It was a pretty eventful home opener for the Buffalo Bills at the New Era Field. Trying to avoid the 0-2 start, Buffalo started slowly yet again and didn’t have enough firepower to come back in the game by the time the defense finally found ways to slow down Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense. We saw the Josh Allen era’s beginning, as well as the Vontae Davis era’s beginning AND ending in less than a half, and Los Angeles prevailing in the end. Here are my week two studs and duds:
LB Lorenzo Alexander
For the second week in a row, Alexander tops the list. He’s yet to miss a tackle in the first two weeks of the new season, earning a Pro Football Focus tackling grade of 88.6, good for best in the league among linebackers who have played the minimum of 40 snaps. He was also the best-graded Bills defensive player again, with a 78.4 PFF overall grade, finishing the day with seven tackles and one sack.
Zo was very important in second half emergence of the team’s D, motivating his teammates and combining with Kyle Williams on inside stunts which gave problems to the Chargers’ offensive line. It’s good to see a respected veteran like Alexander not losing a step at his age and showing how productive he can still be.
DE Jerry Hughes
It’s great to see the team’s top pass rushing threat able to do his thing. Hughes was a nightmare for the Chargers’ LT, Russell Okung, finishing the day with four pressures and one sack on 17 pass rushing attempts. His PFF 14.7 pass rush productivity grade ranked fourth in the league in week two, among edge rushers with a minimum of 10 attempts. He was also his usual reliable self against the run, recording six tackles on the day. With Alexander, Kyle Williams, and Trent Murphy all having good games, Hughes was able to take advantage of one-on-ones and wreak havoc on Philip Rivers.
Honorable mention: QB Josh Allen, CB Tre’Davious White, SS Jordan Poyer
CB Vontae Davis
What pitiful behavior by the veteran ex-cornerback. Davis was beaten by Chargers WR Mike Williams on a Philip Rivers TD pass and, according to all reports, removed himself from the game, quit, and left the stadium at the halftime. The Bills already were missing two injured CBs, rookie Taron Johnson and Phillip Gaines. Rafael Bush was playing out of position, and Lafayette Pitts was the last available, with the team finishing the game with only two CBs on the field.
Later in the day, Davis expressed his frustration at not being able to perform to the level he used to as the reason for the retirement. I can understand his frustration; nothing is worse to an athlete than being slowed down by injuries and not being able to recapture the form of the past. But there’s no argument to justify the act of letting his teammates down in the middle of a game where they needed his help. This was completely inappropriate behavior by a veteran player who definitely didn’t know how to finish his career with honor.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds zoned in on Rivers and doesn't gain width with Gordon. Rivers holds him with his eyes then finds Gordon for the TD. pic.twitter.com/wGLIwkBEos
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) September 17, 2018
After a very positive start to his NFL career, being on the “studs” honorable mention session in this very same piece last week, Edmunds was picked apart by the veteran Los Angeles quarterback and his shifty weapons, RB Melvin Gordon and WR Keenan Allen. The Chargers targeted the Bills’ rookie linebacker in the passing game all day long, taking advantage of his inexperience in zone coverage.
It wasn’t all bad for Edmunds, who still showed his great athleticism on a couple of plays and led the team in tackles alongside Jordan Poyer, with seven. But, at the end of the day, he was the weak link exploited by the Chargers’ offense, and overall, it was a bad day for the rookie. Anyway, it’s a valuable learning experience for him, and one that will make him grow.
Honorable mentions: C Ryan Groy, RT Jordan Mills, LB Ramon Humber.