The Buffalo Bills rose to the occasion against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, saving their season. The completely unexpected victory came, in part, thanks to the positive play of most of the team’s 2018 draft class. Josh Allen was calm, cool and accurate, while Tremaine Edmunds was much more decisive with his play recognition. More about the performance of the Bills rookies below.
QB Josh Allen
Allen turned in the best performance on his young career on Sunday. His final stat line—15 of 22 for 196 yards and a touchdown—doesn’t completely do it justice. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll helped the rookie out by drawing up some easy completions early, but Allen made the offense work by being decisive in his reads and yes, poised in the pocket. When faced with a collapsing pocket, instead of sitting and waiting for open targets, Allen consciously used his legs to gain positive yards. Two of his runs led to a first down: on 3rd and 9 and a touchdown. Through the air, Allen made quick decisions and delivered the ball accurately on what were admittedly simple concepts. This game presents yet another step forward for the rookie.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Continuing the theme this week is Edmunds, who also had a strong bounce-back game following Week 2’s loss against the Los Angeles Chargers. He led the team in tackles for the first time this season with ten and had a tackle-for-loss as well. In the middle of the second quarter, it was his vicious hit on Latavius Murray that jarred the ball loose and led to an interception. The jury is still out on how the rookie deals with play-action and other types of fakes, but it’s clear that if Edmunds can trust his eyes, he can be the freakish talent he was drafted to be.
DT Harrison Phillips
Despite playing 23 snaps, the rookie from Stanford did not record a single stat. On a day when the Bills were constantly pressuring Kirk Cousins, Phillips never managed to threaten the quarterback much. It’s fair to expect more from the rookie third-rounder, especially one who garnered Kyle Williams comparisons during the draft process.
CB Taron Johnson
Johnson’s effort against the run and on short dump off passes was noticeable for better or worse. He was quick to crash down, and that led to an 11-yard gain in one instance—but prevented bigger gains in others. In coverage, Johnson was generally in decent position but was beaten while in man coverage a few times by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Fortunately for him, poor passes from Kirk Cousins led to incompletions. Johnson appeared to injure his shoulder again early in the third quarter when tackling running back C.J. Ham, but he returned soon after.
S Siran Neal
Neal didn’t see any snaps on defense but did have a solid tackle on special teams, bringing the returner down at about the 17-yard line.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
The first play of the game was a quick screen on a run-pass-option to McCloud, who was able to take it up field for six yards. McCloud had 14 snaps on the day but was not targeted again in the contest. I’d expect him to get more work as the season continues.
WR Robert Foster
The Bills’ coaching staff has shown quite a bit of faith in Foster in the beginning of the season, and the rookie undrafted free agent has yet to reward that faith. Foster’s only target on the day was on a long post route—a pass that could not have been thrown better, but was inexplicably dropped by the receiver. Foster has shown the ability to create separation against NFL corners, but he won’t continue to see the field if he can’t reliably catch the ball.
P Corey Bojorquez
On Sunday, Bojorquez had his best game as a Buffalo Bill. Five of his six punts were downed inside the 20. He also had his longest punt of the year, a 59-yard boot.
- G Wyatt Teller and OT Ike Boettger were both inactive.