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The Way I See It... From the Desk of Ed Kilgore

Bills Rout Titans 41-7!

From an old sportscaster that’s been around since the very first game played at then Rich Stadium, I’ve seen a lot.  But nothing like this.  Kelly, Bruce, Thurman, Andre, Lofton and Marv reaching 4 straight Super Bowls in the 90’s, was an unbelievable accomplishment despite the 4 losses.  9-0 in playoff games other than SB’s during that period and all these folks are in the Pro Football of Fame.  Legendary stuff.

 

Certainly this isn’t a negative for those Bills teams, but this…..this is just different.

The 2022 Bills are destroying people.

 

First a couple injuries in the 41-7 rout of the Titans heading into what is now a huge early season AFC East showdown at Miami next Sunday between 2-0 teams.

DT Jordan Phillips, a huge part of the improved run defense, has a hamstring injury.  Safety Micah Hyde and defensive back Dane Jackson have neck injuries and linebacker Matt Milano went out with a stinger.  We’ll know in the next couple days about their availability for the Fins.

 

Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott knew what they wanted to do when Terry and Kim Pegula hired them in May of 2017, and  perceptions that the Pegulas got lucky after wrecking the Sabres,  just aren’t accurate. Yes, they whiffed on the colorful Rex Ryan, but they fixed that quickly. Beane and McDermott were both targeted by the Pegulas  individually despite knowing they were both in the Carolina Panthers organization, and they were able to land them despite some serious interest from other NFL franchises.

 

Since then, the Bills have become a model of building an NFL franchise with uncanny drafting and bold personnel moves as “part of the process”. Some eyebrows were raised with constant references to “changing the culture”, but now it’s quite obvious what that means.  They’ve done it and are doing it.

 

Obviously, the home run pick was Josh Allen with the 7th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, and don’t think Cleveland and the Jets will ever forget that. They passed on the big strong armed kid from Wyoming for Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold respectively. 

 

Instead of trying to make Allen fit their personnel, the Bills did everything in their power to help him succeed.  Allen showed dramatic improvement after his first two years, but acquiring Stephon Diggs from the Vikings was pure genius.

 

In their 41-7 thrashing of the Titans the Bills embarrassed a team that had beaten them the past two seasons and was the AFC’s top seed just a year ago.  To be fair, this Titans team isn’t the same.  Derick Henry is still rusty after no preseason, and secondary injuries make them vulnerable if they can’t pressure the qb. Allen, barely touched,  and Diggs led the charge with Allen playing only 3 quarters. His numbers were very MVP-like.  26-38 for 317 yards and four TD’s with no int’s.  Diggs? Targeted 14 times, he caught 12 for 148 yards and 3 TD’s. 

 

The most surprising stat to me as I looked ahead to this game?  Allen had ONE run, a 10 yard summersault for a first down on 3rd and 10 on the Bills opening drive.  Allen was sacked only once, and the Oline kept him unbothered. Jake Kumerow, filling in for Davis, had 2 grabs including a 39 yarder in the 2nd quarter. Allen admitted after the game he felt he wasn’t quite as sharp as he could have been.   Coulda fooled me!

 

Despite the 412 yards of offense led by Allen and Diggs, the Bills D was relentless after allowing an opening drive TD.  Inspired by Von Miller and a deafening Bills Mafia led crowd, the D smothered the Titans and eventually forced Ryan Tannehill into mistakes.  Unlike the opener against the Rams, the Bills D focused on stopping Derick Henry, and did they ever.  On 13 carries, just 25 yards for a 1.9 yards per carry average and a short TD run. 

 

The numbers on Tannehill?  11-20 for 117 yards, no TD’s and 2 int’s, for a qb rating of 32.7.  One of the int’s  was a pick-six by linebacker Matt Milano. Only two sacks, but Tannehill had no chance after the opening drive and the Titans offense was held to 187 total yards.

 

Back to my first paragraph about how different this is from the great Super Bowl teams of the 90’s.

 

With the addition of Miller, some veteran free agents  and another strong draft class, this Bills team is better and certainly deeper.  That helps with cornerback Tre White still out for awhile, as first round pick Kaiir Elam and 6th round pick Christian Benford not only excelled in coverage but showed some physicality in run support. Second round pick, RB James Cook, finally was able to atone for an early fumble against the Rams, with 53 yards on 11 carries including a 33 yard burst that showed the speed the Bills saw at Georgia.

 

Now how do the Bills keep grounded after outscoring their first two opponents 72-17?  Leadership from the locker room is how. McDermott,  former state champion wrestler, is a fine motivator, but the REAL leadership comes from the players.  Miller, Allen, Diggs and others hold themselves and others accountable. They know there will be some bumps ahead and the target on their chests grows larger. 

 

Just a wild guess, but I’m willing to bet somebody a steak dinner there will be more than a handful of Bills Mafia in South Florida next weekend.

 

Call me crazy.

 

EdK

ekilgore120@gmail.com

 

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