After the Buffalo Bills’ recent victory over the Miami Dolphins, the coaches and members of the front office can proceed with the knowledge that their rookies mostly played well in the final week of the season and enter the offseason on a high note. More so than at any point during season, the team’s two first-round picks put together mostly complete performances. Meanwhile, others, like Harrison Phillips and Robert Foster, continued to contribute and show that they have a future on this team next year. More about the performance of each rookie below.
QB Josh Allen
The team’s rookie quarterback continues to get lazy with his mechanics on a handful of throws and misses his target, especially on three-step drops and quick throws. He also failed to read Miami’s coverage and was baited into an interception by Reshad Jones. He made great throws when the offense was on schedule, like the 21-yarder to Zay Jones in fourth quarter. But he was fabulous when plays broke down, like on his touchdown run also in the fourth quarter, or on his long dump-off pass to Chris Ivory in the first quarter. Also, yes, Allen finished with a completion percentage above sixty percent for the first time.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds interception against the Dolphins was a rare display of athleticism for a linebacker and a capstone on a dominant season in coverage for the rookie. Then you add in a sack of Ryan Tannehill off a blitz, another quarterback hit and a pass defended, and you start to see why Edmunds has the second-most passe -defended for a linebacker in the NFL. Against the run, Edmunds showed improved decisiveness against Miami, especially when kept clean, but he still gets washed out too easily on blocks. That was certainly the case on Miami’s sole touchdown drive. Edmunds will need to go in the offseason working to improve that area of his game.
DT Harrison Phillips
Continuing to rotate on the defensive line, Phillips’s day was a microcosm of his whole year: solid, but not impactful. The stat sheet shows only two tackles, and the tape isn’t much more flattering than that.
OG Wyatt Teller
A decent bounce-back performance for the rookie. Teller held up in pass protection surprisingly well against a defensive tackle who relies on speed. Davon Godchaux didn’t have the strength to move Teller off his spot in pass protection. In the run game, Teller continues to struggle with reach blocks, but he’s displayed much more comfort moving guys directly in front of him, and then getting to the second level. He wasn’t responsible for the team’s rushing woes against Miami.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
For whatever reason, the coaches decided to use McCloud on only four snaps. He caught one pass on those snaps, but his route was short of the sticks, which forced a punt. Not a great way to end the season.
S Siran Neal
Neal had what I would term a “breakout game” on special teams. The former fifth-rounder served as the gunner on the punt coverage team and made several nice open-field tackles of returner Danny Amendola.
WR Robert Foster
While the rookie had a bit of a quiet day with only four catches for 21 yards on five targets, he displayed some nice footwork on his touchdown catch in the middle of the third quarter. Miami was determined not to let Foster beat them deep over the top, which left him open on short comebacks and curls.
CB Levi Wallace
Wallace’s run defense stood out against the Dolphins. One play he’d be crashing down and tackling the running back before he could get to edge. Then the next he’d run down the running back from the backside. The one time Wallace was tested in the passing game came late in the second quarter. Devante Parker attempted a double-move, but Wallace didn’t take the bait and ended up in perfect position for an interception. He didn’t come down with one, but it was a textbook play nonetheless.
OG Ike Boettger
The undrafted rookie came in for John Miller in the third quarter and struggled to anchor against Akeem Spence in the passing game. He was pushed right in to Josh Allen’s lap occasionally. On the other hand, he looked good when his feet were moving in the run game, especially on zone blocks. In his limited time on the field, his level of play was a clear upgrade to John Miller.
LB Corey Thompson
Thompson saw a major reduction in his snap counts compared to the New England Patriots game. He was only on the field for ten snaps against Miami. In that time, he was in decent position in the passing game, but wasn’t very confident in attacking a few runs.
DE Mike Love
Love’s game tape against the Dolphins really impresses. Rotating with Jerry Hughes, Love held the edge well, even forcing a run back inside in the third quarter and making Nick O’Leary look silly in the process. Against the pass, his motor really stood out. His first step isn’t anything that special, but he definitely accelerates quickly, earning a couple pressures of Tannehill.
- Cornerback Taron Johnson underwent shoulder surgery and is out for the rest of the year.
- UDFA running back Keith Ford was listed as inactive against the Dolphins.