Written By: Jose Rohdin
The Buffalo Bills are 4-0 for the first time since the 2008 season and are playing like serious Super Bowl contenders. And with the Patriots loss on Monday, this is the most the team has led the AFC East Division by since 1995.
Since taking the head coaching job for the Bills in 2017, Sean McDermott has steadily rebuilt the team. In his rookie head coaching season, 2017-18, he led the Bills to a 9-7 record to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They would lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but McDermott solidified himself as a premier head coach.
McDermott is a defensive-minded head coach, and that comes out in his team. In his first season, the defense was one of the best in the league, only allowing more than 20 points in three games. Even in 2018/19, when the Bills missed the playoffs and went 6-10, the defense was dominant, allowing the National Football League’s second-fewest yards.
The issue had been the offense the first two seasons of McDermott’s tenure. With Tyrod Taylor as the primary starting quarterback and then a rookie Josh Allen, the Bills offense never really matched up to their defense.
However, in Allen’s sophomore season, last year, the Bills defense would be the clear number-two defense in the entire NFL behind the New England Patriots, being second in points allowed and third in yards allowed.
On top of that, the offense seemed to finally click a little, no longer being one of the league’s worst offenses. This resulted in a playoff berth against the Houston Texans, though the Bills would lose in overtime.
This all brings us to the most significant move that the Bills have made under McDermott, the trade for star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Allen had shown promise as a passer but still looked as if he had a way to go. Trading for Diggs theoretically could make Allen a better quarterback because now there would be a number one receiver on the team.
Diggs is one of the best deep-ball route runners in the NFL, and along with Allen’s cannon for an arm (arguably only rivaled by Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes), Allen can get the ball downfield with ease. The issue has just always been his accuracy, he averaged around 55 percent completion rate in his first two seasons.
With no way to tell for sure if it is because of Diggs, improvement in accuracy, or both, Allen, through the first four games of the season, is throwing at a 70 percent completion rate. Something must have finally sparked for Allen, and he is playing the best ball of his career right now. Allen is second in passing yards in the league at 1,326, and second in touchdowns at 12, and has only thrown one interception.
Diggs’ stats are also off the chart. He is tied for first in the league in receiving yards at 403. This shows that Allen has put his trust in Diggs to be his number one receiver. Along with that, Diggs has also been the biggest downfield threat in the NFL. He is tied for first in both receptions over 20- and 40-yards.
This new offensive duo between Allen and Diggs has made the Bills offense one of the best in the league. They rank fifth in total points and sixth in total yards.
On the other hand, the offense still has one small hole, the run game. Sophomore running back, Devin Singletary, is an outstanding receiving back, who can be an excellent outside-run running back. This basically makes Allen the second running back to do most of the running between the tackles. But with Allen’s tendency to fumble, this could be a problem, along with the fact that with a running quarterback, who likes contact like Allen, injuries are always a possibility.
With the offense and the defense finally on the same page, and Allen looking like a different quarterback, the Bills could make a push for the Super Bowl. The unfortunate thing is they play in the AFC and would likely have to go through the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, which might be two of the few teams actually better than the Bills so far this season.