Bills bullish on 2-0 start, Giants plot Saquon strategy
Not since 2014 have the Buffalo Bills experienced a 2-0 start, and already it's safe to wonder what in the name of Fred Jackson is happening in upstate New York.
Favored to beat the New York Giants in Week 2, the Bills have the Cincinnati Bengals up next before a Week 4 game with the vaunted New England Patriots, the AFC East warden for most the past two decades.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott reminded his players that Week 1 wasn't all that pretty. It took 14 points in the fourth quarter and an inept New York Jets kicking game to get to 1-0 after trailing 16-0. It's the kind of narrative McDermott is planning to spin all week, as the Bills aim to prove their legitimacy, and McDermott leads a fight for respect for what he views as a rising threat in the AFC.
"This is Buffalo man, we don't get no credit," Bills safety Micah Hyde said. "We have no reason to think we're going to win the Super Bowl, because we don't get any credit outside of here anyways. We're going to continue to work just like Sean preaches every day.
"We're not complacent, we understand that it's going to be a day by day thing. We made mistakes in practice and learn from those before we even get out there on Sunday. So let's continue to work. No complacency here."
Buffalo's run defense brought it against the Jets, allowing 68 yards on 21 carries. But the lead back in the Giants' backfield is nearing a league of his own. Saquon Barkley had only 11 carries and four receptions last week at Dallas, as the Cowboys put the game out of reach before halftime, but he totaled 139 yards.
The Bills also recorded four sacks in the opener.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said the Bills are emphasizing getting everyone to the ball -- and moreover, getting tacklers to Barkley.
"We like to emphasize swarm tackling every week so you don't have to overemphasize when you play an elite talent like Saquon," Alexander said. "The only way you can get him down is by populating the ball.
"They love getting him (outside) on corners, he has a great spin move, great stiff arm and great burst, so we have to have a lot of guys just swarming to him, because he will make guys miss, and that second and third guy coming in has to clean him up."
Buffalo is lining up with Frank Gore behind Josh Allen again, but rookie Devin Singletary had 70 yards on four carries last week, flashing the burst that helped the Bills decide LeSean McCoy was expendable. Singletary isn't making waves about his spot on the depth chart, and said he'll take every day he can get sharing the running back room with Gore, who had 11 carries for 20 yards last week.
Singletary is recognized for his make-you-miss agility in the open field. Gore recently told Singletary to chill with the wiggle and square up to run in a straight line.
"Coming from college and to the league -- to him -- I could cut out some of the cuts that I'm making and instead get vertical and trust my speed up, that's what he means by that," Singletary said.
The Giants' depth-chart drama could soon revolve around their QB scenario. Although rookie Daniel Jones fumbled again in mop-up duty in Dallas last week, the prospect of New York beginning the season 0-2 could invite calls for the Giants to turn to Jones over Eli Manning.
Manning and head coach Pat Shurmur said the Giants are stressing urgency over panic.
"There is always urgency, you have to understand the difference between stressing and forcing, and urgency," Manning said.
Shurmur is unsure if two key starters will go Sunday. Guard Kevin Zeitler (shoulder) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) might not know their status until Friday, Shurmur said.
In Week 1, Manning found a reliable outlet in tight end Evan Engram, but he expects the Bills to work to take him away this week.
"He can run, he catches, he did a great job in the blocking game," Manning said. "I think he's so much more comfortable in the offense, and it's his second year in the offense and he is doing a great job."
--Field Level Media
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