Bills studs and duds after 34-31 Wild Card win over the Dolphins

The Buffalo Bills didn’t make it look fairly on Sunday, however they had been in a position to survive a deluge of errors and a feisty Dolphins workforce to advance to the subsequent spherical of the NFL playoffs. 

Whereas we take inventory of the win and what the efficiency on the area means for the remainder of the season, we’ll dive into one other version of Studs and Duds. 

As a reminder, this column seems to be merely at the efficiency in the most up-to-date week, or weeks on this case, figuring out who stepped up and who struggled and what these performances may imply for the Buffalo Bills going ahead. Some heroes will simply have one-off nice video games whereas some struggles may sign main points, so we’ll make sense of that collectively right here. 

 

Let’s get the unhealthy information out of the method first. 

Offensive Line

I’ve talked about the offensive line right here extra instances than I care to depend, however they proceed to be this workforce’s Achilles heel. They had been ranked 23rd in the NFL this year by Pro Football Focus, with solely Jacksonville’s line recording a worse PFF run-blocking grade than the Bills over the course of the season.

Rodger Saffold and Spencer Brown each ranked amongst the worst at their place in the league, and the unit was a catastrophe on Sunday as effectively. 

Josh Allen was sacked seven instances and was pressured on a career-high 47.8% of his dropbacks. Meaning principally half the time Allen dropped again to go, there was a defender in his face. I do know Miami was sending a number of blitzes, however that may be a horrendous exhibiting from the offensive line. Plus, with the method Allen performs soccer, that added strain usually causes him to flee the pocket and look to make one thing out of nothing, which might usually result in him attempting to do an excessive amount of and turning the ball over. 

The Bills is not going to advance past subsequent week if Allen will get pressured that a lot once more. 

 

Ken Dorsey’s playcalling

Nonetheless, the playcalling additionally must adapt. 

The Dolphins had been sending blitzes all through the afternoon, and the Bills took benefit early with some deep photographs to Stefon Diggs. Nonetheless, Buffalo offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey saved dialing up these deep photographs even after the Dolphins had picked one off and Allen had began misfiring. 

On one drive with 10:53 left in the fourth quarter and Buffalo clinging to a 3 level lead, the workforce dialed up deep photographs on the first two performs off the drive. Each fell incomplete and then Allen was sacked on third down, which compelled the Bills to punt after solely operating 59 seconds off of the clock.

It was inexcusably unhealthy when it comes to each execution and technique. 

The Bills seemingly ought to have adjusted to a extra quick-hitting passing assault, as Miami did, which might have allowed them to scheme extra performs for Stefon Diggs. After posting six catches for 100 yards and a landing in the first half, the Bills’ high receiver had only one catch for 14 yards in the second half. 

Whereas a few of that’s on Allen and additionally on the Buffalo offensive line for not permitting performs to develop, Dorsey wants to assist his quarterback out by calling fast passes to Diggs to get the two again in sync. The Bills can’t permit one other half to go by with Diggs getting used so occasionally. 

 

Turnovers

The Bills turned the ball over 3 times on Sunday, and they’d two further fumbles that they had been in a position to get better. There was seemingly no larger issue that saved Miami in the recreation than the turnovers. In the first half, the Dolphins’ common drive began from their very own 44-yard line, and the Bills’ first turnover in the second half instantly resulted in a Miami landing after they fell on the ball in the finish zone. 

Buffalo was in a position to escape with a win on Sunday, however they outgained Miami by virtually 200 yards, so this recreation by no means ought to have been this shut. In the event that they make comparable errors towards the Bengals, it would result in the finish of their season. 

 

Now for the excellent news. 

Kaiir Elam

I coated this in the recreation preview, however there was seemingly no hero fairly as large as Elam and no play as large as his interception of Skylar Thompson in the third quarter. After a Milano sack compelled a Third-and-19 from Miami’s personal 17-yard line. Elam leaped as much as decide off a fade supposed for Tyreek Hill. He additionally broke up a 4th down go with 2:17 in the fourth quarter which allowed the Bills to get the ball again and run out the clock. 

They had been two large performs for the rookie, who had his greatest recreation of the season just a few weeks in the past towards these similar Dolphins, and at the time we referred to as for Elam to see the area extra. Nonetheless, he was splitting snaps with Dane Jackson on Sunday till Jackson suffered a knee harm. 

Nevertheless it’s time for Elam to see the area recurrently. 

This yr’s first-round decide allowed only one completion on Sunday with two passes defended and the interception. He had a 0.0 passer ranking allowed when he was focused. In fact, none of this shocked the Bills’ veterans as they mentioned that he is a student of the team and prepares like a veteran. 

He additionally appears to be a genuinely good particular person, who took time before the game to chat with a young girl currently battling cancer.  Even with out the goodwill, his good play means he needs to be beginning reverse Tre’Davious White subsequent week. 

 

Gabe Davis (and Stefon Diggs)

After the Patriots recreation, I discussed that Davis had been typically a bit disappointing in his first yr as the workforce’s full-time second huge receiver. He had only a 51.6% catch fee, dropping 9 passes, and additionally had eight video games the place he was held to beneath 40 receiving yards. 

Nonetheless, Davis shined for Buffalo in the playoffs final yr, and he began out this yr’s postseason doing the very same, hauling in six of his nine targets for 113 yards and a touchdown. He additionally made an exquisite sliding catch in the first half, the place he was in a position to get each palms beneath the ball earlier than it touched the floor to make sure an enormous acquire. 

Davis was further vital on Sunday since Buffalo appeared to go away from Diggs in the second half, as I discussed above. Nonetheless, Diggs deserves to be in the studs part after placing up seven catches for 114 yards and a landing. The Bills simply can’t overlook about him subsequent week towards the Bengals. 

 

The Linebacking Duo of Milano/Edmunds

After the recreation final night time, there was a dialogue on Twitter, led by former NFL linebacker Will Compton about the greatest linebacker duos in the NFL. He listed Milano and Edmunds as the third-best in the league, and it’s exhausting to argue with that. 

Tremaine Edmunds has been phenomenal all yr, and we mentioned final week that the extension for Roquan Smith could make it exhausting for Buffalo to re-sign Edmunds, however they actually need to prioritize it. The linebacker used his size on Sunday to rack up 4 passes defended, whereas additionally notching 5 tackles and an enormous deal with for a loss on a third-down run. 

In the meantime, Milano, the workforce’s solely AP All-Professional, led the method with 10 whole tackles, eight solo tackles, and two sacks. He did uncharacteristically miss a deal with on a Dolphins fourth down conversion, which allowed Miami to place up three further factors, however that was actually the solely mistake from this duo on Sunday. 

For extra Buffalo Bills protection, go to amNY Sports activities

Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) celebrates throughout the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff soccer recreation towards the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Picture/Jeffrey T. Barnes)



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