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Bills Today: Elston the latest example of next man up

Posted Oct 31, 2017

Here's the Bills news of note for Oct. 31st.

1 – Elston the latest example of next man up
Buffalo’s first-year safety, Trae Elston, was tremendous in his first NFL start. He was the next man up in wake of Jordan Poyer’s knee injury. The 23-year-old made the most of his opportunity, tallying a team-high in tackles and catching his first career interception.

Micah Hyde, who started at safety alongside Elston, spoke highly about his performance. Hyde jokingly couldn’t resist critiquing his first pick in the league.

“Awesome. There wasn’t one time out there where I thought Trae didn’t do this or hesitate. He didn’t flinch at all,” Hyde said. “He went out there, he was hitting, and he got a pick at the end of the game. He should have went down but he’ll learn his lesson from that.”

Elston’s interception came in the fourth quarter after the two-minute warning. On Monday, he talked about his special play that sealed the game.

“It felt good, man. Just trying to help the team out, especially to end the game,” Elston said. “I’m glad to grab the pick to end the play and drive… It was to end the game, just kind of a young mistake. I tried to crib it, should’ve gone outside. I was just so nervous catching my first pick my eyes were racing.”

An ability of Elston’s that’s evident is his willingness to stick his nose into plays. He isn’t afraid to go full speed and crack someone. On Sunday the 6-0, 190-pound safety led the Bills in tackles with 11.

Poyer wasn’t able to play against the Oakland Raiders but he was vocal on the sidelines. He was impressed with what he saw from Elston in his absence.

“Trae played a hell of a game,” Poyer said. “Trae did everything he was asked to do and more. I was really excited and happy for him that he could go out there and have the performance that he did.” 

2 - Coaches in-game adjustments paid off
There was some discomfort in the stands Sunday when the Oakland Raiders opened the game with a 13-play, 81-yard touchdown drive. Buffalo’s coaching staff and defense made the necessary adjustments to limit the Raiders offense. After the first drive, the Bills defense shutout the Raiders for two straight quarters and only allowed seven more points in the final 15 minutes.

Head coach, Sean McDermott, talked about his staff making adjustments on the fly.

“Well, I thought Leslie [Frazier] and his staff did a really good job of adjusting… we just collect so much information early in the game and make adjustments,” he said. “You can have a big game plan going in, it’s important that you can adjust throughout the game, especially early.”

The Bills opportunistic ways continued on Sunday with four more takeaways. They also never allowed the Raiders running game to get going, limiting them to 54 rushing yards. Another accomplishment for the ‘D’ was keeping receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree out of the end zone.

Defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, mentioned on Monday how his unit was able to find success.

“Yeah, there were some things that we saw in that first drive that made us believe we had to make a few adjustments. We did that and were able to handle their offense from that point on,” he said. “That happens sometimes and you have to be able to in-game adjust. Fortunately for us we have some smart players who when we talk about doing certain things they can handle it.” 

3 - Hyde leads the NFL in interceptions
Bills safety, Micah Hyde, added another takeaway on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Linebacker, Preston Brown, deflected the pass and it hung in the air long enough for Hyde to corral it. The interception was his fifth on the season and that’s the most in the NFL.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hyde was the Bills highest-graded player on Sunday. Here’s their analysis on how the safety performed.

Hyde had an excellent day in coverage. On 49 cover snaps, Hyde was targeted five times, and allowed three catches for just seven total yards, all to Cordarrelle Patterson. He also made a nice interception after Preston Brown tipped the ball in underneath coverage. Hyde now leads the NFL with five interceptions this season.

Hyde spent his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He was never able to showcase his full potential while playing with the Packers. Eric Eager of PFF talked about Hyde’s strong start this season with his new role in Buffalo.

After four years of being a sub-package role player for the Packers (never playing more than 80 percent of his team’s snaps), Hyde has played all but two of Buffalo’s defensive snaps so far this season, and has helped the Bills’ defense become one of the league’s best.

Hyde has highly contributed to the team’s 17 takeaways this season. The Bills plus-14 turnover differential is by far the best in the league, and Hyde is huge factor in that.