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These are the season grades for the key starters on the Buffalo Bills offense in 2019.
The Buffalo Bills entered this past season with almost an entirely new offense from a season ago. In fact they only had two starters, left tackle Dion Dawkins and fullback Patrick DiMarco, for their Week 1 game against the New York Jets that also started the first game of the 2018 season.

The Bills front office was aggressive this past offseason, both in free agency and through the NFL Draft, and had new additions like John Brown, Cole Beasley, Devin Singletary and Dawson Knox all play pivotal roles this season.

These new weapons helped Josh Allen take the next step in his career and the offense showed flashes but lacked consistency. They finished the year 24th in total yards, 26th in passing yards but eighth in rushing yards.

These are the grades for the key players on the Buffalo Bills offense in 2019.

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, 2019 will go down as the best Buffalo Bills team of the decade. Sad, I know.

With their second trip to the postseason in the last three seasons on the horizon, the Bills front office has built a team trending in the right direction. So as we shift our focus to wild card weekend, let’s hand out some awards for the best [and worst] players in 2019.

Offensive MVP: John Brown

I’m not sure the John Brown addition could’ve gone much better for the Bills. After pursuing the 29-year-old receiver last year, Brown signed a three-year, $27M contract in March. In his first season with the Bills, Brown led the team with 72 receptions, 1060 yards, and six touchdowns. Brown is the Bills’ first wideout to surpass 1,000 yards since 2015 [Sammy Watkins, 1047].

What has been most impressive about Brown is his instant chemistry with second-year QB Josh Allen. When the pocket started to collapse, Allen often looked for Brown, who had 115 targets in 15 games. With two years left on a team-friendly deal, the bond between Brown and Allen should continue to blossom next season, especially if the Bills add a few more weapons on offense.

John Brown will finish the regular season with 72 receptions, 1060 yards and 6 TD.

Cole Beasley will finish with 67 receptions, 778 yards and 6 TD.

bUt ThIs Is HoW Bad TEAms StAY bAD

— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 29, 2019
Honorable mention: Cole Beasley

It’s hard to praise Brown without giving some love to Cole Beasley. Like Brown, Beasley had an exceptional first year with the Bills, finishing the regular season with 67 receptions for 778 yards and six touchdowns. As teams started to put more of an emphasis on stopping Brown, Beasley provided the Bills with a mismatch in the middle of the field. With three-years left on his contract, Beasley should be the go-to guy up the middle for years to come.

Defensive MVP: Micah Hyde

In the Bills home opener against the Bengals, safety Micah Hyde noticed cornerback Kevin Johnson was lined up in the wrong spot. Before the ball was snapped, Hyde ran over to Johnson and pointed for him to move to the other side of the field. A few seconds later, Johnson recorded an easy sack and it was further proof of the importance of Micah Hyde to the defense.

While his stat line doesn’t jump off the page, Hyde is the glue that holds the Bills’ defense intact. He makes adjustments on the fly, plays a responsible game and makes everyone on the defense better.

Most underrated: Matt Milano

It’s easy to overlook the impact Matt Milano makes on defense until he’s not able to play. In the one game the Bills played without Milano [Week 7 vs. MIA], the defense looked out of sync and a step slow. While Bills fans fully appreciate how talented the third-year linebacker is, he is still far from a household name around the league.

With only one year left on his rookie contract, Milano is going to get a hefty raise and he deserves it. Keeping both Milano and MLB Tremaine Edmunds together for the next several years should be a priority for the front office.

Rookie of the Year: *Tie* Ed Oliver & Devin Singletary

The Bills have their running back of the future. Devin Singletary spent the first few weeks of the season sharing the workload with veteran Frank Gore but has solidified the starting job since. The 2019 third-round pick finished the regular season with 775 yards on 151 carries [5.1 yards per carry]. Along with two rushing touchdowns, Singletary added two receiving touchdowns and 29 receptions. Barring a major surprise, Singletary will likely be the Bills feature back next season and he’s earned the promotion.

Devin Singletary & Frank Gore explain what it’s like sharing a backfield and why they’re so close #Bills @WKBW pic.twitter.com/Vfsq9mO5Yb

— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 24, 2019
On defense, it took Ed Oliver a few weeks to get going but he has been dominant since the Bills Week 11 trip to Miami. With every passing week, his role on the defense increases and he’s becoming a problem for opposing offensive lineman. Arguably his best game came on the big stage, registering two sacks in the Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys. Along with rookie tight end Dawson Knox, both Singletary, and Oliver should have fans excited about the potential of the 2019 draft class.

Rookie with the most still to prove: Cody Ford

Cody Ford left a lot to be desired during his first season in Buffalo. More often than not, Ford was the weakest link on an offensive line that did a pretty good job protecting Josh Allen. Working in a rotation with veteran Ty Nsekhe, Ford took over the job after Nsekhe was injured during Week 11’s game against the Dolphins.

In his first game back, Nsekhe was once again injured in the third quarter and was carted off the field with an ankle injury. If Ford is forced to start in the playoffs, that could be a big mismatch for opponents.

Ford’s early struggles don’t mean he won’t turn into a solid starter down the line — but it also means the Bills should consider drafting another right tackle or addressing the position in free agency. Perhaps Ford is better suited at guard.

Most improved: Shaq Lawson

You could argue Shaq Lawson has been the Bills’ most effective pass rusher this season. Jordan Phillips leads the team with 9.5 sacks but Lawson’s consistent pursuit and explosion off the line have been a pleasant surprise in 2019.

After an injury-plagued start to his career, Lawson was declined his fifth-year option by the Bills and has made an impression since. At the beginning of the season, the 25-year-old defensive end said he would use that as motivation and it has worked. With 6.5 sacks, 32 total tackles and a forced fumble Lawson is having his best season as a pro. Deciding what to do with Lawson and Phillips is going to be something to monitor in the offseason. With plenty of cap space, the Bills can look to bring both players back. But they might prefer to use their money elsewhere and keep plenty of cap space.

LVP: Trent Murphy

When Trent Murphy signed a three-year, $22.5M contract last year he was expected to bring the Bills someone who could consistently pressure the opposing QB. After missing three games last season, Murphy said at the beginning of this year he was starting to feel like himself again. But the production hasn’t consistently been there.

Murphy finished the 2019 regular season with five sacks, two of which came in a meaningless win against the Jets in Week 17. While Murphy has shown flashes, more often than not he’s been the forgotten name on the Bills defensive line. With a cap hit of nearly $9M next season, don’t be surprised if the Bills part ways with Murphy before his final year of his contract. If he’s brought back for another year, he’ll need to be far more productive to be worth his contract.

Team MVP: Tre’Davious White

This one way pretty easy. In his third season with the Bills, Tre’Davious White has cemented himself as one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. Some experts have even thrown White’s name into the conversation for defensive player of the year. And while I think he should be considered, I’d be shocked if a CB from the Bills took home the award.

White finished the regular season with six interceptions, tying him with Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore and Vikings CB Anthony Harris for the most interceptions in the NFL. White added 17 passes defended, 48 solo tackles and two forced fumbles on the season. Signing White to an extension should be of the utmost importance in the offseason as the market for cornerbacks continues to rise. He’s one of the best players at his position and the biggest reason why the Bills had one of the best defensive units in the league. He’s also a great goalie.

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Without Stephen Hauschka, the Bills wouldn’t have been close against the Houston Texans.

In the end, many would’ve preferred the kicker to stay away from the field. At least until after touchdowns for an extra point.

Buffalo blew a 16-0 lead against the Texans in their Wild-Card showdown, as the story goes. The Bills only had one touchdown on the day, failing to get into the end zone besides their opening drive.

A bit overlooked? Hauschka, 34, was 4-for-4 kicking in the game. But wait, there’s more. He tied things up on a 47 yarder to send the game to overtime. No pressure there, right?

While most wanted Hauschka to stop before he got started, he told the Buffalo News he didn’t want to stop at four. He was ready for No. 5… specifically, the game-winning kick.

“I was hoping I was going to get that chance to win the game at the end,” Hauschka said.

Unfortunately that chance never came. Texans kicker Kai Forbath got his chance and converted a chip shot instead. There’s always next year?

That seems like a real possibility now, at least.

Hauschka had his struggles this season. His 2018 season wasn’t very bright, and he ended up with the same conversion percent in 2019, 78.6 percent. That’s down from 87.9 percent in 2017. Along with the playoffs, Hauschka also settled down toward the end of the Bills’ season, despite going 1-for-5 from 50-plus this season.

While not 50, he did hit the game-tying kick from 47, again, so… worth noting.

“I felt like I kept us in the game,” Hauschka said. “It’s an emotional game. Everybody put everything out there that they could. We didn’t get the job done and it makes us hurt. We’ll heal and recover from this and this will motivate us in the offseason to train even harder, to come back even more focused.”

Repeatedly the Bills and head coach Sean McDermott expressed their confidence in Hauschka this season, even during his struggles. The one telling move was a wavier claim the Bills put in for Chase McLaughlin. Hauschka beat McLaughlin out for the Bills’ job in training camp, but eventually McLaughlin impressed with the Chargers this season, went on waivers, and was claimed by the Bills.

The Colts got him due to the waiver wire order, though.

More recently, the Bills did subtly give a nod of confidence for Hauschka once again. Kaare Vedvik was signed by the Bills on Tuesday. He’s a dual-threat kicker and punter.

But the Bills made sure to specify that he was going to battle Corey Bojorquez for their punting job when announcing Vedvik’s signing, not Hauschka’s job.

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills hired former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Eric Washington on Friday to become their defensive line coach.

Washington has 12 years of NFL coaching experience. His future with the Panthers was uncertain under newly hired coach Matt Rhule.

Washington succeeds Bill Teerlinck, who left Buffalo this week to become Virginia Tech’s defensive line coach.

In Buffalo, he’s reunited with head coach Sean McDermott and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Washington coached Lotulelei as the Panthers defensive line during McDermott’s tenure as the team’s defensive coordinator.

Washington is best known as a defensive line specialist. He will oversee a unit that helped Buffalo make 44 sacks — the most in five seasons — and had seven in a 22-19 overtime loss to Houston in an AFC wild-card playoff on Saturday.

Buffalo, however, was inconsistent against the run despite allowing the third-fewest yards offense in the NFL last season.

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The news from Jerry Hughes on Twitter after the Buffalo Bills season about a wrist injury has piqued the interest of the NFL.

After the Buffalo Bills loss to the Houston Texans, Jerry Hughes tweeted out that he had been playing with torn ligaments in his wrist. This was possibly a contributing factor to the down season Hughes had in terms of sacks, with only 4.5 sacks during the regular season

It is certainly commendable that Hughes was trying his best to help the Bills win while obviously fighting through what was likely a painful injury. Defensive ends are constantly using their hands while trying to beat the offensive linemen in front of him.

However, this news has raised some concerns from the NFL and they have opened an investigation into whether or not the Bills violates rules by not noting the injury on their weekly injury report, according to Buffalo News.

The issue for the NFL, and why they are investigating, is that Hughes was not listed on any injury report all season for a wrist injury. The only times Hughes appeared on the injury report was Week 11 and Week 12 due to a groin injury that forced him to miss three practices and limited for another over the two weeks.

Hughes is the longest tenured player on the Buffalo Bills but only had 23 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. However, the veteran pass rusher had his best performance of the season in the playoff game against the Houston Texans, when he had three of the team’s seven sacks.

In the past when teams were found to have violated this rule, they have been fined with the Oakland Raiders fined $20,000 in 2018 and more recently the Detroit Lions fined $75,000 for their reporting of Matthew Stafford’s injury in December.

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The 2019 campaign for the Bills was dubbed ‘The Climb’ by head coach Sean McDermott, and the team made a number of positive strides through the course of the season. While their top-five defense continued to excel, Buffalo’s offense blended together as the season wore on and special teams found its footing in the return and coverage games. The results were the team’s first 10-win season this century and an AFC Wild Card playoff berth.

We take a look now at some of the team’s standouts, who were instrumental in making the season as successful as it was.

Offensive MVP: John Brown

Buffalo’s offense was in need of a jumpstart for their passing game after the 2018 season. Not many saw John Brown as a viable number one target, but he proved to be in every way for the Bills. Brown put together the team’s first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2015 (Sammy Watkins) and was tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns. Four of those six scores came in the fourth quarter including his Week 1 game winner against the Jets. He even threw a TD pass in the win at Dallas.

3 key takeaways from Sean McDermott’s season-ending press conference | Quick Hits

Defensive MVP: Tre’Davious White

Buffalo’s top cover man truly had a breakthrough season in 2019. Tied for the league lead in interceptions with six, White also had the league’s second-lowest passer rating allowed in coverage with a mark of 46.3. His 17 pass breakups on the season was almost twice that of the Bills next closest player in that category (9) and ranks fourth in the league.

Most Improved Player: Josh Allen

The Bills quarterback grew into his role in his second NFL season raising his completion percentage, his yards per attempt, his touchdown to interception ratio and his passer rating. He also reduced his average time to throw from a league high 3.22 seconds in 2018 to 2.86 seconds this season.

Allen also orchestrated four fourth-quarter comebacks in 2019 and led the league in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with nine.

Breakout Player: Jordan Phillips

Phillips play in 2019 was nothing short of dominant. The defensive tackle led the AFC in sacks by a defensive tackle with 9.5. He finished second in the league to L.A. Rams DT Aaron Donald (12.5). Phillips was also second on the team in QB hits with 16. Stout in the Bills run front, Phillips helped lead Buffalo to a top 10 ranking against the run.

Hon. Mention: Shaq Lawson

Most Promising Player: Tremaine Edmunds

One of Buffalo’s two every-down linebackers, Edmunds led the team with 115 tackles on the season. He also ranked second in tackles for loss (10), tied for second in pass breakups (9) and contributed four QB hits, 1.5 sacks and an interception.

Hon. Mention: Matt Milano

Top Rookie: Devin Singletary

The ‘Motor’ really didn’t get revved up until just after midseason when he began to handle the majority of the rushing load, but Devin Singletary was very productive in his rookie season. He finished first in the league in yards per carry average for running backs with at least 150 carries (5.13). Singletary also finished the season strong with 100 yards or more from scrimmage in four of his last eight games.

Unsung Hero: Jordan Poyer

The Bills safety was one of three players with over 100 tackles, and one of two players with production in every single defensive category. The team leader in both forced fumbles (3) and fumble recoveries (3), Poyer also contributed a pair of interceptions to finish second to White in total takeaways (5).

Hon. Mention: Trent Murphy

Biggest X-Factor: Andre Roberts

Though he did not take a return the distance, Roberts was very consistent in providing quality field position for Buffalo’s offense. He was the main reason the Bills ranked first in the league in average drive start (27.6) and fifth in the league in kick return average with a personal return average of 26.6.

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Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson might become “former Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson” in a few weeks.

Lawson had his best season as a professional in 2019, notching 6.5 sacks, second-most on the Bills (Jordan Phillips, 9.5) and he led the team with 13 tackles for loss.

But Lawson wants to set the bar even higher in 2020, regardless of the team he’s on. Lawson took to social media this week and moved things up.

“Great year, but I am coming for 10-plus sacks,” Lawson posted.

While a pending free agent, Lawson did express a desire to return to Buffalo during the team’s locker cleanout day, saying he’d “love” to be back. However, Lawson also indicated that he would have to make an understandable “business decision,” as well.

Most importantly, Lawson doesn’t appear to be taking this personal. The Bills could have locked Lawson up for next season, but declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. That’s something that Lawson said motivated him to have a career-year.

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The Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets have battled through rainy, windy conditions in a sloppy game reminiscent of a preseason tilt thus far. At the half, the score is 3-0.

For the Bills, their number-one goal was to exit the game with everyone at full health. That won’t be the case, as cornerback Levi Wallace suffered what appeared to be a fairly serious ankle injury in the first quarter. He is doubtful to return this week, but he was unable to put any weight on the ankle at all, so his status for next week looks doubtful, as well.

Josh Allen started the game for Buffalo and was largely ineffective for his two series, although he wasn’t asked to do much. Frank Gore leads the team in touches, as he has run the ball effectively all afternoon. He has six carries for 26 yards, and he also leads the team in receiving, catching three passes for 16 yards thus far.

Buffalo’s backups on defense have held the Jets’ starters on offense in check, as the team could only muster a field goal. Kicker Sam Ficken also missed a 51-yard kick on the team’s first drive. Sam Darnold has completed 15-of-23 passes for 122 yards. He also was intercepted by Wallace on the play where the latter injured his ankle. Le’Veon Bell has 12 carries for 45 yards, and Jamison Crowder has five catches for 39 yards.

Defensive back Siran Neal briefly left the game with what appeared to be a stinger, but he was back on the field later in the second quarter. The Bills have employed a heavy rotation thus far, with multiple backups seeing more time than normal. Jaquan Johnson had an interception nullified by a Kurt Coleman personal-foul penalty. Darryl Johnson Jr. has seen a majority of the snaps at defensive end. Julian Stanford has played middle linebacker. Lorenzo Alexander was given a curtain call in the first quarter. It’s been a quintessential Week 17 game.

Matt Barkley threw an interception at the end of the first half, giving the Jets an opportunity for more points heading into intermission. However, Ficken missed his second field goal, this one from only 34 yards out, leaving the score 3-0. His make came from 30 yards out.

This is your second-half thread, ladies and gentlemen. Go Bills! Stay healthy!

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Here are my hot reads from the Buffalo Bills’ 13-6 loss against the New York Jets Sunday at New Era Field.

Hottest topic
Now that the Bills have gotten their regular-season-finale/preseason game out of the way, they can turn their attention to what actually matters: The playoffs.

The Bills will face the Houston Texans next weekend at NRG Stadium. The Texans became the opponent once the other potential foe, the Kansas City Chiefs, scored a 31-21 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday to lock Houston, which won the AFC South championship, into the fourth seed.

Conventional wisdom is that the Texans are the much better draw, because the Bills have a far better chance of beating them. The primary advantage to facing the Houston is the Bills avoid going against Chiefs dynamic quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

However, the Texans are expected to have dominant defensive end J.J. Watt back from injury. They also play a sound scheme, under veteran defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, that is rooted in the same concepts as those used by the New England Patriots, who formerly employed Crennel. Quarterback Josh Allen could have his hands full.

The Bills’ defense could have issues against Deshaun Watson and the rest of the Texans’ passing game with multiple injuries to the secondary suffered Sunday.

Well done
Allen exiting the field healthy Sunday after only two possessions, and Matt Barkley taking over the rest of the way.
Defensive end Trent Murphy had two sacks while receiving extensive action because fellow end Shaq Lawson was inactive with an injured hamstring.
The Bills making cornerback Tre’Davious White, receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, running back Devin Singletary, and tight end Dawson Knox inactive for the game.
The Bills calling a timeout just before the snap of the Jets’ second offensive series to remove linebacker Lorenzo Alexander from the game and allow him to receive an ovation. Alexander is expected to retire after the season. His daughter, Zoie, sang the national anthem, and Alexander gave her a hug at midfield afterward.
Ice cold
The Bills losing cornerback Levi Wallace and offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe to what appear to be serious ankle injuries. Wallace was injured late in the first quarter while intercepting a Sam Darnold pass. His right foot looked to catch in the turf, causing him to bend his ankle awkwardly. Offensive guard Quinton Spain rolled up on Nsekhe’s right ankle, which Nsekhe had previously injured and subsequently missed the five games preceding the encounter against the Jets. As a precaution after Wallace’s injury, the Bills took third cornerback Kevin Johnson out of the game and replaced him with safety Dean Marlowe.
How desperate were the Bills for secondary help? After cornerback Taron Johnson left the game late in the fourth quarter after Jaquan Johnson stepped on his right foot/shin, receiver Isaiah McKenzie was inserted at corner.
Barkley threw two interceptions and lost one of two fumbles. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 165 yards and had a passer rating of 41.5.
Setting the table
The day and time of the Bills-Texans wild-card playoff game weren’t immediately revealed by the NFL. This marks the Bills’ second postseason appearance since 2017.

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Taron Johnson and Joey Banks go way back.

“It was in Pop Warner, but we weren’t friends. We didn’t become friends until probably high school,” said Johnson, Buffalo Bills cornerback.

“We played for two different Pop Warner teams growing up. Obviously I played for the better team. We got close in high school. We started training with the same group of guys in high school and it just grew from there, the relationship just grew from there,” said Banks, University at Buffalo safety.

Growing beyond their home of Sacramento, California as they continued their football careers.

“When I was getting recruited I always said that I’d probably end up somewhere where I never expected and Buffalo for sure somewhere I never expected to be,” said Banks.

Banks transferred to UB in 2018, a few months before the NFL Draft.

“I was in the cafeteria, the student café, eating, watching the draft with some other teammates and Buffalo was up on the clock and I seen Taron Johnson go across the screen. I said, ‘Hold on, what? He’s coming to Buffalo too?’ It was just crazy how it happened. I didn’t believe it, but I was super proud of him,” said Banks.

“When it happened it felt kind of unreal already and then it wasn’t until probably about 30 minutes later I’m like, ‘Oh, Joey, we’re going to be in the same area.’ That just made me even more excited to come,” said Johnson.

That bond tested during their first fall in town, both fighting injuries, but leaning on each other to work through them.

“Just control the things that you can control. Don’t worry about the stuff that’s going on on the outside because that can play with your mind and might put negative thoughts into your head or you might second guess yourself sometimes. But if you just focus on controlling the things that you can control, and helping him and him helping me get through that, it kind of helps,” said Banks.

“I know just talking to him that what happened to me, yeah, having surgery, OK, but I can definitely get through it. I can definitely come out a better player, a better person, when I’m healthy again. Even when I was out five weeks when I pulled my hamstring, even with that, he just helped me stay in it, ‘Just keep focusing and control what you can control.’ That was the biggest thing with me, him being in my ear talking to me about that because for a while when I was hurt, it was just kind of messing with my head a little bit,” said Johnson.

Both bounced back this season, with Johnson back in the slot for 10 games with the Bills and Banks a first-team All-MAC corner for the Bulls.

A perfect finale that Johnson believes should bring Banks right where he is once again.

“I told a couple scouts, though. I already told a couple scouts that he’s a dog. I’m not just saying this. I’ve watched him play since seventh grade, sixth-seventh grade and he can play in the NFL. I know that. And hopefully I have the opportunity to see him, whether he’s on this team or he’s on some other team and has an opportunity to play,” said Johnson.

Just like Pop Warner back in Sacramento.