Skip to main content

Decoys? Selflessness? How the Bills playmakers are willing to sacrifice for team success

Emmanuel Sanders (1), Cole Beasley (11), Stefon Diggs (14). Buffalo Bills vs Washington Football Team at Highmark Stadium, September 26, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert
Emmanuel Sanders (1), Cole Beasley (11), Stefon Diggs (14). Buffalo Bills vs Washington Football Team at Highmark Stadium, September 26, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert

There's no I in team, and the players on this Bills roster fully understand that. 

The Bills are 4-1 heading into Week 6 for the third consecutive season. Unlike the past two seasons, Buffalo heads into the matchup against the Tennessee Titans with the No. 1 scoring offense and the No. 1 scoring defense. 

Even with all the success that team has had, some players like Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis who made a handful of impact plays early last season haven't had their number called as much this season. One thing that sets them apart from the pack is that they don't complain about it. They put the team before themselves and know that the team's goals are more important than their stats. 

Josh Allen told the media after practice that he is getting paid to make sure the ball gets to the open receiver - whoever that is. Knowing that there's only one ball to go around, he appreciates the selfless nature in all of them, but especially Beasley.

"Cole's a vet," Allen said. "He's been around this league for a long time. He's a huge piece of our offense and he understands some games we're going to need him more than others. And I think everybody on this team understands that, but he's ready to go at all times. I've got no loss of faith or confidence in him, and I know he feels the same way. He just wants to help this team win football games and whatever the case may be for that, he's willing to do."

Beasley has around 100 fewer receiving yards compared to the first five weeks of the 2020 season and still has yet to find the end zone. Stefon Diggs only have one touchdown so far this season, and Gabriel Davis, who shined his rookie season, only has four receptions this year. Diggs, who continues to grow as a leader of this team every day, preaches to the younger receivers to be ready to take advantage of your opportunities whenever it comes. 

"A guy like Gabe, I told him, 'You're a young player and gonna have a long career.'" Diggs said. "Right now, I know you want more targets. But then you got to look at Bease, I know Bease wants more targets. I know E (Emmanuel Sanders) wants more targets and the running backs want more targets. Everybody wants the ball and there's only one to go around. All we can do is control what we can control."

This situation is unique, and it shows the amount of talent and depth that Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have assembled on this Bills team. The offense has proved that the unit is difficult to defend because of the many pieces that Brian Daboll can plug and play on a week-to-week basis. McDermott trusts that his players will continue to put the team first as the season goes along and believes that going through adversities will only make them better in the end. 

"It's hard when you don't get the football," McDermott stated. "I get that, there's only one football to go around and sometimes it's not just one game, it's two games, or it's three games and how are you going to react? That's some of what we look for in the character of our players because you're going to go through some adversity, you're going to go through some adverse times in your career or during a season, and how a group of people can stick together says a lot."

One of the reasons that the production for Beasley and Diggs hasn't been there is because of the stellar year they both had in 2020. Opposing defensive coordinators have seen what they can do with Allen and will try their best to slow them down. As a result, it has opened up more opportunities for Emmanuel Sanders and Dawson Knox. So far this season, Sanders has 19 receptions for 322 yards and four touchdowns. Knox has 18 receptions for 261 yards and five touchdowns. 

Playing the role of a decoy isn't the most appealing option for any wide receiver. But the selfless bunch that the Bills have understand that even if they aren't catching the ball, they are helping the offense thrive. For Diggs, he is thrilled that it's not all on his shoulders and is happy to be on a team like this. 

"Everybody is going to play you different," Diggs said. "Different teams have different schemes, different schematics and different ways they want to do things. It's all predicated on the week. I'm lucky to be on a team that has talented guys. I'm lucky to be on a team that it's not always on me. I can do my job and feel confident in doing my job."

Jordan Poyer discusses how well Bills Mafia travels to Tennessee

This Monday's game against the Titans will mark the fourth consecutive year that the two teams have played each other. This will be the third straight game played in Tennessee and it's a fact that Bills Mafia loves to rock the house in Nashville. Jordan Poyer knows that it's going to be a tough matchup against the Titans and he's glad the fans will be there in full force to root them on.

"Oh yeah, you feel them," Poyer stated. "It's awesome to see. I know Bills fans travel really well to Tennessee - something about Tennessee, I don't know what it is - but Bills fans love Tennessee. You definitely feel it. It's a lot of energy. You can tell the fans on the road – when there's a lot of them – they try to be louder than the home fans. That's always really cool to see when you're out there on defense and you're pumping the crowd up at an away game. That's something you don't get everywhere other than here."

Taron Johnson explains his emotions after signing a contract extension last weekend

The Bills announced that Taron Johnson signed a three-year contract extension this past Saturday. It was much deserved for the Bills nickel corner who has been a key player for this Bills defense since midway through the 2020 season. The Bills' 2018 fourth-round pick has made 211 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions during his time in Buffalo. His most notable play came last year in the divisional round playoff game where his record-setting 101-yard pick-six sealed the win for the Bills. 

From the start of contract negotiations, Johnson always knew he wanted to stay in Buffalo and is glad he got the deal done now.

"It was a blessing," Johnson said. "Honestly, I just really wanted to focus on the game (against the Chiefs) and not be too much worried about me signing, because I understand that could be a distraction. I just didn't want it to be a distraction. … I'm just thankful for this opportunity and just want to continue to put my best foot forward."