense playing cover 3. The Bills try to run a post/out combination in the upper slot.
The defense only rushes four defenders. They play coverage, dropping into the deep three zones and have 4 defenders underneath.
As you can see, the pocket is clean. Taylor attempts to fit the ball into tight coverage. Meanwhile, Harvin has 1 on 1 coverage on the deep curl route and is wide open because his defender jumps the deep post run by Woods. If Taylor throws to Harvin as he is breaking this is a 1st down.
The ball is a little high, but there was definitely a better option. Taylor struggled from the pocket in this game.
2nd Quarter 0:44
Bills 13 - Patriots 24
1st and 10
Bills 43 yard line
11 personnel vs. nickel defense. The offense is trying to stretch the field with an all verticals concept. Defense plays cover 3.
Defense only rushes four defenders. Karlos Williams slips out of the backfield and runs a crossing route. DE Chandler Jones rushes outside, stutter steps and speed rushes back inside of LT Glenn.
Taylor has Karlos Williams in his view and could have hit him with the pass. Instead he tries getting out of the pocket, but is tackled by Jones.
As you can see, Williams is open. There is underneath coverage that could have gotten to Williams, but my opinion is that Williams catches it and gets out of bounds, saving time for the next play.
2nd Quarter 0:32
Bills 13 - Patriots 24
3rd and 13
Bills 46 yard line
11 personnel vs. Nickel. Cover 3 Robber. With only 32 seconds left in the half and in 3rd and long, the Bills run some deep cover 3 beater routes. Specifically, Clay runs a vertical route at the Robber defender and takes two defenders with him. Harvin, also in the slot, runs a clearing route for Sammy Watkins. Watkins runs a deep post. The defense only rushed four defenders.
The line created a nice pocket for Taylor. Taylor gets to the top of his drop and Sammy hasn't broke yet. So Taylor scrambles left.
Taylor gets outside the pocket and sees Sammy coming across the field. Taylor squares up and throws the ball. But it is overthrown and subsequently intercepted.
3rd Quarter 3:24
Bills 13- Patriots 34
1st and 10
Bills 20 yard line
Outcome: Sack, strip and recovered by Taylor
11 personnel vs. base 4-3 defense. Bills run deep curls paired with out routes. Taylor is looking up top to Sammy but he is bracketed.
Taylor looks to McCoy but doesn't throw it because of the LB Freeny. Miller struggles blocking DT Alan Branch.
Branch strips Taylor. As you can see, Clay is in the flats wide open. It is a tough progression from left all the way back to right but his eyes were a little slow that day. Taylor picks the ball up and gains no yardage.
3rd Quarter 3:08
Bills 13 - Patriots 34
2nd and 15
Bills 15 yard line
Outcome: Sack, strip recovery by McCoy
11 personnel vs. nickel. Cover 3. The Bills' outside WRs and TE Clay run hook routes while Woods in the slot runs a skinny post.
LDE Sheard jams Clay then gets to his hook/curl zone. LB Collins rushes through the B gap and is supposed to be picked up by McCoy.
McCoy doesn't get to Collins in time and Taylor is nailed and fumbles. McCoy picks up the fumble and gains 14 yards.
3rd Quarter 2:41
Bills 13 - Patriots 34
3rd and 8
Bills 22 yard line
11 personnel vs. Nickel. Cover 3. The Bills motion Clay and have him run a crossing route. The top two receivers run a deep post/in combo.
This play baffles me. If your primary receivers are running deep patterns, why is Tyrod only taking a three step drop? I get that you are in shotgun but as you can see in the picture, Taylor has hit the top of his drop and the routes haven't made their breaks yet. Usually the WR footwork is timed up with the QB's drop. Something isn't right here. Either way, Watkins and Woods are not open in the slot, so Taylor should have dumped it to Clay to give him a chance.
Once Taylor reached the top of his drop he could'vve hitched/stepped up into the pocket and that hitch would have given the WRs enough time to complete their routes. Instead Taylor slides to his left and is eaten up by Chandler Jones.
4th Quarter 1:15 NO TIMEOUTS
Bills 32- Patriots 40
1st and 10
Bills 20 yard line
11 personnel vs. Hybrid defense. The four defenders rush and the Bills run the same play as they did to end the first half. Clay in the top slot runs a vertical and occupies the two middle zone defenders. Woods runs a clearing route as Watkins runs the deep post. This is a good cover 3 beater.
The defense only rushes four defenders. Taylor's accuracy on this throw was a little off. The ball sailed on him. With that said, I put this one on Watkins. He has to catch that. Watkins has the talent to be one of the best WRs in the game but at times he loses concentration.
The ball sails through Sammy's hands and into the defenders hands to end the game.
Going into training camp, Tyrod Taylor was seen as the long shot to become the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. He proved a lot of people wrong so far this year. He has been the difference maker on the offense in 2015. He is still quite inexperienced and obviously struggles at times. Taylor still has issues reading defenses at times and it leads him to hold onto the ball too long. This was quite evident in Week 2 versus the Patriots. They made him stay in the pocket, read the defense and that showed Taylor's shortcomings. Taylor stared down WRs that were not going to come open, he missed open wide receivers and his footwork was pretty sloppy. This led to some erratic passes, but it wasn't all bad. Taylor battled back and showed his competitive spirit that many scouts loved about him coming out of college. The Bills starting quarterback continued to keep his eyes downfield when throwing, making plays with his legs when needed and led this team within eight points of the Patriots. This team needs that kind of player at the QB position. Taylor has the right amount of talent, confidence and intelligence to progress every week. His Monday night matchup with the Patriots will be a measuring stick to how far Taylor has come along as a starting NFL quarterback.