A tip of the cap to the Baltimore Ravens who continue their great season. For fans of the Buffalo Bills, there shouldn’t be any embarrassment this week as the team took it to the wire against the league’s elite. If the improvement continues, it won’t be much longer before the Bills are closing out games like this with a win from time to time. Let’s check in on playing time after this valiant effort.
Offense (75 snaps)
If you’re looking for a positive, it’s that the Buffalo Bills exited the game as healthy as you can expect this late in the season. The 100% club is back at it with Josh Allen, Jon Feliciano, Mitch Morse, Dion Dawkins, Quinton Spain, and Cody Ford all hitting that mark.
Thanks to the ordering, Cole Beasley “edges out” John Brown for the first time this season. Though actually he didn’t. Both players nearly joined the 100%, coming off the field for only two snaps each. Isaiah McKenzie also saw an increase in playing time, suggesting the Bills hoped to beat Baltimore with speed. The extra Beasley and McKenzie reps came at the expense of Robert Foster and a slight dip to the tight end position group.
Dawson Knox had fairly typical playing time. Tyler Kroft saw a 10% increase from the week prior. Lee Smith saw a 17% decrease. Kroft and Smith also swapped the No. 2 and No. 3 spots this week. This, along with DiMarco’s low reps, further suggest that the Bills wanted to come out passing and to do it quickly.
The Devin Singletary and Frank Gore split continues as it has.
Defense (60 snaps)
The 100% club on defense fell short by two members now that Levi Wallace and Kevin Johnson appear to be rotating permanently. Matt Milano, Jordan Poyer, and Tremaine Edmunds all hit the illustrious full-game mark. Micah Hyde and Tre’Davious White both missed a couple plays. I assume White came off to help the Ravens collect their paperwork. What a nice guy!
With Wallace, White and K. Johnson as the usual boundary corners, the snap counts are four fewer than the 120 that should be expected. Kurt Coleman came in for two, but those look like they were in relief of Hyde. It’s unlikely Taron Johnson subbed in on the boundary with all three other corners healthy. The best guess is that they were actually short a corner on a few plays, probably on the goal line. This could also explain Coleman coming in as he’s roughly ten pounds heavier than Hyde.
That means the Bills played nickel defense about 1⁄3 of the time or a touch above this game based on T. Johnson’s snap counts. That’s astonishingly low for the Bills and shows a concerted effort to play the game differently against the Ravens.
The defensive ends had a typical rotation with Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy each playing 38 snaps. Backing up both sides, Shaq Lawson actually had more playing time than either, with 41. Darryl Johnson came in for a few plays as he has been. Adding them up, there’s one “extra” play by a defensive end.
Defensive tackles had a shift, as Star Lotulelei had the highest playing time with 39 snaps. He was followed by the usual order of Jordan Phillips, Ed Oliver and Corey Liuget.
And of course, the key to it all: Lorenzo Alexander. Going off of expected counts, there was one “missing” defensive tackle snap that likely went to Alexander. That leaves 40 snaps, or three more linebacker snaps than expected based on T. Johnson’s playing time. The extra defensive end rep and these three by Alexander probably were a specialty package like the hypothetical of a goal line grouping like mentioned above.
Simply stated, the rep counts on defense are so far out of the norm that the above are best guesses only based on the data. If you’re looking for confidence in the coaching staff, they reinvented the defense for one week.
Special teams (31 snaps)
After last week’s wackiness thanks to a lot of scoring drives by the Bills, we return to a fairly normal distribution here. Tied at 65% of playing time we have the core group of Siran Neal, Corey Thompson, Julian Stanford, and Senorise Perry. Lorenzo Alexander came in next with 55%, despite his elevated time on defense.