The first day of the NFL season is like Christmas morning. Every December 25th I run into my parents room, wake up my mom and dad, listen to the National Anthem by Ariana Grande, listen to Pharrell and go to a Soundgarden concert and wish Kurt Cobain never committed suicide so I could see the real band from Seattle.
As a fan of the Bills, I was watching a few key points in last night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks. I want to point out two main observations from last night’s game, in relation to the Buffalo Bills.
1. The Myth of the Pass Happy League
The NFL has been changing rules to give passers the advantage in the game. This is a plain and simple, cut and dry fact. So what does this do to the defenses in the NFL? It has caused a shift where a lot of teams come to a game with their base defense in a nickel set with 5 defensive backs.
So let’s look at the defending Super Bowl champions. They come out in a base 4-3 defense with 4 defensive backs. How can that be? It’s a pass happy league and you’re playing Aaron Rodgers! If you want to look at the opposite side of the argument, look at what Green Bay put out on the field last night. They were in a 3-4 defense with a lot of pass rushing LB, where they mainly line up Clay Matthews on the edge. So what did Seattle react with in the face of this pass first defense? They ran the ball up the middle and Green Bay had no chance. Their run defense is so poor that they tried to over compensate, where Russel Wilson took advantage with one of the most disgustingly amazing fakes I’ve ever seen off of a read option for a 6 point strike in which the Green Bay safety forgot how to tackle.
So how does this relate to the Buffalo Bills? We play Green Bay, at the Ralph, week 15 of the season. I think often people get caught up in what Green Bay has been in the past, but after last night we should understand that a win in that game isn’t as crazy as people think it is. I do not think putting BJ Raji back in at NT on their 3-4 will help as much as people think it will. I think we will be able to run the ball non-stop on them, with a healthy 4 back set like we have (hopefully we have week 15), this game shouldn’t be a concern for us.
2. Russel Wilson is NOT a stretch for EJ Manuel
Before you grab your torches and pitchforks and line up outside my house, hear this one out. Last night Russel Wilson put up 2 TDs, went 19/28 for 191 yards and no interceptions. The first thing I want to say about this is that Seattle’s WR made a FANTASTIC play to knock an interception out of the Packer’s LB hands that would have changed those stats drastically. Take that out of the equation, Russel Wilson does one thing extremely well that brings him a lot of success in the NFL: He gets rid of the football instead of taking a sack. Stat sheet says he took 1 sack last night, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix ran him out of bounds and was the closest one to him. I don’t care about a sack like that. Russel Wilson, if he doesn’t see anything, flushes out of the pocket and throws the ball out of bounds. It sounds absolutely insane, but this completely takes away the need for a check down. He RARELY even looks at his check down.
If EJ could start doing this, which is purely decision making, the rest would take care of itself. We will be able to establish the run this year, no question. It will force teams to put 8 in the box and give EJ the ability to recognize man coverage and just put the ball to 14, 10 and 19 and let them make a play. That is what Wilson does very well, gets the ball in a spot where his receiver can make a play.
As always, time will tell, but if EJ can minimize the mistakes and not take sacks, we will be able to play ball in this league. EJ’s success will be determined by the ability of his decision making during the game as well as Hackett’s ability to give him what he needs to make plays.