Joe B: Buffalo Bills All-22 Review - Week 4 vs. Green Bay Packers

(WKBW) - Just one week after the Buffalo Bills surprised the NFL with a road win over the Minnesota Vikings, they returned to their form from the first two weeks of the season. The Bills wound up getting shut out by the Green Bay Packers 22-0.

Up next, the Bills return home for a matchup with the Tennessee Titans -- a surprise 3-1 team in the early stages of the season. Before that happens, first is an in-depth look at the individual performances from the Week Four loss to the Packers, which now gives the Bills a 1-3 record in 2018.

Each week, WKBW.com 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 NFL.com. 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) A concerning Josh Allen sign that can't become his default
- After watching all four quarters with help from the coaches film, the one word that comes to mind about the entire offense is this: Woof. Before I go into my breakdown of Josh Allen, the one thing that needs to be understood is that he wasn't the only person at fault. The entire offense -- maybe with the exception of left tackle Dion Dawkins -- was putrid. But at its core, the Bills couldn't establish anything on the ground mostly because the Packers didn't respect their ability to pass -- which falls on Allen, the wide receivers, and an offensive line that had their worst performance since Week One. We'll get to the receivers in a minute, but if you're looking for the worst offensive performer for the Bills in Week Four, look no further than Josh Allen. Now, the Bills are void of talent mostly everywhere on offense and only have maybe two or three players that will factor into their future. Through four games, the offense has an average GPA of 2.46 -- and for comparison, last year's offense had an average GPA of 2.71 through all 17 games which represent a considerable difference. As for Allen's performance, he was hesitant, didn't see the entire field, and at times reckless. Those three things are traits that the Bills can work to iron out over time, and they better hope they can do the same for a fourth thing. The one truly concerning aspect of his game against the Packers was how quick he was to leave an intact pocket, as opposed to working within the pocket, side-stepping to give himself a new angle while keeping his eyes down the field. Allen, much like Tyrod Taylor did, would evade the pocket at the sign of pressure versus Green Bay, and the play turned more improvisational. There were several opportunities down the field that were missed by Allen leaving the pocket too early, which is why the wide receivers and offensive line shouldn't shoulder all the blame. Allen has taken a lot of sacks so far in his career, which is a concern because you don't want his internal clock being screwed up for good because of a lack of talent around him. However, on the plays where his teammates aren't letting him down, he needs to return the favor. That wasn't always the case in the Week Four loss, and the Bills better be sure that it's a teaching point every single day so that it does not turn into a bad habit, and his default setting for 2019, 2020, and possibly beyond.

2) It's time to switch things up at wide receiver
- The wide receivers, above all others on the roster, take the most heat from the media and fan base. When the passing game can't get the parking brake to release, you're going to see blame thrown somewhere, and the receivers are the recipients at the moment. Let me be clear, as an entire unit, they have not been good. However, they are winning on some routes during the game and, sometimes because of the quarterback not seeing the whole field, or the defense blowing the play up in the backfield, they don't get seen. With that written, they haven't been getting open nearly enough, and it's resulting in opponents to send additional blitzers at Josh Allen without much concern that the Bills are going to beat them deep. It starts with two men: Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. I'll begin with Jones, who has ten catches on the season -- nine of which have come when the Bills are trailing by 17 or more points, as it was initially pointed out by ESPN's Mike Rodak. He has been a disappointment through the first four games, certainly, and his lack of separation from the defender is a concern moving forward. It's frustrating for fans, I'm sure, but in what is going to be a rebuilding season, I believe the Bills should continue to give Jones plenty of snaps on the field -- but one part of it needs to change. They've lined him up in the slot quite a bit, and I don't see him winning from that position nearly enough to warrant the number of snaps he gets there. Jones has shown a bit of a spark when lined up outside on underneath routes, where he can utilize his quick feet in his breakdowns a lot better against some cornerbacks. After all, the Bills need to figure out if Jones can be a starter past this season, so they owe it to themselves to continue trotting him out there -- even if they aren't getting results right now. I would change where they line him up, though. As for Benjamin, I don't feel the same conviction. In four games, Benjamin hasn't done anything to warrant the treatment of a starting player. He isn't getting separation, he isn't winning contested catches, he gives minimal effort when run blocking or on screens, and after his initial route is run he's usually seen doing a half-hearted trot while Josh Allen is in scramble mode. Benjamin's lone reception against Green Bay came on a play where the defenders busted their coverage, and the cornerback looked to pass off Benjamin to a safety that didn't exist. It's now four games into the season, and the results haven't changed with Benjamin. If I were the Bills, I would give serious consideration to making Kelvin Benjamin inactive Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. It's one thing not to have the statistics, but it's an entirely different situation when you consider that he isn't feverishly trying to work back to the ball to make a play for a struggling offense. I wouldn't be surprised, at all, if you saw the Bills work three wide receiver sets of Zay Jones, Ray-Ray McCloud in the slot, and Andre Holmes or Robert Foster on the outside on Sunday. Judging it off his tone and the words he used, head coach Sean McDermott was agitated with the offense on Monday after watching the film. It might be time for a change somewhere to shake things up, and benching Benjamin might be what the doctor ordered to get the offense to wake up a bit.

3) Defensive rookie trio settling in
- A stark difference from the offense, the defense has turned around a slow start to the season. The one thing that is still a bit of a concern is that the defense, in all three of their losses, has allowed two touchdowns in the first three possessions. However, as opposed to the early two losses, the defense was able to turn it around and have a productive day against the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Perhaps most encouraging is the fact that the Bills saw their three top defensive rookie draft picks lead the way. Fourth-round nickel cornerback Taron Johnson was the best player on the field Sunday for the Bills, showing a fantastic ability to tackle, the penchant for sticking with his assignment regardless of size, and also a nose for the ball to knock it loose -- causing a turnover. It's early in the season, so you can't jump to conclusions just yet, but he's showing the early signs of being a draft steal with his consistent play so far. The same goes for Harrison Phillips, who has proved to be a nuisance for the opposition when trying to block him with only one person. Even when he gets double-teamed, he can grab hold of both blockers -- one with each hand -- while keeping his legs firmly planted on the ground so as not to surrender any territory. I've continued to write that he should get more time on the field, and with the loss to the Packers being his best performance yet, I won't be changing my stance on that anytime soon. He's a potential impact defender, no matter if he's lined up at one-technique or three-technique defensive tackle.  Lastly, first-round middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds seems to be calming down and settling into his role as an explosive, playmaking defender that, if brought along correctly, can develop into a player that can grow into one of their best. After a humbling showing against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week Two, Edmunds has shown signs of improvement the last two weeks and looks like he's starting to trust his keys and making decisions quicker both against the run and in coverage. Due to his tall frame, leaping ability, and long arms, Edmunds can change the complexion of an opponent's passing offense over the middle of the field entirely because he'll be able to get to passes no other linebackers can. He has certainly looked the part for the last two weeks, and you can see there is still a lot more room for growth, too. 

4) The thing you all probably won't want to read
- It was a solid defensive effort for the Buffalo Bills against the Packers, but they weren't without some individual weaknesses. One thing that I've seen, really since training camp, is a player that has been an integral part of the defense for a long, long time start to decline. It began in training camp, though because it was just the early days of the season, I wanted to see if things would turn around in the season. Through the first quarter of the season, it's time to wonder if Father Time has finally caught up with Kyle Williams. The defensive tackle has been so good for so long, and even when I started doing these grades he was locked into the top five for season-long grades year in, and year out. However, he doesn't have the same reaction time off the snap, the same quickness from his stance isn't there as it used to be, and he's getting pushed around a lot more now than he ever did earlier in his career. Of course, Williams is 35 years old now, and we saw a slight decline last year though he was still a solid starter. Through four games, the Bills have been giving him nearly 65-percent of snaps per game -- which given his age and output, they should strongly consider bringing that total down a bit to keep him fresher, all the while giving someone like Harrison Phillips more time on the field to make plays as he's been doing through the first four weeks. We'll see if Williams can turn it around, and if anyone can, it's undoubtedly him given his track record. However, he hasn't looked like the same Kyle Williams of old or even the one we saw last year just yet.

5) Ryan Lewis should stay in the starting lineup
- Upon the initial viewing of the game, we saw Aaron Rodgers go after cornerback Ryan Lewis quite a bit in the second half while having some success doing so. Lewis also showed some potential by nearly picking off a Rodgers pass and returning it for a touchdown. Other than that, though, you might think Lewis struggled. However, after watching him on the coaches film, I really liked what I saw from Lewis -- to the point where I don't think the Bills should hesitate in putting him out there as the starting cornerback for the third straight week. While he did get beat on a few plays, he showed an excellent tackling ability and a quickness to catch a receiver even after the wideout initially beat him on the route. Not to mention, he also forced a pair of fumbles during the game, which is something that will undoubtedly appeal to Sean McDermott. Lewis still has some things to learn, but at 24 years old and going against one of the best quarterbacks in the game that wound up targeting him quite a bit, I thought he did quite well with it. Even if Phillip Gaines is healthy enough to play, I've seen enough from Lewis over the last two weeks to think that the Bills shouldn't shy away from him in the starting lineup on Sunday just because Gaines started for them in Weeks One and Two.

The individual grades:

1) NCB Taron Johnson
Snaps on the Field: 70/76
Grade vs. Packers: A-

2) DT Harrison Phillips
Snaps on the Field: 25/76
Grade vs. Packers: B+

3) MLB Tremaine Edmunds
Snaps on the Field: 76/76
Grade vs. Packers: B+

4) DT Shaq Lawson
Snaps on the Field: 25/76
Grade vs. Packers: B

5) SLB Lorenzo Alexander
Snaps on the Field: 34/76
Grade vs. Packers: B

6) CB Ryan Lewis
Snaps on the Field: 67/76
Grade vs. Packers: B

7) S Jordan Poyer
Snaps on the Field: 76/76
Grade vs. Packers: B

8) DT Star Lotulelei
Snaps on the Field: 38/76
Grade vs. Packers: B

9) LT Dion Dawkins
Snaps on the Field: 58/58
Grade vs. Packers: B

10) CB Tre'Davious White
Snaps on the Field: 76/76
Grade vs. Packers: B

11) RB LeSean McCoy
Snaps on the Field:  35/58
Grade vs. Packers: B

12) RB Chris Ivory
Snaps on the Field:  22/58
Grade vs. Packers: B-

13) DE Jerry Hughes
Snaps on the Field: 50/76
Grade vs. Packers: B-

14) DE Eddie Yarbrough
Snaps on the Field: 19/76
Grade vs. Packers: B-

15) LG Vladimir Ducasse
Snaps on the Field: 58/58
Grade vs. Packers: B-

16) DE Nate Orchard
Snaps on the Field: 15/76
Grade vs. Packers: B-

17) RT Jordan Mills
Snaps on the Field: 56/58
Grade vs. Packers: C+

18) WR Robert Foster
Snaps on the Field: 21/58
Grade vs. Packers: C+

19) TE Charles Clay
Snaps on the Field: 43/58
Grade vs. Packers: C+

20) WLB Matt Milano
Snaps on the Field: 55/76
Grade vs. Packers: C+

21) S Rafael Bush
Snaps on the Field: 69/76
Grade vs. Packers: C+

22) WR Ray-Ray McCloud
Snaps on the Field: 20/58
Grade vs. Packers: C+

23) WLB Ramon Humber
Snaps on the Field: 21/76
Grade vs. Packers: C

24) WR Zay Jones
Snaps on the Field: 53/58
Grade vs. Packers: C

25) DE Trent Murphy
Snaps on the Field: 50/76
Grade vs. Packers: C

26) WR Andre Holmes
Snaps on the Field: 29/58
Grade vs. Packers: C

27) DT Kyle Williams
Snaps on the Field: 48/76
Grade vs. Packers: C-

28) RG John Miller
Snaps on the Field: 58/58
Grade vs. Packers: C-

29) WR Kelvin Benjamin
Snaps on the Field: 35/58
Grade vs. Packers: C-

30) C Russell Bodine
Snaps on the Field: 58/58
Grade vs. Packers: C-

31) QB Josh Allen
Snaps on the Field: 58/58
Grade vs. Packers: D+

Players with less than 15 snaps:
TE Jason Croom (13)
TE Khari Lee (13)
S Micah Hyde (11)
CB Lafayette Pitts (9)
FB Patrick DiMarco (4)
T Conor McDermott (3)
S Siran Neal (2)
RB Taiwan Jones (1)

Active players without an offensive or defensive snap: 
QB Nathan Peterman
C/G Ryan Groy
SLB Deon Lacey
MLB Julian Stanford

Inactives: 
*(Total games inactive in 2018)
G Wyatt Teller (4)
G Ike Boettger (3)
TE Logan Thomas (2)
CB Phillip Gaines (2)
RB Marcus Murphy (1)
T Jeremiah Sirles (1)
DT Robert Thomas (1)

Season-long grades:
*(Minimum 60 snaps)

1) CB Tre'Davious White - 3.33 (1)
2) NCB Taron Johnson - 3.31 (9)
3) SLB Lorenzo Alexander - 3.23 (3)
4) DE/DT Shaq Lawson - 3.19 (NR)
5) WLB Matt Milano - 3.08 (2)
6) LG Vladimir Ducasse - 3.01 (4)
7) DT Harrison Phillips - 3.01 (8)
8) S Micah Hyde - 3.00 (6)
9) DE Jerry Hughes - 2.94 (5)
10) LT Dion Dawkins - 2.92 (10)
11) RB Chris Ivory - 2.90 (7)
12) S Jordan Poyer - 2.85 (12)
13) CB Ryan Lewis - 2.85 (17)
14) RB LeSean McCoy - 2.79 (15)
15) TE Jason Croom - 2.78 (11)
16) MLB Tremaine Edmunds - 2.75 (24)
17) DE Eddie Yarbrough - 2.67 (16)
18) DT Star Lotulelei - 2.63 (26)
19) RT Jordan Mills - 2.59 (14)
20) WR Robert Foster - 2.59 (18)
21) TE Charles Clay - 2.50 (21)
22) DT Kyle Williams - 2.48 (13)
23) S Rafael Bush - 2.45 (23)
24) DE Trent Murphy - 2.44 (19)
25) WR Zay Jones - 2.43 (20)
26) WR Andre Holmes - 2.37 (25)
27) CB Phillip Gaines - 2.36 (27)
28) RB Marcus Murphy - 2.33 (30)
29) QB Josh Allen - 2.23 (22)
30) RG John Miller - 2.18 (28)
31) WR Kelvin Benjamin - 2.08 (31)
32) C Russell Bodine - 2.00 (29)
33) C Ryan Groy - 1.71 (32)
(Last week's rank in parentheses)

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
Week 4 - Packers 22, Bills 0

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

 

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