Despite coming away with a 27-17 win over the New York Jets on Sunday at Bills Stadium, the new-look offense of the Buffalo Bills still looked sloppy at times.
The first half offense looked like a new beginning. Nuanced screen concepts, almost exclusively in shotgun with three to four wide receiver sets, and maybe most importantly – they appeared to be an above average passing offense.
They certainly didn’t flash the sort of continuity and crisp effectiveness that the Kansas City Chiefs showed Thursday night and they didn’t run the ball particularly well either, but there were flashes in the first half that suggests the Bills may have a top-10 unit, if they can figure out their second half woes.
After putting up 21 first half points – that frankly should have been 35 – the Bills were only able to muster six second half points leading to a lot of second-half nail biting.
The more concerning development was the third quarter struggles that popped up once again, something that plagued the offense in 2019. That’s still likely a sign of the immaturity that still exists in quarterback Josh Allen’s game. If it weren’t the two fumbles, it was the terrible miss to wide receiver John Brown in the end zone that would have sealed the deal on a roll out to the left.
I’m certain that being up 21-3 in the first half didn’t help their sense of urgency to start the second half, but it’s the blind spot offensively currently.
With all that said, it’s abundantly obvious that the Bills offense runs exclusively through Allen. He led the Bills in rushing and passing, while managing to become the first quarterback since Tyrod Taylor to throw for 300 yards and first to do it in regulation since Kyle Orton.
However, the fumbles are also still there, oh, are they ever.
Allen’s running ability is a huge aspect of the offense, but also the riskiest aspect. What Allen brings as a running threat makes the Bills' ceiling incredibly high as a unit overall, but it also puts their offense in difficult spots. If they’re playing a better opponent, I imagine we’re talking much more about Allen putting the ball on the ground twice. But they played the Jets and at the end of the day, it’ll likely be at the bottom of the laundry list.
What will likely come first is the infusion of wide receiver Stefon Diggs and what it ultimately did for Brown’s game. Brown lead the team in targets (10) and finished with seven catches – one behind Diggs – 70 yards and a touchdown. Most of us assumed Diggs would help Allen come into his own, but I’m beginning to think we monumentally downplayed what his presence would do for Brown’s effectiveness in the offense.
Overall, it wasn’t pretty, but it’s important to note that the offense can still be considered an “uncut gem”. The potential to be great was apparent and obvious at times. The efficiency was, at times, equally as impressive, but the consistency is where all of us will continue to focus our attention.
With no preseason and a watered-down version of training camp, Sunday's win goes down as a firm step in the right direction. Although, I wouldn’t mark me down as a happy camper.
It’s on to Miami.