It was a tale of two halves for the Bills defense against the Chargers in Week 2.
In the opening two quarters, Buffalo allowed a whopping 264 yards on 29 plays (not counting the run-out-the-clock possession for Los Angeles at the end of the second quarter).
After halftime, when Bills Coach Sean McDermott took over defensive play-calling duties, the Bills gave up 62 yards on 24 offensive plays from the Chargers (not counting a kneel down at the end of the game).
Buffalo got efficient, productive outings from established stars Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander.
Let's check in on the three new additions to the Bills' defensive line, Star Lotulelei, Trent Murphy, and Harrison Phillips.
Here's how the trio fared in the loss to the Chargers:
|vs Los Angeles||Star Lotulelei||Trent Murphy||Harrison Phillips|
|Pressures / pass-rush Snaps||0 for 19||1 for 18||0 for 9|
Another game, another dud performance from the stat-sheet perspective for Lotulelei, although there were a handful of successful run stops for the Bills in which he ate one or more blockers to free lanes for other linemen or linebackers to make the tackle near, at, or behind the line of scrimmage.
On the season, Lotulelei has rushed the passer 39 times and registered just one pressure (a hurry), which ironically came on his first pass-rush snap of the season in Week One against Baltimore.
McDermott was asked Monday about Lotulelei not having any tackles.
"When you look at the position he plays. It's the most, and you’ve heard me say this before, it's the most unselfish position on the football field, the defensive tackle position," he said. "In particular, the one-technique, which is typically where he plays.
"The way the game works is he frees up the linebackers to make plays by absorbing and taking on double teams. I thought our run defense inside, which is where Star works, was mostly solid yesterday. Outside, we could've done some things better. But inside, I think for the most part, he played a solid game."
Murphy didn't have much impact when attempting to get after Philip Rivers either, yet his pressure (a hurry) was an impressive showing of his capabilities, as he deployed a tremendous spin move that beat the right tackle and landed him in Rivers' lap.
Murphy's missed tackle came on a play when he knifed through the line and contacted with the Los Angeles ball-carrier before the rest of his teammates cleaned up. Far from the worst kind of miss.
No pressures from Phillips in relatively limited action — just 18 snaps — compared to Week One — 41 snaps — but again he demonstrated effectiveness against the run, with two more Impact Tackles. He now has four through two games to just one missed tackle.
Here's how the defensive line newcomers have fared through Week Two:
|Through Week Two||Star Lotulelei||Trent Murphy||Harrison Phillips|
|Pressures / Pass-Rush Snaps||1/39||3/35||2/24|
Lotulelei, Murphy, and Phillips will face a Vikings offensive line that's surrendered 25 quarterback pressures (four sacks, two hits, and 19 hurries) on 97 Kirk Cousins drop backs in its first two contests of 2018, per Pro Football Focus.
Cousins has been responsible for three hurries himself, both of which came in last week's tie against the Packers.
*"Impact Tackles" will be takedowns at or behind the line of scrimmage, and "Initial Contact Plays" are those important but outside-the-stat-sheet instances when a player makes initial contact on a ball carrier, and his teammates clean up the tackle soon thereafter.