NFL Week 3: Why Bills TE Dawson Knox is an X-Factor vs. Washington Football Team


After the Buffalo Bills’ stomping of the Miami Dolphins in a 35-0 victory, they now return to Buffalo to face the 1-1 Washington Football Team.

After an unfortunate hip injury to starter, and former Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington will trot out Taylor Heinicke for his second start of the season. For many Bills fans, the worry will not be if Washington can score points, but whether Buffalo’s offense will be able to score on a defense that has received a lot of praise during the offseason. 

Washington head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have put together a talented and strong defense on paper, but the Washington defense has yet to impress in their first two games, losing to the Chargers in Week 1, and giving up nearly 30 points to the Giants on Thursday Night Football.

While their pass rush has yet to impress, it is stacked with more than enough talent with players like Montez Sweat, Chase Young, and Jonathan Allen, and can break out at any point during the season. Washington also has a good pair of cornerbacks on the outside in Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III.

So is there a weakness to this Washington defense? There is, and it presents a big opportunity for a particular player on the Bills offense.

Dawson Knox has had a quietly good start to the season. He’s been targeted seven times for six receptions, zero drops, and one touchdown. Knox has always been a good athlete with a lot of potential, but his time in the NFL so far has been about trying to unlock that potential. Knox has struggled with drops and injuries that have kept him away from the field in spurts but the Ole Miss product has regularly flashed with glimpses of rather impressive play during his first two seasons with the Bills.

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Though the season is young, Knox looks comfortable and confident in the playing time he’s had, which is an encouraging sign for the third-year tight end, and a big game against Washington could be the key to a breakout season for him. 

Knox is a great matchup against Washington’s linebackers. Cole Holcomb is a solid, but average second-level defender who struggles in coverage, and rookie Jamin Davis was a raw prospect coming out of Kentucky that Rivera and Del Rio are hoping to coach up into a star. Knox certainly has the athletic ability to create a mismatch against either of them, and Knox’s penchant for making plays after the catch while matched up against a rookie linebacker should be a recipe for success. If Washington decides to matchup either linebacker against Knox, it’s a mismatch that Allen and Buffalo’s offense needs to take advantage of, early and often. 

With quarterback Josh Allen struggling to find a rhythm, and a potentially tough test upcoming, Knox may have to be one of the big answers to beating Washington in Week 3.

Assuming the Bills defense continues their hot start to 2021, they should be able to hold Washington’s offense to a low output, but the Bills offense has a difficult test and doesn’t seem to be completely in sync to start the year. Knox having a big game might be necessary to move the chains and keep the game in the Bills’ hands. More than that, Knox has the potential to unleash a big play with any catch he makes, the types of big plays that the Bills offense was accustomed to making all of last year.