Week 5 of the Buffalo Bills season saw the team locked in a defensive struggle with the Tennessee Titans and emerging as the victor thanks to forcing several turnovers. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen continued his struggles from last week, while the Bills defensive rookies further improved and even made some of biggest plays in the game. More about the performance of each Bills rookies below.
QB Josh Allen
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll simplified the reads and progressions in the passing game for his rookie quarterback, more so in this game than in the previous four. During the first drive of the game, that strategy resulted in quick completions, kept the chains moving, and led to the team’s only touchdown on an Allen scramble. When Allen wasn’t put into those situations, like on unfavorable down and distances, he was much more inconsistent. During those instances, Allen didn’t trust his eyes or was indecisive in his reads. Other times, particularly when throwing in the middle of the field, the rookie failed to step into his throws resulting in severely under-thrown balls. It wasn’t all bad for the quarterback though, as his twelve-yard completion to Zay Jones and his attempted pass to Andre Holmes, both in the fourth quarter, shows a player able to navigate a messy pocket, recognize favorable coverage and fire a dart.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds set the tone for the day defensively on the fourth play from scrimmage. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota fired a quick pass to Taywan Taylor, who wasn’t able to tuck the ball away before Edmunds had him in his arms, leading to a fumble that was recovered by the Bills. Edmunds speed clearly caught the receiver off-guard, and it’s plays like that got him drafted in the first round. Besides that play, Edmunds play in coverage continues to impress. His speed when sinking into coverage is amazing: there were times when it surprised Mariota, leading to him holding on to the ball longer than expected. Edmunds biggest gaffe came on a play-action shovel pass to Dion Lewis. The play-action made Edmunds lose his attention on the running back, who quickly received the pass and got ten yards. Overall, it was a solid day at the office for the linebacker.
DT Harrison Phillips
Phillips’s time on the field has been on the upswing, and he saw 44% of the defensive snaps against the Titans. He put that increased time to good use, especially against the run. The Titans threw several double-teams his way and Phillips managed to stand his ground on virtually every single one. The few times the rookie defensive tackle found himself in a pass rush situation he pushed the lineman into the quarterback, but didn’t really register any hurries.
CB Taron Johnson
The rookie fourth rounder continues to represent money well-spent. Johnson’s second quarter interception, when he undercut a quick slant to Nick Williams, was both athletic and instinctual, just the qualities you want to have in a slot corner. Bad mistake early in the second quarter when he failed to recognize a run play and was successfully run out of the play by a receiver.
S Siran Neal
Neal didn’t receive any defensive snaps this week, despite the team being down two safeties. He was a regular member of the punt return team assigned to rush the punter, but didn’t stand out much in that area.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
McCloud saw a drop in snaps from last week, going from 20 snaps against the Packers to only 13 against the Titans. His only target during those snaps was on a wide receiver screen pass that gained seven crucial yards and a first down on the Bills game-winning drive. McCloud was also used on a fly sweep early in the first quarter that lost three yards due to a poor block from Logan Thomas. McCloud saw the field as a punt returner, with his longest punt return coming in at eight yards.
WR Robert Foster
Foster saw a severe drop in snaps since the Packers game, with only eight on the day. The rookie undrafted free agent was not targeted.
P Corey Bojorquez
The oddest moment of the game came on a field goal attempt when Bojorquez was holding for Stephen Hauschka. The rookie received the snap and inexplicably began to stand up, as if it was a fake attempt, panicked, threw an incomplete pass and injured his shoulder. He claimed after the game that it was a “miscommunication” that led to his mistake. Otherwise he had an average day punting the ball, with one of his punts ending up downed inside the five-yard line.
- Rookie guards Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger were again inactive.