Middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was a weapon of Miami destruction in Sunday’s victory over the Dolphins.
The Bills’ second-year middle linebacker tied a career high with 12 tackles, was in on a sack, had a superb fourth-down pass breakup and put two other hits on Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Moreover, he was unleashed as a blitzer to the greatest degree we’ve seen yet by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Edmunds was sent as a rusher at Fitzpatrick on 12 snaps. Those included three sacks, two incompletions (one on a hurry by Edmunds), a holding penalty on the Dolphins and five completions for 54 yards.
“I think it’s doing a lot for us on defense, getting a lot of guys free, giving the offense a different look they may have not seen,” Edmunds said on the coaches using him as a blitzer. “We do a good job across the board. (The blitzes) wouldn’t be successful if the other guys didn’t do their job as well. We executed pretty well.”
Edmunds’ good plays started early. On Miami’s second drive, he came free up the middle on an A-gap blitz past the center, which allowed defensive tackle Ed Oliver to be unblocked and get a 5-yard sack of Fitzpatrick.
That was one of six plays on which both Edmunds and linebacker Matt Milano both blitzed as part of six- or seven-man pressures.
In the third quarter, Edmunds showed his speed by chasing down a wide-receiver screen, holding it to a 5-yard gain on a second-and-20 play.
On the next play, he and Milano both blitzed and combined on a 7-yard sack.
Another “cross-dog blitz” (with Edmunds and Milano twisting on a rush) on Miami’s next series flushed Fitzpatrick into the arms of Star Lotulelei for a 3-yard sack.
On the next play, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Edmunds crushed pass-protecting running back Patrick Laird on a blitz to force an incompletion by Fitzpatrick.
“Tremaine is a true leader,” said defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. “He not only says it, he goes out and does it.”
Edmunds’ best pass-defense play came on a fourth-and-16 play in the fourth quarter when he dropped 25 yards downfield to the deep middle in a Tampa-2 coverage and broke up a throw for tight end Mike Gesicki.
The Bills’ coaches didn’t show much fear of the Miami offense. Frazier blitzed on 18 of 56 dropbacks (32%). Normally, the Bills blitz at about 18% to 20%. But the Dolphins are depleted at receiver, offensive line and running back. It would be a surprise if Frazier blitzed that much against more potent offenses on the horizon for the defense – such as Dallas or Baltimore.
The Bills had five of their seven sacks on blitzes. Fitzpatrick was just 6 of 11 for 44 yards when the Bills rushed five or more.