Commanders’ stats of the week: Bills’ Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs are tough foes

All week, Washington Commanders players and coaches have expressed measured excitement about the 2-0 start because the next opponent presents a major challenge. The Buffalo Bills are 1-1, but Coach Ron Rivera insisted “records don’t mean anything in this situation.”

“This is one of the elite teams,” he said. “We’ve got to gear up. We’ve got to practice, prepare, get ourselves ready to go. [This game will] give us a great opportunity to see where we stand.”

Buffalo relies on many of the same key figures as previous years — quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Matt Milano, safety Micah Hyde — except Coach Sean McDermott is now the defensive play-caller following the departure of coordinator Leslie Frazier.

Let’s dig into the stats to know for the Bills.

Four fourth-down attempts last week

Buffalo is one of the best teams in the league at fourth downs. McDermott is a conservative coach — his 45 fourth-down attempts since 2020 rank 31st in the NFL, according to the website TruMedia — but when he does go for it, the team is effective.

Last week, Buffalo faced five fourth downs in the red zone and went for it four times — three times needing one yard, once needing two. The Bills converted three of them. Both quarterback sneaks were successful, and one of the two passes worked. The aggression was key to securing a 38-10 win over Las Vegas.

Football analytics website, which evaluates the magnitude of fourth-down chances and a team’s ability to convert them, regularly grades the Bills as one of the league’s best.

Washington’s defense should be prepared to defend the Bills for four downs in the red zone.

12 touchdown passes on the run

One way to illustrate how dangerous Allen is — combining arm strength, athleticism and creativity — is this: touchdown passes on the run.

Next Gen Stats defines “on the run” as anytime a quarterback is moving 8 mph or faster. In Week 2, Allen was elite on the run, completing 7 of 8 passes for 73 yards and two scores. He has thrown 12 touchdowns on the run since 2022, three more than any other quarterback.

The Commanders’ fearsome front four is reunited. Opponents, beware.

In Week 1, Allen had one of his most impressive touchdown throws on the run. He was moving 17.33 mph and just 0.7 yards from the sideline when he unleashed a dot to Diggs for a five-yard score.

Yet this same aggression makes Allen turnover prone — he has had more turnovers since 2018 (84) than anyone else in the NFL.

This week in the locker room, Washington defenders spoke about needing to defend every blade of grass because Allen could use each one to make spectacular plays — or defenders could force Allen into game-changing turnovers.

11 explosive plays allowed

The Bills defense uses a lot of coverages with two high safeties to prevent explosive plays. The team has allowed 11 explosive plays all year — the same number Washington’s offense had last week alone — and so the Commanders’ offense has preached patience all week.

“We got to be patient to drive the length of the field because they don’t play a defense where they’re willing to give up a big play,” assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. “That’s not who they are. These guys are very sound. They’re very fundamentally sound. They’re very disciplined. They do a great job of over-communicating, and they play hard and they play fast.”

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