1 - Tremaine Edmunds came close to team record in rookie season
The Bills asked the world of Tremaine Edmunds in the 2018 season, and he answered with a historic rookie campaign.
On paper, the idea sounds crazy, starting a 20-year-old who had never played the middle linebacker position at the center of your defense. However, the responsibilities that come with running an NFL defense were not too much for Edmunds, who tallied a team-high 121 tackles in his debut season. His awareness improved as the season progressed, culminating with a 12-tackle Week 17 performance in which he looked an established veteran.
Edmunds was only 39 tackles away from breaking a team record in his rookie season. Had he not missed a game due to a concussion he'd have been even closer. With 121 combined tackles, Edmunds now sits at second place on the list of Buffalo defenders who recorded the most tackles in their rookie season. Only Kiko Alonso recorded more tackles in his debut campaign (159 in 2013).
Edmunds also nearly broke the team record for most quarterback hits by a rookie. Edmunds totaled seven quarterback hits in his rookie season, just three removed from the 10 that Marcell Dareus tallied in 2011.
Edmunds came close to breaking a few team records in his rookie season. The 6-foot-5 defender, however, has just started to scratch the surface of his potential. Shattered records will likely come as Edmunds continues to mature.
Continued growth is what Edmunds is focused on most.
"Just trusting my instincts, trusting what I see out there, not thinking as much and just reacting," Edmunds said during an appearance on One Bills Live. "I'm still building each week to try to get to that point where I can just play free all around. As I continue to grow and develop, that'll come."
2 - How Derek Anderson helped Allen emerge
He was thrown onto the front line just 12 days after signing with the Bills.
When Derek Anderson inked a one-year deal with Buffalo in late-October, not even he expected to see considerable playing time. Instead, the 14-year-veteran was brought in to pass his knowledge onto rookie quarterback Josh Allen. A Week 6 injury to his mentee forced Anderson to take the reins of the Bills' offense less than two weeks after signing with the team.
"It's a little bit weird, but I literally showed up, and in a week I had to take command of our offense," Anderson said. "I just went and did what I do, I didn't change anything, good or bad."
Anderson's stint as Buffalo's starting quarterback did not last long, as he suffered a concussion in his second start. Though Anderson didn't find much on-field success with the Bills, it was his off-field efforts that earned him a one-year extension with the team. Anderson helped Allen adjust to the professional level while the rookie was sidelined with an injury, propelling the 22-year-old to a breakout second half in which he tallied 1,718 total yards and 13 touchdowns.
Anderson started to mentor Allen by adjusting his approach to practice, a work-ethic that translated to in-game action.
"Just kind of how I envisioned practicing with him, the demand that we put on our guys in walkthroughs and practice, just kind of the way that we need to go about it," Anderson said. "I think him watching that, both Matt [Barkley] and I going through that, it helped him. We grew because of it.
"During our walkthroughs, we became more focused. Our reps in practice, we were getting more out of them. We can just continue that. I don't have all the answers, I'm just a resource for him to use. I think our conversations that we had in our room were good, and obviously he finished the season right."
3 - Josh Allen: Buffalo is my home
The players who become fan favorites in Buffalo are typically those who form a connection with the people of Western New York, who display the city's blue-collar work ethic on the field and embrace the region itself.
There's a reason why a number of athletes who only played in Buffalo for a short period of time still call the area home. There's a communal feeling in the region, one that isn't found in many other major league cities. Buffalo fans embrace those who represent them as one of their own, and they appreciate it when an athlete reciprocates the love.
Josh Allen is an example of a player who has adopted Buffalo as his own home. The quarterback started professing his love for the Queen City immediately after the Bills selected him in the 2018 draft, describing himself as a "big [chicken] wing guy" who was excited to make Buffalo his home for the foreseeable future.
After his rookie season, Allen's feelings toward his new home haven't changed. In fact, he's only formed a deeper bond with the people of Buffalo and the city itself, and he's eager to further ingrain himself into the community as his career progresses.
"[Playing for Buffalo] has been awesome," Allen said. "This is my home now, Buffalo is. I'm super excited and grateful to be a part of this community, a part of this franchise, a part of this city. It's not like many places, and I take pride in that in seeing the kind of example that Kyle [Williams] has set forth and how he embraced this city and how I intend to embrace this city. I'm super fortunate to be here."