Well, that could have gone better. The Buffalo Bills stumbled their way to a narrow loss to the Cleveland Browns, creating a lot of distress to a fan base in possibly the worst position imaginable. Downtrodden for two decades, this game served as a cloud blotting out the ray of hope from a 6-2 start. Rather than beating each other up over it, let’s take a step back and latch onto some objective information and start the healing process.
Offense (69 snaps)
Last week saw Ty Nsekhe join the 100% club, which we surmised was due to lingering injury from Cody Ford. This week they split reps again suggesting Ford is completely healthy. The rest of the club remained intact with Josh Allen, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano, Dion Dawkins and Quinton Spain playing every offensive down.
For the receivers, John Brown nearly joined the club and has remained a steady presence on the field all year. Cole Beasley returned to the second spot after the last few weeks saw tinkering. Isaiah McKenzie, second in snaps last week, fell to number three on the charts with Robert Foster and Andre Roberts rounding out the group. Last week these last two were flipped.
Devin Singletary was clearly the workhorse back. In snap counts at least. While he did receive more carries (eight) than Frank Gore (five) there still appears to be some insistence in getting the passing game going first. Not having a running back with carries in the double digits is...odd. Speaking of the running game, Lee Smith and Patrick DiMarco’s snap count dipped a bit from last week, further driving home the lack of commitment to the run game.
Dawson Knox continues to see more playing time than Tyler Kroft. Kroft’s return from injury was hoped to bring another element to an underperforming offense. It’s unknown whether it’s due to faith in the rookie, lingering injury concerns or a lack of chemistry, but Kroft has definitively taken the back seat to Knox at this point.
Defense (70 snaps)
Only the linebacker duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano remained in the 100% club this week. Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, and Levi Wallace all came off the field for at least one play. This has happened a few times this year and appears to be a component of the Bills’ goal line defense.
Trent Murphy tops the defensive end playing time, but is followed closely by Jerry Hughes. The pair were backed up by Shaq Lawson primarily with Darryl Johnson only seeing three snaps. This was an increase from zero last week.
Jordan Phillips and Star Lotulelei saw season highs, though Phillips just barely tops his performance from last week. Ed Oliver saw a slight bump from last week and Corey Liuget saw more reps than Vincent Taylor did last week.
For nickel watch 2019, factoring in Taron Johnson’s and Kevin Johnson’s and Kurt Coleman’s snaps we have nickel defense roughly 54% of the time, which is low for the Sean McDermott/Leslie Frazier defense. We can’t do nickel watch without Lorenzo Alexander watch as well. If you’re following along with the math we have one “missing” defensive tackle snap and 32 “missing” from the nickel defense. That means Alexander played primarily as a linebacker against the Browns.
Special teams (24 snaps)
After the last few weeks of tinkering with the special teams snaps, there appears to be some stability. Darryl Johnson, Siran Neal, Corey Thompson, and Julian Stanford were at the top of playing time again with 62%. They were followed closely by Senorise Perry, Lorenzo Alexander, and Kevin Johnson at 58%.