Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians said going into Sunday’s game that he considered Buffalo the best screen team in the league. That healthy respect for the Bills screen game had Indy’s defense ready to neutralize it.
Screen passes have been an integral part of Buffalo’s offense this season and not many teams have had much success stopping it, but the Colts did, mainly by grabbing the receiving targets and impeding their progress.
“They were doing a good job of their inside guys grabbing our screen guys,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “So we actually went to more of the outside screens than the inside screens and had a little bit of success, not as much in the fourth quarter. They were grabbing the receivers and mirroring them and not letting them get out.”
“That one D-lineman he grabbed me right there and they were looking for it,” said C.J. Spiller. “The whole game they were calling out the screens and calling out the draws. And they did a good job of defending it. That was probably the best team that defended our screen game so far. We’ve just got to see what we can do to design it better to get guys open so it can be a big part of our offense. But those guys did a good job of defending it.”
Arians admitted after the game that they were lobbying with the officials to keep an eye out for the Bills sending an illegal man downfield to block on the screens.
“We put a bunch of emphasis with the officials on the linemen being downfield,” said Arians. “They’re a great screen team, the one got us down there in the red zone was a well-executed one. I still think the guard was downfield but that doesn’t matter, that’s not the officials fault.”
In the end Ryan Fitzpatrick had to throw some designed screen passes away as the Colts either chucked the receiving targets or got hands in the passing lanes with their pass rush.
“I had to throw one away, I threw one we got a holding call on. I threw a couple to Donald. We had some stuff that we did. I think they were very aware and conscious of it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think when you play a team like this their rush is tough so they’re getting at you faster and you’ve got to get the screen off a little faster and that makes it difficult.”
Knowing the copycat league that it is the Bills can expect that their future opponents including the Jaguars this week will pay very close attention to what the Colts did successfully to stymie Buffalo’s screen game.
Tags: C.J. Spiller, Chan Gailey, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Posted in Inside the Bills