The Buffalo Bills lost a close game at home to the New York Jets, but at this point the results on the field hardly matter. What matters most—for the future of the team—is how the Bills’ rookies, drafted and undrafted, continue to develop. In that realm, Bills fans have reason to be encouraged, as rookie quarterback Josh Allen essentially put the offense on his back, while the rookies on defense held their own despite being put in some difficult situations by their special-teams unit. Read on, to learn more about the performance of each rookie in last Sunday’s game.
QB Josh Allen
Brian Daboll dialed up a masterful game plan in the first half that Allen executed perfectly. Allen’s first two touchdown drives were characterized by the rookie taking what the defense gave him with short, quick throws and necessary scrambles for chunks of yards. The half ended with Allen making long, clutch throws on two third-and-longs. The Jets decided to change up their coverages in the second half, which led to tighter windows for Allen and more pressure up the middle from the Jets defensive line. Still, the team had a chance to go for the win at the end of the game, but Allen pressed and threw his worst interception since the game against the Green Bay Packers. Allen wasn’t the reason Buffalo lost against the Jets, but he could’ve been the reason the Bills won.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds again led the team in tackles, but the big news was that the rookie linebacker finally came down with his first big play of the season. On a Sam Darnold scramble in the third quarter, Edmunds stuck to Chris Herndon like glue, kept his eyes on Darnold and was in the right place at the right time for an easy pick. In doing so, he became the youngest player in NFL history with an interception. Edmunds later gave up a 14-yard gain to Herndon on the game-tying drive, but it took a pinpoint accurate throw from Darnold to complete the pass. Edmunds’s coverage ability is elite, especially for a rookie.
DT Harrison Phillips
Limited to only 18 defensive snaps, Phillips didn’t see too much action during the game. He was able to hold his ground against a few double teams, an ability he’s very much improved upon, but he was generally an afterthought. Even his fellow backup, Jordan Phillips, saw more defensive snaps.
OG Wyatt Teller
With the offensive line crashing all around him, Teller provided a somewhat steady presence. He battled with Henry Anderson for most of the day, earning decent movement in the run game. In the passing game, particularly in the first half, Anderson didn’t pose much of a threat to Teller. The rookie had a particularly strong block late in the first quarter when he caught a stunting Anderson just in time to save Josh Allen from a huge hit.
S Siran Neal
Neal’s work was not the cause of the Bills regrettable day on special teams. Having said that, some poor blocking of the Jets gunner during punts limited any chance Micah Hyde had of earning some return yards.
WR Robert Foster
This game was very important for the former undrafted rookie free agent. Over these last few games, it’s crucial for Foster to take the next step and prove he can become a complete receiver. He took a few steps forward in that cause against the Jets. Because of his speed, Jets cornerbacks were careful to play a few yards off of Foster, which allowed him to work some intermediate routes to get to his 104 yards. He continues to display much-improved hands on those routes.
CB Levi Wallace
Wallace was directly targeted in coverage three times. One was almost resulted in a pick-six after the receiver fell down at the top of his route. One was a nice pass break-up by the rookie using his long arms to swat the ball. The third resulted in a six-yard gain. A good day at the office for the former undrafted free agent.
- Undrafted free agent Ike Boettger was inactive against the Jets.
- Cornerback Taron Johnson underwent shoulder surgery and is out for the rest of the year.