No one misses Stephon Gilmore right now
After the way the Denver Broncos handled the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, no one really thought the Bills would be able to hang with the Broncos, let alone beat them. I mean, Trevor Siemian came in tops in the NFL, having thrown six TDs over two games, and OH YEA, the Broncos also boast one of the NFL’s best receiving tandems in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. So despite strong play through two games, Buffalo’s revamped secondary hadn’t yet seen a matchup that challenged them quite like the Broncos’ offense would. The Jets and Panthers may have felt good, but Denver was a chance for the unit to prove it could stand up to the league’s truly elite wide receiver talent.
Consider the challenge accepted. Against Denver, the Bills rear guard showed well, looking both fluid in playing Sean McDermott’s zone, and vocal in communication. It’s a welcome sight compared with much of last season. How many times last year did we see the Bills secondary give up a big play, then look at each other in disbelief, palms up in the air, as they made their way back to the huddle (we’re not looking directly at you, Stephon Gilmore)? Not so much this season. Against one the NFL’s best offenses so far this season, the Bills secondary, outside of a few big-but-not-backbreaking plays, was solid in coverage, contesting most catches and limiting yards after the catch. This group is also not afraid to come up in support to stop the run game, which has not always been the case over the course of The Drought.
I asked Tre’Davious White about the Bills not allowing a TD pass yet this season. His response: “You’re the first guy that told me that. I didn’t even think about that. We’ll take it.” He really had no clue. Credited front 7.
— Sal Capaccio ???? (@SalSports) September 27, 2017
Each member of the McBeane Era Bills Secondary v.1.0 stood tall in the win over the Broncos, with Tre’Davious White’s gutsy performance proving most impressive of all.
Below, we’ve put together a quick game summary for each starter.
The 1st Round rookie had quite the day. Such a day, in fact, that we’ll be devoting an entire post to it. So keep an eye out for a deep dive into how White fared being thrown into the fire against Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, coming soon.
The headlines went to Tre White, but CB EJ Gaines had a pretty great day, despite being called for a penalty. Usually matched up with Demaryius Thomas, Gaines more than held his own. Of course, Gaines’ 3rd quarter INT drew praise from commentators, but Gaines’ best play came against Thomas in the 3rd quarter. Backed up in the red zone, Gaines made a spectacular breakup on a play-action pass. He didn’t honor the outside move by Thomas, stayed at his hip, tracked the ball, and knocked it away. On the next play he gave up his body to stop C.J. Anderson on 3rd down. Another solid performance from Gaines helps take (some of) the sting out of Sammy Watkins’ 2 touchdown performance on Thursday Night Football.
It was well documented when they signed him away from Green Bay that the Bills valued Hyde’s versatility, and it shows on the field. More than anything, they want him playing center field, quarterbacking the defense, and scanning the field. He’s done it well, and seems to be around the ball in both pass and run support, even when lining up as many as 19 yards off the line of scrimmage at times. While he hasn’t made as many impact plays as Jordan Poyer, Hyde gets just as much credit for the improvement of the defense so far this season.
Poyer has been the hot name in the new look Bills secondary, with 12 tackles, two sacks, and an interception through three games, as well as impressive blitzing ability. The safety continues to be a much bigger factor than most imagined when he was signed over from the Browns.
Through 2 weeks, the highest graded safeties in the NFL pic.twitter.com/qbiLJC7jHG
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 21, 2017
As well as the Bills secondary played in holding Denver’s top-flight receivers in check, the road ahead doesn’t get any easier as they head to Atlanta to play the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. Julio Jones is arguably the league’s best receiver, and Matt Ryan had thrown 309 passes without an interception before finally being picked off last week. If the Bills are going to upset the mighty Falcons on the road, they’ll need another solid performance from their new look secondary on Sunday.
Stay tuned for more hot takes and game prep when our podcast, “The Hurry Up” is released Saturday! Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.