A dominant defensive effort by the Buffalo Bills shut down the Tennessee Titans in week five. The offense did just enough to pull out a victory by the slimmest of margins. Stephen Hauschka’s 46-yard field goal as time expired was perhaps the only time Bills fans felt comfortable that Buffalo would pull out a victory. Here’s our weekly look at who contributed to the outcome via snap counts. Data courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
Offense (65 snaps)
The Bills offensive line is set barring injury. The only tinkering is on their heavy package. Last week, Conor McDermott came in for one snap as the Bills did away with this personnel grouping for the most part. Against the Titans, they tried out Jeremiah Sirles on six snaps. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will likely look to keep this option in the playbook. The extra lineman spot should be considered up for grabs at the moment.
Zay Jones continues to see the highest number of snaps for the receiver group. His three catches on four targets for 20 yards may not seem like much, but that gives Jones nearly 25% of the passing offense for the week. Charles Clay is still seeing more field time than Kelvin Benjamin. After five weeks, the idea that Benjamin is the number one receiver should be put to bed.
LeSean McCoy saw plenty of action, on the field for 72% of the total playing time on offense. Chris Ivory saw the other 28%. The Bills went Patrick DiMarco-heavy for the week with 13 snaps. There wasn’t too much razzle or dazzle from the running game, but the Bills arguably put together their best rushing performance of the year.
Defense (54 snaps)
Micah Hyde’s injury kept him out of the game and also the 100% Club. Dean Marlowe filled in for Hyde after being elevated from the practice squad on October 6th. The corner spot opposite Tre’Davious White would ideally be a member of the 100% Club. This spot remains unsettled, with Phillip Gaines and Ryan Lewis splitting time. Taron Johnson manned the slot corner position for 50% of the defensive snaps. Johnson’s time on the field continues to be a good estimate of how often the Bills are in a nickel look.
Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier have been splitting time between Matt Milano and Ramon Humber around a 70/30 ratio going back to early last year. Keep an eye out moving forward, as Milano saw 98% of playing time against the Titans. There’s been some clamor for more Milano and for at least one week that’s exactly what was delivered.
The defensive line minus Star Lotulelei continues to put the starters on the field for about two-thirds of the total snaps. Lotulelei played less than half the game yet again. Jordan Phillips, claimed off waivers in the week leading up to the game, saw action immediately and made his presence known. Lotulelei’s playing time was also cut into by Lorenzo Alexander as the Bills emphasize speed on the line.
Special Teams (21 snaps)
The core group of special teams players remains relatively stable. The Bills aren’t shy about putting some key cogs of the team in on this facet of the game. Patrick DiMarco, Matt Milano, Lorenzo Alexander and Taron Johnson all see significant time in addition to their other roles. Corey Bojorquez was able to gut out several of his eight snaps after being injured on a miscue before halftime, including holding the ball for Stephen Hauschka’s game winning field goal.