So that was a fun game to watch, right? I mean...wow. We’ll be bringing you lots of analysis this week from a variety of points across the field and I think fans of the Buffalo Bills should enjoy soaking it all in. When you take care of business the way the Bills did Monday night, it’s always the result of a total team effort. Even the punting was dominant and we don’t even punt all that much. Anyway, here’s my look at linebacker Tremaine Edmunds being Maine Savage all over the Tennessee Titans in my weekly All-22
I know Tremaine Edmunds can be a lightning rod for arguments, but I’d like to remind everyone again that his role demands as close to omnipresence on the field as a player can get. The Titans tend to feature running back Derrick Henry in the offense as you might recall. When the play call is still in doubt, Edmunds crashes down to run support and is angled toward the largest gap without any royal blue in it. Edmunds quickly sees quarterback Ryan Tannehill keeping the ball and he drops back. There’s a pretty sizable zone he needs to cover and he’s not in perfect position.
Edmunds has gotten a lot of flack over the years for struggling to shed blocks and keep himself clean. Even I’ve mentioned it several times as an area for improvement. I liked what I saw Monday and here’s a good example to show why. Edmunds gets into the mix like with everyone else. He places his left shoulder into his man, which keeps his right side clean and keeps him faced toward the play. You can see he easily frees himself from the block. While Edmunds wasn’t the one making the tackle, it’s a good rep for him.
I feel like if I hadn’t included the touchdown in this I would have been ripped apart in the comments, so here you go. I don’t know Edmunds’s exact instructions so it’s tough to know if he did anything “wrong” here. That said, I can say for sure I don’t mind how this played out. I highlight three options for Henry. He can hit gaps on either side of the group featuring Edmunds, or he can try to push the pile itself. Similarly, Edmunds can remain part of the pile (which he does) or theoretically support either gap.
The gap to our left is rapidly eaten up by defensive tackle Jordan Phillips which Henry reads well and avoids. Phillips has a good chance of winning this head-on collision by himself and defensive end Shaq Lawson is moving into this area too. I don’t know if Edmunds really helps much. To the right side defensive end A.J. Epenesa is there and if he had shed his block quickly he may have been enough. Edmunds may have helped here, but he does have some distance to cover to get into position.
Edmunds can also add mass to the pile in case Henry tries to bust through. In the case of Derrick Henry this is a legitimate possibility, especially on a two-yard run, and especially when he has two teammates trying to shove forward too. Edmunds adding mass to the pile to make it a three-on-two situation rather than a three-on-one is actually a pretty reasonable approach.
Now clearly there’s an opportunity missed as the Titans did score here, but for Edmunds’s individual performance my impression is that this was a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of decision. I don’t usually do four paragraphs on a single play, but I can’t stress enough that this play is PRECISELY what Bills fans were worried about against Tennessee. If there’s a talent mismatch where the Bills are the underdogs, you’re looking at it. Buffalo did well to avoid this situation.
I won’t need four paragraphs here. I like what I think this play shows about Edmunds and his ability to react to plays (see Play 1 as well). He’s focused on Derrick Henry until it’s certain Tannehill has the ball. Edmunds seamlessly changes targets and the rest is history.
One thing Buffalo did well all night, and Edmunds does well on this exact play, was bringing Henry down one-on-one. Whether it’s Henry slowing down with age, better tackling from the Bills or a combination of the two is up to you to judge—but it worked. If any player for Buffalo reads this wrong and doesn’t flow with the run, Tennessee has the blockers to seal off pretty much the entire defense. Buffalo reacts well though, and there’s one more defender than blocker. That means Derrick Henry against someone by their lonesome. Usually that’s a win for Tennessee, which is what makes them so dangerous. Well, usually that’s true anyway.
For the last play Edmunds isn’t seemingly doing a whole lot. He’s in great position if he’s needed—he just simply isn’t needed thanks to safety Jordan Poyer. Edmunds was able to settle in all night and make splash plays and solid wins thanks to the total team beating that went down. His job gets easier when everyone else is as spectacular as they were.
Tremaine Edmunds is having the kind of season everyone has been saying they want to see from him all along. If he keeps this up, he’s making a strong case for a dump truck full of cash to show up at his door.