The second installment in this three-part journey
We’re on to the second part of our three-part series to “analyze” the 2020 Buffalo Bills takeaways. Now remember, we’re not just gloating we’re also looking to see if the Bills are taking the ball away due to skill or luck. The gloating is optional.
You’ve likely seen this play a ton of times from various angles but I really like this one for the reason I have the pause and all the funny arrows. At the pause, you can see that Cam Newton has a good angle to the side and he’s kinda known to be a decent runner. Justin Zimmer on the other hand has to move around some clutter while dealing with some jostling. What I also like on this angle is that you can clearly see Zimmer’s right arm. From several angles it’s hard to tell how intentional this is or if Zimmer got lucky with his hand placement. With this view it’s obvious that’s a punch.
Jordan Poyer showing off his chops and how well the scheme allows him to do his thing. Russell Wilson would be crazy to throw the ball Poyer’s way so he tries to go over him. But Poyer maintains tight coverage while being able to watch Wilson and the throw. This was less “right place at the right time” and more “great player being allowed to make a great play in an effective play call.”
There’s no swat or punch here (though Jerry Hughes isn’t shy about it). This has some elements of a “lucky” turnover, but it’s still created by an amazing hustle back to the play. Wilson tries to scramble and Hughes’s slip should open a lane. It did not.
Once again we see the freedom the Buffalo Bills allow their defensive backs to play within their assignment while viewing the quarterback. If you weren’t looking at the ball it looks like Tre’Davious White just says “the hell with it” regarding his original assignment. Instead this looks like a team being told to trust what they see.
I mean…what do I even say here? A.J. Klein steamrolls Wilson and notices the ball is in his hands so he takes it. Not necessarily conventional but a heads-up play.
I think at this point a clear pattern is emerging. The speed of the play and angle of the tackle make it harder to clearly show a definitive windup and punch, but there’s not much reason to think Taron Johnson didn’t put at least some effort into getting a hand on the ball. Dane Jackson swoops in and it’s Buffalo’s ball.
Larry Fitzgerald isn’t exactly known for drops. So when he’s wide open and the pass is a bit behind but catchable this is one we’ll chalk up to luck. Jordan Poyer exists where he did because of scheme but, on the other hand, that same scheme allowed Fitzgerald to run free in the first place. The Bills got lucky here.
Trust what you see. Tre’Davious White is left to his own devices as the Los Angeles Chargers avoid him pretty much completely on this play. White sees something important, points it out to his team, and then decides that with no one to cover he’ll just act on what he sees. Good call.
This is mostly luck again. It’s hard to tell if A.J. Klein meant to pop this back up but the phrase “tip drill” is so ingrained into football culture it sure seems possible he was trying to give someone else a chance. Regardless of that potential addition of “skill,” there’s no denying that the initial pop-up is because of luck.
In this grouping we see a little bit of luck creep in. It’s hardly the dominant theme though, and being fair there’s nothing wrong with a little luck. The trend of Buffalo players taking a swing at the ball continues. We see some scheme assistance with the Bills often setting their defense up in a way to view the quarterback. And in this set of plays we see the trust the coaching staff has in players. Overall, what we’re seeing are things that should make a return in 2021.