Sunday night in primetime didn’t go quite as smooth as the Buffalo Bills were hoping, with the offense sputtering throughout the entirety of the game. Luckily, after three scoreless quarters, quarterback Josh Allen and the offense woke up just enough to vault the team over a skeleton crew playing for the New York Giants.
Injuries remain a factor for this season’s rookies, with opportunity added and taken away. Let’s review a pair of first-year players to see how they performed during the team’s narrow win over the Giants on Sunday Night Football.
TE Dalton Kincaid
Kincaid was held out for the game due to a concussion he suffered the week prior in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kincaid returned to the game last week but entered into the concussion protocol the next day.
It’s rare that concussions are a multi-week injury, but it’s something to keep an eye on as it relates to practice reports over the course of this week. Kincaid’s availability is key for both the team and his development moving forward.
OG O’Cyrus Torrence
Another week — another very tough interior defensive line matchup for O’Cyrus Torrence, who was tasked with facing Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence on a multitude of reps.
One of the most important plays of the game was Josh Allen’s off-script needle thread to tight end Quintin Morris. Allen deservedly got a ton of credit for the ridiculous play, but one of the unsung heroes was Torrence. The rookie guard executed a near-perfect rep in one-on-one pass protection against Lawrence, showcasing his strong hands to shut down Lawrence’s counters. Torrence then leveraged Lawrence (without holding) and allowed Allen to easily escape after his rep was in hand. See the clip below.
Torrence is still growing as a player. Some consistent weaknesses of his in college were his inability to climb to the second level, and his struggles as a puller. Climbing and executing blocks on an interior blitz still isn’t his strong suit, but he’s holding up remarkably well during a gauntlet featuring elite NFL interior defensive linemen.
First target of the season— NFL (@NFL) October 16, 2023
First catch of the season
First TD of the season
Quintin Morris waited for his moment and took advantage. @QuintinMorris_
: #NYGvsBUF on NBC
: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/7gJiGANIor pic.twitter.com/ChabrQ11E5
LB Dorian Williams
Williams’ first two weeks of true in-game playing time in the NFL have epitomized the cliché of what an NFL rookie is supposed to look like — flashing the ability plenty but also making mistakes at a level higher than most on his side of the ball. Williams’ floor and ceiling is evident early on as an NFL linebacker.
His athleticism is on full display, and it seems that Williams has a good idea of where he’s supposed to be and when more times than not in run fits. The issue of missed tackles have overcast some of his ability. For the second week in a row, Williams was pulled in favor of Tyrel Dodson for a few reps. He was also pulled when the Bills went into a “Dime” personnel package on the last drive of the game. Still, he played 65 of 77 snaps on the night.
Williams struggled a couple of times against Y-leak, where Giants tight end Darren Waller would delay on outside zone action and then run a shallow cross off play action. Williams and the other defenders flowed to what they thought was play-side. But Waller crossed Williams’ face on the actual play-side and easily got past him for a healthy chunk gain — due largely to Williams’ failure to recognize what was happening in front of him.
Williams’ open-field tackling and coverage do need work at this point.
Conversely, Williams had multiple impressive reps taking on blockers and winning with run and chase. It’s in there for Williams to be a real plus-player as the season goes on. Offenses are going to attack him in the passing game with creativity and action to get him flowing, but there’s plenty of potential.
WR Justin Shorter
Shorter remains on Injured Reserve (IR) and is still eligible to return. He hasn’t been removed from the list to return despite being eligible to return after Week 4. It’s possible the Bills are holding him on the list for the time being with no long-term injuries occurring on offense to this point. If a receiver injury were to occur, I’d be willing to wager you’d see Shorter come off IR.