by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert
We have known for a long time that the Buffalo Bills are not the most talented team. They have weaknesses at many of the offensive positions and then we have to add the injuries to key players and it is downright difficult for this team to win.
Sunday’s win versus the Detroit Lions was all about teamwork and want to. Since Detroit acquired Damon Harrison from the New York Giants at the trading deadline, they have been very difficult to run on. The Bills playing with their third and fourth running backs were able to get 117 yards on the ground, with many of those runs coming at opportune times. The offensive line played one of their better games of the season, as their pass blocking gave Allen plenty of time and they of course opened up holes for the run game.
I felt Josh Allen played his best game in quite some time. He was patient and didn’t panic. On paper he was only 13 of 26 but he had some drops and his off throws weren’t off by much. Add to that the fact that he is throwing to a group of receivers who would not be able to start for most NFL teams.
That said, rookie Robert Foster has come on of late and Sunday finished the game with four receptions for 108 yards. Foster has very good size and excellent speed but he is very raw. He still is a work in progress. I have seen his route running improve, but he still has a long ways to go. Don’t forget, Foster was an undrafted free agent coming out of college and there was a reason for that.
Coming out of high school, Foster was a 5-star recruit but was never able to become a full time player while at Alabama. He finished his career with only 31 receptions. His scouting report was that he was a better athlete than a player. Don’t forget, reality is Alabama’s receiver corps was better than the Bills is right now. Had Foster gone to a different school he would have gotten much more playtime and been further developed. Because of his great athleticism he could have a bright future but the onus is on him to do the work required during this coming off-season.
Another player who flashed in Sunday’s game was rookie running back Keith Ford. Ford is another whose college career was less than stellar because he never lived up to his talent level. Ford, like Foster was a 5-star recruit who originally began his college career at Oklahoma. He flashed his first two years in Norman but was never a full-time player. He also had a suspension and disagreements with his position coach causing him to transfer to Texas A&M. In his only season at A&M he ran for 669 yards playing in a rotation.
Sunday was his first real opportunity to play as a pro and he fared well gaining 46 yards on 14 carries. I doubt Ford will ever become a full-time player in the NFL but he has the talent to be a very good role player. Ford is best as a between the tackles power guy as he lacks the speed to be consistent outside. Being that the Bills don’t have a consistently good inside runner, there could be a role for Ford in the future.
On defense, three players deserve mention. Rookie Mike linebacker Tremaine Edmunds continued his excellent play, finishing the game with eight total tackles. On the season, Edmunds has 98 total tackles and in most years he would be in the running for All Rookie honors. This year though there are three other rookie linebackers who have stolen the show in the Bears Roquan Smith, the Colts Darius Leonard and the Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch.
Safety Jordan Poyer led the bills with 11 tackles with most coming in key situations. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander may be 35 years old but he plays like a much younger guy. Sunday he made numerous big plays with six total tackles including two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits as well as a PBU.