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Buffalo Bills 2020 Vision: Is Justin Zimmer the Next Star Lotulelei?



Well, last night happened. The only thing that I can say about the game is that it could have been worse. The Bills only lost by nine against the defending Super Bowl champions. (I’m not claiming a moral victory, just stating facts.) Despite a poor defensive effort, there were a couple of bright spots: A.J. Klein finally did something useful, stripping the ball out of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s hands before halftime, while Mario Addison recorded his third sack of the season.

However, it can be argued that no player had a greater impact on defense than defensive tackle Justin Zimmer. In 32 defensive snaps last night, he recorded six total tackles (including two solo and one for loss), a hit on the quarterback, and almost had a forced fumble. He was also effective in a limited role week one, tallying four total tackles and a tackle for loss on 16 snaps. At this point, Zimmer is arguably one of the better defensive linemen on the Bills roster and deserves a promotion from the practice squad. In fact, he reminds me of one Star Lotulelei. So, in this installment of “2020 Vision”, we will be investigating whether Justin Zimmer is, in fact, the next Star Lotulelei.

Consulting the Ancient Scrolls (Stat Lines)

Justin Zimmer

Star Lotulelei

So far this season, Zimmer already has more tackles for loss (TFLs) and quarterback hits than Lotulelei had in his first season on the Bills. Additionally, he already has 10 total tackles, almost one-third of Lotulelei’s total over two seasons in Buffalo. Additionally, Zimmer has more total tackles and TFLs than Jordan Phillips has so far in 2020. Yes, Lotulelei’s main defensive contributions came from his ability to take on multiple blockers at the line, but it is still impressive to see Zimmer achieve similar statistical production IN TWO GAMES!!!


Justin Zimmer (#61) tackles former Jets RB Le’Veon Bell. Courtesy of Cape Breton Post.

It is clear that the Bills miss Star Lotulelei this season. We, as Bills fans, overlook his ability to take on blockers and free up other defenders in run defense. However, Justin Zimmer has been their most effective run stuffer, effectively filling Lotulelei’s shoes. He has worked hard in practice and made the most of his opportunities on the field. He is the quintessential “process” defensive lineman. So, if McDermott is serious about reshuffling the defensive line, then he should sign Justin Zimmer to the 53-man roster and give him an expanded role in the rotation.

Author Notes

* All player stats provided by Pro Football Reference.

So, what do you think? Is Justin Zimmer the next Star Lotulelei? Does he deserve a greater role on the defensive line? Let me know on Twitter (@zvaughn2712).