2021 Buffalo Bills Regular Season Rewards
ORCHARD PARK, NY [WKBW] – As the Buffalo Bills focus on the playoffs, it’s time to look back on the players who helped the team land their playoff tickets.
Here are our rewards for the 2021 regular season:
Offensive MVP: Stefon Diggs
Despite declining production from 2020 to 2021, Stefon Diggs is an elite receiver and a shift that benefits the Bills every week. Diggs is the first receiver in franchise history to complete with several 100 receiving seasons.
As his receiving and distance totals declined in 2021, Diggs finished with more touchdowns  than in 2020 . Diggs is one of the top five receivers in the NFL and the Bills would be wise to rely on him in the playoffs.
In the first half of their regular season finale, the Bills targeted Diggs a ton and that’s when their offense was most effective. Quarterback Josh Allen said after the game that Diggs’ decrease in workload would allow him to be ready for more playoff targets. When Diggs rolls, so do the Bills and they’ll need him to advance to the playoffs.
Defensive MVP: Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde
Yeah, it’s a bit of a loophole, but it’s almost impossible to recognize one of the safeties and not the other. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde both had impressive seasons and helped take the Bills’ defense to a new level.
Without Tre’Davious White in the home stretch, the safeties increased their play in passing coverage while helping the defense stop the run. [usually]. Poyer and Hyde have each had five interceptions this season and are tied for fourth in the NFL. Hyde signed an extension ahead of the 2021 season and has two years left on his contract. Poyer is entering the final season of an extra time he signed before the 2020 season.
Rookie of the Year: Spencer Brown
At the start of the 2021 season, I certainly didn’t think Brown would be the Bills’ most successful rookie as the team heads into the playoffs. After a good start for first-round pick Greg Rousseau, the young pass thrower who calmed down appeared to hit “the rookie wall” for the middle part of the schedule. His inconsistencies shouldn’t be a major concern, especially since he didn’t even play football last year.
As for Brown, he has also been inconsistent this year and has had a few issues with penalties. But what the third round pick brought to the offensive line is so important. His ability to line up with the right tackle allowed the Bills to slide 2020 starting right tackle Daryl Williams to keep.
After Williams struggled early in the season on the tackle, this guarding move helped the whole line. When Brown ran out of time while on the COVID-19 list, the Bills line struggled. Brown’s play has been a pleasant surprise this season and he looks like someone this team can build with for years to come.
Unsung hero: Ed Oliver
Ed Oliver has become a big problem for opposing attacks. In the first half of the season Oliver made his presence felt but the numbers weren’t there. In the second half, Oliver exploded and collected 3.5 sacks in the Bills’ last three games.
He and Harrison Phillips, with whom he has often been lined up, have gained more playing time and responsibility on this defense. When the inside line creates pressure, the Bills edge rushers are much more likely to get past the quarterback. This was evident against the Jets when Billa netted nine sacks, the most they’ve had since 2011, when they had ten against Washington.
Most Improved: Dawson Knox
In an interview earlier this season, I asked Dawson Knox how many times he’s heard Zach Ertz’s name during the offseason. He said he felt like every day he would hear or see something about the Bills improving the tight final position ahead of the 2021 season.
Knox used that chatter as motivation and put on his best season as a pro. The Bills’ third-year tight end has more than doubled his numbers from 2020 in almost every major category.
Knox finished with nine touchdowns in 2021, four more than in his first two seasons combined. He also finished the regular season with 49 catches for 587 yards, a significant jump from the 288 receiving yards he had last season.
MVP: Josh Allen
Josh Allen may not be in the conversation for NFL MVP this season, but he is by far the Bills MVP for the second straight season. Even with a slight drop in stats from 2020, Allen cemented his status as one of the NFL’s top young quarterbacks.
In 2021, the Bills star quarterback threw for 4,407 yards and 36 touchdowns. Allen added a career-high 763 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Despite his impressive numbers, Allen threw five more interceptions this season than last year.
Ultimately, Allen is the lifeblood of this team. When they’re at their best, they’re a tough team to beat. As the playoffs approach, he is their most important player.