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The importance of 1st (and 2nd) down for the Buffalo Bills

The importance of 1st (and 2nd) down for the Buffalo Bills

So as I was watching Buffalo get beat in every facet of the game on Sunday I hearkened back to some comments that I heard a few weeks prior made by the Quarterback guru Trent Dilfer.  I don’t enjoy much of the coverage on the all mighty 4 letter network but Trent appears to know his shit.

His Elite 11 camps are stocking colleges with ridiculous QB’s and we are witnessing the fruits of his labor right now in the college ranks (Jameis Winston, Cody Kessler, Everett Golson, etc.).   A few weeks ago I remember Trent noting that a good barometer for QB play is how they perform in “must pass situations”.  I decided to take a look at our much maligned QB and how he has performed in 3rd down must pass situations after 3 games.

As you can imagine the numbers suck.  EJ is having issues getting the ball down the field.  Whether it is holding onto a read for too long or getting happy feet in the pocket, EJ has to be more confident in his decision making.  I defined “must pass” as 3rd and 5 and up.  In these plays, all drop back passes, EJ and the Bills are 6-28 (21.4%).  I don’t know the NFL average but I have to think it is better than that.  Many of the passes as you would expect are short passes of 5 yards and under.  He also rushed 4 times but never for more than 8 yards.  I would love for him to make the decision to run quicker and pick up a first down or two with his feet.  His passing numbers: 10-22, 117 yards and a TD.  While he is completing under 50%, it is worth mentioning that he is not turning the ball over in these situations.  While not turning it over allows us to flip the field I don’t think many fans would complain if EJ tried to take a few chances and was picked a few times.

The inspiration for this article and researching every play the offense has ran this year was last week’s game.  It was the perfect combination of poor offensive line play and an off game by EJ and his receivers.  They had absolutely no chemistry.  As always it starts with the running game and that was non-existent as well.  After the first few pressures it appeared that EJ was getting happy feet in the pocket and leaving too soon.  He did have one absolutely ridiculous play where he evaded a would be sack by bouncing around the pocket and completing a pass in the middle of the field to Chandler for a big gain.  This will be very good tape for EJ.  If he can learn to keep his head looking down the field as he moves out of the pocket I think he will have more success in these situations.

It is one game.  This is absolutely only a critique of EJ’s play and how he can improve.  I’ve already heard some whispers threatening if EJ doesn’t improve quickly he will be replaced and to that I say give me a god damn break.  While Orton’s mustache is top notch I don’t want to see him on the field unless something happens to EJ.  He was put in a hole last week and was facing a very good Chargers team.  This week should be a different story.  Houston just got torched for 170+ yards by Rashad Jennings and the Giants so expect the Bills to run it early and often.  EJ should be able to play action off of this and have a field day.  If he does not, unfortunately the inevitable will happen and those whispers will continue to grow louder.

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