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Bills studs and duds after their Week 14 win over the Jets

Tony Adams and Jets defense looks to improve from last year
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox, left, is unable to make a catch as New York Jets safety Tony Adams (22) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The Bills were able to get their revenge on the Jets this Sunday, beating their AFC East rivals 20-12 in a rainy, sloppy game in Buffalo. The win brought the Bills to 10-3 and, after Miami’s loss on Sunday night, into a two-game lead in the AFC East. 

While we take stock of the win and what the performance on the field means for the rest of the season, we’ll dive into another edition of Studs and Duds. 

As a reminder, this column looks simply at the performance in the most recent week, or weeks in this case, identifying who stepped up and who struggled and what those performances might mean for the Buffalo Bills going forward. Some heroes will just have one-off great games while some struggles could signal major issues, so we’ll make sense of that together here. 

Duds

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. 

Dion Dawkins and Roger Saffold

I have harped on the poor performance of the Bills’ offensive line all season, and it continued on Sunday. I covered the continual issues in an article after the game, but it bears repeating here.

On the day, Josh Allen was sacked three times, hurried eight times, and hit five times. The offensive line was also called for seven penalties, five of them accepted, and were responsible for stalling numerous drives. 

Dion Dawkins and Roger Saffold had particularly bad days. Dawkins missed last week with an ankle injury and was limited in practice during the week, so it’s entirely possible that the left tackle wasn’t 100% healthy. That would explain some of the physical mistakes and holding penalties, but he also had a poorly-timed false start and has not been his dominant self for much of this season. 

Next to him, Saffold continues to prove to be a major miss in the free agent class from this offseason. He has continually graded out as Buffalo’s worst offensive lineman and those struggles continued on Sunday as he was beaten repeatedly by Quinnen Williams and was only rescued by the fact that Williams hurt his calf. Saffold could be in jeopardy of losing his job if/when the team activates Ike Boettger from the Injured Reserve. 

 

Isaiah McKenzie

The Buffalo receiving corps has not stepped up around Stefon Diggs this season. While Gabe Davis has solid season-long numbers, he has been inconsistent from a week-to-week basis, and slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie has failed to take advantage of the massive opportunity put in front of him when Jamison Crowder fractured his ankle. 

McKenzie and Crowder were set to share the slot receiver role because Crowder is far better at finding the weak spots against zone coverage. That strategy would likely have been a successful one for the Bills since McKenzie has proven to be inconsistent unless facing man coverage. It was no different on Sunday when he had three catches for 21 yards but also had two crucial drops, including one that forced Buffalo to punt early. 

McKenzie’s job security is in question for next year, and it’s possible that he could even lose snaps to rookie Khalil Shakir. 

 

Ken Dorsey

I’ve been hard on Ken Dorsey during the year, but at some points, his decision-making has just been really confusing. We don’t want to pin all of the blame for yesterday’s lack of offense on him since the Jets have a good defense and the weather was a factor, but there were clear areas where he struggled. 

For starters, the playcalling seemed to avoid targeting a major issue the Jets have with covering the middle of the field. Dorsey also seemed to totally abandon a run game that had been working and should have been a key factor given the conditions. The fact that Devin Singletary ran for 39 yards on eight carries, 4.9 yards per carry, and was not given more opportunities makes no sense. 

Then you have the final drive the Bills, which was looking to run out the clock on the Jets, but Dorsey called a play-action pass on first down. The pass was incomplete, saving the Jets a timeout and giving them more of a chance at a comeback. 

Yes, the offense’s struggles of late can also be blamed on the offensive line and Josh Allen’s inconsistency, but 14 weeks into the season, Dorsey has to show that he can make adjustments and scheme plays for the players he actually has on his team. He has not shown that and Buffalo continues to get into tough situations that they are bailed out of by Allen’s freak athleticism or impressive arm strength. 

It’s not a recipe for success in the postseason.  

 

 

Studs

Now for the good news. 

Greg Rousseau (and friends)

When Von Miller was placed on the IR and ruled out for the season, there was a lot of speculation about how the Bills could possibly replace what he gave them. While the answer to that may be that they never will truly replace everything he brought to the table, Greg Rousseau is damn well trying. 

Buffalo’s second-year defensive end has been seen on video all season essentially in Miller’s hip pocket, learning every chance he gets. It’s paying off with Rousseau gaining huge strides this season. “Groot,” as he’s known due to his long stature, was tremendous against the Jets, with two sacks, another two quarterback hits, a pressure, a tackle for a loss, and a pass batted at the line of scrimmage. 

His strip sack of Joe Flacco could have put the game away for Buffalo earlier if the offense had held up their end of the bargain, but it’s unquestionable that this is a young defensive star on the rise, and the defensive line in general has really stepped up so far with Miller out. 

 

Matt Milano

What a difference a healthy Matt Milano makes for this defense. In the first game against the Jets, the Bills were without their star linebacker and allowed the Jets to rush for 174 yards on 5.1 yards per carry. On Sunday, the Jets ran for just 76 yards on 22 carries, for 3.5 yards per carry. 

A big part of that is the presence of Milano, who was a force with a team-leading nine tackles, including one for loss, and a pair of pass breakups. He also set the internet on fire with an absolutely vicious hit on Jets quarterback Mike White that sent him to the locker room for a period for X-rays on his ribs.

When Milano is on the field, this Buffalo defense reaches another level. 

 

Tre’Davious White

White didn’t have his best game and was certainly beaten at times by standout rookie Garrett Wilson, but the big news is that he played 100% of the snaps for the Bills for the first time all season. He will continue to shake the rust off as the weeks go on, but knowing that he will be out there for every snap will do wonders for this defense. 

For more Buffalo Bills coverage, visit amNY Sports

Josh Allen Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, front, lunges with the ball under pressure from New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)