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All-22 Grades for Bills/Rams (The Athletic)


HappyDays
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As usual I will post snippets but not the whole article.

 

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1. The Bills took the pressure off their young CBs

 

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and a revamped defensive line ran zone coverage a whopping 92.4 percent of the game. It was a 32.1 percent increase from the Bills’ regular season zone rate in 2021 (60.3).

 

The young cornerbacks played to differing degrees, but it’s hard not to be impressed by Dane Jackson. His interception stood out, but his comfortability in coverage and sure-handed tackling set his day forward. 

 

As for the rookies, Benford looked much more comfortable in the defensive scheme than Elam. Benford played to his instincts well and sensed when a big play was possible, fleeing his zone to pick up the receiver getting separation. On one play in particular, Kupp turned up the field as quarterback Matthew Stafford moved around. Benford spotted it, ran stride-for-stride up the field with Kupp and kept a big play from entering the equation.

 

Elam seemed a bit slower to react to the ball coming out and needed to have a little more awareness of down and distance on late downs. This zone-heavy look didn’t favor Elam at Florida, as he was at his best in man-to-man coverage. Elam’s best football could be ahead of him when White returns and the Bills feel more comfortable with a more even split between zone and man.

 

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2. The secret standout: DT DaQuan Jones

 

He was forced into a more significant role than likely anticipated once Ed Oliver suffered an injury, but they needed Jones on 69 percent of the defensive snaps. How he responded as a run defender and pass rusher shows why there’s such excitement about him inside the building.

 

Jones held up at the point of attack extremely well against double teams, to free up lanes to the running game, and pushed his way toward the ball carrier in some one-on-one chances. He also provided a better pass-rushing push than he’s given credit for at his position, which is usually considered a run-defending spot above all else. He helped collapse the pocket and, combined with his edge-rushing teammates, helped impact throws and bring down Stafford. Jones was on the field for five of the Bills’ seven sacks.

 

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3. James Cook’s potential big run that never was

 

When you go back and watch that fumble on the All-22, you’ll see a play in which Cook was his own worst enemy. In a debut-defining moment with a fumble, it could have easily been a huge, confidence-boosting gain had he just trusted what he saw ahead of him.

 

Partially due to the turnover, the Bills dedicated most of their rushing attack to Singletary and Zack Moss. But based on some of the ways they utilized those outside rushes all game, similar to this one, you have to wonder if Cook would have had a bigger say in the plan if his first carry didn’t go the way it did. The rushing lanes were there. The blocking was there. All they needed was a plus-athlete to maximize those gains. That plus-athlete is Cook. But with Singletary, they knew they were getting a consistent runner who would make the proper read and protect the ball, even if he lacked the speed to maximize those plays. So it would not be a shock if the Bills try to get Cook involved again in Week 2 rather than banishing him to the inactive list for one mistake.

 

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4. Dawson Knox made a huge impact

 

Knox made his presence felt numerous times as a run blocker, showing as much of an edge in that phase of the game as I’ve seen from him. You can tell he’s gotten so much more comfortable as a blocker, as he’s no longer just trying to sustain those blocks to pave a path for the runner. Now he’s looking to drive defenders out of the way completely. There were a handful of reps Knox drove his assignment multiple yards toward the sideline and brought it slightly past the whistle to assert his blocking dominance. It was as impressive as a run-blocking showing as I can remember from Knox.

 

Top 5 grades:

1) Josh Allen (A)

2) Jordan Phillips (A-)

3) Von Miller (A-)

4) Stefon Diggs (A-)

5) Dion Dawkins (A-)

 

Bottom 5 grades:

1) Ryan Bates (D+)

2) Kaiir Elam (C)

3) Rodger Saffold (C+)

4) Zack Moss (B-)

5) Spencer Brown (B-)

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7 minutes ago, GunnerBill said:

Again I think the Spencer Brown grade is harsh. I bave watched it back I think he played well. 

To be fair, he did get a b-. Probably just not many players that graded poorly in that dominate game. I'd have Cook lower than Brown tho.

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52 minutes ago, HappyDays said:

As usual I will post snippets but not the whole article.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 grades:

1) Josh Allen (A)

2) Jordan Phillips (A-)

3) Von Miller (A-)

4) Stefon Diggs (A-)

5) Dion Dawkins (A-)

 

Bottom 5 grades:

1) Ryan Bates (D+)

2) Kaiir Elam (C)

3) Rodger Saffold (C+)

4) Zack Moss (B-)

5) Spencer Brown (B-)

 

Thanks

Did Buscaglia give any information to justify his low grades on Bates and Saffold?  Because to my eyes, Bates was asked to handle Donald with minimal help on some snaps, and he really only got blown up once.

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2 hours ago, Gambit said:

To be fair, he did get a b-. Probably just not many players that graded poorly in that dominate game. I'd have Cook lower than Brown tho.

 

Players with less than 15 snaps don't get graded at all. But like you said there were ton of players graded between B- and B+, so Brown's ranking is more about the quality play of others rather than his own failures.

2 hours ago, Beck Water said:

 

Thanks

Did Buscaglia give any information to justify his low grades on Bates and Saffold?  Because to my eyes, Bates was asked to handle Donald with minimal help on some snaps, and he really only got blown up once.

 

He didn't talk too much about the OL but he mentions that Bates was dominated in his matchup against Donald. It's obviously a tough matchup for even the best guards, but Joe doesn't grade it on a curve.

Edited by HappyDays
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56 minutes ago, jletha said:

Re James Cook run here is the photo.

 

The blocking looks like he should take the red path to the outside, but he cut it up the blue path where he fumbled.

 

 

James cook run.jpg

 

If you watch the all 22, it appears that Cook is reading Spencer Brown's block. As he approaches, Earnest Jones gets slightly outside of Brown and Cook takes the inside lane. Gabe Davis is clearly going to seal off Nick Jones to the inside and looks as if he sets up for Cook to go outside of Brown. Nick Cook then comes up and Davis doesn't get in front of him and Nick Jones makes the takle. Earnest Jones then punches the ball out as Cook is prone in the air.

 

I think Cook could have gotten outside outside of Brown. But it sure looks like he is reading Brown's block and takes the inside lane accordingly. Had Davis been able to seal off Nick Jones, Cook would have been in the secondary.

 

I won't be too harsh on Cook for the play. 

 

607625049_Cook1.thumb.jpg.26a070dfdd8da6796853444c539c0bf5.jpg

 

29033434_Cook2.thumb.jpg.f9281b75ba270aa7392b1abe9b7fae51.jpg

 

324830935_Cook3.thumb.jpg.930f86798a6d4d496d795a61270c2de3.jpg

 

 

Edited by billsfan1959
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19 minutes ago, GunnerBill said:

Again I think the Spencer Brown grade is harsh. I bave watched it back I think he played well. 

 

What did you see from Ryan Bates?

48 minutes ago, jletha said:

Re James Cook run here is the photo.

 

The blocking looks like he should take the red path to the outside, but he cut it up the blue path where he fumbled.

 

 

James cook run.jpg

 

I don't think that shows the keys that Cook is coached to use to choose his lane.

@billsfan1959 posted some good screen shots.

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Just now, Beck Water said:

 

What did you see from Ryan Bates?

 

So first half he was a flat mess. To be fair to him he drew #99 a lot and the Bills a few times because they were schemed quick hitters didn't double him so for a career backup turned starter to draw Donald 1v1 is a pretty tall order. Second half I thought he got it together a bit. Especially his run blocking but he managed a couple of decent pass blocks too. 

 

I thought he was the worst starter for the Bills last Thursday. But give him credit for getting himself together at half time and coming out and competing better 2nd half. He remains one to watch though. His good form late last year came when Dion Dawkins got back to his best and Mitch Morse had a nice end to the year too. Dion is our best OL and I think he and Mitch hid Bates a little bit or made his job easier. Next to a still developing second year right tackle we will see. Wasn't the best opening weekend but its a long season. 

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10 minutes ago, Beck Water said:

 

Thanks

Did Buscaglia give any information to justify his low grades on Bates and Saffold?  Because to my eyes, Bates was asked to handle Donald with minimal help on some snaps, and he really only got blown up once.

Joe B has close to zero knowledge of O line play, so I'm not sure why we'd even want his justification. Isn't that like the blind leading the blind?

 

I recommend the Locked On Bills podcast, which is available on YouTube because at least the host specializes in O line analysis. I'm not sure if he's going to talk specifically about how Bates and the rest of the line did in this game, but it would be interesting, and much more informative, if he did vs a guy like Joe B.

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1 minute ago, GunnerBill said:

 

So first half he was a flat mess. To be fair to him he drew #99 a lot and the Bills a few times because they were schemed quick hitters didn't double him so for a career backup turned starter to draw Donald 1v1 is a pretty tall order. Second half I thought he got it together a bit. Especially his run blocking but he managed a couple of decent pass blocks too. 

 

I thought he was the worst starter for the Bills last Thursday. But give him credit for getting himself together at half time and coming out and competing better 2nd half. He remains one to watch though. His good form late last year came when Dion Dawkins got back to his best and Mitch Morse had a nice end to the year too. Dion is our best OL and I think he and Mitch hid Bates a little bit or made his job easier. Next to a still developing second year right tackle we will see. Wasn't the best opening weekend but its a long season. 

 

Well, let's hope he gets himself together because I believe the Titans move Simmons around, and Vrabel will target Bates/Brown

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Elam looked lost out there in zone coverage. I remember a few plays where it was like why is Kupp so wode open and then here comes Elam into the screen from 10 yards away. Then there was that play where Elam got absolutely trucked by the smallest WR on the Rams. I think we will be seeing more Benford in week 2

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26 minutes ago, KDIGGZ said:

Elam looked lost out there in zone coverage. I remember a few plays where it was like why is Kupp so wode open and then here comes Elam into the screen from 10 yards away. Then there was that play where Elam got absolutely trucked by the smallest WR on the Rams. I think we will be seeing more Benford in week 2

 

Elam only had the coverage assignment on 1 of Kupp's 13 catches. FWIW I agree he looks uncomfortable in pure zone looks, when we play the deep shell and he has to identify the route he is carrying and the route he is passing off to a safety he is not reading things well enough at this stage. But Kupp being open wasn't on Elam. The one play he had coverage responsibility he actually played it pretty well. We were in a soft zone look and he took away the deep route, let Kupp run the curl underneath and came up and tackled for minimal YAC. It was an 8 yard gain on the final Rams drive. 

 

I broke down the coverage responsibilities for Kupp's 13 catches HERE if you are interested. 

Edited by GunnerBill
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