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Analysis: Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds vs. Packers

The Bills struggled to stop the Packers’ run game, but was Edmunds at fault, or merely a scapegoat?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Tremaine Edmunds has been a polarizing player for the Buffalo Bills as the fifth-year linebacker plays on the final year of his rookie contract. Edmunds led Buffalo’s defense with 16 total tackles in their 27-17 victory versus the Green Bay Packers, including 13 solo stops. Statistics only tell a portion of the story, however, so let’s take an All-22 look at how Edmunds performed under the lights on Sunday night.

Play 1

There is a lot of misdirection on this play by the Packers—they have a jet motion to the right, linemen zone blocking to the left, and a pulling tight end to the right. This is a really tough play to diagnose for a linebacker, but Edmunds does it wonderfully. He doesn’t get distracted by all of the moving parts, he stays patient, and fills his gap in the cut-back lane. Running back A.J. Dillon is a large human, and Edmunds makes a sound tackle.

Play 2

Another great run fit for Edmunds. As the play develops, he shuffles his feet to move with the play and doesn’t over pursue. This allows him to fire into his gap and make a tackle when the opportunity presents itself.

Play 3

This is actually a great job by Edmunds of diagnosing the play, but he gets pinned inside by the tackle. I like his aggressiveness to attack the line of scrimmage when he sees he has a lane to stop the run, but when he does this, he gives the offensive tackle an easy down block to take him out of the play. I would like to see Edmunds challenge the tackle’s block and shove him back into the hole.

Play 4

This might be Edmunds’ best play of the night. He has great knowledge of the coverage here—he understands that if none of the wide receivers on his side of the field break inside, he has to carry the seam route. He does this to perfection. Notice how he turns outside to look through all three receivers to see if they will break inside. At the end of the play, he tips the pass up in the air, and linebacker Matt Milano nearly picks it off.

Play 5

This is another play where Edmunds diagnoses the play nicely, but gets blocked out of the play. It’s never a good thing when your middle linebacker is getting blocked six yards down the field.

Play 6

Edmunds does a fantastic job of setting the edge on this play. If the running back were to get outside on this play, it might go for a much bigger gain. Not only does Edmunds set the edge, but he gets off the block and makes the tackle.

Play 7

It appears that the Bills are in man-to-man on this play, and Edmunds has running back Aaron Jones (#33). He immediately follows Jones at the snap and has the potential to stop this play for a minimal gain. It’s impressive that Edmunds has the speed to tack down one of the best running backs in the NFL, but he fails to make the tackle. He gets too caught up in blocking Jones’ stiff arm and ends up going right over the top of him. He would have been better off wrapping up his legs and running through the tackle.

Play 8

Edmunds’ remarkable length is on display on this tackle. He uses his long arms to disengage with his blocker, and takes a mere two steps to cover a large gap to make the tackle. Even though this was a decent gain for the Packers, this was an excellent play by Edmunds.

Play 9

Sometimes good plays don’t show up on the stat sheet. Edmunds shows solid zone coverage skills on this play. Similar to Play 4 above, Edmunds carries the seam route, but this time he has a route breaking to the inside. He passes the seam route off to the safety and effortlessly covers the “dig” route.

Play 10

I think Edmunds is a better pass-coverage linebacker than he gets credit for. I’m not saying he’s the best man-to-man coverage linebacker, but I think he is effective in zone coverage. Edmunds gets great depth on this play, which allows him to smother the wide receiver and break up the pass.

In Summary

Tremaine Edmunds has been a leader of one of the best defenses in the league during his tenure with the Bills. There are many intangibles that Edmunds brings to the table, but his play has to do the talking. It’s definitely evident that he’s superb at diagnosing plays, but sometimes it would be nice to see him be more of an “imposing” force. Nonetheless, Edmunds remains the centerpiece of a great defense, and that in itself is an important statement.