OH YEAH! The Buffalo Bills took down the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round to advance to the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! I’ll try to temper my excitement (nope) as I break down the snap counts from the game to try to Matrix my way from data to schemes/tendencies.
Offense (57 snaps)
Most of the 100 percent club made the cut. Mitch Morse, Darryl Williams, Jon Feliciano, Ike Boettger, and Josh Allen all made it. Dion Dawkins came one play short, though there wasn’t any indication of an injury.
With Zack Moss out, Devin Singletary led the running backs AND the wide receivers in snap counts. T.J. Yeldon and Taiwan Jones saw the field but quite sparingly.
Bigger news than Singletary’s high snap count was the relatively low percentage for Stefon Diggs. John Brown, Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, and Isaiah McKenzie all had pretty normal counts.
Dawson Knox led the tight end group as expected. He was followed by Lee Smith whose snap counts have been on a rollercoaster this year. They weren’t as low as “healthy scratch” like we’ve seen, but Smith didn’t see the field much at all. Reggie Gilliam was hurt at the end of the third quarter, but this likely didn’t drastically impact his time on offense.
Based on snap counts, the Bills used a single running back the entire game. They ran with three tight ends roughly 86 percent of the time. To word that differently, that means there were two tight ends on the field about 14 percent of the time.
Defense (78 snaps)
Levi Wallace split reps perfectly even with Josh Norman. Aside from that, the entire 100 percent club made it. And with Wallace/Norman rotating quite a bit this season, it could be argued the club is a group of five this year rather than six. Tre’Davious White, Tremaine Edmunds, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, and Matt Milano entered healthy and stayed healthy.
The hero of the game, starting corner Taron Johnson saw the field 59 percent of the time, which sets our floor for nickel defense. He split time perfectly with A.J. Klein, which means his 41 percent of the time represents a 4-3 scheme as Milano and Edmunds never left the field on defense. That’s quite high for the Bills and echoes what they did last year, so I decided to parody a song for you all. In case you can’t figure out the tune.
“Hello 4-3, my old friend
You’ve come to defend birds again
Because a team that loves running
Was the one the Bills were gunning
And the three points, that they scored in the game
Thanks to the hybrid defense.
The restless first half caused some stress
Taron Johnson did impress
‘Neath the halo of the flood lamp
Buffalo won it in the cold and damp
When our eyes grew wide by the flash of an I.N.T.
Went for T.D.
Thanks to the hybrid defense.”
Trent Murphy returned to the lineup at defensive end and looked like he was all over the place. He was actually behind Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, and even A.J. Epenesa in snap counts. Murphy made the most of his time though, making some big plays that helped the Bills succeed.
Vernon Butler’s first-half injury led to increased reps for the other defensive tackles but it’s likely Ed Oliver would have been top of the list regardless. Harrison Phillips, Quinton Jefferson, and Justin Zimmer followed in that order. This group saw extra time not only from Butler’s injury but due to scheme. If you did the math, you’ll notice that the defensive end grouping was “missing” 12 snaps. These were made up by the defensive tackle group, deliberately creating a “heavy” defensive line.
This was a “one-night-only” special appearance of the Buffalo Bills’ defense. Just like last season, except even more effective.
Special teams (24 snaps)
No surprises with Tyler Matakevitch leading the team with 79 percent of special teams snaps. A large group followed at 67 percent. This included Reggie Gilliam, Taiwan Jones, Siran Neal, Andre Smith, Dean Marlowe, and Jaquan Johnson.