Last night’s game was a real indication of where these two teams are.
It is shocking to me that the Buffalo Bills can go on the road and turn the ball over four times to the defending champions and still roll out of Los Angeles with a 31-10 win. I think it tells you a lot about where the Bills are and it also says a lot about where the Rams are.
Let’s start with the Bills. I thought they did a great job. They have a new offensive coordinator in Ken Dorsey. Brian Daboll left to take the New York Giants’ job, and I thought Dorsey did a great job trying to neutralize what the Rams do so well, and that’s turning Aaron Donald loose in the middle of the pocket.
They did a great job with their protection schemes. They got a lot double teams on him. They released the backs inside to help chip Donald. They did a great job sliding their protections. Most importantly, they did a wonderful job at getting the ball out quick. There were a lot of designed throws, quick throws, bubble screens, and quick screens to the backs. I think Josh Allen’s get-off time through the first three quarters was like 2.2 seconds.
The other thing that they did was they changed the launch point with quarterback Josh Allen frequently. They moved him around a little bit, so they made it more difficult to really zero in on where he was. Of course, like we saw him do last year, he was able to pull the ball down and run and make some big plays. That’s very frustrating for a defensive coordinator like Raheem Morris.
Allen ran for 750 yards last season. That’s very tough on a defense and he’s such a unique player for a guy who is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds. He doesn’t act or look like a quarterback in the National Football League. When he pulls it down, he’s not looking to get out of bounds. He’s not looking to slide. He is looking for a small player to knock backwards. We saw the stiff arm that he gave on the boundary. He’s just a special player.
What was even more impressive to me was watching that Buffalo defense. It really ran out of steam last year in the loss to the Chiefs in the divisional round. Look at what they did last night. That to me was really impressive. Seven sacks and three interceptions of Matthew Stafford. We’ll get to Stafford in a minute, but I think the Bills defense with the addition of Von Miller — Von Miller is a closer! You bring him in late with some fresh legs and he can get to the quarterback. That was really the difference last night.
On the other side of it, you look at the Rams. The Rams came into that game with high expectations, obviously, as the defending Super Bowl Champions, and they just got off to a really rough start offensively. They looked lethargic. For a while there, they couldn’t score a point. The timing and the rhythm was off in the passing game. I think a lot of that can be attributed to the issues they had up front last night. They’ve got a new left tackle. Andrew Whitworth is no longer in the building. Joe Noteboom gave up a sack early. I think he’s going to be ok, but he’s not Whitworth and is still a work in progress.
You look at the rest of the group, and penetration inside really affects Stafford. You look at Stafford last year. As well as he played in the postseason and late in games, he completed 70 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdowns and just one interception in fourth quarters last season. It’s what he did in those other quarters that concerns me. He had a league-high 17 interceptions. We saw three from him last night.
Where do they show up? When you get push inside. He doesn’t handle the push so well up in his face. He doesn’t have that great change-of-direction ability to get out on the edge of a defense. He’s not a guy that’s going to manufacture a lot of offense. If you can’t solidify those A and B gaps for Stafford, he’s going to struggle, and we saw that last night.
Don’t count out the Rams. They’ve got one of the best head coaches and play-callers in Sean McVay, and they’ll be back. That was a rude awakening in Week 1 for the defending-champion Los Angeles Rams.