Well, Week 3 is in the books and we may have a surprising rising star on our hands. Terrel Bernard filled the hole left by MLB Tremaine Edmunds this season, but we couldn’t have expected what we’ve seen from him so far.
The Buffalo Bills originally took Bernard a year ago in what was deemed by many as a wasted draft pick. Opinions have changed rather swiftly.
Any replacement for Edmunds was expected to be a significant downgrade. It was simply an understood fact for most fans. His absence was especially felt after the team failed to acquire a replacement in the draft or in free agency. Preseason woes had many concerned about the position being a liability.
It seemed as though Tyrel Dodson was set to take over, getting the reps with the starters for much of training camp. With his experience in this defense, and similarities to Edmunds, Dodson seemed an acceptable choice. It wasn’t a mark of fault against Bernard, but rather an expectation that McDermott wouldn’t change the defense, and Dodson was a better fit.
Until the end of the preseason, when Bernard came to the fore, and Dodson seemed to lose favour with the coaching staff. The 53-man roster was announced and, whilst it wasn’t a shock, it wasn’t a thrill to hear Terrel Bernard named the starting middle linebacker. Sean McDermott has ensured we weren’t filled with glee at the thought of any of the group starting at middle linebacker.
“Right now, I think there’s room for improvement, quite honestly”– Sean McDermott on the MLB Competition in preseason, via buffalobills.com
McDermott’s words echoed in the hearts of fans across the nation.
The Bills signed veteran Christian Kirksey to the practice squad. Hope was made for a better tomorrow, but it didn’t come, as he retired shortly after Week 2. Still, that was a week of positivity for fans, aside from that announcement, as the Buffalo Bills were themselves again. We seemed to have our starter already on the roster.
The Terrel Bernard Breakout
What we’ve received these past two weeks has been nothing short of startling. Much like his predecessor, Bernard currently leads the team in tackles (24), but it’s not the routine plays that have been blowing us away. He’s already matched Edmunds’ single-season records in both interceptions (2) and sacks (2).
Bernard is having an impact that, so far, has outshined any and all expectations of him.
After Week 3, with his phenomenal performance, he was given AFC Defensive Play of the Week honours.
The Long Road Forward
Now, we know it’s early. Terrel Bernard has been given his flowers for Weeks 2 and 3, but he has plenty of tests on the horizon, with a brutal schedule for the Bills still looming. But, if he kept this up, he’d probably lead the NFL in interceptions; We’ll settle for more of the same.
Still, his showing thus far lends great promise. He and Matt Milano are excelling in part due to the improved defensive line play in front of them. Sean McDermott’s aggressive style has kept his linebackers clean and available time and time again. It’s up to the defense as a whole to determine how well Terrel Bernard plays into Week 4 and beyond.
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