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Rumblings Bills Grades: Week 1

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The first installment of our season-long, play-by-play grading project.

Below are grades for every Buffalo Bills player on every play in the team’s Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

(For a quick primer on this project, this is from the introduction article. Here's a link to the entire article.)

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.The main purpose of this article was to be as transparent as possible with how I’ll grade. Below you’ll find that grades will be assigned in 0.2-point intervals on a scale from -1.0 to +1.0 on each play for each player.

Late addition here, but I wanted to address All-22 film: While I realize there's certainly plenty to learn from the All-22 angles, I'm not using them in my evaluations. And I thought about it for a while before making the final decision. To me, using All-22 film can -- at times inadvertently -- bring too much subjectivity to analysis, and in this case, grading. For example, I don't want to simply dock a quarterback for not noticing a wide receiver on the opposite side of the field. As for wideouts, while it'd be easy to grade how much separation they create against man, it'd be nearly impossible to do the same when facing zone coverage. This grading system is certainly not without flaws. But above all, I want to grade the plays made or not made, not guess what could have or maybe should have happened.

Offense:

Player Overall Run-Block Pass-Block Pass Run Receiving Penalty Snaps (49 = 100%)
Tyrod Taylor -0.6 -0.6 0 49
LeSean McCoy 1 -0.4 -0.2 1.2 0.4 42
Glenn Gronkowski -1 -0.8 -0.2 8
Cordy Glenn 1 0.6 0.4 24
Richie Incognito 1 1 0 49
Eric Wood -0.8 -0.6 -0.2 49
John Miller 1.2 0.6 0.6 49
Jordan Mills 0.2 -0.2 0.4 49
Cyrus Kouandjio 0.8 -0.4 1.2 28
Ryan Groy 0.6 0.2 0.4 9
Sammy Watkins 1 0.4 0.6 42
Robert Woods 1.2 0.6 0.2 0.4 41
Marquise Goodwin 0.2 0.2 11
Greg Salas 0.4 0.2 0.2 21
Charles Clay 1 0.2 0.2 0.6 48
Jim Dray 0.4 0.4 10
Reggie Bush -1 -1 4

*Mike Gillislee and Nick O'Leary each played three snaps and earned a grade of 0.

Observations: On the re-watch, I was shocked -- the offensive line played much better than I thought. Almost all of the pressure on Taylor came after he held onto the football for quite a while. Some pressure came on all out blitzes in which Buffalo's line was simply outnumbered. John Miller looked considerably stronger in his anchor than he did a season ago, and Cyrus Kouandjio performed admirably in place of Cordy Glenn, especially as a pass-protector. It wasn't the best day for Eric Wood, yet he wasn't terrible. A few bad plays really hurt his grade.

Defense:

Player Overall Run Stop Pass Rush Coverage Penalty Snaps (68 = 100%)
Jerry Hughes 2.4 0.4 0.8 1 0.2 66
Jerel Worthy 0 0.2 0 -0.2 17
Kyle Williams 0 0.8 -0.8 53
Leger Douzable 0 -0.4 0.6 -0.2 29
Corbin Bryant -0.2 0.4 -0.8 0.2 41
Adolphus Washington -0.2 -0.2 0 25
Preston Brown 1.6 0.4 0 1 0.2 68
Zach Brown 0.4 0.4 0 60
Brandon Spikes 0.2 0.2 8
Ramon Humber 0 5
Lerentee McCray -0.2 0.4 -0.8 0.2 28
Lorenzo Alexander 0.8 0.8 -0.4 0.4 37
Stephon Gilmore 0.4 -0.4 0.8 68
Ronald Darby 0.8 -0.4 0 1.2 68
Nickell Robey-Coleman 0.2 -0.4 0.6 35
Corey White -0.4 -0.2 -0.2 5
Aaron Williams 0.4 0.2 0.2 28
Corey Graham 0.6 0.2 0.4 68
Duke Williams -0.8 -0.8 21
Robert Blanton 0 5
Jonathan Meeks -0.2 -0.2 13

Observations: It was weird that Duke Williams, not Aaron Williams started this game. Preston Brown was all over the field and was able to get off blocks rather quickly in the run game. As you likely noticed, Jerry Hughes had a fine game that would have been ridiculously good had he not made a few mistakes in the run game. I went in expecting a low grade for Ronald Darby, but he actually pieced together a sound outing in coverage.

Miscellaneous Notes: I kept track of team pressures. Baltimore’s defense pressured Tyrod Taylor six times, and Buffalo’s defense pressured Joe Flacco six times as well. Taylor’s poor outing isn’t necessarily reflected as harshly as you probably would have expected mainly due to the fact that his main issue was simply not throwing the football. Glenn Gronkowski was totally lost as a lead-blocker early, which led to Charles Clay operating as the defacto lead blocker later in the game and was likely the reason why he's being released to make room for a Jerome Felton return. Also, something I should have mentioned in the intro — the penalty column is not necessarily where I dock a player for committing a penalty. It’s purpose is to have a place for a player performance on a snap that ultimately was flagged.