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The Curious Case of Tremaine Edmunds



Tremaine Edmunds is one of the most polarizing players on the roster. A majority of the fanbase believe he has not performed well during his tenure. Edmunds has often been subject to criticism as his impact on the game is not so simple that it will bounce off the box score.

His Role

Now let me preface this: Tremaine Edmunds is not an elite linebacker. He just is not. However, there is a lot of gray area between elite and not good. Edmunds finds himself somewhere in between. When evaluating Edmunds, it is important to understand the responsibility that he has in the Bills defense. The Bills ran a nickel defense 90.3% of the time this past season, generally having slot corner Taron Johnson in the lineup as opposed to another linebacker. With the lack of a true 1 tech DT, Edmunds primarily two gaps as a linebacker. Simply, he is responsible for occupying two gaps in the run game.

While this is not a world breaking ask of a linebacker, it is the explanation for the lack of “splash plays” that Edmunds makes (relative to expectations). Should he crash into one of his two gaps recklessly trying to make a tackle, he would then leave the other gap vacant; this goes directly against what is asked of him. It should also be noted that splash plays – or a lack thereof – are not an indicator of defensive success.

Stopping the Run

We all love seeing Matt Milano blow up a running back behind the line of scrimmage, but a player like Milano has more freedom to make those plays. The nickel package leaves the middle of the field vacated, and the reason we are able to successfully run a primarily nickel defense is because of the large frame and mobility of Tremaine Edmunds.

A major point of criticism is Edmunds’ ability to stop the run. There is a narrative among most of Bills Mafia that Edmunds struggles in the run game. The tweet below shows advanced numbers comparing Edmunds and his run stopping ability in comparison to some of the other linebackers in the league, including Matt Milano.

Kendall Mirsky on Twitter: “If Edmunds doesn’t make an impact and he’s below average; does that mean anyone below him is trash? 🤔#Bills #GoBills #BillsMafia / Twitter”

If Edmunds doesn’t make an impact and he’s below average; does that mean anyone below him is trash? 🤔#Bills #GoBills #BillsMafia

So what do these numbers mean? Well, for one, Edmunds is just outside the top 10 league wide in missed tackle rate, and tied for 19th in run stop percentage. His average depth of tackle is tied 18th but, remember, he is responsible for two gapping. His ability to “blow up runs” is severely limited. The role Edmunds serves is to guide the ball carrier into the strength of the defense. He is not on the field to do his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression and terminate the ball carrier.

Pass Defense

In the pass game, it should be noted that metrics used for grading coverage are flawed. If a QB goes through his progressions and checks the ball down and Edmunds makes a tackle after a four yard gain, Edmunds may receive a poor grade by some metrics. However, in that specific instance, the ideal play in the philosophy of the Bills defense is to encourage the QB to check down. This is not to say Edmunds is an elite coverage linebacker, because he is not. It is simply a note of the flaws in the grading systems. It does not tell the whole story.

Long story short, the Bills were the number one ranked passing defense in every category that matters. They thrived off of forcing teams to pass the ball and play catch-up to the short wearing stud wearing 17. Edmunds was responsible for the middle of the field on a majority of passing downs. The secondary is mostly responsible for this feat. However, the secondary could not do what they do without Edmunds. His impact in the pass game is not something that can truly be measured via fancy graphs or numbers.

Like every player in the league, there is plenty of room for criticizing Tremaine Edmunds. As a fan base, if we are going to criticize a player, we should at least understand what their job really is.



  1. Brian

    May 6, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    Tremaine Edumnds is NOT any kind of All-Pro. What a ridiculous statement.

  2. Anonymous

    April 26, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    It is the norm for some Bills fans to zero in on one player that they have an issue with. Tremaine Edmunds is a polarizing player with a unique physical capabilities and I believe he still hasn’t reach his full potential. AND he’s a four-year veteran at 23 years old. Not to mention a 2x Pro Bowler, 1st Team All Pro, and has led the Bills in tackling since he was drafted. He is still scratching the surface of what WILL be very special. Even though the defensive line has been sub-part the past four years, he has still managed to play at a high level despite the naysayer opinions. Let’s keep in mind that the it’s easy to point out what players should be and shouldn’t be. He is highly recognize throughout the league and should he blossom this year into what the organization invested in him, don’t be surprised if he commands a king’s ransom to which other teams will go after. And then the crying will began just like when Marshawn Lynch got sent to Seattle and won a Super Bowl. Appreciate what you have naysayers. TRUST THE PROCESS!!!!! IN BEANE, WE TRUST!?!?! #GOMFBILLS

  3. Vlad The Impaler 🇺🇦 (@Bills__Mafia)

    March 13, 2022 at 8:12 pm

    I agree with the article. In 4 years, He has 2 FF. 4 INT. 5 Sacks. That’s roughly 1.2 turnovers a season. A starting MLB needs to give you MORE than THAT. Especially for 10+ mil a year. He needs to work on his crossing route D. He cost us the TB game. The only upside I see is he’s still just 23! And its hard to wanna change your MLB when your defensive unit ranked #1

  4. Randall PeQueen

    March 12, 2022 at 12:42 pm

    It was our defense that ultimately was the reason the Bills didn’t win a SB this last year. YES, it can be argued it was our offense (score one more time against Jacksonville and we’re at home against KC) but the style of defense the Bills play left them highly over-rated and I’m not sure where Edmunds fits in there.

    14 of the 19 games we played were against QBs who were all in the bottom half of the league in QBR. (seriously, take a look at our QB opponents this last year) We averaged allowing only 12 points per game and went 11-3 against those teams. The other 5 games, against QBs in the top half of the league, we averaged giving up 34 points per game and went 1-4 against those teams.(yes, you read that right)

    Those numbers, in that context, are profound and if it’s the nickel defense to blame then it needs to be fixed and Edmunds needs to be used much differently. Either way his production and role in the defense isn’t what it should be from an individual and team combination standpoint. Especially for what he’ll want to be paid, and WILL be paid by a team who decides to use him ‘properly’. Big plays against out defense in completely missed gaps are a main factor in the Bills not getting one more win that could have changed everything and those types of plays are a HUGE factor in the Bills 0-5 record in one score games. It might look like an offensive problem but outside of J-Ville we scored enough points that we should win those other games.

    I like Edmunds… a lot… but every player has a different realistic potential and Edmunds is below his regardless of the reason.

    • Hard Body 69

      March 12, 2022 at 12:50 pm

      This is a really long comment I like edmunds hair

  5. AG

    March 11, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    Good article. But it damns Tre with faint praise. Essentially it says Tre doesn’t tackle well and doesn’t cover well but he takes up space well. Understood and valid but the expectation is for more.

  6. Mark Troutman

    March 11, 2022 at 9:42 am

    One of the main reason, perhaps THE main reason I love football is that it is the ultimate team sport, and Edmunds is an exemplary team player. He trusts the system, leads the system, and makes the system work. He’s the glue that holds the defense together.

    • Nick Schupak

      March 11, 2022 at 10:00 am

      Hear hear! Couldn’t agree more. What happens if we try and replace him? Maybe we get better or maybe we get worse. But we know that as long as he is our MLB we can be a top ranked defense. The odds dictate that we ought not only to keep him around but lock him up for good!

  7. Dudemansir

    March 11, 2022 at 8:45 am

    I think you are missing the point here, most Bills fans don’t think Edmunds is trash, they just don’t think he deserves elite linebacker money and you have done nothing in this article to really convince me otherwise.

  8. Anonymous

    March 11, 2022 at 8:00 am

    None of those guys are receiving $12+ million garunteed, money could be spent elsewhere than an average MLB

  9. boybraingirlbody

    March 10, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    Appreciate the earnest analysis on this one. I often find myself disappointed in the all-too-typical outrage of fellow Bills fans, at those who like to type on social media platforms. Tre is our guy and he’s terrific. It shouldn’t be too difficult to see that his responsibilities are vast. The assumption, therefore, that a bigger, stronger, faster stud can handle the nuances that enable Edmunds to anchor the league’s best defense is erroneous.

    Let’s stick with the [player] we know rather than risk anything on the [player] we don’t.

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