The “Thought He Was a Cardinals Running Back” Award
It seemed like Williams was in the Cardinals backfield almost as often as David Johnson was. He was only credited with four tackles and a sack, but he brought consistent pressure and had his way with Arizona’s interior line all day. You want your running back to take advantage of the holes the offensive line creates for him, and that’s exactly what Kyle spent most of the day doing. The 33-year-old probably doesn’t have too many of those performances left in his career, but days like those are a good reminder of why he’s been the best Bills player of the 21st century.
The “I’m a Bill Until October 3rd” Award
Last week, in this very column, I pointed out Bush’s vastly decreased role with the team, seeing only two snaps against the Jets last Thursday. Then, prior to the game yesterday, Chris Brown speculated that Bush might be asked to fill a role in the passing game, given that both Sammy Watkins and Greg Salas were missing due to injury.
Instead, the Bills placed a heavy emphasis on the run, and Bush earned a DNP for the game. With Brandon Tate’s emergence as a bona fide return specialist after another solid outing, the odds that Bush survives the return of Marcell Dareus and Seantrel Henderson to the active roster are almost nil.
The “Double-Edged Sword” Award
Through three games, I feel comfortable calling Hughes the best player for the Bills so far this season. He had a monster game against the Ravens, created havoc early on against the Jets before slowing down after biting his tongue, and came back to have another great performance yesterday.
That said, there are certain things Bills fans have come to expect with Hughes. Things like ridiculous, drive-extending penalties like the one that led to Arizona’s first touchdown. Lorenzo Alexander already had the sack, which would have forced a Cardinals punt, but Hughes felt the need to rip off Carson Palmer’s helmet, giving up a first down and eventually seven points. It’s the kind of play we’ve seen at times throughout Hughes’ Bills career, and it’s one that just needs to stop.
He’s a phenomenally talented player, but when the Bills make a third down stop I always hold my breath in anticipation of a flag that comes from some completely unnecessary action from number 55.
Least Valuable Player Award
Let me explain.
Yes, I know Charles Clay was nowhere to be found. Yes, I know that Colton Schmidt’s leg took a day off, aside from one great punt. Yes, I know that Dan Carpenter missed another extra point.
You’ll be hearing a lot about them today, but I wanted to point out a relatively poor performance that might be overlooked by many. Taylor was phenomenal on the ground, racking up 76 yards and a touchdown. It was the kind of running that has been completely absent from his game so far this year, and a big reason that the Bills’ run game put up 208 yards and three touchdowns.
Once again, though, Taylor’s performance as a passer raised the kind of questions that have been asked of him his entire career. He was sacked four times, at least two of which came from his holding on to the ball too long. He only managed 119 yards through the air, 24 of which came on a superb pass to Robert Woods that could have been overturned on review. The interception he threw, while requiring a great play from Patrick Peterson, was about ten yards past his intended target. He also fumbled twice, although Mike Gillislee could share some of the blame on the first one. If Tyrann Mathieu had either fallen on the ball or been able to pick it up, the game could have ended with the Bills sitting at 0-3.
A win is a win, and he ironed some of the kinks in his ground game out (and hopefully developed some chemistry with Woods in the process). He also was working without his top receiver and a guy who caught a 71-yard bomb against the Jets. That said, if Sammy Watkins misses more time with his foot injury, Taylor’s not always going to be able to run the team out of trouble. Great quarterbacks can operate in the air without their best targets, and Taylor didn’t do that yesterday.
Most Valuable Player
Last week, I said Gilmore put in the worst performance of his career. This week, he put in what might have been the best.
Even before the fourth quarter, Gilmore (along with the rest of the secondary, especially Corey Graham) were much more successful in contesting plays that the Jets just flat-out beat them at last week. Walt Anderson’s officiating crew seemed to be willing to let the defense play defense, and Gilmore was more than happy to oblige.
The in-your-face style that Gilmore employed against the Cardinals is what the man is best at, and he was able to keep any of Arizona’s receivers from getting into any sort of rhythm. He was flagged once, but aside from that he was the best Bill on the field even through three quarters.
The fourth quarter, though, it where he was really able to shine. The first interception, a clear miscommunication by the offense, forced Gilmore to make a sensational grab that he’s been prone to drop in the past. On the second, he put himself in perfect position to have an underthrown ball from Palmer hit him square in the chest, and he was able to push the ball as far away from the end zone as possible (preventing the possibility of another safety).
The length and dollar amount of his extension are going to be heavily dependent on the next 13 games, but if they look more like last week than they did two weeks ago, he should be in for a big one.