Lineup experimentation and the incorporation of project players went by the wayside for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, as for the most part they stuck with their usual faces in pursuit of their 27-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Let's dive into the numbers.
When the Bills use their fullback(s) more than they use their third receiver, you know they've made a sudden and dramatic shift in philosophy. Granted, the Bills were also using Frank Summers as their third running back on the day, but if you add in the numbers for Lee Smith, it's clear that the team was going big on Sunday. The only downside to that approach: a smaller than ideal workload for Marquise Goodwin, who nonetheless drew two big penalties in the game.
This idea that Robert Woods is the Bills' No. 1 receiver is not without merit. Stevie Johnson's numbers are better, but Woods and EJ Manuel have had longer stretches where they've clicked than Manuel and Johnson have. That was painfully evident on Sunday, as well - though obviously, there may have been outside circumstances that played into that dichotomy.
Chris Gragg had a nice day, and he did it with only five snaps played. If he can make more plays like that, his snap counts should increase.
Buffalo had planned on rotating backup guard J.J. Unga into the lineup at right guard, but the team was performing so well up front from the second quarter on that the Bills seemed to decide to just roll with it. The only reserve lineman to play was Thomas Welch, who came in on the goal line play that yielded a touchdown throw from Manuel to Summers.
Marcell Dareus left this contest early with a reported ankle injury, leading to inflated rep numbers for Corbin Bryant (and, to a lesser degree, Stefan Charles). Dareus had taken more snaps than Kyle Williams in each of the previous three games, to give you a ballpark idea at the number of snaps that the team distributed after Dareus left.
Aaron Williams was the other Bills defender to leave early when he injured his ribs. Da'Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard were the main beneficiaries; Searcy hadn't played that much since the New Orleans game, and Leonhard broke double digits for the first time in a month.
Thanks to the Jaguars playing from behind for most of the second half, the Bills spent a lot of time in nickel, as evidenced by slightly elevated numbers for Jerry Hughes and Nickell Robey. Both players turned in very solid performances in the victory. Staying in sub-packages put a dent in the numbers for Nigel Bradham, who remains firmly ahead of Arthur Moats late in the season, but who was down from 47 snaps a week ago.