Lost in all the hubbub of Spencer Long was the fact that the Buffalo Bills re-signed cornerback Lafayette Pitts for one more year. Pitts was a mainstay on special teams and saw spot duty on defense. In two separate games injuries and other circumstances gave him extended auditions. The Bills must have seen something they liked, so we took a look to get to the bottom of Pitts.
An injury to Taron Johnson in Week 1 kept him out of the lineup against the Los Angeles Chargers and the Bills went into the game with four corners. Phillip Gaines left the game early with an elbow injury and Vontae Davis elected to become a sports-bar trivia-night question for decades to come. Just like that, the Bills were down to Tre’Davious White and Lafayette Pitts.
Interestingly, the Chargers didn’t mercilessly attack Pitts through the air, despite sticking with a steady dose of passing. For this play, Pitts is shadowing a receiver early but quickly responds to the pitch. The official log credits Ramon Humber with the tackle, but it’s clear from a couple angles that Pitts made the stop.
Pitts does fine maintaining speed to stick with his man, but arguably shouldn’t be positioned right in front like he is. Pitts isn’t in ideal shape to prevent a comeback route, break inside or a sudden stop by the receiver. Being completely fair, though, Pitts has not even remotely taken himself out of the play. Based on the abrupt nature of Pitts finding himself on the field, he held up well.
Like the first play, Lafayette Pitts shows off that he’s been in the league a few years. Pitts consistently demonstrated a good handle on how plays developed and as a result put himself in position to make a play. Thanks to a limited sample size in Buffalo there are no definitive statements that should be made. With that said, besides this one play, tackling didn’t appear to be an issue for Pitts.
In Week 13, Pitts was called into action after an injury to Tre’Davious White, and saw a little bit of everything from the Miami Dolphins. On this route he shows why he’s not asked to be the slot corner. A touch slow on the break, Pitts is even slower to react to traffic. By the time he gets around the receiver it’s too late to prevent a catch. Luckily the pass was tipped at the line by Star Lotulelei.
Lafayette Pitts commits to an inside route and is caught off guard when the receiver goes the opposite direction. This is another play the Dolphins could have taken advantage of. This pass was actually completed, but out of bounds as the receiver barely ran out of room.
The Buffalo Bills are sure to get their money’s worth with Lafayette Pitts, considering it’s for the league minimum. The worst case scenario is keeping him as a core special-teams player. If Pitts sees time on the field, he’s demonstrated he can hang in there without leading the team to catastrophe. While the clips above are flaw-heavy, the team performed well with him on the field. Prior to Week 17, most of us would have assumed that Pitts and undrafted rookie Levi Wallace being the two corners on the field for half a game would have resulted in more than three points for their opponents. It’d be great to have All-Pro depth at the position, but the Buffalo Bills didn’t make a mistake by keeping Lafayette Pitts around for at least one more year.