The Bills had their best offensive performance of the season — and then went into the bye week. So here is a refresher of how impressive the Jets win was back on November 11.
- First lead in a game since the fourth quarter against Houston (3+ games)
- 186 total yards in the first quarter; the most since September 2015 (third most over the past 18 years)
- 313 total yards and four touchdowns in first half, most since 2000
- 41 points, the most scored since Week 6 of 2016 against the 49ers
And with all that, the Bills still rank 31st in the NFL in yards per game (268.6), last in yards per play (4.24), and last in points per game (13.7) with a change at quarterback coming.
Here is a look at what lies ahead Sunday as the Jaguars come to Orchard Park.
Josh Allen is back after missing the past four games with an elbow sprain. The team is taking the cautious approach with their rookie quarterback, bringing him along slowly and not even committing to him starting this week until Friday. Allen says he feels good and is not worried about taking hits on the elbow during game action.
Allen looks at the injury as maybe a blessing in disguise. It allowed him to sit back and observe how veterans Derek Anderson, and even Matt Barkley, go about their business and control things on and off the field. During games, he would take notes and go over them immediately with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Allen road the rookie wave during his time on the field pre-injury, showing flashes paired with youthful mistakes. The Jaguars defense is quite the tall test to go against in a return, ranking third in the NFL in passing defense, fourth overall.
Return of McCoy
LeSean McCoy broke his media silence the Friday before the Jets game and promptly broke loose for a season-high 113 yards and two touchdowns. For perspective, McCoy entered the game with 267 yards rushing on the season with no TDs. It is no coincidence the Bills had their best overall offensive game as Shady did. The offensive line blocked better (with rookie Wyatt Teller replacing Vlad Ducasse at left guard), but McCoy also just ran better, including two runs of 20+ yards. If there is one chink in the Jags defensive armor it is stopping the run, ranking 15th in the NFL by allowing 109.3 yards per game.
Speed, Speed, Speed
The Jets game also was our first sign of a change at wide receiver. Sean McDermott admitted he and general manager Brandon Beane had discussed over the past few weeks how they lacked speed at the position, so that is where the addition of Isaiah McKenzie and promotion of Robert Foster came into play. The Bills took things a step further this week by bringing back Deonte Thompson, who was the team’s most productive wide out last season. McCoy referenced his time in Philadelphia with burners DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin as how even the threat of stretching the field in the passing game can help open things up for the rest of the offense. Between Thompson, Foster, and McKenzie the Bills now have multiple weapons who can do that, which paired with the rise of Zay Jones, likely continues the quiet front for Kelvin Benjamin.
Bortles on the Move
In the Bills playoff loss to the Jaguars, Blake Bortles was the game’s leading rusher — that’s quarterback Blake Bortles. Most of his 88 yards on 10 carries coming on passing plays that he just took off due to great coverage downfield. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier says his unit will concentrate on keeping containment, as Bortles has 286 yards on the ground this season, averaging 6.5 per carry.
Jalen Ramsey called Josh Allen “trash” in a GQ article before the season. The Jaguars cornerback standing by that this week leading into facing the Bills rookie quarterback. Allen himself taking the high road each time, saying he only cares what his teammates think. As for those teammates, some like Kyle Williams saying they don’t care, while others like Jordan Poyer hoping Allen uses it as motivation.
As for Jerry Hughes' thoughts on trash talking in general:
Allen may say it won’t affect how he plays, but it would be natural to want to attack the Pro Bowler a few times in attempt to have him eat his words.
Don’t forget the Defense
The Bills defense was overshadowed in the Meadowlands by how the offense exploded, but their 199 yards allowed gave the Bills their first back-to-back sub-200 yard outings since 1999. They enter this weekend second in the NFL in yards allowed (302.2), first against the pass (202.4). Just thought I would add this as a friendly reminder that unit is still killing it, even as the offense flashes.
Bills and Jaguars get underway Sunday from New Era Field at 1 p.m.