Stefon Diggs or John Brown?
The pick-your-poison conundrum the Buffalo Bills hoped to create entering the season played out just the way they envisioned in the season-opening win over the New York Jets.
The Jets didn’t have two cornerbacks who could handle the Bills’ top two receiving threats in the 27-17 Buffalo victory.
It was Brown who made the biggest plays among the Bills wide receivers. His 17-yard touchdown catch broke the game open in the second quarter, giving the Bills a 21-0 lead.
Brown also drew a 29-yard pass interference penalty and caught a 20-yard pass on the Bills’ second TD drive. Brown caught six passes for 70 yards.
Diggs was a big factor, too, catching eight passes for 86 yards in his Bills debut.
“I think we’ve got two ‘Ones,’ ” Allen said, referring to No. 1 receivers.
“A lot of people touched the ball today,” Diggs said. “And you anticipate it being that way. We’ve got a lot of weapons offensively. And we’ve got a mobile quarterback. So just kind of playing to our strengths.”
The Jets’ top two corners, Pierre Desir and Bless Austin, each were victimized. In fact, Desir was benched after the Bills completed their third straight touchdown drive in the second quarter.
Diggs was happy to throw the spotlight Brown’s way.
“I think in my opinion John Brown is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL,” Diggs said. “He’s underappreciated as well. He does a lot of things extremely well. He plays on the outside, can play on the inside as well. He has great hands, great routes. It’s fun to play with guys like that because it’s hard to double. He gives the ability for everybody to eat.”
As expected, the Jets played a safety over the top of Diggs much of the game, which left Josh Allen room to hit underneath passes to eight different targets.
Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ preferred coverage last season was a two-deep look, with a variety of four- and five-man pass rushes.
“I anticipated a lot more man,” Diggs said. “They zoned it out in the beginning. They started bringing a little more pressures in the second half.”
“They went a lot of Cover 2,” Brown said. “That’s what they normally play, but we definitely got a lot of that with Stefon Diggs being in the mix.”
The Bills put added pressure on the Jets’ cornerbacks by playing a four wide-receiver set on 15 plays, by The News’ unofficial count.
Here’s a look at some of the key plays in the game for the wideouts:
1. Audible of the game. It was a good time for Williams to blitz with the Bills facing a second-and-14 situation from the Jets’ 17 with 6:54 left in the first half.
The Bills lined up in a 1-by-3 set, with Brown alone on the right side. On the left were Diggs on the inside, Cole Beasley in the middle and Tyler Kroft on the outside.
Diggs’ presence on the inside slot was drawing the attention of the lone deep safety, Marcus Maye. Austin was showing Brown so much respect that the Bills receiver had a 12-yard cushion on the far right. So Allen switched to a quick, “now” screen to Brown.
“Yes, it was an audible by Josh, and it was a great call by him,” Brown said. “And the offensive linemen and the receivers did a great job blocking, and it was just a walk in the end zone.”
The Jets called a six-man blitz. Maye tried to rush over to contain Brown, but Diggs ran over after the catch to block Maye out of the way.
It was an easy score.
2. Deep in-cut. Allen attacked the Jets’ Cover 2 look perfectly for a 17-yard completion to Brown on the first touchdown drive. The QB gave a good run fake to draw up the linebackers, then drilled a throw into a tight window. Desir was playing outside leverage, funneling Brown to safety Bradley McDougald. But McDougald had no chance to step up in time to defend the catch, which put the Bills at the Jets’ 20.
3. Deep speed. The Bills didn’t throw many deep balls down the sideline. One of the few they tried, however, victimized Desir. Brown got a step on him down the right sideline, and Desir grabbed him, drawing a 29-yard pass interference call.
4. Comeback route. On the next play, Allen shrugged off a pass rusher and extended the play toward the right sideline. Brown was running a deep over from the left but broke off his route and outran Desir to the right sideline. It was a pretty throw on the dead run by Allen. Diggs was over the middle and was pointing for Allen to throw to Brown.
5. Eyes on Diggs. Allen’s longest completion of the game, a 29-yard pass to Cole Beasley, also was aided by Diggs’ presence. The Jets were playing a high-low coverage to Diggs’ side, with Brian Poole underneath and Nate Hairston protecting deep. That left Maye alone in the middle of the field. At the snap, Maye was shaded toward Brown on the left, and Allen hit Beasley down the right seam.
6. Precision passing. Allen and Diggs beat Cover 2 again for a 14-yard gain in the third quarter, which set up the field goal that put the Bills ahead, 24-10.
Diggs ran an out route to the left sideline. Allen put a perfect pass in the hole in the zone beyond the underneath corner (Austin) and just in front of the deep defender (Poole).
Afterward, Diggs was energized and looking for more.
"I was extremely excited,” he said of his Bills debut. “Energy just comes from within, for real. Just trying to demand the best at all times and trying to push the guys around me. We had a lot of instances – we left a lot of football out there. Not necessarily mistakes, but more on the bone, as you say.”
Allen in all alone
Brown goes up
Allen out of bounds
Knox up the middle
Moss scores a TD
Darnold in the pocket
Allen on the run
Brown into the end zone
Brown brings it in
Allen to Brown
Dancing in the end zone
Murphy sacks Darnold
Singletary up the middle
Allen sacked hard
Singletary fights for yards
Upper deck view
Allen goes high
Bass on the board
Former Bills coach
McKenzie makes a move
Allen stretches out
Davis up the sideline
Coach McDermott pumped up
Allen wiggles free
Jets kick field goal
Missing the fans
Missed field goal
Field goal good
Jets too little too late
Sam Darnold throws it up
Win for the books
The Buffalo News: Bills
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