Derrick Henry and company come into Buffalo this week, what can the Bills do to stop a repeat of last year’s heartbreaking loss?
Last year the Bills played against the Titans on Monday night in Tennessee and lost in a botched quarterback sneak. This year the Bills play the Titans on Monday night again, this time in Buffalo. I think I speak for many Bills fans when I say there would be nothing sweeter than to make up for the way last year’s game ended. Here are three things the Bills can do to take care of the Titans and avoid having the game on the line in the closing seconds.
Bills’ Run Defense
Derrick Henry was out for half the season last year and still was one of the top running backs in the league with 937 yards. When he’s rolling there’s almost no stopping him so it’s important to stop him before he gets going. One way to do that is to force Tannehill to beat you through the air by focusing coverage up front early.
We saw last week that the Von Miller experiment was a success as the Bills were able to get seven sacks on Matt Stafford without needing to blitz once. This week they may be tempted to send an additional man in to try to stop Henry at the line. This could work but Henry is not afraid to run headfirst into a defender and bowl them over.
The good news; however, is we know if the Bills can just slow down Henry a little, the odds of winning shoot up. Last week the Giants were able to stymie Henry, holding him to a “paltry” 82 yards and forcing Tannehill to throw. The ten-year veteran was forced to put it in the air to nine different receivers for a total of 266 yards and the Titans lost the game by one point.
The Titans are a good team, they were the number one seed last year and should be treated with respect. That said, the team’s success is mostly on the back of Derrick Henry. If you can slow him down, you can beat the Titans.
Turnovers happen, they’re almost unavoidable. However, four turnovers are too many and for lesser teams would almost guarantee a loss. The Bills are different, their offense is so potent, and their defense is so stout that they’re able to recover from turnovers in a fashion not seen since the days Favre was running around with the Packers.
That said, having to come back from the loss of field position and momentum that turnovers create is unsustainable. The Bills need to hold onto the ball better whether it’s the running backs or receivers. The Titans will be looking for any advantage they can take so it’s important not to give them any.
Some of the turnovers from last week’s game can be chalked up to week one football where all teams are still gelling. It’s now week two and most of the offseason growing pains should be behind them. This week the Bills will need to keep the ball safe and cut back on the turnovers. The fewer chances Tennessee has to hand Henry the ball, the better.
Spreading the ball around
Last year the Titans were in the bottom ten in the league when it comes to passing yards allowed (for the record, the Bills were number one). In their matchup last year, the Bills took advantage of this fact and Josh Allen threw for 353 Yards and a touchdown. To get better at pass defense the Titans picked up a cornerback and safety in this year’s draft, one of which (Roger McCreary) is starting for them.
This means nothing, as we saw last week Allen isn’t afraid to throw it into close coverage. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (once considered the best in the league) allowed a near-perfect passer rating against him. Allen was able to spread the ball out to seven receivers allowing both Gabe Davis and Stefon Diggs to have career days.
Bills fans last week watched what happens when a quarterback focuses too much on one receiver. Cooper Kupp had 13 catches for over 120 yards, the next receiver had five catches for under 40. This might not be a huge issue for most teams, but the Rams couldn’t get their running game going. The Bills’ defense forced Stafford to throw often and early and his lack of chemistry with his receiving corps was apparent.
This week the Bills will want to do the same on defense and keep at it on offense. The fearless Josh Allen will want to keep spreading the ball around and divvying up receptions to all available receivers.
Follow us on Facebook, @BillsBeatSR, and join our Facebook Group, Buffalo Bills on Stadium Rant. You can also check out the latest Bills Beat podcast here.
Want to join our team here at Bills Beat? Become a part of what we are building at Stadium Rant, just click here to apply and get started.