The Bills returned to practice Wednesday afternoon after a "mini-bye" following their 24-10 victory over the New England Patriots as they turn their attention to their next opponent, the New York Jets.
Bills vs. Jets rematch
The last time the Bills faced the New York Jets back in Week 9, the end result did not tilt in Buffalo's favor. The 20-17 loss turned into a learning lesson for the Bills, and they hope to bring what they've learned since to the field this weekend.
"Obviously last game (vs. Jets), I didn't feel like I played very well," QB Josh Allen said. "I made some boneheaded decisions but learning from those and just trying to make good decisions, and end every drive in a kick, whether it be a punt, field goal, or a PAT.
When looking at what the high-effort Jets group has to offer, Allen pinpoints their strong play on the defensive side of the ball and the playmakers they have on both sides. But since their last meeting at MetLife Stadium, the QB feels his offense has trended in a positive direction, especially in their run game.
"Establishing that run game is very beneficial, whether it's play action pass or just the thought of running, keeping defenses in check that way," Allen said. "But every game that you play is going to be a different situation and you have to adapt, and I think we're better equipped now to adapt."
As for the Bills' defense, they are preparing for a slightly different Jets offense that is now led by quarterback Mike White. While the Bills saw White last season in a 45-17 victory over the Jets, safety Jordan Poyer shared that White is playing with more confidence this season, in how he's seeing his reads and how he's getting the ball out of his hands and in the hands of his play-making receivers.
"He's feeding the ball to a bunch of different guys, he's distributing the ball throughout the entire offense, he's making quick decisions, and it almost seems like the energy of the football team is a lot higher, playing at a higher level than previously," Poyer said.
Poyer expects White to target rookie WR Garrett Wilson quite often on Sunday. The safety is impressed with the way Wilson runs his routes and his run-after-catch ability, which is a piece of his game the Bills' defense needs to be ready for.
"Tackling is a huge emphasis," Poyer said. "We're going to have to be able to tackle their running backs, and the receivers when they make catches, we're going to have to be able to bring them down to the ground."
The mentality without Von Miller on the field
Before the Bills took the field for practice, head coach Sean McDermott informed his team that edge rusher Von Miller would miss the rest of the season after undergoing successful ACL surgery.
This news came as a shock to all of Miller's teammates. And while this is news nobody wanted to hear, they wish him nothing but the best during his recovery.
"Obviously when you lose someone to that caliber, it's always tough on the football team," LB Tremaine Edmunds said. "In particular, our side of the ball defensively, just because of what he brought to the table."
"He's doing everything he can to help this team win football games," Allen added. "Obviously that's going to be a different role for him now. But make no mistake about it, we're going to miss him. He's definitely a difference maker on the field, but we've got some guys that will step up and try to fill those roles as best as possible. Again, we're all keeping him in our hearts and our thoughts right now and hopefully we can get him back soon and love up on him and show him how much he means to us."
Allen went on to say there's no doubt that the Bills are a better team when Miller is playing, but the next-man-up mindset and the trust instilled in the players GM Brandon Beane brought in for reasons like this will help in rallying around one another on and off the field.
"Guys are going to roll," DT Jordan Phillips said. "This is what this team is built on. This is how Brandon (Beane) built the team, for guys to be ready to go."
Miller is always the first person to find a positive outlook on a tough situation, so his teammates are using what they've learned from the veteran edge rusher and are finding a silver lining to process this unexpected news.
"It gives other guys in the locker the ability to come in and step up," Edmunds said. "Guys like A.J. Epenesa, guys like Shaq Lawson, Greg (Rousseau), and I know those guys are excited for the challenge and for the opportunity."
For defensive end, A.J. Epenesa, he's looking forward to the opportunity that's in front of him. While the defensive line is certainly going to miss Miller, Epenesa said that they're going to prepare like they do every week and go out on the field and be the best they can be in the coming weeks.
"You try to make plays like there's nobody else on the field, so that's the mindset that I have," Epenesa said. "And just kind of keeping that forward and keep kind of putting that pressure on myself so when the game comes, it's nothing out of the ordinary."
The confidence in the defensive line and the team as a whole hasn't changed knowing they will be without Miller in the final weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs. To ensure Miller's presence is still felt, the teams looks to channel their "inner Miller" and step up in big moments and figure out ways to make plays.
"There is going to be adversity every step of the way," Allen said. "Luckily we've got the guys that we do in this locker room … To use leadership and to go out there and, like Von says, 'Don't blink.' … Our main focus right now is trying to go 1-0 this next week against the Jets, who we've already lost to. That's our mindset. That's going to be our mindset going forward. Just win every week."
Check out the best practice photos from Wednesday's practice at 1 Bills Drive.