In Sunday’s largely defensive struggle, four Buffalo Bills rookies all made positive contributions to the team’s eventual victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tre’Davious White breathed new life into his defensive-rookie-of-the-year candidacy and the other rookies continued to make strides in their development as NFL players.
CB Tre’Davious White
Only targeted a couple times in the game, White continued his high level of play, especially for a rookie, against the Chiefs. Whether he was facing De'Anthony Thomas or the speedy Tyreek Hill, the rookie corner was in their hip pocket all game. If he was matched up in single coverage with no help, he was frustrating the two wideouts with press technique and hand fighting. If he had safety help, his trail coverage left him in perfect position to potentially undercut the receiver and grab an interception. That is exactly what happened on White’s interception of an errant Alex Smith pass in the fourth quarter: knowing that he had help over the middle of the field, he was able to step in front of Tyreek Hill and snag the ball for the game-sealing pick.
WR Zay Jones
The chemistry between Jones and Tyrod Taylor continues to improve and it appears that Jones’ previous struggles with catching the ball are in the rear-view mirror. Although he finished the day with only three catches for 33 yards, he was open a fair amount and did snag a touchdown on a nifty crossing route. Having said that, it’s the longer routes where Jones fails to get separation, due to his lack of long speed. Jones is miscast as an outside receiver and should make the switch to the slot on a permanent basis.
LT Dion Dawkins
Dawkins had an up-and-down day protecting Tyrod Taylor’s blindside. His hand placement in the passing game leaves much to be desired, which led to several quarterback pressures. His brute strength in the run game was impressive though as he was routinely driving Chiefs outside linebacker Frank Zombo off his spot. Dawkins has been slowly improving throughout the year and this so-so performance continues his upward trajectory for the season.
LB Matt Milano
Still only a part-time player for some reason, the rookie fifth-round linebacker managed to stand out nonetheless. His highlight of the day was defending a zone stretch run when he completely burst through the A-gap and, along with Jerry Hughes, tackled Kareem Hunt for a 5 yard loss. He also almost had another tackle-for-loss later in the game. Milano continues to acquit himself well in part-time duty, it’s just a question of when the coaches will allow him to assume a greater role in the defense.