The Buffalo Bills feature one of the NFL’s best passing offenses, run by one of the top young quarterbacks in the league.
But could the key for the Tennessee Titans defense to shutting down Josh Allen and company begin with keeping Buffalo’s well-rounded run game in check?
Led by the tandem of Devin Singletary (55 carries, 284 yards, one touchdown) and Zach Moss (46 carries, 184 yards, three touchdowns), the Bills run game ranks No. 5 overall in the NFL.
Allen himself ranks second on the team in rushing with 188 yards — fourth-most among QBs — and both he and Singletary are averaging over five yards per carry. His 17 first down rushes are tied for eighth-most in the NFL, and he ranks third among QBs in first down runs. Additionally, 25 percent of Allen’s rushing yards come after contact.
“Anytime the quarterback can run the ball, they’re in essence creating numbers,” Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen said. “They’re playing with 11 now, you’ve got to end up playing with 11 as well. It’s a challenge because he’s so big and so strong and you rarely see him get knocked back. He’s always falling forward, and he runs away from guys. He was running away from a DB from Kansas City the other day. … You can hit him, but it doesn’t really feel like they affect him too much from the hit.”
Averaging 140.4 yards rushing per game and 4.5 yards per carry, Buffalo is tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns (7) this season and has the fourth-most team carries (156). Once the ground game starts clicking, that’s when Allen is arguably at his best through the air.
On run-pass options, Allen has the 10th-most pass attempts (14) and he’s tied for third-most rush attempts (7) and rush yards (35). On play-action passes, he’s even better. His 50 play-action pass attempts are fourth-best in the NFL and he leads the league with 525 yards off play-action passes.
“[Allen] trusts the offensive line, he is a lot more patient, he will wait things out, there is some good anticipation,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said.
“His control of their offense and understanding what’s going on, what they’re trying to get accomplished on every play, and you seem him a lot of times [changing] out of stuff if it’s not a good look and trying to get them in the right play,” Bowen added. “He’s done it successfully.”
Tied for the fourth-most touchdown passes (12) in the NFL, Allen ranks sixth in QBR (65.3) and ninth in passing yards (1,370) and much of his success is predicated on drawing defenders closer to the line of scrimmage.
By manipulating defensive backs to play out of position, Allen exposes broken coverages with the best and he’s one of the top deep ball throwers in the league. He is tied for the sixth-most passes of 20 yards or more (19) and he’s tied for the second-most passes of 40 yards or more with five.
“I just felt like watching on film, I think the deep ball accuracy is really good,” Vrabel continued. “I don’t know, I think maybe a couple years ago he was airmailing a couple of those.
“I think back, and they were taking shots and maybe he was overthrowing some guys. He is really accurate. He made a throw the other night in the game to his left, down the seam, and they couldn’t have defended it no matter what they had called.”
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