The Buffalo Bills went down like a lead balloon against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, being completely shut out on offense despite the defense managing to hold their own. The team’s most prominent rookie, Josh Allen, has to shoulder a lot of that blame himself. The rookie defenders fared much better, with Tremaine Edmunds and Taron Johnson being involved in several impact plays. More about the performance of the Bills’ rookies below.
QB Josh Allen
Allen’s performance against Green Bay can be described as an (Im)perfect Storm. He certainly had a hand in the offense’s lackluster day, but it wasn’t all his fault. However, he made quite few different kinds of mistakes during his limited time on the field. Too often, he was hesitant to check down to his outlet, leading to unnecessary pressure and sacks. Too often, he got spooked by pressure, leading to a breakdown in his mechanics and incompletions. Too often, he failed to move safeties with his eyes, including on a failed deep shot to Robert Foster. And too often, he failed to recognize and adjust to blitzes. For all the positive steps Allen took against the Minnesota Vikings, this game showed that he still has a long way to go.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds’s struggles against the run during the first three games of the season continued in Green Bay. When blockers got to his level, the rookie was unwilling or unable to take them on directly—preferring to either run around them or simply struggling greatly against them. On one egregious example, Edmunds was ridden eight yards down the field by Packers’ tackle David Bakhtiari. The rookie proved to be much more effective against the pass. Midway through the second quarter, he used his long arms to tip an Aaron Rodgers pass into the air that led to an interception by Jordan Poyer. Much later in the game, Edmunds came on a well-timed blitz, forcing a hurried throw from Rodgers.
DT Harrison Phillips
Phillips continues to see limited time on the field, but he did manage to make his presence felt on a couple of run plays. He was at his best when using his strong upper body and long arms to jack up guards, preventing them from moving him off his spot. Phillips still needs to improve his pass rush—he failed to get much pressure on Rodgers when matched up one-on-one with a guard.
CB Taron Johnson
The best rookie on the field Sunday, by far, was Johnson. His work crashing down against the run prevented some big gains, and his blitz early in the fourth quarter forced a fumble. In coverage, Johnson was usually in somewhat decent position, however he did get called for defensive holding early in the game.
S Siran Neal
Neal recorded his first real snaps (2) of the season after Micah Hyde went down with a groin injury. The rookie didn’t make any mistakes with his short time on the field. In fact, he managed to sack Rodgers on a blitz late in the second quarter.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
McCloud wasn’t involved much in the passing game and was not targeted. Pressed into punt-return duties with the injury to Micah Hyde, McCloud had a fair catch and was tackled for a one-yard loss on two punts.
WR Robert Foster
Foster was involved in about a third of the offense’s snaps. He was targeted twice but was held to no catches. His first was the aforementioned Allen deep shot, and the other came late in the second quarter. On that play, Foster gained separation on a comeback route, but pressure up the middle prevented Allen from stepping into the throw.
P Corey Bojorquez
Bojorquez had another busy, but solid day punting the ball. Of his eight punts, four were downed inside the 20—with an average distance of 43 yards. The longest return of one of his punts was nine yards.
- Rookie guards Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger were inactive.