This will be the third week in a row where the Buffalo Bills pulled starters late in the game. Against the Jets it was due to a dominant performance. Against the Colts it was for the exact opposite reason. The Bills returned to dominance against the New Orleans Saints and fingers crossed they keep pulling starters for this reason rather than the other one.
Offense (66 snaps)
The 100 percent club was a bit short this week. Josh Allen and Mitch Morse were pulled late in the game. Cody Ford exited briefly due to injury and was replaced with Ryan Bates. Ryan Bates exited due to injury and was replaced by Jamil Douglas. Cody Ford then returned to the lineup. That leaves Daryl Williams, Dion Dawkins, and Ike Boettger as the only three who hit the 100 percent mark.
The Bills continue to heavily feature Dawson Knox who just broke the team record for tight end touchdowns in a season (with plenty of season to extend the record). He nearly hit the 100 percent club. Adding in Tommy Sweeney’s time, the Bills hit 112 percent TE usage or eight snaps with both on the field. Reggie Gilliam also came in for three snaps. All of this is a change of direction from earlier in the season when the Bills seemed to prioritize speed over size even more than this game suggests.
Speaking of the speedier guys, Stefon Diggs was at the top of the heap for receivers followed closely by Emmanuel Sanders. The Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, and Jake Kumerow numbers are all about as expected. Isaiah McKenzie was a scratch this game, being replaced by Marquez Stevenson who technically made it onto the list but only technically.
That was only the second biggest shakeup as Zack Moss was benched in favor of Matt Breida. Breida took second fiddle to Devin Singletary in snap counts. Neither back had an efficient game on the ground, but Breida’s speed seems to have paid off on his two receptions, one of which led to a touchdown.
Defense (57 snaps)
This is all sorts of jumbled and with only Levi Wallace hitting the mark this week, it’s not really much of a 100 percent “club.” The big news of course is the loss of elite corner Tre’Davious White. His snaps went to Dane Jackson. That wording is deliberate as White cannot be replaced.
It’s a long list of defensive backs, but adding up all the snap counts leads to exactly 500 percent of playing time or a full game in nickel defense. This is pretty much expected at this point.
The linebacker group played out similarly. Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds took the bulk of snaps, with A.J. Klein and Tyrel Dodson filling in at the end.
With the Saints having one of the worst running back groups Buffalo has faced in recent memory thanks to injuries, the Bills likely felt comfortable going a bit faster. That shows up on the defensive line. The defensive tackles are “short” 12 snaps, which is 21 percent of the game. The Bills kicked defensive ends inside quite a bit this week to fill in for that. The team was not shy about saying this was the plan for rookies Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham and it’s starting to play out more and more as the season goes on.
Special Teams (22 snaps)
Tyler Matakevich watch continues. While he did take the top spot this week, it was a six-way tie. I’m not suggesting that Matakevich is on the way out, but it’s something to keep an eye on (likely during the offseason). Also of note, Gabriel Davis shows up with 27 percent of the snap totals this week. Davis is not a routine special teams player, and this is his second-highest total this year. He’s had four games in which he took zero snaps and another three with a lone snap. Davis being in likely coincides with Damar Hamlin being inactive.