Below are grades for every Buffalo Bills player on every play in the team’s Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots. Cumulative grades and snap counts have been added.
(For a quick primer on this project, this is from the introduction article. Here's a link to the entire thing.)
As I re-watch each game, I’ll be assigning number grades to each Bills player on every play this year, so keep in mind... the grades themselves will be inherently subjective. However, they should provide a relatively good idea of which players are struggling and excelling on the field. This system is not precisely how Pro Football Focus grades — they have multiple graders for each game and use a different numbering system — but it’s similar. Below you’ll find that grades were assigned in 0.2-point intervals on a scale from -1.0 to +1.0 on each play for each player.
Offense vs. Patriots
|Player||Overall||Run-Block||Pass-Block||Pass||Run||Receiving||Penalty||Snaps (77 = 100%)|
(I’m trying an easier-to-read structure)
Tyrod Taylor — His -0.8 pass grade marks the second-lowest score of the season, a grade slightly lower than the -0.6 he received in Week 1 against the Ravens. As usual, Taylor was marvelous as a runner, evading a handful of sacks. I don’t think it’d be fair to completely discount the rain in this one, but he threw errantly on a few intermediate passes, was pinpoint accurate on basically all of his downfield throws and was fine in the short passing game.
Richie Incognito — Had a terrific, bounce-back performance after his disappointing effort against the Dolphins in Week 8. Incognito anchored well in pass protection and was his typical bull-dozing self on pulls. There were a scattering of miscommunications on twists that led to pressure, especially late in the game. Overall, a solid effort for the veteran left guard.
Cordy Glenn — Surrendered more hurries than I’m accustomed to seeing from him, but he made up for it with plenty of fundamentally sound pass-protecting reps. Glenn wasn’t asked to do much in the run game.
Eric Wood — Was essentially on roller skates all afternoon. Whether it was Malcom Brown, big nose tackle Alan Branch or a blitzing linebacker, Wood had significant anchoring issues against New England. After a steady albeit unspectacular start to the 2016 season, he’s had consecutive poor showings, particularly in pass protection. He’s very assignment sound when blocking for the run.
John Miller — I’ll say this about Miller’s game against the Patriots... he wasn’t as bad as he was against Miami (season-worst +0.4 overall grade) but there wasn’t the same dominance he displayed in the first month and a half of the season. However, his +1.6 score was the second-highest among Buffalo’s starting offensive linemen, which is telling as to how far Miller has come in Year 2.
Jordan Mills — He’s routinely getting help via chips from RBs and TEs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Then again, I do know Seattle’s Cliff Avril predominantly lines up at LDE, so there should be many Mills vs. Avril battles in Week 9. Against New England, Mills wasn’t atrocious by any stretch, but there were some blatant whiffs that led to quick pressure on Taylor.
Charles Clay — His most impactful day as a run-blocker this season, as shown by his +1.2 run-block grade. Clay could certainly make more of an impact in the passing game, yet he’s undoubtedly earning a share of his big contract as blocker in 2016. As a receiver, he needs to show better hands.
Nick O’Leary — Has come a long way since his rookie season. Because he’s not a monstrous TE, O’Leary won’t ever be a true road-grading blocker. But don’t tell him that. He works super hard in the run game and clearly has some value as a receiver. He’s now had a +1.0 run-block grade in two of his last three contests.
Reggie Bush — Fine if he’s used as a screen-game, wheel route, angle route decoy-ish figure... but I don’t feel he should be taking carries away from Mike Gillislee or even Jonathan Williams at this point.
Jonathan Williams — Speaking of the rookie runner, he had a trio of sturdy blocks in pass protection, which should / could earn him more playing time.
Walt Powell — A weird day for the speedy wideout. Powell probably should have come down with one if not two of Taylor’s deep targets to him, but he has proven to possess the ability to separate from most cornerbacks. His ridiculously difficult grab from EJ Manuel was the best any Bills receiver has made thus far in 2016 and a type of reception in traffic Buffalo needs its pass-catchers to make more often.
Mike Gillislee - He’s considerably more "linear," or, "north-south" than LeSean McCoy, but, man, Gillislee is one decisive, one-cut-and-go runner. He uses his impressive speed on outside runs and has showcased awesome vision on inside runs this season. A whopping 10 of his 81 careers in a Bills uniform have gone for 15+ yards. He needs get more touches, regardless of whether or not McCoy is on the field.
Offense: Through Week 8
|Player||Overall||Run-Block||Pass-Block||Pass||Run||Receiving||Penalty||Snaps (510 = 100%)|
Defense vs. Patriots
|Player||Overall||Run Stop||Pass Rush||Coverage||Penalty||Snaps (68 = 100%)|
Marcell Dareus -- The Bills must be thrilled to have Dareus back. He was a wrecking ball against the run and registered a handful of pressures (plus one sack) against the Patriots. His ability to stand his ground when facing double teams -- and sometimes beat them — coupled with his quickness, power, and refined hand use make him such an impactful defender. With Dareus on the field, it’ll be much harder to run the football against Buffalo than it was during the first seven weeks of the season.
Kyle Williams — Absolute monster in his game, and his +3.4 grade was his best thus far in 2016. Williams’ burst off the snap and power were evident frequently... it didn’t matter if it was a run or a pass. On one play, he drove left guard Joe Thuney back into the fullback Joe Devlin and nearly toppled him over as well. For most of the first seven weeks, Williams left much to be desired as a pass-rusher, but not in this one. He will give Seattle’s guards all they can handle... and then some on MNF.
Jerry Hughes — Has been relatively quiet as a pass-rusher from a grading standpoint the past three weeks, but that doesn’t mean he’s not creating pressure. Hughes is a tremendous edge-setter and consummate hustle guy. I’ve noticed he’s almost exclusively utilized an outside speed rush this year, and he hasn’t had much success with it. In his first three seasons with the Bills, the sell of the outside rush then the crossover back inside has worked wonders for him. I’ll be specifically watching him to see if he starts deploying that inside counter in the second half of the season.
Zach Brown — Rebounded from his "off" day in Miami. Not a transcendent effort from Zach. Just a good, solid outing.
Preston Brown -- Same goes for Preston.
Stephon Gilmore — The re-watch backed up what I thought I saw live. Gilmore’s awareness has hurt him more than anything else this season. Both he and Jonathan Meeks were given a negative on the now infamous Chris Hogan touchdown, but there were a few other times in which Gilmore was actually in decent coverage yet simply wasn’t able to find the ball fast enough or make a step or two to get a pass breakup. I do think Gilmore has the dreaded reputation as a "grabby" cornerback, which likely contributes to all the holding / pass interference calls on him.
Ronald Darby — Another day as a trusty cornerback for Darby. He blanketed the receivers he was asked to cover and displayed much more of a willingness to aggressively play the ball in the air than Gilmore, which has been the case for the entire first half of the season.
Shaq Lawson — I saw the vision Rex has for Lawson in this game. The Bills moved him all over the field and gave him a myriad of responsibilities against the Patriots, and the rookie had a respectable showing in his second professional game. Sure, Nate Solder stymied him on a few of his pass-rushes, but Shaq did get the best of the veteran left tackle on more than one occasion.
Robert Blanton — I vote for Blanton as Buffalo’s primary extra safety in the box for the final eight games of the regular season. He flies around. And is a bigger safety at 6’1" / 210.
Lerentee McCray - Has gotten more physical each week, which culminated in his highest-graded game of the season against New England. He’ll be a situational role player from here on out, but he was typically a player with a grade in the negatives through the first seven games of 2016.
Adolphus Washington — Still haven’t seen much from the rookie as a pass-rusher, which was supposed to be his forte. However, he’s gotten stronger against the run as the season has progressed. Washington is now shedding blocks more frequently and has gotten better sifting through traffic on stretch runs away from him.
Defense: Through Week 8
|Player||Overall||Run Stop||Pass Rush||Coverage||Penalty||Snaps (548 = 100%)|