After starting the season 6-1 with one of the most electric offenses in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills have come back down to Earth, falling to the New York Jets, 20-17, last weekend. Buffalo went into MetLife Stadium as double-digit favorites for the second week in a row and immediately looked out-of-sorts. Quarterback Josh Allen looked terrible passing the ball and the defense’s performance—particularly against the run—was embarrassing and, frankly, inexcusable given how well the Green Bay Packers moved the ball on the ground in Week 8.
The Bills took the cautious route yet again with cornerback Tre’Davious White, opting to sideline him at least another week. At the end of the day, this was the right call by the coaching staff because MetLife has some serious turf issues, and the last thing the Bills need is another defensive injury, especially to White. Right tackle Spencer Brown missed his second consecutive game with an ankle injury, while safety Jordan Poyer (elbow) and linebacker Matt Milano (oblique) were also unable to suit up. On the Jets’ side of things, they were missing a few rotational pieces on both the defensive and offensive lines as well as wide receiver Corey Davis and rookie running back Breece Hall.
The injury report clearly favored the Jets in this one, and it marks the second divisional matchup where the Bills were missing multiple key players on both sides of the ball. Let’s take a look at the Week 9 snap counts!
Offense Snap Counts (62)
It’s always a good sign to see the entire offensive line log 100% of snaps along with Allen, but this game can be forgotten. The Bills have lost their offensive identity since coming off their Week 7 bye. Something is going on with Allen and he hasn’t looked like the same MVP candidate we saw from Weeks 1-6.
Wide receiver Gabe Davis logged 95% of snaps, but was non-existent (again), catching just two balls for 33 yards, including at least two drops. Davis is averaging an astounding 25.1 yards per catch, which marks first in the NFL for players who have played at least seven games, but he has been very underwhelming with just 18 catches on the season so far. For reference, tight end Dawson Knox and wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie have more receptions (20). Rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir logged just 15% of snaps, while McKenzie logged 66% despite only catching two balls for 12 yards, also including a drop. Buffalo is severely missing the type of receiver Cole Beasley was in this offense. A change is needed on offense, whether that's running back Nyheim Hines becoming a hybrid WR/RB or giving Shakir more opportunities.
Running back Devin Singletary led the backfield in snaps (74%), unsurprisingly, but was unproductive, totaling just 48 scrimmage yards. The low snap count for the newly acquired Hines (6%) was to be expected because he needs time to learn the scheme, but he has already claimed the punt returner role. With running back Zack Moss no longer on the team, the opportunities for rookie James Cook to flash and Hines to showcase his pass-catching ability will be there, as long as the offense figures itself out.
Defensive Snap Counts (60)
With Poyer sidelined due to his elbow injury, the safety tandem consisted of Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson, who both logged 100% of snaps. Johnson is noticeably struggling as a full-time defensive starter, and since Hamlin is more geared towards stopping the run, the secondary had some serious issues. Cornerback Taron Johnson (98%) continues to prove why he’s instrumental to the defense’s success, and has been the most available and healthy member of the secondary all season. The split between rookie cornerbacks Kaiir Elam (43%) and Christian Benford (62%) continues to be tested due to all of the injuries scattered throughout the defense. Dane Jackson (95%) continues to hold his own on the opposite side of the field.
The most noticeable difference was the lack of Milano making plays all over the field. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (100%) has taken a step forward this season, but that’s mainly when Milano is on the field with him, and wreaking havoc. Rookie linebacker Terrel Bernard (98%) filled in for Milano, totaling seven combined tackles, but it’s clear he needs more time to develop his game.
Edge rusher Von Miller (73%) once again made his presence known when it mattered, forcing a strip sack when the Jets were in the red zone to protect the lead. On the other side was Greg Rousseau (23%), who registered a QB hit and tackle for a loss but left the game early due to an ankle injury.
If the Bills have Milano and Poyer on defense, they surely win this game, even with the offensive woes.
Special Teams (23 snaps)
- 18 snaps, 78% — TE Quintin Morris, FB Reggie Gilliam, CB Siran Neal, RB Taiwan Jones, LB Tyler Matekevich, LB Tyrel Dodson
- 14 snaps, 61% — WR Jake Kumerow, LB Baylon Spector
- 12 snaps, 52% — CB Cam Lewis
Other notable snap counts:
- 9 snaps, 39% — DE Boogie Basham
- 8 snaps, 35% — K Tyler Bass
- 6 snaps, 26% — P Sam Martin
- 4 snaps, 17% — RB Nyheim Hines
There isn’t much change here compared to other weeks aside from the fact that wide receiver Jake Kumerow is officially back to full health, and that both Bernard and Johnson had to start on defense in absence of Milano and Poyer. Tight end Quintin Morris (78%) and fullback Reggie Gilliam (78%) continue to lead the pack in special teams snaps every week. However, with the absence of Johnson and Bernard, the others stepped up and increased their share.
It seems Hines already has the punt-returner role locked up, fielding all four himself. Hines has been dependable as a punt returner his whole career, returning 73 punts entering this game and fumbling just three of them, a rate of 4.1% (not including fair catches).
The ongoing joke about the Bills seldom punting no longer applies at this point, as punter Sam Martin has booted the football at least twice in all but two games this season. Sorry, Bills Mafia.