Well, the season is over and we now have to wait a whole eight months to watch the Buffalo Bills play football again. In typical Buffalo fashion, the Bills fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, 27-24, further enhancing all of the boring Patrick Mahomes narratives while simultaneously ending the season in possibly one of the most gut-wrenching ways possible — a missed field goal that went wide right.
Quarterback Josh Allen put on his usual heroics, accounting for all three of Buffalo’s touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough and the injuries, lack of execution and overall poor effort from both the defense and special teams were ultimately too much to overcome. Buffalo’s main roadblock to make it the Super Bowl remains Mahomes and the Chiefs. Sigh.
Entering the game, the injuries put the Bills at quite a disadvantage and it showed on the defensive side of the ball as Kansas City rarely struggled to move the ball down the field and faced just three third downs the entire game. Cornerback Christian Benford, safety Taylor Rapp, linebackers Terrel Bernard and Baylon Spector and wide receiver Gabe Davis were ruled out ahead of the game while cornerbacks Rasul Douglas and Taron Johnson along with linebacker Tyrel Dodson suited up but were clearly not at 100% health.
As always, let’s talk snap counts and take a look at the position battles on both sides of the ball.
Bills offensive snap counts (77 snaps)
The offensive side of things has looked the same for weeks now since interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady took over. Running back Ty Johnson (27%) saw his role increase as the weeks went by and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a backfield consisting of both running back James Cook (51%) and Johnson next season. Latavius Murray (18%) was there for pass-blocking and the occasional pass-catching duties but his time in Buffalo may be over, especially at this point in his career.
The wide receiver room needs some change, to say the least. I’d likely go to war for wide receiver Stefon Diggs (90%) but man, he was practically invisible for the last eight weeks. He wasn’t making the same tough catches that we’re used to seeing and it hurts to say that he may be approaching WR2 territory. Khalil Shakir (70%), on the other hand, has a bright future and should see an enhanced slot role next season while tight end Dalton Kincaid (62%) hopefully fully usurps the TE1 role. It will be interesting to see how Buffalo handles Dawson Knox (40%) and his contract situation, given how strong Kincaid performed. Wide receiver Trent Sherfield (86%) likely played his last game as a Buffalo Bill considering he provided essentially zero offensive production outside of his miracle touchdown catch against the Miami Dolphins in Week 18.
Bills defensive snap counts (50 snaps)
Let’s get right to it — we may have seen the final game of coveted safety duo of Micah Hyde (100%) and Jordan Poyer (100%). Both Hyde and Poyer along with cornerbacks Rasul Douglas (100%), Taron Johnson (100%) and Dane Jackson (100%) were the only players to log every defensive snap. Douglas was clearly laboring in pain throughout but, given the injury situation, he stayed in and played the full game. Concerning both Hyde and Poyer, Buffalo’s safety room will be a huge question mark moving forward and it will be interesting to see how they handle Cam Lewis (8%), who has shown the ability to play in a hybrid safety/nickel cornerback role.
The linebacker situation was as dire as possible. Luckily, linebacker Tyrel Dodson (78%) returned to the lineup and helped boost the run defense but he was also clearly laboring in pain throughout the game. Shoutout to veteran linebacker A.J. Klein (98%), who was only signed to the practice squad a few weeks ago, for taking over the other linebacker role and making some big plays. One can only imagine how different this game would have looked had both Bernard and Matt Milano been healthy.
The one area I place the most blame is the defensive line. For how much money has been poured into the unit, they didn’t show up for the biggest game of the season. Neither quarterback was sacked, but that’s more because of their abilities to extend plays. Buffalo’s defense recorded just two tackles for a loss and one of those came from Dodson. In a game where the rest of the defense was very banged up, Buffalo’s very expensive, healthy and “top” pass-rush totaled just two QB hits. Yuck.
I’m patiently waiting to see how general manager Brandon Beane and his staff attack this expensive defensive line situation.
Bills special teams snap counts (25 snaps)
What else is there to say about the special teams? Punter Sam Martin (32%) clearly shouldn’t have played in this game after picking up a hamstring injury the Monday prior. Also, head coach Sean McDermott’s fake punt decision was questionable, to say the least.
Kicker Tyler Bass (40%) and his case of yips couldn't have arrived at a worse time. I’m not going to sit here and blame him for missing the game-tying field goal (which went wide right, of course) because like Allen says in his press conferences, it comes down to execution. Had Buffalo executed on the easy plays just prior to Bass’ field-goal attempt, we’d all likely be singing a different tune right now.
Onto next season, Bills Mafia. I’m just sad we aren’t able to watch our favorite football team play football anymore this season.