You have to give it to Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan. When his back is to the wall, his teams are always good for pulling at least one ridiculous win out of thin air. The 33-18 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals was just that, as the Bills took an early lead and just kept piling on throughout the game.
A large portion of the win can be attributed to a great effort by the offense under new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
Without getting too carried away—it’s one game and the Greg Roman’s former offense put up 31 points, 297 passing yards and three passing touchdowns against a stout Jets defense—we did see several areas of improvement in the offense.
What did Lynn do differently?
Run, LeSean, Run
It wasn’t that Lynn was more committed to the run than Roman was—he only had LeSean McCoy run two more times on Sunday than he had the previous game—but that the blocking schemes and formations were different and, in this case, more effective.
McCoy seemed to take a lot more handoffs from deep in the backfield, allowing him to get a clear view of what was happening and adjust when there were problems. Lynn also pulled the guards more frequently than Roman did, especially in the last game.
This led to a more effective ground game, more first downs and an easier time in controlling the tempo of the game.
Speaking of which…
Lynn did a good job not just of keeping the offense moving quickly—he got plays into Tyrod Taylor using a numbered system, which allowed Taylor to quickly relay the plays to his offense—but shifting gears when the occasion called for it.
More than once, Lynn had the offense shift to no-huddle in the middle of a series, and the team did so quickly, smoothly and efficiently.
That kept the Cardinals off guard and was a great way for the Bills to keep momentum on their side.
Tyrod being Tyrod
It’s not so much that Roman misused Tyrod Taylor, as he didn’t use him quite right in the first two games.
Roman did have Taylor bootleg out of the pocket and use his legs a little, but it did feel as though the Bills were not taking full advantage of what Taylor can do. Certainly, we were seeing a much different Taylor than we had near the end of the 2015 NFL season.
While it’s just one game, it feels as though Lynn was better able—or more willing—to take advantage of what Taylor could do.
Which is odd, because Roman did a fairly good job with Colin Kaepernick, whose mobility and overall skillset are similar to what Taylor can do in a broad sense.
Lynn embraced Taylor’s mobility in a way Roman didn’t, with more called runs and more flexibility and the result was a more controlled quarterback and, as with McCoy, a more controlled and effective run game.
The question is, can Taylor and Lynn produce when the quarterback has to throw. The passing game was ultra-conservative, understandably without Sammy Watkins in the game. Still, will this offense perform when it has to throw the ball?
With a tough game coming up against the New England Patriots, we’re likely to find out.