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Bills Today: Playing 'together as one' the plan to stop Mariota


1 - Playing 'together as one' the plan to stop Mariota

Buffalo's defense has played well through the first four games of the 2018 season.

The Bills' defense is currently the league's 14th best. The unit has played exceptionally well against the run, allowing an average of just 95.3 rushing yards per game. That's good for 11th in the NFL.

Part of the group's success has to be attributed to Tremaine Edmunds, a rookie linebacker who has served as Buffalo's defensive signal caller. Through four games, Edmunds has totaled 30 tackles, four pass deflections, and one sack.

Edmunds and company will have their hands full this weekend when they go up against Marcus Mariota and the Titans' talented offensive group. Mariota has steadily improved as a passer throughout his NFL career, and he's currently posting a career-high 66.2 percent completion percentage.

Tennessee's rushing attack is also incredibly dangerous. Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry make for a lethal combination of speed and size, and Mariota is known to make plays with his feet from time to time, as well.

Stopping the versatile Mariota won't be an easy task for Buffalo's defense on Sunday. According to Edmunds, playing as a complete unit will give the team an opportunity to succeed.

"Yeah, anytime you've got a quarterback that's mobile like that, that's always going to be a little bit of awareness out there, because, you know, you have to worry about containing him and also defending everything else around him," Edmunds said. "But it's going to be up to us. Great eye discipline, just play together as one, make sure we're on the same page."

2 - Zay Jones: Bills are 'building in the right direction '

Buffalo's 2018 season hasn't gotten off to an ideal start.

Through four games, the Bills sit at 1-3. They've been outscored 106-50. It's easy to point out the negatives surrounding the team, as many have. Wide receiver Zay Jones, however, doesn't feel as though enough people are talking about the positive strides the Bills have made.

Jones, who currently leads the team in receiving yards with 144, thinks that Buffalo has made considerable progress throughout the season. Even when games have gotten out of hand, the Bills have fought to the end. Jones credits the team's resiliency to the coaching staff.

"Coach [Sean] McDermott preaches finishing, and that's something I take great pride in is finishing a game, finish what you start," Jones said. "I'm not a quitter, there's no quitters on this football team. That's not what we breed. That's not the environment that coach is building. It's all about finishing."

The second-year receiver realizes that Buffalo could have started the 2018 season off on a better note. However, he has seen progress within the team, something that he thinks will eventually lead to wins.

"I know that things are a work in progress for us," Jones said. "Everyone likes to point out all the mistakes, rightfully so, but there's a lot of good things that we're doing really, really well, and that I'm very proud of Josh [Allen] for doing and this team for doing. We're building in the right direction. We have a great opponent coming up, and [I'm] looking forward for the matchup with these Titans."

3 - Taron Johnson among PFF's top rookie cornerbacks

Rookie cornerback Taron Johnson exceeded expectations in training camp and the preseason, and through the first four weeks of the 2018 season, he has continued to impress his coaches and teammates.

Johnson, whom the Bills selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, won the team's nickel cornerback job in the preseason. He has shined in that spot through the first three games of his professional career, recording 14 tackles and one pass deflection. He made a huge impact in Buffalo's Week 4 matchup with the Green Bay Packers, forcing a fumble and recording a sack.

With his strong play, Johnson has caught the eye of Pro Football Focus. Through Week 4, Johnson has an overall grade of 68.2, the fourth-highest grade amongst all rookie cornerbacks.

Denzel Ward, Jaire Alexander, and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the only rookie quarterbacks who have higher overall grades than Johnson at this point in the season. All three of these defensive backs were selected in the first round of the 2018 draft.

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott has been pleased with Johnson's play thus far.

"He's a dog in a good way," McDermott said. "That's what you have to have. You notice it; you feel him out there. For a young player to have made that type of presence known from that nickel position is huge for our defense. He's a little banged up with the shoulder, but he goes out of the game [and] comes back in. He wants it and I've been very pleased with his progress to this point."

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