This is an experiment that we'll be conducting not only on a weekly basis, but as a running tally throughout the 2011 NFL regular season: keeping track of who is playing where for the Buffalo Bills. The premise is simple: we're simply going to keep track of the number of reps each Bills player takes during regular season play to get a strong idea of how the Bills use personnel.
In the Bills' 38-35 Week 2 win over the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo's starting offense was on the field for 71 plays - and they needed every last one of them to eke out a huge win at home. The team was a bit beat up, particularly at receiver and along the offensive line, but managed to score five touchdowns on five second half possessions to seal the victory.
Take a look at the rep breakdown after the jump. A clear pattern is emerging after two weeks: Chan Gailey likes four-receiver formations.
Aside from right guard, the offensive line was able to go every snap in a close ball game - a luxury the Bills did not enjoy at the beginning of the 2010 season, when the line was in a state of flux that only worsened as the year progressed. When Kraig Urbik went down in the second quarter, Chad Rinehart slid right in at right guard, and the offense very obviously did not miss a beat.
As for skill position players, thanks to the implementation of the Wildcat, not one single skill player played every snap in this contest - though several were close. Clearly, Fred Jackson is a higher rep priority than C.J. Spiller is at this point, though that could change slightly after Spiller's strong performance in Week 2. Meanwhile, despite losing Roscoe Parrish in this game, the Bills were still predominantly a four-receiver team, with Ruvell Martin logging more playing time than Spiller - and just less than tight end Scott Chandler - in over a half's worth of work.
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||QB||69/71||97.2%||28-46, 264 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT|
|Brad Smith||QB||8/71||11.3%||3 carries, 14 yards|
|Fred Jackson||RB||60/71||84.5%||15 carries, 117 yards, 2 TD; 2 catches, 23 yards|
|C.J. Spiller||RB||15/71||21.1%||4 carries, 63 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards|
|Stevie Johnson||WR||66/71||93.0%||8 catches, 96 yards, 1 TD|
|Donald Jones||WR||69/71||97.2%||4 catches, 24 yards|
|Roscoe Parrish||WR||13/71||18.3%||1 catch, 16 yards|
|David Nelson||WR||60/71||84.5%||10 catches, 83 yards, 1 TD|
|Scott Chandler||TE||33/71||46.5%||2 catches, 16 yards, 1 TD|
Of the 18 offensive players that saw action in this game, here's how the entire unit stacked up in terms of number of reps. This will give you an idea of the types of formations Gailey favored on the afternoon. Hint: he likes receivers, then mixes tight ends, running backs and Wildcat quarterback Brad Smith into the equation. But there is definitely a bread-and-butter formation brewing in Buffalo.