Seriously, wretched Bills should consider age-old strategy

Buffalo should try punting it away on early downs in their end

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Until about 100 years ago, football games in America were won mostly with three things:  Strong defence, competent kicking and conservative strategy – remnants of the sport’s 19th-century origins in rugby.

Teams punted on first down whenever deep in their own end, and almost always before fourth down on their side of midfield. When footballs were fatter and scoring infrequent, the best coaches learned you were likelier to win by valuing position over possession.

That is, you’d rather the other team possess the ball far from your goal, than you possess it much closer to it, just as in rugby. You’d boom the ball away on punts on your side of midfield, and rely on your sound defence to keep the opponent on its side.

Benefits included setting yourself up for gift points after turnovers, and lowering the chances of you making game-wrecking offensive turnovers, especially if your offence was lousy.

Well, if ever a 21st century NFL team ought to seriously consider employing some version of a ‘kicking-game’ strategy (as it was known generations ago) it’s the 2018 Buffalo Bills.

Seriously.

If you think I’m being a wise-ass, I’m not. It would give this offensively inept team its best chance to win football games the rest of the way.

The 2018 Bills’ attempts in recent weeks to win in the traditional modern manner – of subbing out all 11 defenders on a change of possession for an entirely different eleven, who supposedly specialize in advancing the football and scoring at the pro level, and always using three downs for that purpose before kicking on fourth and final down – isn’t working. At all.

Using all three downs is just giving Buffalo’s opponents a better chance to win.

The latest proof came Sunday.

LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills carries the football as he is stopped in the first quarter during NFL game action by Leonard Floyd #94 of the Chicago Bears and Akiem Hicks #96 at New Era Field on November 4, 2018 in Buffalo, New York.

The Bills actually lost a football game here at New Era Field by a 41-9 margin – in a game in which (a) the victorious Chicago Bears’ quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, didn’t throw for more than 135 measly yards, (b) the Bears’ two running backs rushed 20 times for but 52 yards, and (c) the Chicago offence gained only 11 first downs.

Normally you LOSE 41-9 with those atrocious offensive numbers.

But not when you’re playing the 2018 Buffalo Bills, who lost their fourth game in a row to fall to 2-7. (Chicago improved to 5-3.)

The Bills defence is robust and stout enough to at least give this a try. Four of Chicago’s first five offensive drives ended in punts, and the score Sunday after one quarter was 0-0.

Seven days earlier, in a 25-6 loss to New England, the Bills defence prevented Tom Brady and the Patriots from scoring an offensive touchdown before the fourth quarter for the first time in six years.

In contrast, the Bills’ own offence hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown before the fourth quarter in the last four games, and in five of the past six.

Since rookie Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen suffered an injury to his throwing elbow four weeks ago in a 20-13 loss at Houston, the wayyyy-over-his-head Nathan Peterman – who started Sunday and threw interception Nos. 10, 11 and 12 of his 130-throw career – and emergency signee Derek Anderson have quarterbacked the Bills. Excluding the end of halves, here are the results of the 39 drives they’ve piloted:

– interception, nine (three returned for touchdowns);

– fumble
, four (one returned for a touchdown);

– turnover on downs
, five;

– punt
, 15;

– field goal
, four;

– touchdown
, two.

Right. Anderson and Peterman have produced more touchdowns for the OTHER team than for Buffalo.

It’s hardly all their fault. The Bills offence reeks at all positions.

The talent-starved line can’t block worth an unseasoned chicken wing, either in the run or pass games. The pass-poor receivers don’t often get open, and when they do they don’t fight hard enough for balls (especially Kelvin Benjamin). And running backs LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory, who aren’t bad, are getting insta-swarmed on virtually every carry.

“I’m very frustrated,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said.

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Asked if he would agree the Bills cannot win in the NFL the way they’re playing offence these days, McDermott said:

“It certainly makes it hard. It makes it real hard.”

Sure does.

Trends are not coincidences, as you’ve seen me write many times.

And what did Einstein say about the definition of insanity? Something about doing the same unsuccessful thing, over and over and over again and expecting different results.

Trying harder isn’t working, isn’t changing anything.

So. With Allen’s return still up in the air, and the promise of the offence not being much, if any, improved upon his return anyway. And with the prospect of nearly half a season to come of strong defensive efforts wasted weekly by such historic offensive ineptitude, I propose the following.

The Bills should just punt it on early downs on their own side of the field. Kicking-game football. To put their good defence on the field and take their wretched offence off it. Dress as many defenders as possible, for depth, among the 46 allowed to suit up in an NFL game.

This 2018 Bills offence – because of repeated roster whiffs on that side of the ball by first-time GM Brandon Beane and first-time head coach McDermott – probably will not help this team win another NFL football game this season, at least in the traditional manner.

If the Bills instead had implemented – I know, I know – a super radical punt-early strategy on Sunday, they might still have lost to the Bears. But sure as hell not 41-9.

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@JohnKryk

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28-0? 31-3? 41-9? Lead was never safe, Bears coach said

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – C’mawn, coach. If ever a game was in the bag early it was this one.

Even though his Chicago Bears led the host Buffalo Bills 28-0 at halftime and 31-3 after three quarters, before winning 41-9, head coach Matt Nagy claimed otherwise.

Asked afterward at what point in the game he felt he had the win “buttoned down,” the first-year head coach said:
“Well I didn’t, I really didn’t. You could sit here and say, well, that’s not true. But … anything can happen.”

No, not against that Bills offence, facing such deficits.

Hail, coachspeak!

Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears looks on from the sideline during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 4, 2018 in Buffalo, New York.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies