Week 5 NFL Takeaways: Bills look weary overseas; Colts must protect Richardson

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) looks at a video screen from the sideline late in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in London. (Gary McCullough/AP Photo)

A week or two from now the Buffalo Bills could be back in the win column and we might be able to chalk their Week 5 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in England up to a combination of jetlag and injuries.

Either they’ll get a mulligan for Sunday’s subpar performance or Week 5 could prove a turning point for the Bills after they didn’t play like a team coming off a stellar win over the Miami Dolphins.

Buffalo looked weary at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a 25-20 loss to the Jaguars, who had been in Europe for nearly two weeks and had adjusted to the travel and different time zone.

Jacksonville was effective on offence and nearly doubled Buffalo in time of possession at 38:12 to 21:48, which resulted in the Bills defence being visibly exhausted in the second half. Another sign fatigue was a factor for Buffalo were the 11 penalties for 109 yards the team accrued. The Bills only had 22 total flags thrown on them in the first four weeks.

This was Buffalo’s first game without Tre’Davious White after the star cornerback sustained a torn right Achilles tendon in Week 4 versus Miami and the defence was clearly worse off because of it.

Von Miller recorded one tackle in limited action in his first game back since his season-ending injury last year. Having a legend like Miller on the field is great, however Bills linebacker Matt Milano left with an apparent significant left knee injury and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones didn’t play after the opening quarter. All of a sudden the defence finds itself having to make some serious adjustments on the fly without multiple key starters.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence made several clutch throws – none bigger than a 32-yard dime to Calvin Ridley late in the fourth to convert a key third down – and leaned on a huge outing from Travis Etienne Jr., to get the job done. Lawrence’s former Clemson teammate rushed the ball 26 times for 136 yards plus two fourth-quarter touchdowns and added four catches for 48 receiving yards.

[brightcove videoID=6338686762112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Josh Allen connected with Gabe Davis on a late touchdown only for it to be called back on a penalty, so naturally the Bills quarterback went back to Davis on the very next play for an even longer touchdown that counted. It was Davis’s fourth consecutive game with a touchdown. Allen also rushed one in during a valiant fourth-quarter comeback attempt yet ultimately it was too little too late.

The Jags will look to extend their current winning streak to three next week at home in Jacksonville against the division rival Indianapolis Colts, while the Bills return to Western New York for a Week 6 Sunday night matchup against the New York Giants.

Colts, Richardson need new game plan to avoid injuries

Indianapolis rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson has shown glimpses of superstardom early this season, which is why the Colts selected him fourth overall in this year’s draft, but he has also suffered multiple avoidable injuries within the first five weeks of his pro career. Richardson left Sunday’s game versus the Titans with a right shoulder injury (one of the last injuries you want to see a right-handed QB sustain) after being tackled to the ground on a designed run.

[brightcove videoID=6338699127112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Gardner Minshew was victorious in relief of Richardson when the rookie left in Week 2 with a concussion and missed Week 3 entirely while recovering from the head injury. Minshew was again effective in relief of Richardson in Week 5 and leaned heavily on running back Zack Moss.

The severity of Richardson’s latest injury will determine how long Minshew takes over under centre this time. One thing is certain: whenever Richardson returns, the team must do a better job protecting him and one way to do that is by being far more selective of when they call those designed QB runs – especially now that Jonathan Taylor is back and has a new contract.

Stroud sets new record in loss to home hero Ridder

The only three quarterbacks to enter Week 5 with four starts and zero interceptions were the unlikely trio of Brock Purdy, C.J. Stroud and Josh Dobbs.

Cardinals backup-turned-starter Dobbs threw his first interception of the year on a pick six in the second quarter against the Bengals on Sunday, while Purdy kept his streak alive during the 49ers’ Sunday night 42-10 win against the Cowboys. Purdy has continued to thrive and improve after a breakout campaign last season as 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant. Purdy went 5-0 in the regular season as a rookie and has started this season 5-0. It’s conceivable we’ll start hearing Purdy’s name mentioned in the early MVP conversations after Sunday’s effort.

Houston would have to go on a serious winning streak for Stroud’s name to gain any traction in the MVP race, but offensive rookie of the year? That one seems entirely realistic based on the strong start he is having to his career.

[brightcove videoID=6338694300112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

The Texans rookie entered his matchup with the Falcons with 1,212 passing yards, which ranked as the second-most in a player’s first four NFL games, plus six touchdowns and zero interceptions. Stroud finished Sunday’s game 20 of 35 for 249 yards with one passing TD and most notably went another four quarters without throwing an interception. The second-overall pick from the 2023 NFL Draft currently has 186 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, which is the new and active NFL record for a rookie – not to mention he has done all this while playing behind a significantly hindered offensive line.

On the opposite sideline, Falcons second-year QB Desmond Ridder enjoyed the best outing of his young career and his team’s win means Ridder is still undefeated at home in both his college and pro career. Ridder can extend that impressive streak next week when Atlanta hosts Washington. Ridder’s efforts Sunday were certainly aided by a talent like Bijan Robinson, who hauled in a highlight-reel one-handed touchdown grab.

Robinson is someone who can definitely challenge Stroud for rookie of the year so it’s fitting the two No. 7s met up after the game.

Patriots, Belichick in ugly and uncharted territory

The Patriots were coming off a 35-point loss to the Cowboys in Week 4, the biggest loss from a point differential standpoint of Bill Belichick’s career, and New England followed that up with arguably a worse effort. Belichick’s club was blanked by New Orleans 34-0 on Sunday, so if you’re keeping track, that’s the two worst losses of Belichick’s career in back-to-back weeks. Yikes!

Patriots fans were obviously spoiled during the Tom Brady era, however the current offence doesn’t resemble anything like in seasons past and it’s becoming apparent Belichick himself doesn’t have much confidence when his team has the ball.

Drastic disparity on offence on display

One of the biggest mismatches of the day was between the Dolphins offence and Giants offence and it showed early and often. The Giants were missing Saquon Barkley and only generated 85 total yards on the ground, while Miami ran for 222 yards as a team. Also, Tua Tagovailoa had more passing yards than the Giants had total yards on offence.

New York had to rely on its defence to score the team’s first first-half touchdown of the season when Jason Pinnock intercepted Tagovailoa in the end zone for a 102-yard pick six.

[brightcove videoID=6338691337112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

The Dolphins’ initial drive went eight plays, 89 yards with five first downs and was capped off by a Jaylen Waddle score. It was a sign of things to come. De’Von Achane had another huge game with a 76-yard touchdown and the Dolphins opened the second half with Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill connecting on a 69-yard touchdown. It was back to being a video game offence for the Dolphins, unlike last week’s loss to Buffalo.

[brightcove videoID=6338702489112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

New York had more time of possession and ran more plays than the Dolphins but the Giants only averaged 3.9 yards per play compared to Miami’s 9.7 yards per play.

You’re not going to win many games in the NFL getting out-produced at that kind of rate.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.