While the massive beast that is the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback position captivates us all, another story line unfolds on defense with ramifications of similar importance. Rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds gave us our first glimpse of what he brings to the table on Thursday night. Manning the middle of the defense for three series, let’s take a look at how the “quarterback of the defense” performed.
Firstly, preseason games don’t provide access to all-22 angles, so we’re stuck with the broadcast footage. While the feed quality is often better with the broadcast, this play really demonstrates how much is lost with the TV angle. Regarding the play, Tremaine Edmunds drops back to cover his man. When Edmunds realizes the play is to Christian McCaffrey he comes back into it fast. Arguably a little too fast as the shrug McCaffrey uses is enough to cause a pretty bad miss. Welcome to the NFL.
There are three things I’d like to bring to your attention on this short clip. First, Tremaine Edmunds crashes into Matt Kalil and does pretty well for himself. Second, Edmunds’ height is obvious, but pay attention to his sight lines as he’s one of only a few linebackers that have a shot at seeing the play above an offensive line. Third, it isn’t just Josh Allen high fiving and slapping butts. Edmunds gives Lorenzo Alexander a quick pat, suggesting he’s already taking to the role of leader.
Tremaine Edmunds crashes the line again, and stands up Greg Van Roten. Edmunds is giving up 50 pounds on Van Roten but is three inches taller than the guard. To make this happen Edmunds has to come in quite low to get leverage. Edmunds’ height can be a disadvantage in the leverage game so it’s promising that he’s already showing solid technique to account for it.
Keep an eye out for this with Tremaine Edmunds. It’s noteworthy that he comes all the way into the offensive line, making contact with the guard before dropping back into coverage. If this continues to happen, it’s an indicator that the coaching staff is willing to bank on Edmunds’ athleticism to make up ground while pulling what amounts to double duty on a single play. It’s not uncommon to see a linebacker or defensive back feign a blitz. Running all the way into the linemen is a different story though.
Tremaine Edmunds is responsible for communicating between the coaches and the rest of the defense. Despite this being his first NFL game action and seeing limited snaps, Edmunds did a lot of little things like the raised arm and calling out what he’s seeing shown above. Poyer was on top of the play for sure and almost comes down with the ball. Without being on the field, it’s impossible to know if Edmunds’ communication helped Poyer. Still though, take a peek at what happened after the play...
Edmunds directs traffic again. For this play he sits down in his zone and picks up tight end Ian Thomas as he crosses. Edmunds shadows Thomas fairly well. Edmunds’ size gives him a better shot at a pass break up than it might appear at first glance, and there’s very little chance of YAC even if a catch is made.
Edmunds tries to take the long way around to the play. There’s a few ways this could have gone better. As far as teachable moments go, this isn’t too bad.
McCaffrey gets the touchdown away from where Edmunds is, but Trai Turner opens up a hole by knocking Edmunds back. The leverage lesson from above works against him this time. To his credit, Edmunds is able to disengage quickly, but in a less than ideal direction for a goal line stand.
Rookie flaws are to be expected and Edmunds had his fair share on Thursday night. If he’s the student of the game he’s often described as though, Edmunds will be a force sooner rather than later.