Despite a dominant performance by the Buffalo Bills last Monday night against the Tennessee Titans, the team suffered significant losses in their secondary. The losses in question were All-Pro safety Micah Hyde and starting corner Dane Jackson, who both suffered serious neck injuries. Already down with All-Pro corner Tre’Davious White, Buffalo is certainly looking thin in their defensive backfield.
Fortunately for the Bills, Jackson’s scary injury —occurring as a result of a head-on collision with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds — won’t mark the end of his season. The team announced Tuesday morning that Jackson did not suffer any injuries to his neck or spinal cord — a sigh of relief for every Bills fan considering Jackson’s critical part in the team’s defensive scheme. Unfortunately, Bills Mafia was hit with very negative news regarding the status of Hyde. Early Saturday morning, Micah Hyde’s agent announced that his injury will hold him out for the remainder of the season.
With this loss, Buffalo turns to fourth year player Jaquan Johnson and their 2021 sixth round draft pick Damar Hamlin to step up and fill Hyde’s shoes. Johnson was the immediate replacement for Hyde on Monday night, yet he has only started one game in his entire career. Hamlin is also short of experience, as he only recorded two tackles in the entire 2021 season, playing a limited number of snaps. This lack of experience still causes uncertainty as to whether or not the Bills can solely rely on their current roster to fill a pivotal role in their pass defense.
This past Sunday’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins certainly was a true test for both backups, as they faced off against the NFL’s fastest receiving duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. For the majority of the game, the duo was kept in check by the Bills’ brand new safety pair, but were at times exposed. Especially in the second half, Waddle was found downfield for big gains that put the Dolphins ahead for their eventual 21-19 win over Buffalo.
Since it is still early on in the NFL season, Bills general manager Brandon Beane could turn to the free agent market to cash in on a safety with experience if Hamlin and Johnson do not meet the team’s expectations. Another simple option for Beane could be turning to other teams and acquiring a safety through trade. Some possible options could be Quandre Diggs from Seattle, or even Jessie Bates from Cincinnati. Both safeties have an array of experience at the position that Buffalo could benefit from, especially if they want to maintain their chances of winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl this season.
However, the Bills faithfully believe in their backups to step up and do their job, spreading the quote “next man up” all over social media to express love for both Hamlin and Johnson as they step into a major role for the rest of the season. Similar to their fanbase, Bills players also believe in their backups to fill the team’s huge void at the safety position. During an interview last week, All-Pro Linebacker Von Miller said that every great team he’s been on has dealt with injuries to key players. He added that every year backups take advantage of those opportunities and turn into stars. Losing Hyde is no doubt a devastating blow to the Bills’ defense, but an amazing opportunity for both Johnson and Hamlin to step up and make a name for themselves.
Although they fell short to Miami this past week, Buffalo’s offense has proven to be no joke, led by MVP candidate Josh Allen who has been lighting up the competition so far. If Buffalo wants to stay in the win column and show strength through both their offense and defense, they will certainly need to get their secondary together and make the necessary moves to complement their impressive offense.