For the second straight game, the majority of the Buffalo Bills rookie class contributed to a victory, this time against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The youth movement on the offense has paid off and may, perhaps, allow that side of the ball to finally turn a corner and no longer be the dead weight of the team. Wyatt Teller had a down game, but Robert Foster and Josh Allen both played surprisingly well against a fierce Jaguars defense. More about the performance of each rookie below.
QB Josh Allen
It’s been discussed quite a bit already, but looking at Allen’s final passing stats — 8 of 19 for 160 yards and a touchdown — doesn’t tell the whole story. First, they don’t include the
101 99 yards Allen rushed for. Second, they don’t include the passes Allen completed that were negated by penalties or dropped by his receivers. Allen scrambles for extra yardage were mostly warranted, however a few — like during the Bills first drive of the game — needlessly exposed him to hits by the defense when a check down would have been a safer option. In the passing game, Allen was decisive and accurate, two qualities he’s lacked in previous games. The 75-yard throw to Robert Foster in the first quarter was exceptional, a throw very few quarterbacks could make. On the other hand, Allen had a couple throws he’d want back, including a fourth quarter third down throw to Deonte Thompson that he was late on. Overall it was Allen’s best game as a member of the Bills and a positive step in his development.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds deficiencies against the run certainly came to the forefront this game, as the Jaguars chose to run the ball down the team’s throat and largely succeeded. While it can be said that the defensive tackles should have done a better job keeping the linebackers clean, the young linebacker seemed more interested in avoiding and dipping underneath blockers than in taking them on. There were several plays where Edmunds seemed content to submarine under a blocker’s outstretched arms and attempt an arm tackle on the running back. Edmunds had a typically strong day in pass coverage, highlighted by a great tackle of Leonard Fournette on third down on the first drive of the game.
DT Harrison Phillips
Evaluators usually talk about guards that are “phone-booth blockers,” meaning they lack agility and the ability to block while moving their feet. Phillips is a defensive tackle worthy of that monker. The rookie from Stanford spent most of the day doing what he does best: standing his ground against single and double-teams. That’s great, but stopping a back like Leonard Fournette in a zone blocking scheme demands that defensive tackles move their feet and penetrate the pocket. Finishing with only one tackle on the day, Phillips wasn’t able to contribute much against the run.
CB Taron Johnson
The Jaguars went with heavy personnel groupings for much of the game, which meant that Johnson saw only twelve snaps on defense from the slot. Despite that, he was aggressive in shooting gaps against the run, finishing with 5 total tackles in his limited time on the field. He continues to be the team’s rookie of the year.
OG Wyatt Teller
Seeing how LeSean McCoy only ran for 46 yards and how many times Allen was under pressure and forced to scramble in the passing game would make you think that Teller had a poor day at the office. In fact, Teller wasn’t asked to do much in the running game as the team largely preferred strong-side runs towards John Miller’s side and he acquitted himself well the few times he was asked to traditionally pass block. It’s clear Teller will have to earn the trust of the coaching staff before they ask him to do too much.
S Siran Neal
Neal saw an uptick in special teams snaps over last week, which hopefully is a sign the coaches trust him in that area.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
While McCloud was active for the game, he didn’t see any offensive or special teams snaps. It’s likely that the coaching staff feels that the addition of Deonte Thompson has made McCloud a bit superfluous.
WR Robert Foster
Foster’s two catches for 94 yards demonstrated how much the undrafted rookie has grown since the preseason. Both required superb ball-tracking skills, concentration, and catching technique — three things Foster seemed to lack in the preseason. Allen missed an open Foster on a couple passes, which mean’s the wideout could’ve had an even bigger day catching the ball. His deep ball connection with Allen is something that will be worth tracking as the season progresses.
CB Levi Wallace
On Donte Moncrief’s now-infamous 29-yard grab, Wallace was in perfect position to break up the pass. He was able to stick his hands right through the receiver’s arms, but Moncrief ended up making a miraculous catch anyway. That was one of the few times the rookie was targeted in coverage, as Bortles tended to rely on dump offs and check downs throughout the game. Seeing 100 percent of the snaps on defense, Wallace’s rise has been even faster than his current and former Alabama teammate, Foster.
- Undrafted rookie Ike Boettger were listed as inactive.