Benford leads defense, Kumerow leads receivers, James Cook shows up.
What a statement win for the Buffalo Bills! After losing both matchups in back-to-back seasons against the Tennessee Titans, the Bills had enough and were clearly playing with a bit of revenge. Both sides of the ball were dominant and the score was 41-7 by the end of the third quarter, resulting in nearly all starters resting the entire fourth quarter. After Week 1, Bills Mafia was feeling good about the potential of this Bills squad. But it’s safe to say, the hype and expectations have further increased.
Offense (68 snaps)
The snap counts look quite different from Week 1 due to both injuries and the fact that the starters sat out for the entire fourth quarter. Left tackle Dion Dawkins and offensive guard Ryan Bates were the only members of the 100% club with offensive guard Roger Saffold and right tackle Spencer Brown not too far behind at 85% and 76% respectively. Center Mitch Morse went down with an elbow injury on the first drive of the game but eventually came back in the second quarter. Center Greg Van Roten registered 56% of snaps and did a solid job considering the situation. It’s odd that head coach Sean McDermott didn’t move Bates over to center but this just proves offensive line depth is a very important factor.
With wide receiver Gabe Davis tweaking his ankle on Saturday, he was ruled out. As much as Bills Mafia loves wide receivers Jake Kumerow, Isaiah McKenzie and rookie Khalil Shakir, that isn’t an eye-opening core outside of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. However, Diggs is simply too good and did everything himself. Kumerow led all receivers, registering 53 offensive snaps. It’s slightly concerning to see McKenzie’s snap count so low at 46% because we’ve seen what he can do when thrown the ball, but it seemed he played exclusively in the slot. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder split slot reps as Kumerow lined up opposite of Diggs. Shakir was… underwhelming. Registering only 24 snaps, Shakir failed to haul in either of his targets and also missed a huge block on 4th & 1 resulting in Josh Allen getting blown up.
It was promising to see tight end Quintin Morris get the start over Tommy Sweeney now that he’s healthy. He flashed a few times both blocking and catching. Tight end Dawson Knox was still relatively quiet but he tallied 69% of snaps and made some key catches when it mattered.
Up until the end of the third quarter when all starters began to sit, the Bills only ran the ball nine times. The run game was effective, averaging 4.2 yards per carry but they simply didn’t need to run when Diggs and Allen were playing the way they were. Running back Devin Singletary led all backs with 37 snaps but rookie running back James Cook led the team in carries (11). Cook looked good and appears to be out of the doghouse, which makes the Bills’ offense even more versatile. One last note worth mentioning is that fullback Reggie Gilliam only registering 18 snaps, but he made a huge difference on the field. He was worth the extension: fullbacks matter!
Defense (56 snaps)
It’s awesome to see the rookie seventh-round cornerback Christian Benford leading the defense in snaps. It tells you a lot about the type of coach McDermott is that he’s willingly starting a seventh-round corner over his first-round corner. Cornerback Dane Jackson had a very scary neck/spine injury when he accidentally collided with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds but he walked out of the hospital himself and avoided any major injuries. Seeing cornerback Kaiir Elam register 66% of snaps is also a promising because the expectations for him are high and Bills Mafia wants to see him in action as much as possible.
Linebackers Matt Milano and Edmunds were phenomenal, registering the same amount of snaps (45). Rookie linebacker Terrell Bernard registered 16 snaps, with most coming in the fourth quarter. But the more playing time for these young guys, the better.
Possibly the biggest question mark coming into this matchup was how the Bills would slow down running back Derrick Henry without both Ed Oliver and Tim Settle at defensive tackle. The Bills elevated defensive tackles Brandin Bryant and C.J. Brewer from the practice squad ahead of the game and both registered at least 38% of snaps. The gameplay for Henry worked because he was held to just 25 yards and a touchdown (that had an obvious false start).
Although the Bills only totaled two sacks, the pass rush was still very strong even without Oliver. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, defensive end Greg Rousseau and obviously EDGE Von Miller provided tremendous pressure, forcing quarterback Ryan Tannehill to make mistakes—and he did. It’s interesting to see defensive tackle Da’Quan Jones register more snaps than Miller but, again, the Bills sat starters for an entire quarter in a Week 2 game. Can we even complain?
Special Teams (27 snaps)
- FB Reggie Gilliam: 25 snaps, 93%
- LB Tyrel Dodson, LB Tyler Matakevich, RB Taiwan Jones, S Siran Neal: 20 snaps, 74%
- S Jaquan Johnson, LB Terrell Bernard, TE Quintin Morris: 19 snaps, 70%
The usual special teamers like fullback Reggie Gilliam, linebacker Tyler Matakevich, safety Siran Neal, etc. led the way in snaps but some surprising names popped up. Tight end Quintin Morris registered 70% of special teams snaps—the same as players such as safety Jaquan Johnson and linebacker Tyrel Dodson.
The Bills finally punted! Punting is a rare occurrence for the Bills at this point. If the starters were to stay in, the snap count for certain players would be much lower. But good for punter Sam Martin, who had a phenomenal game.