The Buffalo Bills were outplayed and outcoached in every conceivable way Tuesday night, dropping their first game of the 2020 season in epic fashion—a 42-16 blowout. The Tennessee Titans, who hadn’t held an official practice in two weeks, looked like a rested, well-prepared bunch, while the Bills looked like a team sleepwalking through a road trip.
There were few bright spots in an ugly night, but it wasn’t all awful for our player to watch. Here’s how they fared this week.
QB Josh Allen
The night started off terribly, as Allen’s first pass of the game clanged off the hands of Andre Roberts and into the waiting arms of Malcolm Butler for Allen’s second interception of the season. Was the pass perfect? No. Should an NFL receiver catch a ball that hits him in the hands even if it’s a tad behind him? Yes. Allen spent much of the remainder of the first half not trusting his eyes or his receivers not named Stefon Diggs, as the young signal-caller looked rattled. With John Brown out and Cole Beasley nursing an injured foot, Allen locked on to Diggs to a fault. While the second half saw Allen distribute the ball a bit better—most notably to Cole Beasley—another interception to Butler essentially sealed the game. The second interception was most certainly Allen’s fault, as he badly underthrew his intended target as the Bills approached the red zone. It may sound overdramatic to say that an interception on the first drive of the third quarter sealed the game, but it was the last time that Buffalo had the ball with a chance to make the game respectable. At the time, it was 21-10 Titans, and had the Bills scored, it would have been a one-possession game. Instead, Butler returned the interception 68 yards, the Titans scored another touchdown, and the Bills were in scramble-mode for the rest of the evening. Allen did lead a couple of great touchdown drives, and he threw an absolute dart to T.J. Yeldon for a 22-yard score with eight Titans in zone coverage, but ultimately it was Buffalo’s mistakes that did them in. Allen may not have been the main culprit, but he was not as sharp as he’s been this year. He finished the night having completed 26-of-41 passes for 261 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. The silver lining, of course, is that this was Allen’s worst game of the season, and he still played decent overall.
WR Gabriel Davis
As expected, the rookie drew the start in place of the injured John Brown. Davis played a healthy number of snaps on offense, logging an even 72—most among Bills receivers, and a significant number because that was literally every snap Buffalo played on offense. If the Bills didn’t run three-deep with legitimate top-end threats, Davis would be a starter on this team, and he would start for multiple teams in the league. The Bills picked a real good one in the fourth round, and Davis has shown himself to be worthy of an even more expansive role moving forward. He caught five passes for 58 yards on Tuesday, bringing his season total to 13 catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns.
G Quinton Spain
Spain ended up a surprise inactive Tuesday night, as he injured his foot at some point between the final injury report coming out and the start of the game. Brian Winters started at right guard and Cody Ford started at left guard.
LB Tyrel Dodson
The middle of Buffalo’s pass defense continued to be Charmin-soft, and while Dodson isn’t 100 percent to blame, teams are taking advantage of Buffalo’s issues at linebacker this year. With Matt Milano, Buffalo’s best linebacker, on the shelf with a pectoral injury and Tremaine Edmunds playing like someone either unsure of himself after injury or unsure of what’s happening period, Dodson has seen an expanded role on defense. Veteran A.J. Klein has shown why the New Orleans Saints were willing to move on, as he has been little to no use in coverage and shows questionable instincts in run-gap situations. Dodson was arguably Buffalo’s best linebacker Tuesday, accumulating seven tackles on the night. He is going to need to mature quickly, as Milano isn’t due back for this week’s showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce.
CB Josh Norman
Yikes. Norman drew a rough assignment, as his days of CB1 are well behind him, so when Tre’Davious White was ruled out with a back injury, we all knew there would be trouble. We didn’t think that Norman would become a meme after being manhandled by Derrick Henry on a play that officially never happened thanks to offsetting penalties—and I’m sure Norman would rather it had never happened at all—and being abused by A.J. Brown all night. Norman led the Bills in tackles, which is never a good sign, and he was unable to handle his man-to-man responsibilities all evening. The team tried to play more man last night, and it just didn’t work. Ryan Tannehill was able to run at will, the Titans’ receivers routinely beat Norman, Taron Johnson, and Cam Lewis, and the Bills had no answers for a Tennessee offense gifted short fields on four of their six touchdown drives.
We’re on to Kansas City.