The Buffalo Bills suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the New England Patriots. Buffalo controlled most of the field, but critical and repeated mistakes on offense ended poorly. On the other hand, it was the kind of day that gets a defense noticed in a hurry. Who gets the credit, or blame, based on playing time this week?
Offense (83 snaps)
Just to start things off, 83 is a LOT of plays. You’ll see the mirror of it below, but New England only ran 65.
The 100% club was a little short today, with only the trio of Jon Feliciano, Quinton Spain, and Mitch Morse hitting triple digits. Dion Dawkins came quite close. Cody Ford and Ty Nsekhe continue to rotate at right tackle, with Nsekhe also covering for the two missed plays by Dawkins. I’m assuming you heard that Matt Barkley came in for Josh Allen after a fourth-quarter injury at this point. It was not 24 trick plays for those that missed the game.
John Brown remains the number-one receiver based on snap counts. Cole Beasley is climbing the charts and has now beaten out Zay Jones for the second-most playing time in three of four games. From there it’s a steep drop. Andre Roberts continues to rotate in and if you wondered where Isaiah McKenzie was yesterday he was only there in a technical sense.
With Devin Singletary still hurt, T.J. Yeldon had more reps than Frank Gore which is semi-surprising. Patrick DiMarco’s early season heavier usage looks to have been a mirage at this point.
Dawson Knox remains the primary tight end with 65% playing time. Lee Smith is up next with an occasional Tommy Sweeney sighting.
Defense (65 snaps)
An ankle injury took Tre’Davious White off the field for four plays. Aside from that, the 100% club on defense remained healthy and helped direct a performance for the ages. Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, Levi Wallace, Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, and Tre White represent the team on every down when possible and made Tom Brady look not only mortal, but terrible.
In the nickel spot this week Siran Neal and Kevin Johnson played 43 of the possible 65 plays (Kevin Johnson subbed in for White for four). Often hovering closer to 90-100% of the game in nickel, a drop to 2⁄3 is significant. Whatever prompted the Bills to step (slightly) away from a nickel defense certainly was the right call, though.
Jerry Hughes had a slight uptick, which corresponds with a slight decrease for Shaq Lawson. Trent Murphy and Darryl Johnson were at the expected rotation for defensive end in McDermott’s system. The interior combination of Star Lotulelei, Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips went mostly as expected. Jordan Phillips increased with the absence of Harrison Phillips. Kyle Peko rotated in but less than Harrison would have.
Lorenzo Alexander saw an increase mainly on the back of the decrease in nickel snaps.
Special teams (28 snaps)
Special teams saw a bit of a shakeup. The trio of Julian Stanford, Maurice Alexander, and Kurt Coleman have been the primary players on special teams. They all clocked in at 79% this week. Lorenzo Alexander was right behind them with 75% this week, which is our first shakeup. More significantly, Darryl Johnson actually led everyone this week with 25 snaps or 89% of the playing time.