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Bills-Vikings snap counts: Why won’t Buffalo use Nyheim Hines?

Newly acquired running back has seen just nine total snaps in two weeks

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Man, the Buffalo Bills sure know how to disappoint their fans. After their shocking loss to the New York Jets in Week 9, many believed quarterback Josh Allen’s poor performance and the “Stefon Diggs revenge game” narrative were strong enough for pure dominance on a supposedly overhyped 7-1 Minnesota Vikings team. However, that was not the case due to another poor performance from Allen—as well some typical Bills things—and they fell, 33-30 in overtime.

If anything has derailed the success of this season other than Allen’s noticeable offensive woes since the second half of the Green Bay Packers game, it’s been injuries. The defense was at a disadvantage coming into the game with safety Jordan Poyer (elbow), cornerback Kaiir Elam (ankle) and edge rusher Greg Rousseau (ankle) all sidelined, making the task of covering Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson just that much more difficult. On the other side of things, the Vikings had only a few injuries to defensive depth, so the injury report clearly favored them entering the game.

Let’s take a look at the snap counts, and where things seem to be going wrong these past two and a half games.

Offense (75 snaps)

It was nice to see right tackle Spencer Brown (100%) return to the lineup after missing two straight games because of an ankle injury he sustained in Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The offensive line logged 100% of snaps yet again, and did a very solid job containing the deadly Minnesota pass rush to just two sacks all game. Obviously, the exchange between center Mitch Morse and Allen on the one-yard line fumble return touchdown is something to monitor, but it certainly seemed to be more on Allen.

No surprise here, but wide receiver Stefon Diggs (92%) led the way in terms of production, catching 12-of-16 targets for 128 yards. This was Diggs’ highest snap count all season, despite wide receiver Gabe Davis out-snapping him once again. Davis (93%) continues to be underwhelming in terms of getting open consistently, but did post a season-high six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. It’s clear Allen is the main issue right now with the offense, but the lack of weapons outside of Diggs is concerning at this point, and changes need to be made—whether that’s giving rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir (20%) more reps, or going out and signing free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Prior to the NFL trade deadline, Buffalo traded for running back Nyheim Hines, but he hasn’t been utilized much through two games. He has just nine offensive snaps since joining the team, despite all the talk about his pass-catching ability out of the backfield. Running back Devin Singletary logged 72% of snaps, his lowest snap count this season, and while he picked up two early rushing touchdowns, he was barely used in the second half despite being up by three possessions. The Bills called up running back Duke Johnson for this game, and he logged one less snap than the player the Bills traded away draft assets for.

Defense (83 snaps)

With Poyer, Rousseau and Elam all sidelined ahead of the game, the Bills’ defense had a big task of containing the Vikings’ two primary playmakers—Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook. Linebacker Matt Milano returned to the lineup after missing Week 9 with an oblique injury and logged 100% of snaps—but unfortunately, Tremaine Edmunds (36%) exited the game early, so we weren’t able to see the coveted linebacker duo work together for long. The injuries continue to kill Buffalo, particularly on defense, with a new name popping up on the injury report every single game.

Cornerback Cam Lewis (95%) got his first ever start at safety over Jaquan Johnson. He impressed early on, but made arguably the biggest mistake of the game by not batting the ball down during Jefferson’s OBJ-like catch on a 4th & Long in the fourth quarter. The secondary simply wasn’t good enough to cover Jefferson consistently, but did a much better job containing him in the second half. Cornerbacks Christian Benford (96%) and Dane Jackson (100%) both picked off quarterback Kirk Cousins, proving that their confidence and experience is increasing.

The pass rush was fully healthy outside of Rousseau sitting out with an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver (76%) and edge rusher Von Miller (70%) led the way in terms of snaps, with defensive end A.J. Epenesa logging his highest snap count of the season thus far (60%). Miller made yet another huge play in crunch time, further solidifying his title as “closer.”

The defense totaled four sacks, ten quarterback hits, two interceptions, and nine pass breakups—including multiple stops when it mattered. But Allen threw the game away not once, but twice. Breathe, Bills Mafia: injuries have derailed the defense, yet they’re still making plays consistently to keep them in games.

Special Teams (33 snaps)

  • 26 snaps, 79% — RB Taiwan Jones, CB Siran Neal, LB Tyler Matakevich, FB Reggie Gilliam
  • 22 snaps, 67% — TE Quintin Morris
  • 20 snaps, 61% — LB Terrell Bernard, S Jaquan Johnson
  • 15 snaps, 45%: — RB Nyheim Hines, CB Cam Lewis

There isn’t much to say about the special teams in this one, other than the fact that the Bills called up Johnson ahead of the game and he returned all kickoffs. Hines (45%) continues to act as the punt returner, logging more snaps returning punts than playing on offense.

Lewis’ 15 snaps on special teams combined with his 79 defensive snaps is impressive, and worth the conversation despite his crucial mistake in failing to knock the ball away from Jefferson.

Kicker Tyler Bass logged 14 snaps, nailing three field goals and three extra points, while punter Sam Martin (nine snaps) has finally understood what it’s like to be a punter in Buffalo nowadays, punting three times, marking the eighth game this season with at least two punts. It is comical to see the Miami Dolphins think it’s such an unusual feat to not punt, though!