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Bills-Dolphins snap counts: Dane Jackson, Kaiir Elam split CB2 snaps

Also, are the Bills changing their defensive line rotation?

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills are 11-3 with sole possession of both the conference and division leads after beating the Miami Dolphins in Orchard Park, NY during Week 15. The Bills’ win streak has extended to five games, and what was once an 0-2 divisional record is now 3-2 after a three-week run saw wins over the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Dolphins in consecutive weeks.

After a win against a very physical Jets team, the task this week was containing the Dolphins’ high-powered passing attack, and forcing them to constantly adjust. This was a well-rounded game from start-to-finish, and the Bills were on the winning end of yet another one-score game that came down to the final minutes. Both defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (shoulder) and guard Ryan Bates (ankle) were unable to suit up, with the Dolphins declaring two members of their secondary out.

Let’s take a look at Week 15’s snap counts and dive into what the Bills did differently in this matchup as opposed to their Week 3 approach in Miami.

Bills offense snap counts (78 total)

With Bates ruled out ahead of time, guard Greg Van Roten (100%) drew the start at right guard. He handled Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins well throughout the game, but once center Mitch Morse (50%) left the game with a concussion, the offensive line began to struggle. Van Roten moved to center at that point, and backup David Quessenberry came in at right guard.

Wide receivers Gabe Davis (97%) and Stefon Diggs (86%) led the way in terms of snaps for the skill positions, with tight end Dawson Knox (82%) not too far behind. Since quarterback Josh Allen was on, the wide receivers were, too — with the exception of a few drops. Wide receiver Cole Beasley logged 11 snaps in his first game back with Buffalo, and hauled in his only target, which was followed by a loud “BEEEASE” chant from Bills Mafia. It’s worth noting that wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie logged 56% of snaps even with Beasley back in the mix, and tight end Quintin Morris (17%) caught his first career touchdown.

The running game was carried by Allen, but both running backs Devin Singletary (60%) and James Cook (36%) made plays when it mattered despite the lower production. Running back Nyheim Hines logged just three offensive snaps, but found the end zone for the first time as a Bill on a quick pass from Allen.

Bills defense snap counts (59 total)

Containing the Dolphins’ playmakers was the key to winning for the Bills, and having cornerback Tre’Davious White back in the lineup logging every snap certainly helped the cause. He made several big plays, and his presence on the field just boosts the entire defense’s confidence. Dane Jackson (53%) and Kaiir Elam (47%) had a near-even split as the CB2 opposite of White, which is promising. Elam has slowly been working his way up, and this may have been the game he proved his worth as a starter.

The linebacker duo of Tremaine Edmunds (100%) and Matt Milano (100%) was impressive yet again, totaling 16 tackles and a half-sack.

The defensive line rotation was different this week, with defensive tackles Ed Oliver (69%) and DaQuan Jones (76%), as well as edge rusher Greg Rousseau (71%), logging their highest snap counts in recent weeks. The run defense struggled all night, and the Bills were lucky Miami didn’t run it more. Fortunately, the pass rush was viable — totaling two sacks, four quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. Defensive end Shaq Lawson (59%) is also proving to be one of the best signings from the offseason.

Bills special teams snap counts (30 total)

  • 26 snaps, 87%: CB Siran Neal, LBs Tyrel Dodson and Tyler Matakevich, RB Taiwan Jones
  • 25 snaps, 83%: TE Quintin Morris
  • 21 snaps, 70%: LBs Terrell Bernard and A.J Klein, FB Reggie Gilliam, S Jaquan Johnson
  • Others: CB Cam Lewis (16 snaps, 53%), RB Nyheim Hines (12 snaps, 40%), K Tyler Bass (8 snaps, 27%)

There isn’t much different in terms of special teams, other than fullback Reggie Gilliam (70%) returning to the lineup and logging his normal snap percentage. I’ve said it every week, but the acquisition of Hines (40%) has proven to be huge for the special teams unit, because the Bills had serious ball-security issues on returns earlier in the season. Even in blizzard conditions, we can count on Hines to properly field punts.

Although he wasn’t asked to do much throughout the game, kicker Tyler Bass (27%) came up clutch when he nailed the game-winning field goal as time expired. Special teams gets overlooked more often than not, but Bass is quietly one of the best players on the team. Also, shout out to the offensive line for wiping away the snow on the ground before Bass’ game-winner — you love to see that.