The Buffalo Bills defeated Washington on Sunday, keeping the visitors out of the end zone en route to a 24-9 victory. The Bills started quickly on offense and struggled to stop the run on defense in the early going, but they ultimately did what they’ve done more often than not this season: win.
As hit-or-miss as Buffalo was at times on Sunday, our list of five players to watch was a scattershot group, as well. While a couple of our focal points were outstanding, some need to improve. Here’s how our five Bills to watch fared on Sunday.
QB Josh Allen
After the first quarter, I turned to my father and said, “Well, I made a good decision playing Josh Allen in fantasy this week.” Buffalo’s quarterback started fast, going 6-of-8 for 92 yards and a 6-yard touchdown pass to Cole Beasley, whom I also started (yes, I’m a homer). From that point on, however, Allen just didn’t have many chances to throw. He finished the half 7-of-10 for 100 yards and that one touchdown, adding a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the process. For the game, Allen completed 14-of-20 passes for 160 yards with that lone touchdown. After the first quarter, Allen only threw twelve more passes. He had two big plays erased on drops by John Brown—one was a long pass where cornerback Josh Norman may have arrived a millisecond early, and the other came after Allen pulled a Houdini in escaping a sack—and he also underthrew Robert Foster on a deep ball where the young receiver didn’t make any sort of adjustment. Had one or all of those plays been successful, Allen’s numbers might look more impressive. However, he was able to avoid turning the ball over while doing exactly what was asked of him. He did fumble again (twice), his eighth and ninth of the season, but Buffalo was able to recover both. Allen needs to secure the football better when he takes off to run, but his fumbles didn’t hurt the team on Sunday.
RB Devin Singletary
So that’s what happens when you give the most dynamic runner on the team twenty carries! After playing Robin to veteran Frank Gore’s Batman for much of the season, Singletary came on strong in his first game as the team’s clear-cut No. 1 back. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll made a concerted effort to give Singletary the ball, and the rookie delivered. He totaled 140 yards from scrimmage on 23 touches, rushing 20 times for 95 yards and a touchdown with three catches for 45 yards. Singletary was shifty, explosive, and everything the team drafted him to be on Sunday. On a day where Gore was stonewalled repeatedly, Singletary managed to find running room all day long.
DT Star Lotulelei
The big space-eater didn’t have a bad day, but he once again struggled when Washington ran power and stretch plays. Whenever teams make Lotulelei move laterally in order to occupy blockers, he struggles to achieve the same leverage as when he can push straight up the field. Lotulelei only managed one tackle, but his job really isn’t to make the plays himself—it’s to keep linebackers clean so that they can make plays. In the first half, Washington was able to bully the Bills up front, as the team allowed 109 yards on only 13 first-half carries. In the second half, Buffalo tightened up, allowing only 18 yards on ten carries. Lotulelei and his fellow defensive linemen did a better job maintaining their gaps, as did the linebackers in the second half. They’ll need to be much better next week, as Buffalo faces off against a Cleveland Browns squad that boasts both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (set to make his 2019 debut against the Bills).
LB Matt Milano
The speedy linebacker had seven tackles on the game, and he was able to hit quarterback Dwayne Haskins on a pass that the rookie completed to convert a first down. Teams have been using Milano’s aggressiveness against him over the last two weeks, as he and Tremaine Edmunds have been over-pursuing on off-tackle runs. Washington hit on some screens early on, but Buffalo made some adjustments at halftime that allowed them to improve when Washington tried them in the second half. Inexplicably, Washington also started trying to run outside sweeps after halftime, which is the kind of play that Buffalo’s speedy defense smothers. Milano looked fully healthy in his second game back from a hamstring injury, which bodes well for his continued success.
CB Levi Wallace
Wallace gave up some catches, but it appeared that most of them were when he was in zone coverage. There were a few points where Wallace showed off his major weakness—his lack of physicality—as he struggled to make tackles in the running game. Adrian Peterson just bulled through him on one run, and while Wallace held him up for a bit, he tried to tackle a much larger player up high. Wallace is still young, but some of his flaws have been exposed over the last few weeks. He has plenty of potential, but he’ll see some very physical receivers this weekend in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry when Buffalo travels to Cleveland.