The Buffalo Bills started their 2023-24 NFL season with a gut-wrenching 22-16 loss to the New York Jets in overtime on Monday Night Football. For those who somehow don’t know, Jets starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with an Achilles injury just four snaps in, leading to backup quarterback Zach Wilson to sub in and topple the Bills for the second time in his career. Josh Allen was terrible and the special teams unit made a grave mistake in overtime. However, I bet we can all agree that this game was on Allen and his four turnovers.
There are no excuses for what happened in the Bills’ season opener and frankly, I don’t want to talk about it any further because it’s a long season and we’ll see the superhero version of our quarterback again.
For now, let’s take a look at the snap counts from Monday night’s matchup and determine who made an impact.
Bills offensive snap counts (69 snaps)
It’s truly a blessing for the entire offensive line to log every single snap and be able to outlast the powerful Jets’ pass rush with no injuries — but Allen was still running for his life, per usual. Granted, the Jets’ pass rush is very good and one of the top units in the entire league, but they sacked Allen five times and registered nine QB hits. They also registered eight tackles for loss as the Bills totaled just 97 yards on the ground. Running back James Cook (59%) is clearly RB1 this season with Latavius Murray out-snapping Damien Harris, 16 to 9, respectively.
The wide receiver snap-count situation doesn’t look all too different this year with both Gabe Davis (94%) and Stefon Diggs (84%) leading the way. Newly acquired receivers Deonte Harty (22%) and Trent Sherfield (16%) appeared in limited fashion, although Harty was quite noticeable out there in a gadget role.
Now I’ll get to what everybody cares about, tight end Dalton Kincaid. Although Dawson Knox (84%) logged the same number of snaps as Diggs, Kincaid logged just three fewer snaps (55), suggesting that two-tight-end personnel is in full force. If he’s logging 80% of the snaps in his first career NFL game, it’s going to be exciting to see what he can do as the season progresses.
Bills defensive snap counts (54 snaps)
Our coveted safety duo of Jordan Poyer (100%) and Micah Hyde (98%) was nice to see back in action together finally. The cornerback battle during training camp was intense and it ended with Christian Benford winning the CB2 job opposite of Tre’Davious White, but I don’t think Bills fans expected Benford to log every single snap. Last year’s first-rounder Kaiir Elam was a healthy scratch but Dane Jackson didn’t see a single defensive snap either. Nonetheless, Benford looked legit out there and made a touchdown-saving tackle on a monster run from Jets running back Breece Hall. Taylor Rapp (33%) appeared in some different schemes but it’s unknown whether he’ll always be this 30% snap-share guy or if there are more plans for him in the defense to be revealed.
Also joining the 100% club were linebackers Matt Milano and Terrel Bernard. Bernard filled the Tremaine Edmunds role by leading the team in tackles (11) but Milano continued to prove why he’s one of the best in the business, totaling eight tackles, one tackle for loss, one QB hit, one pass deflection, and one interception.
The pass rush was pleasantly surprising. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver led all linemen in snaps (38) and made his presence known, finishing with three QB hits, a half sack and one tackle for loss. Defensive ends Greg Rousseau (65%) and Leonard Floyd (52%) were impressive off the edge, as well. The constant rotation of the defensive line was in full effect with all nine linemen logging at least ten snaps. In total, the pass rush accumulated three sacks, eight QB hits, six tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Once Von Miller (knee) is back in the mix, this pass rush will be one of the best it has been in a long time.
Bills special teams snap counts (26 snaps)
22 snaps, 85%: TE Quintin Morris, FB Reggie Gilliam, CB Siran Neal, CB Cam Lewis, LB Tyrel Dodson, LB Tyler Matakevich
Others: LB Dorian Williams (18 snaps — 69%), CB Dane Jackson (15 snaps — 58%), S Taylor Rapp and RB Damien Harris (13 snaps — 50%), WR Trent Sheffield (10 snaps — 38%), K Tyler Bass (9 snaps — 35%), P Sam Martin (7 snaps — 27%)
There isn’t much to say about the special teams unit. Punter Sam Martin (27%) had some good punts — but on the punt that really mattered, it wasn’t a good one and it cost them the game in overtime. Tyler Bass (35%) was perfect and nailed the 50-yarder with two seconds left to send the game to overtime. Defensive back Siran Neal (85%) made some notable plays and proved that special teams matters.
With Kincaid now in the tight end room and the Bills opting to go with more two-tight-end personnel sets, both Quintin Morris (85%) and Reggie Gilliam (85%) have officially assumed their full-time special teams roles at this point.