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Carucci Take2: Bills face another bad offense that can’t stretch the field

The uniforms might be different, but this is virtually the same team the Bills faced last Sunday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Here are my five thoughts about the Buffalo Bills’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at TIAA Bank Stadium:

1. The uniforms might be different, but this is virtually the same team the Bills faced last Sunday.

The Jaguars are 1-6. The Miami Dolphins, who the Bills beat last Sunday, are 1-7. Back-to-back bottom-dwellers.

But besides winning only one game, the other dubious distinction the Jaguars and Dolphins have is their offenses are mostly incapable of making big plays in the passing game. 

Therefore, opposing defenses are able to keep their offenses compressed and force them to try to move the ball with runs and/or short/intermediate throws. That’s particularly problematic because neither team has much in the way of a running game. The Dolphins rank 30th in the NFL in that department, while the Jaguars are 15th and their top back, James Robinson, is dealing with a heel/ankle injury that could keep him out Sunday.

Though Jags rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has plenty of arm strength and ability to hit deep passes, he doesn’t have the targets capable of stretching defenses. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa simply doesn’t push the ball downfield.

2. This should be another day when the Bills’ defense dominates.

It wouldn’t shock me if it gets its third shutout of the season. It also wouldn’t shock me if it adds to its turnover total.

The Bills’ defensive front should be able to throw a figurative blanket over Lawrence and the rest of the Jaguars’ offense. The pressure should be turned up from the very start and cause the Jags to function with a sense of desperation that likely will lead to mistakes beyond those that aren’t forced.

3. The Bills can’t allow the Jaguars’ ineptitude to influence their play.

It’s fair to say that’s what happened through the better part of the first three-quarters last Sunday. From the start of the game, Josh Allen and the rest of the Bills’ offense showed a lack of energy and looked most out of sync. It was as if the Bills believed they merely had to take the field and they would win.

It’s easy to see why. This season, the Bills are 5-0 against teams with a .500 record or worse. Their wins have come against the 1-7 Dolphins (twice), the 1-7 Houston Texans, the 2-6 Washington Football Team, and the 4-4 Kansas City Chiefs.

It’s true that they only needed a little more than a quarter to beat the Dolphins. It’s also true the Bills have an NFL-best plus-120-point differential. They have the No. 1 scoring offense and No. 1 scoring defense. The Jaguars have a minus-80-point differential, which ranks 28th in the league.

Still, the Bills can’t count on getting away with that against every weaker opponent on the schedule.

4. The Bills’ injury list shouldn’t be a major concern.

It’s long, but this game is winnable even if the Bills will be missing some of their starters. Their depth is solid and more than strong enough to allow them to cruise to an easy victory – provided they don’t treat the game as a day off.

5. Doing nothing at Tuesday’s trade deadline was the right way for the Bills to go.

Their roster didn’t need any tweaking. It’s loaded with enough talent to not only win the AFC East but also make a Super Bowl run.

All the discussion about Mitchell Trubisky being a prime candidate for trade because it would allow the Bills to get something for him this year rather than getting nothing from his inevitable free-agent departure after this season didn’t seem to make much sense.

Given the Bills’ stature as a championship contender and Trubisky’s as arguably the NFL’s best backup quarterback, it would figure to be more logical to hang onto him as insurance. Should the Bills be without Allen for a few games through the balance of the season, Trubisky should be capable of keeping them afloat.