The Buffalo Bills dropped another game to the New England Patriots. Injuries and shuffling to get eyes on younger players were part of the story in the latest defeat. Let's check in on playing time and see who took the field and for how long.
Offense (61 snaps)
The Bills continue to see shuffling on the offensive line. Only Ryan Groy, Dion Dawkins and Jordan Mills played the entire game on the line. Wyatt Teller, who somewhat recently earned the starting job, was replaced by Ike Boettger for 12 plays. John Miller also gave up 16 snaps to Boettger. Jeremiah Sirles was in for one snap, which is the extent of the Bills’ “jumbo package” for the day. Patrick DiMarco’s three snaps suggest a similar lack of emphasis for the heavy blocking.
It finally happened. Zay Jones was in for every single offensive snap. Jones flirted with this several times with counts in the 90% range but officially became a member of the 100% club in Foxboro. Robert Foster was just behind him, stepping out for only two plays. From there it’s a fairly quick dive in playing time for receivers. It’s a safe bet who the two coaching favorites are.
Last week we noted the declining snap counts for Charles Clay alongside the increase for Jason Croom as something to keep an eye on. Clay was a healthy scratch and Croom predictably took over. Logan Thomas stepped in as the number two and it’s fair to wonder if the Charles Clay era is coming to an end.
Even with a healthy LeSean McCoy, it was a near even split between the veteran and newcomer Keith Ford. This is as sure a sign as any that the youth evaluation movement is in full swing—in case you had any lingering doubts.
Defense (75 snaps)
The 100% club had most of its usual members; with Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace and Tremaine Edmunds reaching that mark. With Matt Milano out that leaves the group one member down. Lorenzo Alexander and Corey Thompson split time filling in for Milano.
Alexander also continues to see time on the defensive line. For the second week in a row, Alexander broke the 90% barrier as a result of his versatility. The Jerry Hughes and Kyle Williams side of the line stayed roughly where they have all year. On the other end, Shaq Lawson some more time than Trent Murphy as they continue to flip-flop playing time between the two. Star Lotulelei saw his usual time, at around 50%. This is notable given the Patriots run-heavy scheme (47 run attempts to 25 passing). With the edge-heavy run game the Patriots went with, this is an intriguing note, but not necessarily a damning one.
Special Teams (29 snaps)
As usual, players hitting 25% of snaps or higher are featured on the chart. The Bills used 38 players in total on special teams for at least one play, which is only slightly higher than usual. Corey Thompson is number one in the charts for the second week in a row. Lorenzo Alexander continues to be a mainstay despite a major upswing in defensive snap counts the last couple weeks. Newcomer Victor Bolden Jr. didn’t make the cut for the chart with 17% of snaps, but saw time as a returner with the Bills continuing to experiment trying to right the special teams ship.