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Revisiting five Buffalo Bills to watch against the Indianapolis Colts

Not a banner day for the Bills

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills were awful in every facet of the game on Sunday, dropping a 41-15 contest to the Indianapolis Colts. I use the phrase “contest” loosely, too, as the game was essentially over at halftime. The Bills were listless and punchless, and the Colts played the part of the aggressor from the moment the game began.

The score was obviously a brutal one but, in truth, it could have been worse. The Bills didn’t have many bright spots, though at least one of our players to watch for the week looked as if he’s deserving of a larger role.

Here’s how our list of players to watch performed on Sunday.

RB Matt Breida

It’s a small sample size, sure, but there’s a case to be made here that the veteran Breida is Buffalo’s best running back. Breida had the same number of touches as Devin Singletary (six). Breida ran five times for 51 yards, with his long a 28-yard scamper to open the Bills’ second drive of the second half. He also caught a pass for a 16-yard gain, so that’s six touches for 67 total yards for a guy who had been a healthy scratch for most of the season. While Singletary has still proven effective in small doses, Zack Moss has done little to help the Bills of late. Breida gives the team something that neither of his younger counterparts does, which is game-breaking speed. If offensive coordinator Brian Daboll doesn’t give Breida more targets moving forward, I will be shocked.

WR Isaiah McKenzie

Woof. With Buffalo trailing 17-7 and about to receive the ball at the end of the first half, the team had a realistic chance to pull a double-dip and take the lead right back from Indianapolis. Instead, McKenzie fielded a kickoff, slipped, and fumbled inside his own 20-yard line. After the Colts returned it to the two-yard line, Jonathan Taylor scored his third of five touchdowns and the game was essentially over. McKenzie only managed to play nine offensive snaps, too, just one week after he saw some plays on offense for the first time in a bit. McKenzie wasn’t the main reason why Buffalo lost, but he was certainly a face on the Mount Rushmore of ineptitude from Sunday’s debacle.

OL Daryl Williams

I expected the line to be far worse than it was on Sunday when I saw that Cody Ford was in the lineup and Williams was back at right tackle. While the protection certainly wasn’t good, it was at least on the better side of awful. It’s sad that bad protection is what we’ve come to expect from the front five this year, but it’s also reality. Williams, for his part, was exactly what he’s been at tackle this year. There were some plays where he looked good (the designed quarterback sweeps, for example) and some where he was driven into the backfield by Kwity Paye. Spencer Brown can’t come back soon enough.

DT Harrison Phillips

With Buffalo’s top one-tech defensive tackle, Star Lotulelei, still on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Bills turned to a mixture of Phillips and Vernon Butler in that role. The results were atrocious. I understand that Ed Oliver isn’t a one-tech, but he is your best interior lineman. If the choice is between Phillips, Butler, and Oliver, the snap count can’t go 54-46-32 in that order. It just can’t. Your best players need to be on the field the most often, especially against a physical team like the Colts. Phillips is, at best, a mediocre depth piece. There’s no reason for him to be on the field for nearly 80 percent of the defensive snaps. Perhaps Butler shouldn’t even be on the field, but that’s a story for a different time. For all of his snaps, Phillips managed seven combined tackles, five of which were assisted. His main job, though, is to hold blocks and create space for the linebackers. That didn’t happen.

LB A.J. Klein

Replacing Tremaine Edmunds is no small task and for the second straight game, Klein had to do so. He wasn’t nearly as successful against Indianapolis as he was against the New York Jets last week, but the difference between the two teams is like playing against the JV one week and the varsity the next. Klein had a great pass breakup when he was matched up against a receiver in zone coverage, knocking the ball down with his left hand while avoiding interference. He was called for defensive pass interference on a third-down play to extend a drive. He finished with six tackles, one tackles for a loss, and that pass breakup on the afternoon.