1 - Frazier: Sam Darnold presents challenges
A battle between two of the brightest young quarterbacks in the NFL may unfold this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Sam Darnold and Josh Allen may face off against each other for the very first time when the Jets host the Bills in a Week 10 matchup. Allen, who was selected just four picks after Darnold in the 2018 draft, has missed the past several games with an elbow injury. The former Wyoming Cowboy, however, has been upgraded to day to day on the Bills’ injury report, and he has not been ruled out for this Sunday’s contest.
Though Allen’s game status is unknown, New York head coach Todd Bowles has already confirmed that Darnold will start for the Jets. Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has been impressed with what he has seen from Darnold thus far.
“The little bit that I’ve seen of him on tape, I see a young guy who’s making some progress,” Frazier said. “You can see why they took him with the third overall pick. [He] has the ability to make all the throws and have some mobility as well. He just seems to be really growing in their offense.”
Darnold started his rookie campaign off strong, leading New York to promising a 3-3 start. The rookie, however, has struggled in recent weeks. The former USC Trojan is coming off his worst performance as a professional, throwing four interceptions in the Jets’ Week 9 loss to the Dolphins.
Despite his recent struggles, Frazier still feels as though Darnold is dangerous player.
“I know he had a tough day [Sunday], but you can see the highlights and see the fact that he’s going to be a really, really good quarterback in our league in time,” Frazier said. “He’ll present some challenges for us as we study him a little bit more, but we’ll have to do a good job of preparing and trying to be ready to deal with some of the things that he brings to the table.”
2 - Matt Milano locking down opposing TEs
The way that tight ends are used in the NFL has evolved over the past decade. In years past, tight ends were looked at as additional linemen, players that teams would throw in when they needed an extra blocker at the line of scrimmage.
In recent years, however, the position has been revolutionized thanks to players like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Jimmy Graham. In today’s NFL, tight ends are elite athletes, walking mismatches that teams like to get the ball often.
Unless, of course, that tight end is matched up against Buffalo linebacker Matt Milano.
According to Pro Football Focus’ Austin Gayle, Milano has been a lockdown defender against tight ends in coverage this season.
What [Fred] Warner does against running backs, Matt Milano does against tight ends. Among the 41 defenders with at least 10 targets covering tight ends, Milano ranks first in passer rating when targeted at 61.0.
The list of tight ends that Milano has contained this season is a who’s who of Hall of Fame-caliber players. The second-year linebacker was often matched up against Rob Gronkowski in Buffalo’s Week 8 matchup with the Patriots, holding him to three total receptions. In Week 4, Milano and company held Packers tight end Jimmy Graham to just three receptions for 21 yards.
Milano’s athleticism allows him to match up against just about anybody in coverage, and the Bills take advantage of that aspect of his game quite often. In Week 9, Milano was asked to cover the shifty Tarik Cohen from time to time, holding him to just two receptions for one yard.
3 - Daboll: Pryor will keep improving
Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor made his highly-anticipated Bills debut in the team’s Week 9 loss to the Bears. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old, like the team’s offense as a whole, failed to get much of anything going.
Pryor was targeted five times throughout the contest, reeling in two passes for 17 yards. The former Ohio State Buckeye also attempted one rush in the game, a direct snap that was stopped behind the line of scrimmage.
Although his first outing with the team was a bit lackluster, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is confident that Pryor will continue to learn and gain comfort in Buffalo’s offense.
“I think he just needs to keep improving and keep on working on his conditioning,” Daboll said. “It’s such a short time and we didn’t have a ton of stuff in terms of the package, but he did a good job; he’s a smart guy. Just try to get some chemistry with him and the quarterback that’s going to play.”
Pryor, who played his first game as a Bill less than one week after signing with the team, reiterated his confidence in Buffalo’s offense after Sunday’s matchup.
“Everything, I believe, has a learning curve,” Pryor said. “This is my fourth or fifth day in this offense, and I’m going to keep continuing to preach confidence because, what else do you got? I’m a confident person.
“All we can do is just be confident and keep on getting better. We have seven weeks, eight weeks with the bye. That’s all.”