Why stopping the Payments’ passing sport is almost unattainable

I strive my finest to be ready for each radio look.

On Tuesday, for the primary time in a very long time, I could not reply a query.

It got here throughout my weekly look on Sportsnet 650 with my mates Bik Nizzar and Randip Janda, which you’ll be able to catch each Tuesday at 2:30 PT for those who’re . On the finish of the section, they requested a comparatively easy query.

“How do you cease the Buffalo Payments?”

I came across a non-answer, as a result of at this level I could not discover a approach.

By two video games, it appears I am not alone. The preseason Tremendous Bowl favorites the Payments are 2-0 and dwelling as much as expectations. They went on the street in Week 1 to face the defending Tremendous Bowl champions and defeated the Los Angeles Rams by a closing rating of 31-10. Then on Monday night time, they hosted the Tennessee Titans – final 12 months’s high seed within the AFC – and gained by a closing rating of 41-7. It means they’ve crushed the defending Tremendous Bowl champions and the top-seeded AFC in back-to-back weeks by a mixed rating of 72-17.

They’ve solely performed thrice this season.

So you possibly can perceive my issue in answering this query.

As talked about, the Titans have been in a position to resolve that drawback in Week 2, however the Payments all through that sport confirmed how they’re constructed to reply virtually something an opposing protection throws at them. It begins with, as you’d count on, quarterback Josh Allen. Allen’s mixture of arm expertise, athleticism and sure, decision-making makes him maybe the best quarterback for this period.

The Titans began the sport like many defenses do when dealing with an explosive offense, counting on two-deep coverages to maintain issues in entrance of them and restrict massive performs down the sector. However in back-to-back passing performs, Allen illustrated simply how troublesome it nonetheless is to perform.

With the Payments dealing with a third and 9 on their opening drive, the Titans dropped into Cowl 2 Man Beneath, retaining two safeties deep and enjoying a person throughout the board. The end result? Allen scrambles for a 10-yard acquire and the Payments offense stays on the sector:

That is a part of the hazard of enjoying any kind of protection in opposition to a cellular quarterback like Allen. With defenders retaining their eyes on the receivers, and never within the pocket, Allen can exploit that, and he does, operating down the sector for the primary down.

A number of performs later, the Payments would face one other third-and-long scenario. Once more, the Titans tried to get off the sector with Cowl 2 Man Beneath. This time, Allen places the ball within the air:

His eyes first come to Jamison Crowder, the within receiver in the fitting shift formation. Crowder breaks vertically off the road, and with the Titans enjoying two-deep safeties, his route will break up them up, attacking the weak spot in zone protection. However Allen will get out of that route, exhibiting his eyes outdoors to Jake Kumerow on a fast lower. The linebacker masking Kumerow in man protection slips and Allen hits Kumerow with a fast throw that turns into one other first down.

Later within the first half, Allen and the Payments started to punish the Titans in the course of the sector once they used these two-deep seems to be. On this lengthy completion to Isaiah McKenzie early within the second quarter, Allen hits the receiver on a submit route, splitting the security two deep in the course of the sector:

Then, later within the third quarter, Allen used his arm expertise to resolve the two-deep conundrum:

On this play, the Titans are in Quarters protection in opposition to this 3×1 look from the Payments. On the high of the display, Caleb Farley is filming Kumerow’s “MEG”: The Man Wherever He Goes. Security on that facet, Kevin Byard, has his eyes on Dawson Knox, the within receiver on the strikes on the opposite facet of the sector. If Knox is vertical within the play, Byard will break his route. In any other case, he’ll look to assist Farley in opposition to Kumerow.

Because the play begins, Byard – among the finest safeties within the NFL – units his eyes first on Kumerow to learn his launch. He sees Kumerow go vertical, then checks on Knox. Byard reads it completely, as Knox goes to attempt to assault the center of the sector, between the safeties. Byard breaks the route…however the ball beats him there.

How? As a result of Allen additionally reads it completely and has a rocket for a proper arm.

Proper now, as a defensive coordinator, you are most likely pulling your hair out and searching for solutions. You would possibly determine, uninterested in watching Allen chip away at your backside and center, to drop one of many fuses, daring him to knock you out.


That is Allen’s subsequent cross try from Monday night time. On this snap, the Titans truly go away one of many safeties, enjoying single-high protection within the secondary. The end result? Kumerow will get behind Farley and the Payments steal a fast 39-yard acquire.

We noticed the same situation play out in Week 1 in opposition to the Rams. On this play late within the first half, the Payments face one other third down scenario. They present two-deep safeties, however roll to 1 top on the snap. Allen assaults the surface, focusing on Stefon Diggs with a behind-the-back throw:

The duty of fixing the NFL’s most vexing conundrum now falls to Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. The Payments and Dolphins meet this weekend in an early check of AFC supremacy between a pair of 2-0 groups.

Boyer is likely one of the few holdovers in Miami below new head coach Mike McDaniel and has been Miami’s defensive coordinator since 2020. He is seen Allen and this Payments offense earlier than, and he may attempt to resolve this drawback otherwise.

Cowl 0.

As we have seen in current seasons, the Dolphins are a type of defenses that depend on Cowl 0, a scheme that performs straight man protection within the secondary — with no security assist — and appears to generate near-immediate stress on the quarterback. by means of flashes.

Wanting again on the two video games between these groups a 12 months in the past, the Dolphins used Cowl 0 on 17 Payments cross makes an attempt, 13 of which got here of their Week 8 assembly. On performs like this early within the sport, you possibly can watch the Dolphins decide off a free runner on Allen and drive an incompletion from the Payments:

Security Jevon Holland, down within the field, attacking the A-Gaps with security Brandon Jones, comes by means of the road untouched and shoots free to Allen. The QB is ready to get proper and lengthen the play, however his cross to Diggs is excessive and falls incomplete.

Late within the first half, with the sport tied at three, the Payments confronted a fourth down scenario in Miami territory. Boyer known as one other stress look on Cowl 0 and compelled Allen to throw below duress:

That is all properly and good, however the issue with these designs? The margin for error is razor skinny. It’s a must to be spot on as a protection when making these calls as a result of the slightest slip up may give the offense the chance to make a giant play.

After which there’s the outdated saying: for those who go zero blitz and do not make it dwelling, the opposite group’s band will play.

Within the fourth quarter, the Payments had an opportunity to play:

With the Payments main 10-3, they face a second-and-10 on the Miami 19-yard line. Boyer makes one other Blitz Cowl 0, however this time Allen has loads of time to remain within the pocket and throw. He targets Diggs on a raid route, and with no security assist in the course of the sector, there’s a enormous throwing lane for Allen. He places the throw on the cash, the receiver collapses ultimately zone, the Payments lengthen their lead…

… and the band begins enjoying.

That is the conundrum Boyer faces this weekend. How one can decelerate the Payments passing sport. The mix of Allen’s arm expertise, the weapons round him and the alternative ways the Payments can punctuate completely different coverages presents a conundrum for Boyer.

How he tries to reply that would decide who’s atop the AFC East on Monday morning.

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