Jon Feliciano took a lot of heat for his performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 – a performance that contributed to a 23-16 defeat and a rough day by his quarterback, Josh Allen. The seventh-year pro was far from the only issue on the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line in Week 1, but his struggles with All-Pro defensive tackle Cam Heyward were perhaps the most obvious.
By the end of the day, Feliciano surrendered 8 pressures, the most on a line that allowed a total of 24 pressures and was flagged for six penalties. Left tackle Dion Dawkins – who recently returned from a difficult battle with Covid – had three of those penalties, as the unit struggled to slow down Heyward, TJ Watt, Melvin Ingram, and the rest of Pittsburgh’s talented front seven.
Entering Week 2, Feliciano and the rest of the line faced a less monumental task against Miami, a team that’s defensive strength lies in its secondary. Still, Christian Wilkins and Emanuel Ogbah are talented players, and the whole line was under pressure to perform in the closest thing to a must-win Week 2 game. Much like rookie pass rusher Greg Rousseau, Feliciano was returning to his college home field, and it seemed like that experience might have paid off.
Against the Dolphins, Feliciano surrendered zero pressures over 36 pass-blocking reps. He also had zero penalties over 63 total snaps and received the top run-blocking grade on the line. Dawkins reduced his pressures from five down to just one and was called for one penalty this week instead of three. Overall, the line reduced the total number of pressures from 24 on 56 pass-blocking attempts (43%) to 10 on 36 pass-blocking snaps (28%). However, while the total number of penalties went down from 6 to 4, the rate stayed steady at about 11%.
While the competition was clearly a step down from last week, it was clear the Bills line was performing at a much higher level in Miami. Allen wasn’t great, but he spent much less time running for his life or on the turf.
While the starting unit all returned from last season, injuries on the interior meant the whole starting five never saw time together, so Bills fans can hope that continuity will lead to continued improvement. Dawkins will also be monitored closely, given how serious his bout with Covid was and how badly he struggled in Week 1.
Hopefully, the improvement comes quickly because the difficulty level will ramp back up in Week 3. Buffalo will be hosting the Washington Football team, and one of the most talented defensive line groups in football – highlighted by Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen.
Feliciano, Dawkins, and the rest of the offensive line will need to build on the momentum of this week if they hope to keep Allen and the offense on the right track. While another dominant defensive performance might be enough to secure a win in week three, Buffalo’s offense will need to find its groove by the end of the season if the team is going to meet its potential, and finding that success starts up front.
All statistics courtesy of PFF