The Jaguars head to Orchard Park, New York to take on the Bills on Sunday. To help us better prepare for this matchup and learn more about the 2018 Buffalo Bills, I spoke with Corey Giacovelli from Buffalo Rumblings — SB Nation’s website for all things Buffalo Bills.
I asked Corey about Josh Allen, the confidence in the coaching staff, the very good Buffalo defense and more. Check it it below:
1. After playoff droughts for both teams that spanned several years, the Jaguars and Bills each made the playoffs last season and met in the Wild Card round. Fast forward to now and both franchise have struggled to build off of that success. For Jacksonville this was unexpected, but for Buffalo, perhaps this was known due to changes at quarterback and elsewhere. Is the fan base confident in the direction the franchise is heading?
Corey: The fan base is hit or miss depending on if they understand what a rebuild entails. Making the playoffs last year was lucky to be honest because we needed a result that was out of our hands. The problem with making it was that fans expected us to be in contention yet again when that wasn’t the case since the team was still in rebuild mode. Fans will be able to make it through this season, but next year is when they will get rowdy and upset if there are not the results they anticipate.
2. What are your honest thoughts about Josh Allen? Of course he has missed the past few games, but is he the future of this team, are you wary or are you taking more of a wait-and-see approach with Allen?
Corey: Allen is a wait-and-see approach because the steps he has to overcome are mental. He clearly has the arm strength and athleticism to be successful in this league, but the area he has to improve on the most is handling blitzes. We saw him early in the season failing to diagnose where the blitz was coming from and shifting protection in response to it. That is the biggest area I am looking at when he returns because that is what his development will depend on.
3. Prior to the bye week, the Bills offense had an offensive explosion with Matt Barkley under center and LeSean McCoy looking like his old self. It sounds as if Allen will draw the start at quarterback against Jacksonville on Sunday, but who would you rather see at QB against Jacksonville’s tough pass defense and why?
Corey: I want to see Allen because it looked as if last week the offense was being opened up in response to his return. We saw the team add speedy receivers to the roster and pushing the passing game vertically down the field. Yes, Barkley completed a lot of passes down the field, but they did not look pretty at all. With Allen letting the ball fly, I feel he is the best fit for this offense. Barkley may have gotten lucky last week due to the appearance of the Jets quitting, but the Jaguars defense is a whole new animal.
4. Speaking of pass defense, Buffalo is actually now the No. 1 ranked passing defense and No. 2 ranked total defense (also No. 10 against the run). On the flip side, the Bills rank No. 31 in total offense and No. 32 in passing offense. How has the defense been able to help mitigate the offensive woes and put this team in position to win a few games?
Corey: It starts on the back end of the defense taking away the passing game. Much like the Jags have (Jalen) Ramsey, we have Tre’Davious White who is that guy you can depend on to lock down the number one receiver on the other side of the ball. Mixed with that is a front seven that has been consistently getting to the quarterback, something the team was lacking last season. We have two young linebackers in the middle of the defense in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, so most of the time the performance of the defense depends on how those two are performing against the run and play action passes.
5. What is the confidence level in Sean McDermott and the coaching staff?
Corey: The confidence level is at about 50 percent because of two reasons. The first is that we have full faith in the defense that he was able to build and the quality of play he has been able to get out of a lot of young guys. The problem is the lack of faith on offense is obvious. McDermott has shown nothing yet that he is able to build an offense that can consistently put up points. Next season will be his third with the team and with the salary space the team has, people are expecting the roster to have sufficient talent on both sides of the ball. If the offense next year is what it is like this year, you may find him on the hot seat.
Bonus: score prediction? 13-6 Jaguars
Double Bonus: Is Bills Mafia still lighting tables on fire and jumping through them?
Corey: I think so but the police has been preventing it near the stadium, haha
For more, check out my crossover piece on Buffalo Rumblings.