The Buffalo Bills are a surprising 5-3 at the halfway point in the season. Personally, I predicted the Bills would finish 6-10 and while that is still possible, it doesn’t appear likely and that’s a testament to the buy-in head coach Sean McDermott has from his players.
Some of those players have stood out while others have faded into the background. Here are the best and worst of the first half of the season.
Most valuable player - S Micah Hyde
Hyde leads the league with five interceptions and the team has lived and died by turnovers in 2017. He’s played almost every snap while leading a completely revamped defense and weathering injuries to fellow safety Jordan Poyer and starting cornerback E.J. Gaines. He’s played some cornerback, returned punts, and been a great free agent acquisition for the team.
Least valuable player - DT Marcell Dareus
Dareus was sent home from a preseason game, reportedly for being late, and his season never really got off the ground. He dealt with a nagging injury for the first part of the regular season and never seemed to fully buy into the process of head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane. He was shipped out for only a sixth round pick (that could turn into a fifth) despite being a former top-three pick.
Best offensive player - QB Tyrod Taylor
The changes to the offensive line scheme haven’t benefited running back LeSean McCoy, who seems to be faced with a tough challenge just to get lanes from week to week. Taylor has been able to create behind the struggling o-line and is on pace for the best statistical season of his career, projecting out to 3200 yards, 20 touchdowns, four interceptions, at a 65 percent completion percentage. He has kept his eyes downfield despite pressure and while he might move from the pocket too early, he’s still finding receivers on the move.
Best rookie - CB Tre’Davious White
Not much of a competition here. While OT Dion Dawkins had a fine start and WR Zay Jones had a great game against the New York Jets, White has been consistently good all season. He shut down Amari Cooper against the Oakland Raiders and despite being on teams’ top receivers most of the time has acquitted himself well. He’s a possible star in the making.
Best free agent acquisition - K Stephen Hauschka
Hyde is already represented on the list, so we’ll spread around the love a bit. Hauschka has been straight-up great for the Bills. He’s tied the record for most consecutive kicks over 50 yards made, done exactly what coaches asked on kickoffs, and even has a forced fumble.
Best surprise - DE Eddie Yarbrough
What a great training camp story Yarbrough was. He was a CFL player who was getting one more shot in the NFL and he took full advantage of it playing his way onto the back end of the roster, then into the heavy defensive end rotation, and more. He’s only 24.
Most room for improvement - right side of the o-line
John Miller was replaced as right guard after four games by Vlad Ducasse and while Ducasse has been slightly better, that’s a low bar to clear. Jordan Mills at right tackle has been equally brutal. It’s obvious the Bills won’t try Ryan Groy, Seantrel Henderson, or Dion Dawkins at those spots right now, but we think they should. Honorable mention goes to the backup running back position, where Mike Tolbert has been steadily mediocre.