Buffalo Bills: It’s about time the Bills let the young players play

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Coming off a 41-10 blowout of the New York Jets on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills finally let their young players play and they were rewarded big time with career performances across the board.

Through the first 10 weeks of the 2018 season, it is fairly evident that the Buffalo Bills are not going to finish the season with a winning record and have a major lack of talent.

The team struggles mightily on offense and can barely string a successful drive together. On a consistent basis, they fail to get the ball in or anywhere near the end zone.

However, Week 10 against the New York Jets was something different from the Bills than what we have seen in the first nine – young players making an impact.

For whatever reason – either continued struggles or needing time to develop – the team decided to give more playing time to several players in their first or second year of their professional careers.

Rookie guard Wyatt Teller earned his first career start, rookie corner Levi Wallace was called up off the practice squad and received his first career start, rookie receiver Robert Foster once again made his way to the active roster and had a career day, tight end Jason Croom received his first start of the season and Zay Jones had his best career day.

All five of those players have the potential to be pieces of the team moving forward, but Sunday’s game allowed the fans and the coaching staff to see what they are working with for the rest of the season.

Wide Receivers

Including Zay Jones in this conversation is somewhat of a stretch because he has been the team’s best receiver throughout the season, but his best day as a pro came on Sunday.

Jones reigned in eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, showcasing what he can do this season with a competent quarterback throwing him the ball. Sunday was his coming out party, and while he has performed well all season, we saw the potential that made him an early second-round pick last season.

On the other hand, Robert Foster has seen time with the Bills previously this year and seemed lost. Despite being a deep threat, Foster never really seemed to be open deep. On Sunday against New York he got open down field and made the catches he needed to make. With only three catches, Foster managed to record 105 yards and be the player the team needed him to be. His explosiveness helped stretch the defense and allow the team to do more on offense.

With Josh Allen coming back, it will be interesting to see if the two can finally find each other as they have missed one another on several deep passes this season. With Foster’s speed, Allen’s arm, and Kelvin Benjamin’s inability to catch the football, Foster could see a big boost in playing time and make himself a player that the team needs to spend more time on.

Tight End

Jason Croom was pushed into a starting role with Charles Clay being hurt, and while he didn’t record any catches, he did recover a Zay Jones fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. I have been a huge Croom fan since training camp because he is big but a fluid athlete.

A former wide receiver in college, he has the abilities to stretch a defense and create mismatches all over the field. He may not be as good of a blocker as Clay, but with his size and athleticism that is something he can improve at.

Even when Clay comes back, I hope the team continues to utilize Croom and play him over Clay. Clay is older, more expensive and injury prone. Croom should be the tight end of the future and get a majority of the playing time moving forward.

Offensive Line

Wyatt Teller picked up his first career start on Sunday against the Jets and I was impressed. The fact that you rarely heard his name other than for the fact it was pointed out he was starting meant that he played a solid game.

Waiting this long to play the fifth-round selection means he most likely needed some extra time to get prepared, but it looks like he is here to stay. With a young quarterback and a young left tackle next to him, Teller could continue to develop with more playing time and become a reliable player along the line for the future.

Cornerback

Levi Wallace was signed off of the practice squad this week and the Bills had enough confidence in him to start him right away. Buffalo released Phillip Gaines earlier in the week and that was great news for Wallace as he had a solid outing in his first career start.

Wallace had a nice pass breakup over the middle, using his long arms to get in the passing lane. While he isn’t the biggest as he is just shy of 180 pounds, he started at Alabama for several seasons and clearly has some level of talent.

Moving Forward

While not all of these players are guaranteed to be starters or even on the roster next season, getting them playing time now and having them go through repetitions on the field will allow the team to see if they should cut ties with these players, develop them further, or if they found players to be part of their winning recipe.

At 3-7, the remainder of the season should be about the development of the rest of the roster. More players such as Conor McDermott, Ike Boettger, Jeremiah Sirles, Logan Thomas, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Isaiah McKenzie, Ryan Lewis and others should see more playing time, especially with each of those positions expected to see some sort of turnover next season.

Next. Bills dominate Jets in unexpected offensive explosion. dark

The Bills did the right thing by playing their young players on Sunday against the Jets – and it paid off. While it not always will, giving those players the opportunity to make plays and learn can go a long way for a team that hopes to be on the rise.