After dropping to 4-3 following an ugly loss to the New England Patriots in Week 7, the Buffalo Bills recorded another check mark in the win column on Thursday Night Football — beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 24-18. For the third straight week, Buffalo’s opponent had a chance to win the game on the final drive of the game because the offense either didn’t produce enough points or stalled out when it mattered. Nonetheless, a win is a win and the Bills have a mini-bye to prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9.
Tight ends Quintin Morris (ankle) and Dawson Knox (wrist — placed on Injured Reserve) were ruled out with injuries ahead of the game while cornerback Kaiir Elam is back to being a healthy scratch, as the CB1 and CB2 spots are presumably locked up. When you factor in the fact the Bills went with 35-year-old Josh Norman over 22-year-old Elam, it makes you feel even worse about it.
Let’s take a look at the Week 8 Bills vs. Bucs snap counts and talk position battles on both sides of the ball.
Bills offensive snap counts (69 snaps)
Buffalo’s starting offensive line did a solid job containing Tampa Bay’s pass rush — allowing just two sacks and four QB hits. Even without both Morris and Knox, the run-blocking was effective as running back James Cook (67%) averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 14 carries. Guard David Edwards (10%) and fullback Reggie Gilliam (3%) played 10 combined offensive snaps, but essentially served as the missing tight end blockers in short-yardage situations.
It felt like Allen had a ton of time to go through his progressions and even when he was forced to roll to his right, Buffalo’s pass-catchers came through. Tight end Dalton Kincaid (84%) was the only healthy tight end on the roster, which may have been a blessing in disguise because the Bills went back to 11-personnel and Kincaid thrived, hauling in five of seven receptions for 65 yards and his first career touchdown. Wide receivers Stefon Diggs (99%) and Gabe Davis (99%) led the way in terms of snaps, of course, but Khalil Shakir (65%) had himself a breakout game, catching all six of his targets for 92 yards. He’s officially locked up the WR3 spot and with Buffalo running 11-personnel for the foreseeable future, his role will only increase. All in all, the Bills’ pass-catchers popped off. Allen and Diggs combined for 24 targets, 18 receptions and 157 yards while Kincaid and Shakir combined for 13 targets, 11 receptions and 137 yards.
One thing worth noting is that wide receiver Deonte Harty (9%), who logged a season-low six offensive snaps, saw significantly fewer snaps than Trent Sherfield (32%), presumably because of blocking duties.
Bills defensive snap counts (68 snaps)
It’s always a good sight to see the defense walk out of a game unscathed from injuries. It was huge to get defensive tackle Ed Oliver (51%) back in the mix, who made his presence known with one sack and a tackle for loss. Defensive tackles Jordan Phillips (49%) and Tim Settle (41%) have been battling it out for DT2 since Da’Quan Jones went down with an injury, and it seems that Phillips is winning or has already won the battle. He led defensive tackles in snaps last week when Oliver was sidelined and given the lack of production from Settle and even Poona Ford (38%), he’s likely not going anywhere anytime soon (snap count-wise) unless another injury hits the defense.
I still remain very pleased with the consistent pressure off the edge. Whether it’s defensive ends Greg Rousseau (59%), Leonard Floyd (62%) or A.J. Epenesa (31%) rushing off the edge, success has been a regular occurrence as they each recorded at least one QB hit on quarterback Baker Mayfield. Edge rusher Von Miller (40%) played 27 snaps this week and nearly sacked Mayfield, suggesting his full return is coming soon. If he can even reach 75% of what he was last season, Buffalo’s edge rotation and depth are going to be awesome viewing material.
Aside from linebacker Terrel Bernard (100%) continuing to make play after play, the other linebacker spot is still very much in doubt. Linebacker Dorian Williams didn’t register a single defensive snap as he and A.J. Klein overtook Tyrel Dodson’s (42%) special teams role together. Dodson provides ample run support but is a major liability in the passing game — something the Bills’ coaching staff realized. Safety Taylor Rapp (38%) subbed in for Dodson on obvious passing downs, resulting in some looks where Poyer was lined up as a linebacker. It was some seriously interesting stuff that head coach Sean McDermott tried out — and it could pay off.
Bills special teams snap counts (26 snaps)
- 22 snaps (85%): FB Reggie Gilliam, LB Tyler Matakevich
- 21 snaps (81%): CB Cam Lewis, CB Siran Neal
- 18 snaps (69%): DE Kingsley Jonathan, SS Taylor Rapp, LB Dorian Williams
- 14 snaps (54%): LB A.J. Klein
- 11 snaps (42%): WR Trent Sherfield
- 10 snaps (38%): RB Ty Johnson
- 9 snaps (35%): K Tyler Bass, WR Andy Isabella
- 8 snaps (31%): P Sam Martin, LS Reid Ferguson
- 7 snaps (27%): LB Tyrel Dodson
- 6 snaps (23%): WR Deonte Harty
- 5 snaps (19%): CB Josh Norman, WR Khalil Shakir
- 4 snaps (15%): LT Dion Dawkins, LG Connor McGovern, RG O’Cyrus Torrence, RT Spencer Brown, G David Edwards, C Ryan Bates, RT Ryan Van Demark, FS Micah Hyde, SS Jordan Poyer, LB Terrel Bernard
- 3 snaps (12%): DE Greg Rousseau, DE Shaq Lawson, DT Tim Settle, DT Poona Ford
- 1 snap (4%): WR Stefon Diggs, TE Dalton Kincaid
Per usual, there isn’t much new in the special teams department other than Dodson (27%) fully assuming the starting linebacker role, resulting in Dorian Williams (69%) and A.J. Klein (54%) seeing upticks in special teams snaps. The beloved practice squad wide receiver, Andy Isabella (35%) suited up and logged nine special teams snaps while running back Ty Johnson (38%) has logged at least 33% of snaps in back-to-back weeks following running back Damien Harris’ placement on Injured Reserve.
Quick shoutout to veteran cornerback Josh Norman (19%) who made two huge tackles in just five snaps with the kickoff team and was seen hyping up the younger players after big plays. Considering he played just five snaps and the cornerback situation seems figured out between Jackson and Benford, I like the signing for some leadership and hype-man duties.