The Buffalo Bills are a better team than the one that lost to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. Sometimes. And that’s really the kicker ain’t it? If you’re more upset about this loss than the roughly two decades of other losses to the Patriots it’s because of that potential. It’s hard to be angry when you’re expected to lose. This team shouldn’t be 7-5 and that’s why I’m upset. So let’s discuss snap counts so we can accurately apportion blame.
Offense (58 snaps)
Daryl Williams left the game for three snaps, which brought in Cody Ford at guard. Aside from that, the Bills exited the game healthy and the entire rest of the team’s usual 100 percent club made it this week. That’s Dion Dawkins, Mitch Morse, Ike Boettger, Spencer Brown, and Josh Allen.
Dawson Knox was only three snaps shy of making it himself. Tommy Sweeney added 13 snaps, meaning Buffalo played 17 percent of the game with two tight ends. They had zero FB snaps with Reggie Gilliam inactive. Ryan Bates came in for four plays or 7 percent of the game. All in all, this was similar to how the Bills played the New Orleans Saints.
I’m going to do something a bit different this week and that’s compare to the opponent. The Patriots used a sixth lineman on 61 percent of their plays. They had a FB in 49 percent of the time. They only had three snaps above 100 percent for their tight end group but I think the point is made.
With that out of the way, the Bills had their usual rotation at receiver with Stefon Diggs nearing 100 percent, followed by Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis. Jake Kumerow was there just long enough to have his attendance marked.
At running back, the Bills’ roster looked to be headed toward the Cerberus approach. After Matt Breida’s early fumble, it became the Devin Singletary and Zack Moss experience.
Defense (51 snaps)
A big shakeup this week as the Buffalo Bills did actually respond to the Patriots’ personnel choices. The 100 percent club features six of the usual seven members. Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano made the cut. So did Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Levi Wallace, and Dane Jackson (in for Tre’Davious White).
However, starting corner Taron Johnson only played 43 percent, which is a drastic deviation from their usual nickel-heavy defense. The Bills played an actual 4-3 defense for more than half the game (57 percent), which is half a game or so more than usual. The third linebacker spot was mostly filled by Tyrel Dodson, with Tyler Matakevich filling in twice. It’s possible that A.J. Klein was missed more than we thought he would be.
Similarly, the Bills only had one “extra” snap for a defensive end. Buffalo likes to rotate the faster group along the interior. This was unnecessary with the Patriots basically refusing to throw the ball. Buffalo also had Eli Ankou active and on the field for a third of the game. Ankou was active against the Indianapolis Colts and Saints as well. If you need to know one thing about Ankou, it’s that he’s listed at 325 lbs. That’s heavier than Ed Oliver, Harrison Phillips, and even Star Lotulelei.
Special teams (23 snaps)
Matt Haack had a decent game at least.