Josh Allen’s ability to cope with heavy blitzing is a concern, but it’s not a reason to panic in the wake of Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Very few teams — maybe none — have the ability to execute zero-coverage blitzes like the Ravens.
Baltimore blitzed on 30 of 48 dropbacks in their 24-17 win over the Bills, according to Buffalo News charting.
That’s the most blitzes Allen has faced in his career, and it’s by far the highest rate (62.5%) he has seen in a single game. Furthermore, Baltimore was willing to risk all-out blitzes (by rushing six, seven or eight men) on 13 of the plays.
Allen completed only 7 of 23 passes against the blitz for 64 yards, with five sacks and one touchdown. The Bills also got 66 yards on three defensive penalties by the Ravens.
The net yardage total on the 30 blitz plays: a paltry 3.2 yards per play.
Baltimore is blitzing an NFL-high 53.4% of pass plays through 13 games.
Next up for the Bills: A Pittsburgh defense that ranks fifth in yards allowed, fifth against the pass and is second in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt.
After that: A New England defense that ranks first in yards allowed, second against the pass and sixth in sacks per pass attempt.
Pittsburgh has a quality cornerback trio in Joe Haden, Mike Hilton and Steve Nelson. Haden arguably is the equal to Baltimore’s No. 1 corner, Marlon Humphrey, but Hilton and Nelson are not as elite as the Ravens’ Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith.
Pittsburgh is blitzing on 36.5% of pass plays this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Allen and the offense did better moving the ball in the second half against the Ravens’ pressure, producing 135 yards plus another 26 via a pass interference penalty vs. 79 in the first half. He said after the game, he realized after the first half he needed to get the ball out of his hands faster.
“I have to find ways to complete the ball better,” Allen said. “Make some easier throws and allow us to continue to move the chains.”
Against a blitz on the third drive, Allen missed an open Dawson Knox deep, but had Devin Singletary open underneath.
Late in the second quarter, Allen had both Cole Beasley and Devin Singletary open underneath but took a sack.
“They had some success with it, and it’s something that I’m going to learn from,” Allen said. “We’ll look on tape and see what we can do to try to counteract that. ... We lost by seven points to a really good team. We’re not going to let one game define us.”
New England’s defensive secondary is every bit as talented as that of the Ravens, although the Pats don’t rely on the blitz as much as Baltimore. New England is blitzing a 34.4% this year, according to Pro Football Focus.
In the first meeting with New England in October, the Patriots blitzed the Bills on 22 of 52 dropbacks (42%). Allen was 5 of 9 for 79 yards against Pats blitzes before leaving the game due to a concussion.
In the three-game win streak against Miami, Denver and Dallas, the Bills had showed progress against pressure. Those teams blitzed Allen at a combined 30% rate, and Allen went 17 of 23 for 209 yards with two TDs, no interceptions and a 130.5 rating, according to News charts.