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Position-by-position grades

Bills rode three-receiver set mismatches all day vs. Dolphins

The Buffalo Bills loved their three-receiver matchup against the Miami Dolphins’ defense Sunday.

The Bills used “11 personnel” – three receivers – on a season-high 60 of 67 plays in the 37-20 victory over the Dolphins.

Miami is playing with a depleted secondary and was missing its best linebacker. The Bills exploited that for a season-high 424 yards. The Bills had been using 11 personnel an average of 40 plays a game, or 62.5% of the offensive snaps, entering the game. The NFL average for 11 personnel this season is 60%, according to Sharp Football.

The Bills’ offense got good grades all around based on The News’ video review of the game. Here’s a position-by-position report, on a scale of 0 to 5:

Quarterback (4.0): With a four-TD showing, Josh Allen now has 20 TDs (counting rushes) and seven interceptions on the season. That’s on pace for 30 and 11, which would be a sensational improvement from 10 and 12, respectively, in 12 games last season. Granted, the Bills now enter the toughest part of their schedule. Allen’s mobility is a big reason why the Bills are No. 3 in red-zone offense. His 8-yard TD run was an elite play. Allen’s 15 rushing TDs in 22 games is second best by a QB ever, behind only Cam Newton (17).

Running the offense at an up-tempo pace no doubt helps Allen in limiting the pre-snap machinations of the defense. Allen has gone five games and 163 pass attempts without an interception.


Group Plays Rushing Passing
11 60 28 for 157, TD 21/32 256 yds, 3TD
22 5 5 for 12
12 1 0/1
K 1 1 for -1
11: 1rb, 1te, 3wr. 22: 2rb, 2te, 1wr. 12: 1rb, 2te, 1wr. K: kneel.


Receivers (4.0): John Brown ranks eighth in the NFL in receiving yards. He’s on pace for 89 catches and 1,368 yards, which would rank fifth and fourth, respectively, on the Bills’ single-season list. Isaiah McKenzie produced four touches for 31 yards in 56 snaps. The emergence of rookie tight end Dawson Knox continues. He and Tyler Kroft did some capable blocking. But the Bills still will need more from the complementary targets against defenses that are better equipped to defend Brown. With the Bills relying on 11 personnel, tight end Lee Smith played only seven snaps.

Running backs (2.5): Devin Singletary had 16 touches and averaged 5.0 yards a carry. But he had two fumbles and was fortunate that the Bills recovered both. Even though Miami was eager to stop the run, the Bills stayed balanced.

Offensive line (4.0): Dion Dawkins had a superb all-around game, starting with a big block on Davon Godchaux to spring Singletary for 22 yards on the first play. Dawkins made the edge rushers disappear. He yielded just one hurry. Mitch Morse played stout in pass protection against Christian Wilkins and blocked well for the run. Cody Ford (57 snaps) was good in pass protection, too. It was a feel-good game all around. The competition gets a lot tougher from here.

Defensive line (4.5): The Bills dominated the line of scrimmage against a team that needs to find four new starting offensive linemen in the offseason. Star Lotulelei was outstanding, creating four key run clogs, including the fourth-and-1 stop near the end. He also chased down a screen pass and had a cleanup sack. Miami couldn’t handle Jordan Phillips in the middle, either. Trent Murphy beat Jesse Davis to create a sack and played stout. Other sack whippings included Shaq Lawson vs. Julien Davenport, Corey Liuget vs. Daniel Kilgore and Jerry Hughes vs. J’Marcus Webb. Ed Oliver played a solid game and had a cleanup sack.

Linebackers (4.5): Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano were sensational, both in coverage and rushing the passer. Lorenzo Alexander helped set the defensive tone with a run-dog 5-yard tackle for loss on the first play. Alexander had three hurries.

Defensive backs (4.0): Kevin Johnson (36 snaps) split time with Levi Wallace (33 snaps) and held up well. He had good coverage on a deep sideline pass for Allen Hurns and on DeVante Parker in the end zone. All the defensive backs continue to get good marks for their tackling ability. Parker’s 50-yard catch was a well-schemed pattern, and Fitzpatrick had a big window because the Bills’ linebackers were trying to fake a blitz and didn’t get back into coverage fast enough. On the other long pass to Parker, Tre White bit on a slant-and-go move.

Special teams (2.5): It’s tough to give a grade because Corey Bojorquez and Stephen Hauschka were great, but the team allowed kickoff returns of 101 and 50 yards and an onsides kick recovery. Check out the hang times for Bojorquez (4.5 seconds or better is good): 5.0, 4.95, 4.68 and 5.04, and all produced fair catches. The other punt was downed at the Miami 8. Hauschka booted his 12th field goal of 50-plus yards as a Bill, putting him one behind Steve Christie and two behind Dan Carpenter on the team’s career list. The onside kick was perfectly executed by Miami. Middle blockers Jaquan Johnson and Julian Stanford took only one false step backward before charging the ball. However, the 101-yard return was a case of too many guys getting out of their lanes and flowing too far to the inside, including Corey Thompson, Johnson and Kurt Coleman. They got outflanked by the speedy Jakeem Grant. Andre Roberts’ good returns of a kickoff (44 yards) and punt (14 yards) helped the offense.

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