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Preseason Snap Count Notes: Buffalo Bills vs Denver Broncos

Our weekly look at playing time

The Buffalo Bills hosted the Denver Broncos in Week 2 of the preseason and it didn’t go so well for the Broncos. A major reason for that was because Buffalo’s starters faced off against Denver’s depth for much of the game. Head coach Sean McDermott was much more clear about the purpose of this game than last. Get the starters some reps to get in rhythm, and some time with Case Keenum with the starting offense. Work on chemistry between offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and Josh Allen. Walk out with no injuries and a victory. Nick McCloud ended up needing stitches but, overall, things went according to plan.

Offense (60 snaps)

This game likely revealed a lot about the pecking order on the team. Josh Allen was in for one drive, which lasted six snaps. Sean McDermott indicated he wanted Case Keenum in with the starters just in case he needed to do so during the season. That’s solid evidence that Keenum has the backup job over Matt Barkley.

Dion Dawkins, Rodger Saffold III, Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates and David Quessenberry were the starting line. It’s likely Spencer Brown will compete for the starting right tackle spot, but this speaks volumes. Further, on Keenum’s first drive, only four of his snaps were in the first quarter. This group was pulled after ten snaps, which would be the four mentioned and Allen’s six. Or in other words, it was more important to pull this group than it was to give Keenum significant time with them.

One point of intrigue happened in the backup tight end battle. Quintin Morris got the start over Tommy Sweeney. Another interesting wrinkle is that Buffalo had 82 tight end snaps total, meaning there were 22 plays in which two tight ends took the field. That’s pretty high for Buffalo. It might not translate to the regular season but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Defense (66 snaps)

On defense, at least three Week 1 starters were left out of the lineup. That would be Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, who are both likely healing up and Von Miller who the Bills may not have felt they needed to see anything from.

The usual linebacker duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano started. Taron Johnson, Kaiir Elam, and Dane Jackson were the expected trio of starting corners. On the defensive line, it was Greg Rousseau who apparently got the start for Miller, with A.J. Epenesa on the other side. Epenesa is the bigger news as his role has felt a little more tenuous than Rousseau’s. On the inside, DaQuan Jones and Ed Oliver started. Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin started at safety.

Starting time for the defense was a bit more varied, but we can use a little bit of what we know about defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier and Sean McDermott’s tendencies to make some guesses. Edmunds and Milano would represent your usual 100% club members. They played 19 snaps or two drives. Taron Johnson only played 12, but it was noted during the broadcast that Buffalo was sprinkling in some more 4-3 early on. DaQuan Jones, Ed Oliver, and Greg Rousseau had 13, 12, and 11 snaps respectively, suggesting there was some rotation that took them off the field for those drives.

Everyone else who started had more playing time than Milano and Edmunds, meaning it’s likely the Bills wanted to give the group a little more time to gel. Interestingly, Jordan Phillips only came in for nine reps, which might mean he’s on the list of players who are secure.

Special Teams (24 snaps)

This game seemed to be a bit more about getting the actual roster to sync up than Week 1 was, so a few players who might find themselves on the 53 for special teams value might have been revealed.

While Tommy Sweeney was on the field 50% of the time for special teams, he was once again passed by Quintin Morris at 62%, who led the team on special teams time. Joe Giles-Harris saw 42% of snaps, as did Baylon Spector. Finally, Mike Love saw 50%.