Although the Buffalo Bills came away with a loss against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott were no doubt encouraged by the play of rookie quarterback Josh Allen. Allen had 366 total yards on a day when the offense as a whole managed 429. Though the quarterback was the headliner, fellow rookies Wyatt Teller, Harrison Phillips and Tremaine Edmunds also had noteworthy performances. More about the performance of each rookie below.
QB Josh Allen
It was a tale of two halves for the rookie from Wyoming. In the first half, the quarterback’s eyes were too big — always waiting for the big play, when a check down was the better option — or he was being let down by his sieve of an offensive line. He finished that half with five completions for 52 yards. In the second, particularly during crunch time in the fourth quarter, Allen started to complete passes in the pocket. He started to step into his throws and complete passes with accuracy. He trusted his eyes. If he left the pocket to run, it was because the pass rush was truly bearing down on him. Despite not coming away with a victory, the Dolphins game represented the biggest step forward Allen has made all year.
The Bills linebackers, particularly the rookie Edmunds, continue to be victims of eye-candy in the opposing backfield. The Dolphin’s fake motions got the linebacker to hesitate on a ten-yard Brandon Bolden run in the opening drive and then again on a wildcat run late in the second quarter. The former Virginia Tech Hokie ability in coverage more than made up for any deficiencies. In the first quarter, Edmunds’ presence in the middle of the field forced Tannehill to hold on to the ball long enough to get sacked by Trent Murphy. In the third quarter, he batted down a pass on a third and eight. The Dolphins weren’t able to get much going on offense, so the rookie deserves credit.
Phillips had his regular share of flash plays against the run, and continues to be feckless against the pass, but a particular sequence in the second quarter was noteworthy. With 2:56 left, Phillips drew a hold by Miami’s Jake Brendel. Unfortunately, the rookie’s reaction to the hold was to flail his legs and arms, tripping Kalen Ballage in the process, forcing the refs to call an offsetting penalty. A penalty there may have short-circuited the Dolphins second touchdown drive.
Another commanding performance for the rookie slot corner. Johnson didn’t give up many completions, and the ones he did concede came when he was a tick too slow in underneath zone coverage. He needs to do a better job anticipating the quarterback in those situations. Johnson also couldn’t quite hold on to Frank Gore on one play in the third quarter, which resulted in an eight-yard gain.
OG Wyatt Teller
Again playing 100 percent of the snaps on offense, Teller’s play was somewhat mediocre. He was called for a few holding penalties and was less than effective at blocking linebackers at the second level, but the rookie left guard held his own on a day when the rest of the line was crashing down all around him. Teller’s play has been an improvement over Vlad Ducasse, but only just.
Neal’s play on special teams finally stood out — for the wrong reason. With the Dolphins punting late in the second quarter, Neal and Laffayette Pitts were completely unaware of the punt's trajectory, knocking into Isaiah Mckenzie and causing a muffed punt. Not a good way to impress the coaches.
Foster’s streak of exceptional play continued against Miami, even though he only caught a single pass. Allen missed him multiple times, none bigger then on what would have been a 65-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. The rookie’s ability to run different types of routes has really improved. The coaching staff clearly trusts him to get open on slants, digs and outs and he’s been rewarding that trust.
CB Levi Wallace
The coaching staff obviously doesn’t trust Wallace in coverage, which can be deduced from his coverage technique. Often, the undrafted rookie would set up in bail technique, sacrificing underneath completions in order to defend the deep ball. As a result, Wallace gave up his fair share of completions to wide receivers in his coverage area. Truly, it’s hard to blame him for those completions when it’s on the coaching staff for playing him that way. At least Wallace had an appetite for contact, as he finished third on the team in tackles.
OG Ike Boettger
The former Iowa Hawkeye was finally active for a regular season game, and even saw snaps when the Bills brought in a 6th lineman. Boettger’s eight snaps didn’t result in any massive mistakes, which is all you can really expect of the young player.
- 2018 sixth-round pick Ray-Ray McCloud III was inactive against the Dolphins.