We won’t know until later in the week when I get the opportunity to finish charting the game, but it was obvious watching it live that the Buffalo Bills quite liked to bring extra pressure on first and second down. According to multiple members of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, this is not something that they were anticipating.
After the game, a reporter mentioned to Devlin Hodges that Diontae Johnson had said that the Bills showed them some things with pressures that they hadn’t really seen on tape, and asked the quarterback about it.
“Before, on first and second down, we really weren’t expecting as many blitzes as probably what they did”, he said. “They came out there and credit to them, they had a great gameplan and they came out and executed it”.
Hodges wasn’t exactly blaming the lack of proper gameplanning to counter these blitzes for the performance of the offense, nor his own performance, but he was under pressure fairly often on the night, and at least one of his four sacks was directly attributed to bringing a defensive back off the edge.
I believe he threw the ball away about half a dozen times on the night, and pretty much all of these instances were from plays on which the Bills brought extra rushers, typically on early downs, though he did throw the ball away on third down at least once.
What does all of this mean? It’s hard to say. You obviously don’t like to hear a couple of key rookies on your offense indicate that they felt unprepared for what the defense showed you, because it’s the job of the coaching and scouting staff to prepare them for what they’re going to see.
Yet whether they anticipate more blitzes going into the game or not, the offense can still counter them by changing protections and the running backs picking up the free rushers. They simply did not do a good enough job of that on the night, and that resulted in Hodges not being settled, pretty much at any point in the night.
Generally, the Steelers have once again had among the best offensive lines in football, but they have had three or four pretty bad games now in this regard, last night’s being the latest, even if some of the blame on the sacks Hodges took still falls back on him. In fact, he’s taken 10 sacks already because he is still learning how to protect himself.