Bills Offense or Colts Defense? A Look at Two Big Plays

Kind of looks like Rex Ryan, doesn't it?
Kind of looks like Rex Ryan, doesn’t it?

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The Bills’ win over the Colts looked a lot like the Game of Thrones episode where the White Walkers overtake Jon Snow’s troops and force the bewildered Snow to retreat by boat while staring at the ungodly and seemingly unending horde that tumbled down cliff side to the water’s edge. Andrew Luck looks more like Wolverine than Snow, but you get the idea.

Buffalo’s defense played with passion, speed, and aggression. They anticipated routes, penetrated the backfield, and got constant pressure on Luck, wearing down the quarterback’s decision-making and pocket management.

The defense helped the offense and should continue to do so if the Western New York White Walkers Defense. I’m not ready to get too excited about the offense. Tyrod Taylor played a strong game against a Colts defense that routinely earned penetration on Buffalo’s ground game and routinely forced Taylor to run after his first read didn’t come open.

Here are two plays where I think fantasy owners and Buffalo fans might be excited about on the surface, but they could allow their enthusiasm to get away from them. The first is rookie Karlos Williams’ 29-yard touchdown run. The second is Taylor’s scoring bomb to Percy Harvin.

Williams: Good Feel on a Blind Decision

The Williams touchdown run was a gap play designed to the right, but foiled by the inside linebacker taking a good angle on the right tackle and working inside the pulling left guard. Williams does a good job feeling the backside. He clearly doesn’t see the backside open up lane because his head is down and staring a the hips of his pulling lead blocker. That’s as it should be–gap plays aren’t plays you normally seek a cutback unless you want to get benched.

But the Colts close off the play side of this run and Williams knows that the only direction he can go if the front side is clogged is a cutback. Even when he cuts back, his head is down because he’s anticipating contact from the backside. It’s a go-for-broke decision and Williams expects to get mauled. He doesn’t see the backside. It’s a hope and a prayer of a cut back and once he realizes that he made it through the backside untouched, then it’s an easy on-on-one.

I explain it in more detail on this play.

Williams’ value in this offense comes as a big, fast hammer and not a nifty runner. The more plays where he can hit a gap hard and not have multiple choices, the better. He’ll be an asset in the red zone, but I wouldn’t predict unmitigated stardom or call for him to replace LeSean McCoy just yet.

Harvin: Blowing The Colts Coverage?

Most big plays come from defensive breakdowns that are either mental or physical and Taylor did a good job spotting that the defense was out of position to defend Harvin. I detail below why it’s likely that the safety and the cornerback on this play did not work well in tandem and how Harvin makes the adjustment to get wide open.


It’s a great play and I believe Taylor can lead this offense as an effective and winning complement to the Bills defense. As for his fantasy prospects, I think Greg Roman’s scheme will likely dictate fewer plays where Taylor has to make multiple reads over the entire width of the field. It’s not because I think Taylor lacks the mental capacity to do this work. I believe the Bills staff want to use Taylor’s legs to their advantage and they will encourage more plays from Taylor where his reads come to one side of the field while pushing outside the pocket or incorporate movement that forces the defense to consider the quarterback as a running threat.

It means, I’m pessimistic about fantasy owners finding a single Bills receiver as a consistent fantasy threat. It could be Harvin or it could be a ‘your best weekly guess” between Harvin and Sammy Watkins until one of these guys gets hurt.

What I know for sure is that I wish the Browns drafted Sammy Watkins and Teddy Bridgewater when they had the opportunity.

3 responses to “Bills Offense or Colts Defense? A Look at Two Big Plays”

  1. 2nd play- Colts are in cover 1. Harvin drags his man to the inside with his route then has some nice footwork to get outside of him and blow past him. It was a bad coverage call, but not a blown play. Taylor read the coverage well, taking what they gave him. If they are in cover 2, that ball is dumped off to the flat and the TE. He recognized single coverage and let Harvin make a play.

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