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Saturday Divisional Round Discussion

Davante Adams
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

This is the open discussion thread for both of Saturday's divisional-round playoff games: Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay followed by Baltimore at Buffalo.

Comments

164 comments, Last at 18 Jan 2021, 9:26am

145 They definitely need better receivers

I understand pickings were slim at the time, but anyone who thinks Dez Bryant is the answer is simply asking the wrong question. The truth is that the league's worst passing attack is still much better, in terms of yards per play, than its best rushing attack. The rushing attack has the advantage of getting you to more manageable third downs because it rarely goes for 0 yards or results in a turnover, which happens to 30% of the passes for even the best quarterbacks. I think Baltimore still needs to lean into that running game, though, but better receivers would help Jackson out when they need to throw while also opening up more room for the running game by threatening to throw.

135 I think Sean McDermott…

I think Sean McDermott deserves a lot of credit as a head coach. Unlike some other coaches, he inherited a tough job from the start. He is one of only a handful of head coaches I can count that bring some intrinsic value to the team just by his presence. I don't think Buf's defense is that talented, but they are well coached. 

I've said this elsewhere, but I was very very wrong about Allen. I had him pegged for Bustville after his performance against Houston a year ago. I saw a coaching staff actively trying to hide their qb, a sure sign of no confidence. 

We can credit the upgraded talent/coaching, but to me, this is on Allen. He got better and became awesome. Happy for him. 

143 I was down on Allen too, but…

I was down on Allen too, but I want to wait a year before I pen an apologia.  He's been great this year (not so much the two playoff games though), but Goff looked terrible, then looked amazing under McVay until he didn't.  I've been high on the Buffalo organization since McDermott and Beane got hired, and my only real issue with them was drafting Allen.. which looks like a good decision at this point.  I disagree that the Bills were a tough job; they had been competitive for the last several years before the current regime, and McDermott was able to get into the playoffs his first year even though he let Nathan Peterman lose a game for him.

As a Jets fan, I have to hope the title for Best Quarterback drafted in 2018 keeps rotating, since it's now Darnold or Rosen's turn.  And Rosen looks really unlikely. For those keeping score, it's been Baker Mayfield (rookie of the year), Lamar Jackson (NFL MVP), and then Josh Allen (MVP candidate, AFC championship game berth).  You've got to dream, right?

148 J-E-T-S!

If it's Darnold, it'll be in San Francisco, I bet. But Jets fans everywhere got a monster break when they finally fired Adam Gase, because a sack of moldy potatoes would make a better leader and play-caller.

Also, as a Bills fan, I'm just happy Lawrence is going to end up in Jacksonville. I like Lawrence. I'd hate to root against him for the next ten years.

154 He’s had that calm since his first year, surprisingly

He’s had his moments of panic, such as last year’s Houston game, but I was always surprised by how much he didn’t carry himself like a rookie during his rookie year. 

That said, losing Daboll and installing a new system is going to hurt, and there’s no way to tell how he will look with a new OC, especially of that OC isn’t as good as Daboll has been for two years now scheming people open. Fingers crossed, though. 

147 McDermott and Allen

When he came here, he was a rah-rah, culture-first guy who bought into every goddamn old-school cliche there was. Quarterback had to have big hands to throw in the cold. You needed to run and stop the run. All the nonsense. He had risk and reward flipped: he got aggressive when the situation called for being conservative, such as when leading with the clock winding down, and conservative when he should have been aggressive, such as punting consistently in no-man's land. And he was terrible with clock management, too. (Cue the "Andy Reid apple doesn't fall far from the tree" jokes.)

Fast forward to this year, and his transition into one of the most progressive guys in the league is nearly complete. This team goes for it a lot, and in all the right situations. They are aggressive exactly when they need to be, and they don't generally slow down. McDermott no longer calls stupid timeouts. He doesn't give up valuable possessions by punting when he should go for it. And he has bought into an offensive playbook that has maybe five running calls in it, one of which is the victory formation. And as a consequence of all this, plus his unwavering faith in Josh Allen's progression and his leadership abilities, his team has been in position to call that formation fifteen times this year.

As for Allen, I'm currently wearing a Bills shirt I cut to ribbons the night they drafted him. After 32.5 months and that long-awaited playoff win, not to mention the MVP-level campaign, it was time to unpin it from my cube wall, wash it, and wear it. Obviously, coaching matters, as does the work Jordan Palmer has done in correcting Allen's mechanical flaws. But none of that would matter if the big goofball wearing #17 wasn't, by every account, eager to learn, completely open to criticism, and hungry to be great. It's just phenomenal, especially for a kid so young. 

Anyway, this has been a great ride, and it's not over yet. The future is uncertain. Allen could have been better tonight, and no one knows how he'll mesh with a new coordinator. But I'm going to enjoy this, because I've waited wayyyyyyyy too long for this feeling to come around again. Hats off to everybody, all around.

155 I've also said this…

I've also said this elsewhere, but you're in good company being wrong about Allen. I certainly was. He was the kind of QB prospect that smart fans and analysts have learned to be skeptical of and his first two years in the league did nothing to disabuse us of that notion. I'm not sure that analysis was wrong on it's face - if we saw another 100 prospects with Allen's physical tools and college/rookie season/sophomore season stats, how many of them would turn into MVP candidates at any point in their careers? You'll be right a lot if you assume a guy like that turns into a big ol' Bortles-level bust. If 5% of those guys become good, the model's not wrong just because we found one.

But a lot of things about prospects are hidden from outside observers that clearly affect how good a guy can become. It's part of the reason why drafting NFL players is such a crapshoot. We can't really assess how good a guy is at learning, or how driven he is to improve, or whether he played poorly in college because he had poor coaching or teammates. In hindsight, Allen possessed some skills that couldn't be adequately assessed by the punditry (namely, he's reportedly an excellent learner and is highly driven to improve).

162 Although still needing more…

Although still needing more improvement to be worth keeping as a starter, Josh Allen's 2019 play was a considerable improvement over his 2018 performance.  His TD to Int ratio went from 10-12 to 20-9, he had 500 more DYAR in 2019 than 2018, his QB rating improved by 20 points, his completion percentage improved by 6 points, and his int percentage was nearly halved.  He also nearly doubled his AV on PFR and led 5 game winning drives to lead Buffalo into the playoffs.  He had some bad plays in the second half of the playoff game, but he managed to shake them off and send the game to overtime when given one last chance at the end of regulation, and almost drove his team to a game winning FG in overtime before a dubious penalty on the rookie right tackle killed the drive.  

136 The Ravens had a first and…

The Ravens had a first and 10 from the Bills 25 with 9:44 left in the first quarter... Who would ever have guessed at that point they would finish the game with just 3 points?

149 So relieved that Buffalo…

So relieved that Buffalo held on.  After missing the FG with 5 minutes left I was worried the ravens would get a td, go for 2 and make it 17-11, then buffalo would go 3 and out and punt, and baltimore would score and win 18-17.  

 

On to the AFC Championship Game!  For the first time in long time, rooting for the Browns tomorrow haha