clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bills fans firmly believe this player should be a starting cornerback

The results are decidedly in favor of a certain former first-round pick

NFL: SEP 25 Bills at Dolphins Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2022 Buffalo Bills have had a problem at cornerback this season. Perhaps it all began back in 2021, when cornerback Tre’Davious White tore his ACL on Thanksgiving night. The Bills prepared for his absence, drafting Kaiir Elam in the first round and Christian Benford in the sixth round. But from the first snap, nothing seemed clear cut. The entirety of Buffalo’s outside defensive back personnel seemed a fluid proposition at best. Instead of Elam, it was Benford who received the start in Week 1, while Elam came off the bench in certain situations.

But it’s not often that an NFL team will draft a cornerback in the first round for him only to play situationally in a part-time role. It’s even less likely that he would cede snaps to a sixth-round rookie, a young depth player, or a seasoned veteran just joining the team via the practice squad. Yet here we are, having lived through all of those things befalling Elam. When he’s been on the field, Elam has played well for a rookie. Even his work against the Pittsburgh Steelers — where he allowed a lot of completions for a lot of yards — showed a player capable of shutting down a receiver’s most dangerous ability: netting six for the offense.

Why have the Bills kept Elam on the sideline so much this season? What aren’t they telling everyone? If it were injury or illness, such things would be disclosed, to a certain extent. But this feels different. One week the team makes him a healthy scratch, for us to later hear that he wasn’t back fully from illness. Another week we’re told he’s inactive in favor of Xavier Rhodes’ promotion from the practice squad. Yet another week the Bills have Elam active, only for him to see zero snaps on defense — all while Dane Jackson struggled to win matchups against receivers.

What does One Bills Drive know about Elam that we don’t understand? Do the coaches believe he’s the defense’s CB2, or is it still Jackson who they implicitly trust most to start?

One thing’s for sure: Bills Mafia knows who they’d prefer to see play opposite White. Better than half (52%) of voters in Week 15’s poll chose Elam.

Somewhat surprising to me, Rhodes lands in second place. Perhaps voters side with his experience over Benford.

Elam played a fantastic game in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins, limiting wide receiver Tyreek Hill to two catches for 33 yards. Maybe Elam is given a chance to show his talent again versus Miami. One thing’s for sure: Most Bills fans appear over the idea of Jackson as the team’s starter. Time will tell if head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Fraizer feel the same way.

Fifteen week in, Bills Mafia has me confused. There’s a reason why we ask these questions each week, and much of it has to do with charting the mood swings in fan approval. Buffalo just won its fourth straight game, and second against the AFC East. They defeated a very talented and dangerous New York Jets team. Yet, somehow fans are less confident (81%) in the team’s direction heading into this week’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

Apparently, confidence is dependent on style points. After thrashing the New England Patriots, confidence soared to its highest point (91%) since before their two-game slide. Interestingly. Despite winning against a good Jets team with a great defense, 10% of fans want something different than they did in Week 14.

We could chalk it up to the team’s struggles at cornerback, or even the lack of a consistent group of receivers behind Stefon Diggs. Maybe it’s due to quarterback Josh Allen slipping down the MVP ladder. Whatever it is, still better than four out of five Bills fans remain confident. We’ll take that to the bank every day, and wait for the rest to show up and cash their approval checks.

Check out our partners at DraftKings Sportsbook for your sports betting.