Joe B: Buffalo Bills All-22 Review - Week 6 vs. Houston Texans

Joe B: Buffalo Bills All-22 Review - Week 6 vs. Houston Texans
Posted at 6:37 PM, Oct 16, 2018

After an upset victory over an AFC South foe, the Buffalo Bills set back out to try and do the same thing -- only this time on the road. Instead, the Bills coughed up a late lead while witnessing the implosion of their backup quarterback down the stretch, which led to a 20-13 defeat to the Houston Texans.

Up next the Bills have questions at the quarterback position, and are back on the road for the fourth time in five weeks -- taking on a 1-5 Indianapolis Colts team that is desperate for a victory. Before that happens, first is an in-depth look at the individual performances from the Week Six loss to the Texans, which dropped the Bills to a 2-4 record on the 2018 season.

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) Pocket probs with Josh Allen
- Long before the Buffalo Bills had the more immediate concern over the availability of their hopeful franchise quarterback, the Bills saw the rookie -- once again -- struggle to operate consistently in the pocket. It's becoming quite clear, above the few mechanical flaws he exhibits, that the path to progress for Allen lies within the pocket. In the first half, Allen was all over the place with that. On the designed quick throws by the offensive coordinator, Allen was fine with the task. He even showed some chops in the RPO game, on the two or three times that they ran it. However, when it came to dropping back into the pocket and reading the field, this is where Allen has fallen behind -- and ultimately what will be the catalyst to being a hit or a bust, based on how he develops. Too often, Allen leaves the pocket far earlier than he needs to, even with a clean pocket around him, which removes most chances for being able to move the ball through the air on that play. He has not shown the consistent ability to identify pressure and calmly deal with it by giving a subtle move up, to the left, or to the right depending on where the pressure is coming at him. There are times when leaving the pocket is unavoidable and preferable if he can get away from taking a sack and instead opting to either throw the ball away, run for yardage, or try to open things up on the fly. However, this cannot be his default mode, because now defenses are planning for him to do just that. For example, there was one play in the first half where the Bills had a clean pocket for him and had he correctly stepped up into it, he would have seen wide receiver Zay Jones on a go route with a step and with an over-the-top safety nowhere close. It was a true one-on-one chance. Instead, Allen kept drifting back from the pocket which helped J.J. Watt beat a triple team, and effectively handed a sack for big yardage on a silver platter to the Texans. Drifting back from the pocket, while it buys more time, reduces your line of sight down the field, as well as your ability to make all the throws down the field. It provides defender that much more time to make up ground and make a play. Later on in the game, in the Bills' best chance at a touchdown with Allen in the game, he was facing a third-and-goal from the four-yard line. The rookie, with a completely clean pocket and just a four-person rush, took off after a little over one second. It wasn't a designed run, and by taking off so soon, he gave his receivers no chance to win on their initial route. Instead, because most of his recent success has come from running the ball, he tried to recapture the magic only to find a pair of defenders tracking him, and then he had to make a nervous throw into the end zone that was nearly picked off. Allen's problem mainly lies with the recognition of pressure, and at times, seeing ghosts and taking off too early. The pocket maneuverability isn't there yet consistently enough, but, the good news is that he can do it -- because he's shown that he can do it. In the second half, Allen delivered his best play of the game. He dropped back to pass, calmly stood in the pocket and scanned the field -- even when right tackle Jordan Mills had lost his matchup to J.J. Watt. The defensive end made contact with Allen, and that's when the rookie quarterback evaded, broke the tackle and rolled to the left, only to find Kelvin Benjamin deep down the sideline for a huge gain. Of course, an illegal formation on the play which negated all of it, but you can't ignore that positive sign in his most significant area of weakness at the moment. Depending on how long Allen is out, taking a macro type of look at how the offense runs and what is supposed to happen, could be extremely beneficial to refresh his memory of what it takes to be an effective quarterback. The more he looks to leave the pocket prematurely, the more that he'll be doing what the opposing defense wants him to. His ability in the pocket, and to make progress in that area, will be vital for him when he gets back on the field.

2) The Bills cannot start Nathan Peterman
- I know this isn't going to be a controversial opinion with fans, because the vast majority likely will agree. However, after reviewing the 24 plays Peterman was in the game on the coaches film, I don't know how you can justify giving him another chance as the starting quarterback. You have to give credit where it's due, and for Peterman, he deserves it for not only his touchdown pass to Zay Jones but on a third-and-long throw over the middle of the field to Andre Holmes. However, past those two throws, Peterman exhibited the traits of being a liability on the field and a player that is quite simple to game plan against for opposing teams. The book is out on Peterman. He struggles, on a consistent basis, to drive the ball to the boundary. The location on those throws is usually behind the target and Peterman mostly stares down his target on those plays. With such a weakness in this area, it allows the defense to bait Peterman into those throws -- as we've seen in almost every game that Peterman has played in the regular season. Without those throws, a struggling offense has one less thing that it can depend on to gain yards. These are necessary throws, non-negotiable even, and it puts the team at a complete disadvantage to have a quarterback that hasn't shown he can do it, and that isn't confident in that area, either. The quarterback situation is less than ideal for the Bills, but I don't see any reason to believe that starting Peterman over Derek Anderson, even though Anderson has been with the Bills for all of one week, would be better for the team. This decision isn't one that they wanted to make, but it's an easy one nonetheless. Reduce the offensive playbook and play it safe with Anderson and the running game, and bide your time until Allen is ready to get back on the field.

3) Milano is flashing Pro Bowl level ability
- On the positive side for the Bills, through six games, the defense has seen six different defenders have the best year of their career. Tre'Davious White, Lorenzo Alexander, Shaq Lawson, and rookies Taron Johnson and Harrison Phillips have been tremendous assets for the team. The one I left out is weakside linebacker Matt Milano, who is not only enjoying his highest level of play since entering the league last year but is showing signs of a special skill-set that can help him become a Pro Bowl player if he plays with more consistency. Milano can do everything you want in an ideal weakside linebacker in the scheme. He has great speed, reaction time, he's instinctive, he can remove himself off of blocks, he can get skinny through traffic and plug a run lane, he can finish a play in the backfield, he can cover running backs one-on-one, he has closing speed in coverage, and he has fluid enough hips to change direction and run with a receiver that otherwise would beat the zone defense. All of the traits I just mentioned, he exhibited at one point or another against the Texans. While he does have to work on getting away from blockers on a more consistent basis, Milano has been a star in five out of the team's six games this season. And it's not even the flash plays, either. It's the ability to redirect a runner into more defenders, or in pass coverage, it's subtle plays like this that help his team into a turnover:



Now, keep in mind, I detest hyperbolic statements, and it takes a lot of evidence for me to write what I'm about to write. However, as long as Milano continues on the current track he's on and becomes more consistent, I honestly believe he can become one of the best weakside linebackers in the NFL. He is an impact defender. Not bad for a fifth-round pick.

4) Eddie Yarbrough dominant in the run game
- So far in the 2018 season, it's been a mostly steady year for reserve defensive lineman Eddie Yarbrough. He is a stout edge defender that offers less in the pass rush than the other three ends on the team but has played at an average level for the year. However, against the Texans, Yarbrough was a man on the mission. His work against the run -- mostly in the first half -- showed how much of an asset he still is to the Bills. My favorite part of Yarbrough's game is his recognition skills. He doesn't often get fooled and has a great reaction time to get to the ball carrier when the opposition tries a little misdirection. Yarbrough screamed off the edge to tackle the runners at the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions and helped the run defense have yet another memorable afternoon. The newfound depth of the defensive line has been one of the biggest reasons for such a stark turnaround on defense in 2018.

5) I have no idea why Miami released Jordan Phillips
- For the second straight week, reserve defensive tackle made multiple plays that left me shaking my head, wondering how a 6-foot-6, 341-pound player could do what he was doing. Against the Texans, Phillips made more impact plays at the line of scrimmage, and he even showed versatility to flip to one-technique defensive tackle as well, making so the offense does not know what to expect from one snap to the next when both he and Harrison Phillips are in the game. His blend of power and speed with that size was on display once again, and I am genuinely baffled as to why the Dolphins would let him walk for nothing. The Bills desperately needed a fourth defensive tackle to complete their rotation, and through two games, they got a good -- and an extremely motivated one in Jordan Phillips. Just like last week, it's still too early to tell if this ability and motivation is sustainable. If it is, they'll have an interesting discussion in the offseason about him as a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent. Even if it isn't sustainable, and he becomes the "take plays off" player that his reputation in Miami evolved into, he's still a player that continues to flash big ability -- which is something every NFL team is looking for to add to their roster. I think the Dolphins made a mistake on this one.

Without further ado, the individual grades:

1) DT Kyle Williams
Snaps on the Field: 40/61
Grade vs. Texans: A

2) WLB Matt Milano
Snaps on the Field: 61/61
Grade vs. Texans: A-

3) DE Jerry Hughes
Snaps on the Field: 39/61
Grade vs. Texans: A-

4) SLB Lorenzo Alexander
Snaps on the Field: 20/61
Grade vs. Texans: A-

5) DE Trent Murphy
Snaps on the Field: 32/61
Grade vs. Texans: A-

6) RB LeSean McCoy
Snaps on the Field: 47/62
Grade vs. Texans: B+

7) DE Eddie Yarbrough
Snaps on the Field: 22/61
Grade vs. Texans: B+

8) DT Jordan Phillips
Snaps on the Field: 21/61
Grade vs. Texans: B+

9) S Micah Hyde
Snaps on the Field: 61/61
Grade vs. Texans: B+

10) NCB Taron Johnson
Snaps on the Field: 40/61
Grade vs. Texans: B+

11) CB Tre'Davious White
Snaps on the Field: 61/61
Grade vs. Texans: B+

12) WR Zay Jones
Snaps on the Field: 58/62 
Grade vs. Texans: B

13) DT Harrison Phillips
Snaps on the Field: 22/61
Grade vs. Texans: B

14) S Jordan Poyer
Snaps on the Field: 61/61 
Grade vs. Texans: B

15) WR Kelvin Benjamin
Snaps on the Field: 44/62 
Grade vs. Texans: B

16) DT Star Lotulelei
Snaps on the Field: 28/61 
Grade vs. Texans: B

17) TE Charles Clay
Snaps on the Field: 44/62
Grade vs. Texans: B

18) MLB Tremaine Edmunds
Snaps on the Field: 61/61 
Grade vs. Texans: B

19) DE Shaq Lawson
Snaps on the Field: 20/61 
Grade vs. Texans: B

20) WR Andre Holmes
Snaps on the Field: 33/62
Grade vs. Texans: B-

21) S Rafael Bush
Snaps on the Field: 21/61
Grade vs. Texans: B-

22) RB Chris Ivory
Snaps on the Field: 16/61
Grade vs. Texans: B-

23) LT Dion Dawkins
Snaps on the Field: 61/61
Grade vs. Texans: B-

24) LG Vladimir Ducasse
Snaps on the Field: 44/62
Grade vs. Texans: B-

25) G Ryan Groy
Snaps on the Field: 18/62
Grade vs. Texans: B-

26) TE Logan Thomas
Snaps on the Field: 18/62
Grade vs. Texans: C+

27) TE Jason Croom
Snaps on the Field: 16/62
Grade vs. Texans: C+

28) CB Phillip Gaines
Snaps on the Field: 61/61
Grade vs. Texans: C+

29) RT Jordan Mills
Snaps on the Field: 62/62
Grade vs. Texans: C+

30) C Russell Bodine
Snaps on the Field: 62/62
Grade vs. Texans: C+

31) RG John Miller
Snaps on the Field: 62/62 
Grade vs. Texans: C

32) QB Josh Allen
Snaps on the Field: 38/62
Grade vs. Texans: D+

33) QB Nathan Peterman
Snaps on the Field: 24/62
Grade vs. Texans: D-

Players with less than 15 snaps:
WR Ray-Ray McCloud (14)
FB Patrick DiMarco (12)
OL Jeremiah Sirles (6)
WR Robert Foster (2)

Active players without an offensive or defensive snap: 
RB Taiwan Jones
WLB Ramon Humber
SLB Deon Lacey
CB Lafayette Pitts
CB Dontae Johnson
S Siran Neal

*(Total games inactive in 2018)
G Wyatt Teller (6)
G Ike Boettger (5)
T Conor McDermott (5)
RB Marcus Murphy (3)
LB Julian Stanford (2)
CB Ryan Lewis (2)
QB Derek Anderson (1)

Season-long grades:
*(Minimum 90 snaps)

1) CB Tre'Davious White - 3.38 (1)
2) SLB Lorenzo Alexander - 3.35 (3)
3) NCB Taron Johnson - 3.32 (2)
4) WLB Matt Milano - 3.28 (4)
5) DE Jerry Hughes - 3.16 (7)
6) DE Shaq Lawson - 3.12 (5)
7) DT Harrison Phillips - 3.11 (6)
8) S Micah Hyde - 3.07 (9)
9) RB LeSean McCoy - 3.05 (10)
10) LG Vladimir Ducasse - 2.96 (8)
11) S Jordan Poyer - 2.94 (12)
12) LT Dion Dawkins - 2.89 (11)
13) RB Chris Ivory - 2.88 (13)
14) MLB Tremaine Edmunds - 2.82 (14)
15) DT Star Lotulelei - 2.81 (15)
16) DT Kyle Williams - 2.79 (24)
17) DE Trent Murphy - 2.77 (20)
18) DE Eddie Yarbrough - 2.77 (19)
19) CB Ryan Lewis - 2.75 (17)
20) TE Jason Croom - 2.70 (16)
21) WR Zay Jones - 2.68 (21)
22) RT Jordan Mills - 2.62 (18)
23) TE Charles Clay - 2.62 (25)
24) WR Andre Holmes - 2.61 (22)
25) WR Robert Foster - 2.60 (23)
26) S Rafael Bush - 2.48 (27)
27) CB Phillip Gaines - 2.42 (26)
28) WR Kelvin Benjamin - 2.34 (30)
29) C Russell Bodine - 2.26 (29)
30) RG John Miller - 2.23 (28)
31) QB Josh Allen - 2.01 (31)
32) C/G Ryan Groy - 1.82 (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
Week 5 - Bills 13, Titans 12
Week 6 - Texans 20, Bills 13

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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