Week 6 of the Buffalo Bills season may end up being the most fateful game of the season for the team’s most important rookie. Quarterback Josh Allen struggled against the Houston Texans for most of the day before banging his elbow and leaving the game prematurely. While Allen’s injury was, and remains, a big blow to the team, it overshadowed the solid performances turned in by the Bills rookies on defense. More about the performance of each rookie below.
QB Josh Allen
The simplified passing concepts and reads from the Titans game returned against Houston. When those concepts resulted in an open target, Allen was mostly able to deliver a well-thrown ball. When the wide receivers or tight ends weren’t able to earn any separation was when things broke down. Allen would either start to scramble or make an ill-advised throw to one of the other (covered) receivers. Allen’s worst decisions of the day came when he didn’t trust his eyes, refusing to throw the ball and ending up getting sacked or scrambling for few yards. Unfortunately, Allen was injured directly after his best pass of the day, a 39-yard strike to Kelvin Benjamin off of heavy play-action.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds has been making strides against the run and that continued against the Texans. He was much more decisive in his run fits, and just more physical with blockers and ball-carriers in general. His tackle on Alfred Blue on Houston’s second drive of the game, where he saw a gap opening up and quickly shot through for a tackle, is more of what the coaches likely want to see from the rookie. Edmunds continued to be in exceptional coverage position most of the time, however he was too deep on some of his drops, leaving the running back or tight end open for check downs. His position in the middle of the field was essentially for mucking up several crossing routes that the offense was trying to employ.
DT Harrison Phillips
Phillips continues to be impactful against the run, even when facing double teams, but fails to do more than push the pocket when in a pass rush situation. Several times on Sunday, Phillips and Jordan Phillips teamed up to clog the A gaps and stuff Lamar Miller for a loss or short gain. Although he didn’t pressure Watson much during the game, Phillips was Johnny-on-the-spot during a strip sack and fumble by Deshaun Watson at the end of the third quarter.
CB Taron Johnson
Like his fellow rookie Phillips, Johnson’s work defending the run is already at a high level. His tackle of Lamar Miller on the Texans first drive of the game is a play you’re more likely to see made by a safety or linebacker rather than a nickel cornerback. The Bills played a lot of Cover-2 and Cover-3 on defense, which meant that Johnson was responsible for a shallow zone much of the time, a coverage role in which he was not challenged very often.
S Siran Neal
Neal didn’t see any snaps on defense or on special teams, in contrast to last week’s game against the Titans. It’s difficult to speculate as to why the coaches decided to make that change.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
McCloud had a day to forget on special teams, muffing two punts, of which one was recovered by Houston. On offense, he caught a short wide receiver screen that was not blocked particularly well and resulted in a two-yard gain. That was his only target on his 14 snaps. After his special teams debacles, something he also struggled with in college, it would not be surprising to see the coaching staff take away his return duties.
WR Robert Foster
After seeing close to 50% of the offensive snaps during Week two, the Bills coaching staff has significantly dialed down the number of snaps Foster plays on offense in the past two games. After seeing eight snaps against the Titans last week, Foster only saw two against the Texans. Needless to say, he was not targeted on those snaps. Because Foster doesn’t play special teams, he will need to re-earn the trust of the coaching staff if he wants to see the field on Sundays.
P Corey Bojorquez
If we were giving out performance awards, Bojorquez would earn rookie MVP honors. Just a fantastic day for the rookie punter who put two of his five punts inside of 20 yards and had a long of 60 yards. The Texans’ Tyler Ervin only returned three punts for seven total return yards.
- Rookie guards Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger were again inactive.