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Cole Beasley is feast or famine for Buffalo Bills’ offense this season

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills got hot in the second half of their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and part of the reason is the decision to funnel the offense through slot receiver Cole Beasley. With excellent outside cornerback play from the Dolphins’ All-Pros Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, the Bills were having trouble getting consistent gains on the outside.

After targeting Beasley once in the first 22 minutes for a single yard, Allen found him for 20 yards to start a second-quarter drive. Things really picked up in the second half.

On the first drive of the third quarter, Beasley was targeted on consecutive plays on the three-and-out. On the next drive, he was targeted on five of six plays in the middle of the drive, catching four passes for 34 yards including a 3rd & 14 conversion. He caught passes of 14 and 17 yards on the next drive (and threw an ill-advised pass on a trick play). He was once again targeted on the penultimate Bills drive, catching a 20-yard pass on 3rd & 11 to get into field goal range for Tyler Bass’s eventual field goal to put Buffalo up 9 with 3:33 remaining.

Beasley finished the day with ten catches for 110 yards on 13 targets, but the third-down conversions were even more important than those stats show. A 3rd & 14 on Buffalo’s own 21 that eventually leads to the Gabriel Davis touchdown catch. A 3rd & 13 on Miami’s 33 that eventually leads to the Stefon Diggs touchdown catch. A 3rd & 11 from Buffalo’s 44 that puts them in field goal range for Tyler Bass’s dagger. All of those big third-down conversions led to points.

His stats throughout the season have shown hot and cold streaks, just like in Sunday’s game. Last game against the Tennessee Titans, he caught seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown (hot). The two weeks before that, he had a combined four targets (cold) and his snap share was way down. In Week 3, he caught 11 passes for 98 yards (hot). Against Miami in Week 2, he saw four passes and caught them all for a combined 36 yards (cold).