The Bills make me wanna shout! Yes sir, indeed they did with a thrilling 17 point comeback to seal a 17-16 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. Despite 3 rather subpar quarters of football, QB Josh Allen rallied in the 4th quarter & went 8/10 with 102 yards and a TD to seal the deal. Wins like this indicate that this may be a team that doesn’t roll over when down in years past. The Bills won’t win every game in this fashion, but defeating a division rival to start the season is key in the march to the playoffs.
The only notable injury sustained in Sunday’s win was CB Taron Johnson (hamstring). The 2nd year cornerback suffered a hamstring strain early in the 3rd quarter with 12:58 left on a 2 & 10 play in which Jets C Ryan Kalil was called for hands to the face. Replay doesn’t show Johnson in the TV view & an alternate angle only shows him briefly running over the middle going left before coming up with what looked to be a painful hop.
Reviewing All-22 footage, the sideline view is the only instance where the injury can be observed. Johnson was tasked with covering WR Jamison Crowder in the slot. Crowder runs forward & then to his left up the middle with Johnson keeping pace with him. This occurs for about 25 yards & the injury occurs about when the play shows to be whistled dead.
It appears that Johnson is beginning to decelerate or slow down causing the hamstring to eccentrically contract. An eccentric contraction is when the muscle lengthens under load. In this case, running forces the hamstring to contract but lengthen while stepping forward and trying to slow down. Considering he was going full speed, this is most likely the cause. The video angle is tough to determine but it looks like his right hamstring is the side affected when he came up hopping.
Johnson was later interviewed by ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques in which Johnson reports he felt a pop as he was running. He was scheduled to have an MRI Monday to determine the severity.
Considering Johnson felt a pop, this was the muscle tissue tearing as it does when a strain occurs. How much tearing indicates the graded severity. Reports indicated he was able to walk under his own power to the locker room.
On the knowledge that he felt a pop, he was able to walk off, & he was dealing with a groin injury during the preseason, my initial assumption is that he suffered a Grade 1 or mild Grade 2 strain. This may have been a compensation injury due to the groin not fully assisting in slowing the speed down. Based on this information, I suspect that he misses at least 1-3 games, possibly more if the injury is more severe than I theorize.
If Johnson is unable to go as expected, CB Captain Munnerlyn or CB Lafayette Pitts may be an option to bring in for a short stint. He is a veteran with minimal injury history & understands the defense. He may be best suited for this over S Siran Neal who appeared to be at times a liability when having to fill in for Johnson.
Besides Johnson’s injury, WR/KR Andre Roberts missed the opener with what sounds like a quadriceps strain. He was able to practice last Monday which consisted of stretches and individual drills. He then missed Wednesday & Friday’s practices, ruling him out. Quad strains typically require stretching, rest, and light strengthening along with ramping up activity as tolerated. The team may have been cautious in holding him out to avoid further problems.
TE Tyler Kroft continues to work back from the broken foot sustained in OTA’s without any apparent setbacks. There are several clips of him over the past 2 weeks working through drills without any compensation. I believe that he has to get up to game speed & conditioning which may take another 2 weeks which could put him at the home opener barring any setbacks.
Outside of those injuries, the only other issues I saw were QB John Allen having to scramble and take several hard hits with one appearing to faze him for a moment early on. While his legs are a weapon, the Jets knew this & keyed in to reduce his chances. While scrambling is great to have, opening himself to injury is not ideal.
Overall, it was a great win & minimal injuries. The next two weeks of Giants & Bengals may provide some early key wins for momentum going into the Patriots Week 4 showdown. Considering the Patriots added in WR Antonio Brown to their stables of WR Josh Gordon, WR Julian Edelman, & WR Phillip Dorsett, the Bills will have to be at their healthiest to keep the playing field level.
If an injury does occur, the Bills finally have depth at each position that will allow them to still play effective football until starters return. This team is finally built for depth, hopefully, the depth keeps the ship afloat.