You get a break this week. The Bills are 4-1 and don't play so it guarantees that they will go into next week's home game with the Dolphins with, at worst, the third best record in the entire AFC. The defense has been elite. The offense has been good (at times). Josh Allen has made significant progress, But smart fans know the next step for this team to take in 2019-20 is a substantial one. Here are 5 things that need to change if the Bills want to get more than a condesending pat on the head from the NFL.
1. Score more points
It sounds simple, right? But the Bills are averaging less than 20 points a game. There are 17 teams in the NFL that have winning records to this point in the season. The only other winning team to average less than 20 points a game is the Chicago Bears. Not so surprisingly, that is the team that the Bills get compared to because of the elite defense and the young QB. But you don't want to be the Bears. The Bills have shown you can win with great defense and just enough points. But at some point you have to get some points and lighten the load for the guys on the other side.
2. Allen needs to be better
I have really enjoyed watching his progress with his mechanics, his awareness of situations and his mechanics. Through 5 games he's had bad moments in every one of them, but the Patriots game seems more like the outlier. The numbers tell one story. The Bills are 3rd in the NFL in red zone scoring percentage. You know what the problem is? They don't get to the redzone enough. Allen's turnovers have taken away too many possesions so far which has kept the scoring numbers down. The Bills QB also needs to start hitting some big plays downfield. I don't believe in every stat PFF puts out, but Allen's league lowest rating on passes over 20 yards in length makes total sense if you have watched him play. He had a good connection with Robert Foster in 2018. He needs to find that with John Brown when teams start biting on the short throws to the speed guy.
3. More YAC
The Bills passing game has been efficient (minus the interceptions) but yards after the catch has been an issue. Of all the pass catchers in the NFL, Cole Beasley is the Bills leader and he is 37th in the NFL. Jonh Brown isn't even second on the team . Isaiah McKenzie is ranked 57th in the league while Brown, who has been outstanding, is 65th with only 85 yards after the ball hits his hands. The Bills don't have an OBJ or Tyrek Hill who is built to turn 8 into 80 on any given play. But Josh Allen's passing stats would take a substantial move upward if he got more of that relatively cheap yardage (see Dak Prescott).
4. The defense needs turnovers
Sure. And Steph Curry needs to play better defense , Max Scherzer needs to drive in more runs and Taylor Swift needs to be a better cook. I get that this defense might be the best in the NFL, but turnovers are game changers and can help numbers 1 and 2 on this list. To date the Bills have come up with 5 interceptions and have recoevered 3 fumbled. The Bills offense has begun it';s average drive at the 27 yard line, which is ranked 20th in the NFL. While some of that can be attributed to special teams, the majority of starts come off of a defensive series. The only defense to force more punts than the Bills is the Patriots. That is how this team has been able to stay in and steal games this season. But stealing the ball and giving the offense great drive starts is the next step.
5. More aggressive coaching
Playing it more conservatively has worked for Sean McDermott this season. Because of the lack of turnovers and big play ability from the offense, field position has been vital to this team. But in 2019's NFL, you have to think differently. I am not talking about reckless decisions like randomly going for 4th and 5 at your own 30. I am talking about a mindset that when you get in the mid range zone (plus territory to the opponent 35) you are thinking 4 downs. Call me a homer, but watch the way the Eagles play on offense. On 4th and manageable from anywhere near midfield, the first network shot of Doug Pederson is his face in his play sheet. He knows and his team knows that they are going for it. Josh Allen is starting to earn that trust from this coaching staff and I think it can pay major divdends to dominate bad teams and push the good ones.