After yesterday's 23-21 win over the Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills are 3-4 heading into next Sunday's road game in New Orleans. Before we get to that, however, there's much more to discuss from yesterday's divisional win, and we'll start, as always, by taking a look at the playing time percentages for Buffalo's personnel.
We're also keeping track of these snap counts on a year-to-date basis, which you can access here.
If you had told me, when he was writhing in pain holding his knee in the first quarter, that Jackson would play more snaps than Spiller and Choice combined, I'd have... well, believed it. The man has Gumby legs. That said, we should be worried about that knee moving forward, because it's probably an injury that will linger for a while.
Speaking of lingering injuries, Spiller might have had his least effective game since 2010 yesterday. (Actually, there's no might about it - he did.) It may be time for the Bills to bite the bullet and sit Spiller for a week to get him back as close to 100 percent as possible. It's easier to justify using Spiller in a limited capacity when he's still effective, but that was not the case yesterday.
After scoring a massive touchdown and getting open deep twice on Cincinnati last week, Goodwin completely disappeared from Buffalo's offense in Miami, playing fewer snaps than reserve tight end Gragg. It's tough to come up for an explanation for that one, but Graham did make another reception deep, so the vertical element still exists without Goodwin. Still, it's odd that he was so absent.
When the Bills play teams that can threaten off the edge - Miami is very much one of those teams, with lots of schemed blitzes and the presence of Cameron Wake - Lee Smith is Buffalo's rebuttal. He acts as a sixth tackle in passing situations; it's worth noting, however, that Lewis was sacked four more times yesterday and hit early and often.
On another day in which Lawson suffered an injury, Nigel Bradham disappeared again, but Jerry Hughes stepped up to the plate with some big reps. In general, though, the Bills chose to rush four against Miami's overmatched offensive line and play Alonso and a slew of defensive backs behind that rush, so numbers were a bit up for Williams, Williams and Dareus, the core group up front.
Speaking of Alonso: he's still batting 1.000 this year, having taken every snap defensively, but with just four tackles on Sunday, he is coming off of his quietest pro performance by far. We'll be looking into how the Dolphins avoided the Legend of Alonso in film study this week.
Over the last two weeks, with Gilmore back in the lineup, the Bills have developed a nice four-man rotation at corner featuring McKelvin, Aaron Williams, Gilmore and Robey. That continued in Miami, with Gilmore taking up a larger chunk of the pie as the functional fourth cornerback (he played 26 snaps last week). Gilmore remains a liability, but in limited snaps, he's provided welcome relief for what was a thin group early in the season.
Byrd also saw his snap count increase, with the Bills using him more than any safety other than Leonhard (who, by the way, had a pretty bad day). The Bills may soon settle into a three-man safety rotation featuring Searcy and Leonhard as the proverbial starters, with Byrd kicking Searcy down into the box when he's in the lineup. When the Bills are healthier at corner and Williams slides back to safety, we're betting on No. 23 displacing Leonhard from the starting lineup.