NFL WEEK 4: Bills and Packers continue to roll; Herbert shows growth for Chargers; coaching dilemma in ATL

photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

By Nic Gelyon

The Buffalo Bills are setting themselves apart from the pack. 

The Bills are now one of only four teams in the NFL that remain undefeated through Week Four. Their style of play — a rare combination of physicality and finesse — is reminiscent of last year’s Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs. 

Sunday afternoon, in the Buffalo’s 30-23 win against the Las Vegas Raiders, Josh Allen threw for 288 yards, with leading receiver Stefon Diggs hauling in 115 of them. Running back Devin Singletary was also a force Sunday, touching the ball 23 times for 76 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. 

Both teams played well: There were only four punts combined all afternoon- meaning that this was a game that came down to pure skill. And in that department, the Bills delivered. 

That’s a tremendous sign if you’re a Bills fan, because this game officially told you that the Bills’ talent is a force to be reckoned with. You’re playing with fire when you play the Bills.  

The Raiders also have a solid, young-but-inexperienced core with players like Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. They also have a veteran spine, in guys like Derek Carr and Jason Witten. But the Bills proved Sunday that as a team trying to win now, they simply have a better foundation.  

From the beginning, the game never really seemed in doubt. However, the game was a lot closer than it seemed, both statistically and in the score. The Bills only held a 17-13 lead going into halftime. 

But was the game ever in doubt? The answer is no. 

It comes down to the fact that this Bills team is maturing. It seems like an obvious statement to make- a Bills team that has been steadily improving for three-to-four years now is finally growing up. But maturation in football is an underrated concept, in ways you might not expect. 

Right out of the gate, the Bills went down and scored on a 26-yard pass from Allen to rookie receiver Gabriel Davis. Less than five minutes into the first quarter, on the first drive of the game, Josh Allen passed six times. He made sure he went to weapons he trusted: Diggs, Singletary, Davis. The Bills let the Raiders beat themselves, as a Las Vegas penalty turned a Bills third-and-11 in to a third-and-six just over a minute into the game. 

The Bills — Sean McDermott included — have learned how glorious it feels to make this kind of statement early in a game. 

That first drive showed growing maturity in not only the Buffalo players, but also in McDermott. He knows that he doesn’t have a team that can afford to wait-and-see early in a game. McDermott practices the mind-game that is football. He knows that the statement his team made left a lasting impression on the Raiders. 

McDermott made us all believe that the game was over before it had even started. All at once, Bills Mafia felt a collective trust in the Buffalo Bills. When’s the last time you’ve felt that? 

My hot take for the day: these Bills can do what the Chiefs did last year. They can win the Super Bowl. 

Two words: Justin Herbert. 

Herbert, fresh out of college at Oregon, went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in the Chargers’ 38-31 loss Sunday afternoon. Without much of a rushing attack to speak of, (46 yards for the Chargers compared the Buccaneers’ 115) Herbert managed to go touchdown to touchdown with Brady late in the game as the Chargers blew a 24-7 lead in the second half.  

Herbert alone kept the Chargers in that football game. 

Now, I’ve admittedly calmed down since Sunday. I’ve come to the realization that Herbert probably looked amazing the way Daniel Jones looked amazing against the Buccaneers last year. Tampa Bay has one of the worst secondaries in football. But he still showed laser accuracy while standing in the pocket. He looked poised in what was only his third NFL start. He had a chance to break records Sunday. 

One thing, though, is for sure: Tyrod Taylor is starting QB for the Chargers no more. 

We must stop worrying about the Green Bay Packers. 

First: for Packers fans angry that they haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 2011- well, the Bills haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1994. Argument over. 

Anyway, the team that went 13-3 and got to the NFC Conference Championship last year did what they were supposed to do against the Atlanta Falcons. They did what three other teams haven’t really been able to do this season. 

They took a sledgehammer to one of the worst teams in the NFL. They went into halftime with a 20-3 lead. They won the game 30-16, handing the 0-4 team their largest margin of loss yet Monday night. 

The Packers are a real football team. After all, they are 4-0. 

Oh, the Falcons. It seems I will never understand the Atlanta Falcons. 

Dan Quinn is confused. Dan Quinn is frustrated. These are actual quotes from – guess who – Dan Quinn. 

Jeff Schultz, Atlanta sportswriter for The Athletic, tweeted yesterday that “there’s no indication at this time that Falcons coach Dan Quinn is getting fired today”. 

Who did get fired yesterday? Bill O’Brien, who led the Texans to the playoffs four times in seven seasons as head coach, reaching the divisional round twice- including just last year, when they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. 

Quinn has only made the playoffs twice since becoming Falcons head coach in 2015. His record is only 43-40 after 4 additional losses this season. 

Quinn is quite literally the last one standing. It’s time for the Falcons to give up on this game. 

NFL WEEK 2 COLUMN: Allen leads Bills, Chargers can’t finish, league fines coaches for mask violations

photo: Eric Espada/Getty Images

By Nic Gelyon

Josh Allen now has two plays that Bills fans may never forget. 

T-shirt worthy plays, if you will. 

First, the game: Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who completed 65% of his passes only three times in 2019, now has a 70.37 completion percentage through two games in 2020.

Allen threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns in Buffalo’s 31-28 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, a game in which the Bills were missing Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano: two of their key defensive players.

Now, the play. 

It was not an incredibly important time in the game. The Bills were up 17-7 with a minute and two seconds left in the first half. 

Facing a third down from their own 33-yard line, Allen dropped back to throw and proceeded to escape from the Miami defensive front to his left. 

Anyone who has ever seen Josh Allen run knows the Dolphins were now in trouble. Allen still looked to pass, though, and pump-faked before realizing he was out of options.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy barreled ahead at Allen, and after colliding head-on, they were both headed for the ground. Allen’s hands met Van Noy’s chest while Van Noy’s arms surrounded his shoulders. A perfect tackle in the making.

Allen’s down… But he’s not.

Van Noy loses his grip on Allen, who is still standing but almost on the ground himself. The perfect combination of flash and might, Allen proceeds to run right through Emmanuel Ogbah, and into the arms of several other Dolphins defenders.  

We don’t need to talk about the fact that Allen could have destroyed his throwing arm on this play, or that he almost fumbled the ball toward the end.  

Allen, if he continues to be a combination of physical dominance and passion for his team, showed Sunday afternoon that he may just be unstoppable. And he never showed it more than with one minute to play in the half, deep in his own zone, up by ten against a mediocre Dolphins team.  

That speaks volumes.

TO THE WEST, the Los Angeles Chargers – for the umpteenth year in a row – continue to suffer massive collapses at the end of games.  

They did it again on Sunday. The Chargers, up 17-0 against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, let KC score 17 unanswered points before allowing a last-minute Harrison Butker field goal to win it for the Chiefs in overtime.  

This was always an issue that fell on the lap of former Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, or Mike McCoy, or Marty Schottenheimer. Any one of the Chargers’ old guard. 

But they aren’t in Los Angeles – or San Diego – anymore.  

So, who is to blame for the Chargers’ misfortune? I personally tend to believe that teams have a personality. The Patriots are smarter than you. The Seahawks are tougher than you. The Rams are flashier than you.  

The Chargers cannot finish a close game. 

I RETWEETED ESPN’s Adam Schefter Sunday night, after he jokingly said that Seattle and New England were winning awards for ‘best drama’.  

He’s not lying though.  

“Sunday Night Football’ gets it right, it seems, every single weekend. And I understand that it’s the NFL who decides which primetime games go to which network, and that they seem to give the best games to NBC. 

But the NFL puts those games on Sunday night because of the effort NBC puts in to making their broadcast better than everyone else’s. 

By the way, Sunday Night Football has won 10 “Outstanding Live Sports Series” Emmys over the past 12 years. And, per Deadline, they beat the Emmys in the ratings by about 7 million viewers Sunday night. 

SUNDAY afternoon, the NFL, guns a-blazing, up and fined Kyle Shanahan, Vic Fangio, and Pete Carroll for not wearing masks during their respective games. 

All three wore neck gaiters, well, around their neck. All while continuing to prowl the sidelines. 

This raises a few questions: one, should the NFL ban the neck gaiter? Because it’s obviously become more of a scarf than a protection device for NFL coaches.  

Two: what’s the issue with the neck gaiter and the headset? Can you not communicate through a gaiter for some reason? I ask because I find I can hear and talk just fine through a gaiter. And you know, I can do the same through a regular mask, as well.  

A point I saw all over NFL Twitter on Sunday night was, that shouldn’t the NFL have called to teams during these games to get coaches to put their masks on?  

The answer, for me at least, is no. Because the NFL is allowing fans into stadiums, and lots of them. Because the NFL doesn’t – and never will – care about the optics of anything they do. Because the NFL is consistently late to the party on the issues that matter most, to their players and their fanbase.  

Because no matter how long we had to watch Pete Carroll’s gum-chewing, mask-less face parading the sidelines Sunday night, nothing was going to take the wider, general focus off the football game. And that is what makes the NFL indestructible.