There was a lot of buzz about the passing of the torch as the Buffalo Bills took down the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. I’ve always felt that phrase denoted more of a willing process. The game felt more like the Patriots having a pratfall, dropping the torch, and the Bills came along and said “nice torch, this is ours now.” Also they kicked the Patriots in the ribs a couple times for good measure. Let’s check the snap counts to see who did the kicking.
Offense (72 snaps)
Another week, another score differential leading to pulling starters late in the game. That means scheme tendencies are going to be more challenging to decipher from the raw numbers, but when the Bills win like that I’m not sure anyone is upset.
The 100 percent club is slim pickings again as a result, consisting of only Ike Boettger, Mitch Morse and...Gabriel Davis? With John Brown still out and Stefon Diggs not needing to be full throttle all game it led to the rookie being omnipresent on the field. Jon Feliciano came close to the mark but the usual other three of Dion Dawkins, Darryl Williams and Josh Allen fell way short.
Stefon Diggs came in second place for WR snaps followed by Cole Beasley. Both of their snap counts were lower than usual, with Beasley likely impacted by injury as well as the starters taking it easy. This resulted in heavier doses of Isaiah McKenzie and Andre Roberts.
Zack Moss and Devin Singletary returned to a nearly perfectly even split. It’s possible it would have been perfect if Taiwan Jones didn’t come in for one play.
The new-look tight end scheme seems to be a thing. Dawson Knox led the way followed by Lee Smith then Tyler Kroft filling in for the injured Reggie Gilliam. The Bills used two tight ends roughly 14 percent of the time. This has fluctuated weekly but has had spikes in recent weeks. The Bills have also ramped up Lee Smith’s time on the field seemingly for additional pass protection. The results seem to be pretty good so far. As the president of the Lee Smith fan club I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that, while he’s no Diggs by any means, you leave him uncovered at your own risk.
Defense (50 snaps)
There were no 100 percent club members this week as the starting group got to kick back their heels a bit with the game out of hand. Five of the usual six spots likely would have been tied if not for Jordan Poyer exiting the field to be examined for a head injury. Tre’Davious White, Tremaine Edmunds, Micah Hyde, and the seemingly fully healthy Matt Milano all hit 88 percent. At the other corner spot, Levi Wallace did some time share with Josh Norman which also cut his snaps.
Starting corner Taron Johnson saw the field only half the time. Counting up the defensive back snaps, the Bills appear to have used nickel defense only 60 percent of the time, which is shockingly low for the team. A.J. Klein remained fairly high in snap counts, suggesting the Bills were looking to defend the run against the Patriots.
Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison were expectedly at the top of the list for defensive ends. A.J. Epenesa tied Hughes for the lead, which is different than how most games play out. Darryl Johnson also saw a healthy amount of work.
Ed Oliver and Vernon Butler are no surprise at the top for tackles. Being followed by Justin Zimmer, Harrison Phillips, and Quinton Jefferson means this group was the most normal rotation of the night.
Special teams (28 snaps)
The names on this list are pretty well set in stone. Tyler Matakevitch, Taiwan Jones, Siran Neal, Jaquan Johnson, and Andre Smith are your core special teamers. How about that pass from J. Johnson to Siran Neal? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!