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Joe B: Buffalo Bills All-22 Review - Week 3 vs. Minnesota Vikings

Joe B: Buffalo Bills All-22 Review - Week 3 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Posted at 3:49 PM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 15:49:19-04

In a result that no one expected outside of the players themselves, the Buffalo Bills shocked the NFL by going to Minnesota and blowing out the Vikings 27-6. It's a result that demanded going back to the film to see just what brought about the result.

Up next, the Bills will take on the Green Bay Packers -- another tough road challenge. Before that happens, first is an in-depth look at the individual performances from the Week Three win over the Vikings, which now gives the Bills a 1-2 record to start 2018.

Each week, will review the film, and bring you how each player graded out in the previous week, with the help of the Game Pass app on You can see a full explanation of how the grades get calculated at the bottom of the article.

Before we get to the individual grades, first some takeaways from the game to help fill in some of the gaps between the grades that you'll see:

1) Hughes, Murphy, and Alexander providing a 1-2-3 punch
- If you want the reason that the Bills won this game it's because of the defensive effort in the first half -- and most notably because of just how much they dominated the Vikings offensive line through the first 30 minutes. While the offense showed some sparks, the shortened fields due to defensive effort put them on the doorstep to points, and I'm not sure the game script would have gone the same had the pass rushers and run defenders not played as well as they did. While the offense deserves credit for taking advantage of their opportunities, the consistency and impact just weren't there nearly as much as the defense. That starts with three players specifically: Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, and Lorenzo Alexander. Hughes was the best player on the field for either team, and it wasn't particularly close. Even when he didn't get credit for a sack, his influence on making Kirk Cousins move off his spot helped produce multiple sacks and incompletions. Hughes simply could not be stopped on Sunday. Murphy, while not as impactful as Hughes, took advantage of his matchup with a right tackle that was dealing with a foot injury, and got around the edge on him many times. As for Alexander, the Bills lined him up at defensive tackle on some obvious pass rushing situations, and merely his presence helped the rest of the defensive line in their matchups. Alexander is playing at an extremely high level, so the Vikings chose to double-team him a few times in those situations which then allowed Hughes or Murphy -- and sometimes both -- to have a one-on-one matchup. And when Alexander had a one-on-one of his own, he was torture to deal with for the Vikings' offensive line. Kirk Cousins wasn't comfortable in the pocket for the first three quarters of the game, and by that point, the contest was long over. The pass rush will continue to be the key for everything the Bills do. If they can force turnovers and help flip the field, or even as simple as getting themselves off the field in a quick manner, it will do wonders for an offense that is still trying to find playmakers for rookie quarterback Josh Allen.

2) Milano providing consistency to go with his flash plays
- Late in 2017, when the Bills finally went to then-rookie linebacker Matt Milano, you could see the clear potential in the fifth-round pick as a promising long-term starter that fit into the defensive scheme perfectly. In his first three games, not only has Milano showed that same potential, he's now indicating that he has the high-level consistency. Should that continue, Milano might shed the 'long-term starter potential' label, and instead, you might even replace it with a 'star potential' billing. In all three games, Milano has been one of the best players on the Bills roster -- even when they were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens, he still was a force to deal with for the opponents. Milano has shown to handle every part of the weakside linebacker job in 2018. Against the run, he has improved on shedding blocks, and he has the quickness to show one run lane is there and then move over to the running backs counter-lane to make the play. Against the pass, he has the speed to cover running backs out of the backfield and the reaction time to break up a pass while in a zone defense. On top of all that, he has even become a hellacious blitzer when the Bills call his number. We're still within a small sample size at the start of his career so you can't go making any proclamations this early on, but Milano's potential -- or at least what he's shown in the first three weeks -- might be even higher than what I thought coming into the season.

3) Offense attempted to manufacture separation and hide the Bills' biggest problem
- You have to give credit to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who had his offense prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities for points that both the Vikings and the Bills' defense gave them. However, what we saw during the Vikings game was an effort to try and mask the bigger problem with the Bills offense as its currently constructed. The Bills haven't been able to get out of neutral with the running game because their opponents haven't respected their ability to pass the ball. That's not on Josh Allen, they all know he can huck the football around with velocity and deep down the field. It's more of a pass catcher problem than anything. Kelvin Benjamin doesn't gain consistent enough separation and it's plain to see when you view the coaches film. Plus, he dropped two more passes this week even when he gets the chances to make a play. Zay Jones followed a familiar tendency through his rookie season to fade into the background of the offense and has similar concerns with his ability to separate. Because those two make up the team's primary pass catchers, the Bills had to get creative. We saw a lot of misdirection plays to try and get the Vikings to make the wrong reaction that would open up more yardage. Due to the lack of separation downfield on normal passing plays, the Bills' rookie quarterback showed the tendency in the first two games to hang on to the ball -- which would then bring on a high number of sacks. By utilizing all the misdirection, Daboll attempted to get his players into some space with his play design -- all while getting the ball out of Allen's hand much quicker than he had been. It was well-executed, but once a team scouts them on that, it might be a temporary result. Eventually, the wide receivers are going to have to show the ability to win their routes. If they can't and continue to stay in the lineup, we'll probably see a return of Allen having to hold on to the ball too long, and for more pressure to get his way. Without a doubt, wide receiver has proved to be the most prominent position of weakness on the roster through the first three games.

4) Bodine brought a much-needed upgrade at center
- When you scroll down, you'll see new starting center Russell Bodine ranked near the bottom for the individual grades -- but there is an important thing to remember with that. First, the Bills were without a player that was indeed a weakness against the Vikings, so the slightly below average performers found themselves at the bottom. Second, and most important, even though Bodine was somewhat below average, he was a considerable upgrade from the level of play they received from former starter Ryan Groy. It wasn't always pretty and he found himself getting pushed into the backfield a time or two, but he also delivered some key blocks and appeared to have the ability to stand his ground in a one-on-one pass blocking situation. Furthermore, the play of the entire offensive line had its best week of the three -- and that was because of the upgraded ability right in the middle. Vlad Ducasse continued his stellar start to the season, Dion Dawkins showed well again, and both John Miller and Jordan Mills put together an average performance. I would expect the starting offensive line to remain the same. Since backup lineman Marshall Newhouse has proved to be a liability with multiple penalties and poor blocking in his limited time on the field, the only change I think there's a chance of seeing is one of the three young linemen -- likely Conor McDermott since he plays tackle -- be active on game day instead of Newhouse.

5) Hyde returns to 2017 form, though Poyer lagging a bit
- One of the most disappointing facets from a Bills' perspective through the first two weeks was that their safety duo -- the players that made up one of the best starting tandems in the league last year -- got off to a slow start. At least for one half of the pair, that changed in Minnesota. Micah Hyde was an outstanding performer in the game, showing the recognition and closing speed to make pass breakups and tackles all through the game. His return to form was a welcomed sight for a defense that was trying to turn it around, and coupling that with the rejuvenated pass rush, it made for a tough combination to beat. However, while still playing at an average level, I haven't seen the type of game from Jordan Poyer that made him such a special player for the Bills' defense in 2017. One of my favorite parts about his game last year was his ability to read the play way before the result of it and to get to the spot he needed to be to make a play. This year, Poyer has shown to be a little more reactive than proactive. I don't want this misconstrued as saying he's a liability on the field, because he isn't. He's still playing at an above average level and is a good starter on the team. However, I just haven't seen the Poyer that I saw consistently through 2017 that was one of the best defenders they had. It's still early in the season, so there's plenty of time for him to make his mark -- this is merely an observation from what I've seen on the film to this point.

Without further ado, the individual grades:

1) DE Jerry Hughes
Snaps on the Field: 45/66
Grade vs. Vikings: A-

2) WLB Matt Milano
Snaps on the Field: 47/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B+

3) SLB Lorenzo Alexander
Snaps on the Field: 39/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B+

4) S Micah Hyde
Snaps on the Field: 66/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B+

5) CB Tre'Davious White
Snaps on the Field: 66/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B+

6) DE Trent Murphy
Snaps on the Field: 36/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B+

7) MLB Tremaine Edmunds
Snaps on the Field: 66/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B

8) QB Josh Allen
Snaps on the Field: 67/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B

9) DT Star Lotulelei
Snaps on the Field: 24/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B

10) LT Dion Dawkins
Snaps on the Field: 67/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B

11) LG Vladimir Ducasse
Snaps on the Field: 65/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B

12) RB Chris Ivory
Snaps on the Field: 54/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B

13) CB Taron Johnson
Snaps on the Field: 45/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B

14) TE Jason Croom
Snaps on the Field: 25/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B

15) DT Kyle Williams
Snaps on the Field: 44/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B

16) RG John Miller
Snaps on the Field: 67/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

17) CB Ryan Lewis
Snaps on the Field: 54/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

18) TE Charles Clay
Snaps on the Field: 40/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

19) WR Andre Holmes
Snaps on the Field: 31/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

20) DE Eddie Yarbrough
Snaps on the Field: 28/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

21) S Rafael Bush
Snaps on the Field: 19/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

22) TE Khari Lee
Snaps on the Field: 33/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

23) DT Harrison Phillips
Snaps on the Field: 23/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

24) WR Robert Foster
Snaps on the Field: 22/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

25) DE Nate Orchard
Snaps on the Field: 15/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

26) RT Jordan Mills
Snaps on the Field:  67/67
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

27) WLB Ramon Humber
Snaps on the Field: 19/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

28) S Jordan Poyer
Snaps on the Field: 66/66
Grade vs. Vikings: B-

29) C Russell Bodine
Snaps on the Field: 58/67
Grade vs. Vikings: C+

30) WR Kelvin Benjamin
Snaps on the Field: 41/67
Grade vs. Vikings: C+

31) WR Zay Jones
Snaps on the Field: 42/67
Grade vs. Vikings: C+

32) RB Marcus Murphy
Snaps on the Field: 16/67
Grade vs. Vikings: C+

Players with less than 15 snaps:
WR Ray-Ray McCloud (14)
FB Patrick DiMarco (12)
DT Robert Thomas (12)
CB Lafayette Pitts (12)
C/G Ryan Groy (11)
T Marshall Newhouse (5)

Active players without an offensive or defensive snap: 
QB Nathan Peterman
RB Taiwan Jones
SLB Deon Lacey
MLB Julian Stanford
S Siran Neal

*(Total games inactive in 2018)
T Conor McDermott (3)
G Wyatt Teller (3)
G Ike Boettger (2)
DE Shaq Lawson (2)
RB LeSean McCoy (1)
TE Logan Thomas (1)
CB Phillip Gaines (1)

Season-long grades:
*(Minimum 45 snaps)

1) CB Tre'Davious White - 3.46 (1)
2) WLB Matt Milano - 3.33 (2)
3) SLB Lorenzo Alexander - 3.30 (4)
4) LG Vladimir Ducasse - 3.11 (5)
5) DE Jerry Hughes - 3.05 (10)
6) S Micah Hyde - 3.02 (8)
7) RB Chris Ivory - 2.97 (NR)
8) DT Harrison Phillips - 2.91 (6)
9) CB Taron Johnson - 2.91 (NR)
10) LT Dion Dawkins - 2.89 (9)
11) TE Jason Croom - 2.81 (19)
12) S Jordan Poyer - 2.80 (7)
13) DT Kyle Williams - 2.78 (14)
14) RT Jordan Mills - 2.67 (12)
15) RB LeSean McCoy - 2.67 (11)
16) DE Eddie Yarbrough - 2.67 (17)
17) CB Ryan Lewis - 2.67 (NR)
18) WR Robert Foster - 2.67 (15)
19) DE Trent Murphy - 2.66 (28)
20) WR Zay Jones - 2.58 (13)
21) TE Charles Clay - 2.56 (21)
22) QB Josh Allen - 2.55 (29)
23) S Rafael Bush - 2.55 (20)
24) MLB Tremaine Edmunds - 2.53 (27)
25) WR Andre Holmes - 2.51 (22)
26) DT Star Lotulelei - 2.49 (25) 
27) CB Phillip Gaines - 2.36 (23)
28) RG John Miller - 2.33 (30)
29) C Russell Bodine - 2.33 (NR)
30) RB Marcus Murphy - 2.33 (26)
31) WR Kelvin Benjamin - 2.19 (31)
32) C/G Ryan Groy - 1.71 (32)
(Last week's rank in parentheses)

(Nathan Peterman, Logan Thomas, Adolphus Washington, Jeremy Kerley, Shaq Lawson, and Lafayette Pitts removed for not having the required amount of snaps)

How the grades work:

Every Tuesday, when the All-22 film becomes available, we’ll go through and watch each play and every player on each play as many times as necessary, to assess a letter grade for that game to the player. It is a subjective analysis, and it’s important to note that we do not know the play calls and full responsibilities. With that written, the grades stem from technique, outstanding efforts, and presumed liability.

The study accounts only for players that take a snap on offense or defense, and players with under 15 snaps -- unless they have a significant impact on the game -- will not factor into weekly rankings. 

Season-long grades have been tallied and documented, with an individual game’s grade weighted for how much the player was on the field in a given week. Those will be available starting in Week Two.

Previous Weeks:
Week 1 - Ravens 47, Bills 3
Week 2 - Chargers 31, Bills 20
Week 3 - Bills 27, Vikings 6

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia


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