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Snap count notes: the Robert Foster era begins for Buffalo Bills

The weekly examination of Buffalo Bills playing time continues following their loss to the New York Jets

The Buffalo Bills were ahead on the scoreboard until late in the game against the New York Jets. A few lapses in play from Buffalo came as the Jets strung together some of their best work on the day to send the home team to the locker room with a loss. Let’s take a look at playing time from the latest defeat.

Offense (76 snaps)

Jordan Mills left the field for one play with an apparent injury. That was the only blip for the typical 100% club on offense (line and quarterback). For extra lineman, the Bills needed to replace Mills’s one lost snap and only had an extra lineman in the game for one play. Patrick DiMarco saw the field twelve times. DiMarco’s playing time may have been game planned or the result of in-game dynamics such as...

LeSean McCoy only saw nine plays before exiting with a hamstring injury. Primary backup Chris Ivory filled in for 27 plays before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Marcus Murphy became the workhorse...kind of. Despite logging 40 plays, Murphy only carried the ball four times.

With Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes being cut, the receiver snap counts were the big story this week. Zay Jones broke the 90% barrier, which isn’t terribly high for him this season. “Isaiah 2.0,” aka Isaiah McKenzie was a beneficiary of the snaps vacated by Benjamin and Holmes. The biggest beneficiary though was Robert Foster. Foster hit 96% of time on offense, missing only three snaps. He’d never hit higher than 58% this year, appearing in ten games.

For tight ends, Charles Clay is the only potential news. At 55% of snaps, Clay had his lowest total of the season when healthy. With no official word of lingering injuries and the team officially in evaluation mode, it’s fair to wonder if Clay’s low playing time is telling—especially considering only two tight ends were dressed for the game.

Defense (54 snaps)

The defensive 100% club was three members shy. Tre’Davious White came off the field for two plays during the contest. Matt Milano was injured late in the game and won’t be back on the field in 2018. We’ll wish him a speedy recovery, and review the snap counts next week to see how Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier game plan for Milano’s role. Levi Wallace was dinged up, but came back in to close the game.

The defensive line rotation had some minor tweaks. Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes went a touch over their typical two-thirds playing time. Star Lotulelei remained near 50% where he’s hovered all year. Shaq Lawson narrowly edged out Trent Murphy. This will be interesting to keep an eye on in the last few games, as the rotation heavily favored Murphy to start the year.

Jordan Phillips, Harrison Phillips and Lorenzo Alexander all saw heavy time in rotation along the line (and elsewhere for Alexander). Eddie Yarbrough saw decreased time, but likely only as a result of Hughes’s increased time. Yarbrough has been almost exclusively the backup for Hughes this year.

With Taron Johnson out, the nickel defense was a question mark going into the game. Rafael Bush was the answer. Bush saw a spike in snaps this week to make sure the nickel package remained the true base defense.

Special teams (28 snaps)

Players who hit 25% or more of snaps appear in the chart as usual. This week that’s a lot of guys, 28 to be exact. In all, 38 players saw at least one play for the special teams’ units. A little movement occurred at the top, with Logan Thomas as the top dog. Deon Lacey slid down the charts. Andre Holmes’s absence was felt the most here, as he had been averaging 65% of special teams’ plays. As evidenced by numerous gaffes, the shuffling was not a success this week.

Data courtesy of Pro Football Reference