In what has become a running theme for the season, the Buffalo Bills’ top four rookies all saw significant playing time and all managed to perform admirably for the most part, despite the rest of the team struggling against the New England Patriots. Before leaving with an injury, Tre’Davious White was having another dominant outing, Dion Dawkins continued to make positive strides in his development, and Matt Milano made some positive contributions despite his limited time on the field.
CB Tre’Davious White
White was, once again, only targeted a couple of times in the game, but he still managed to continue his string of excellent games. Whomever it was lining up against him, whether it was man or zone coverage, White was frequently in perfect position to either intercept the pass or break it up. His highlight of the day was his interception of Tom Brady, where White managed to stay with tight end Rob Gronkowski despite Brady extending the play several extra seconds. His only blemish on the day was also against Gronkowski, as White gave up a 30-yard catch due to the smaller rookie being out-muscled by the big tight end.
WR Zay Jones
Looking at the box score, Jones only caught two passes for 22 yards on 7 targets - not a great day. But put on the tape, and you see Tyrod Taylor struggling to deliver an accurate ball when targeting Jones. On other plays, Jones worked himself open but was ignored by the quarterback. You will also see Jones’s continuing struggles to gain separation on longer routes, but then you have to question if offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is simply misusing his personnel. Whatever the case, Jones had a so-so performance against the Patriots.
LT Dion Dawkins
Watching the tape, it is clear that the Patriots were more interested in containing Tyrod Taylor than sacking him. Several times in the game, the Pats’ Deatrich Wise, who lined up across from Dawkins, was clearly trying to maintain gap integrity instead of attempting to rush upfield. Having said that, when the Patriots did decide to bring pressure, Dawkins was able to hold his own. Where he really shines is in the running game, where his long arms and upper body strength allow him drive block defenders. He was the lead blocker on some decent gains by the Bills’ run game. While the right side of the offensive line has struggled this year, Dawkins’s performance at left tackle has prevented the offensive line from a total collapse.
LB Matt Milano
Seeing only 22 defensive snaps, the rookie fifth-round linebacker still managed to get himself involved in a handful of plays. In his limited time on the field, Milano made a shoestring tackle in the second quarter that prevented a long gain and also had an athletic pass breakup on a third down play. It’s possible that the coaches will decide to start Milano at some point in the next few games, and make no mistake, he’s earned it.