If you’ve been following the weekly snap counts you may have noticed an odd trend. The Buffalo Bills are hardly putting fullback Patrick DiMarco on the field on offense. His high-water mark so far this season came against the Minnesota Vikings when he logged 12 offensive snaps. All told, he’s seen the field a mere 25 times through four games. Let’s review 40% of his playing time and see what the Bills have been up to at the fullback position.
Here Patrick DiMarco is doing some typical fullback work. DiMarco and LeSean McCoy go to opposite sides of Nathan Peterman. As DiMarco sets up one lane, Vlad Ducasse pulls to make another. Shady has to quickly choose which lane to go with after the play starts. He chose...poorly. McCoy tries to cut back but it’s too late and actually collides with DiMarco. This was his entire game on offense against the Ravens.
As you’ll see, the Bills haven’t been shy about letting DiMarco run a route from the fullback spot. Quite often he finds a soft spot. This is however the only time a quarterback has decided to actually throw it to him. Josh Allen and DiMarco are out of sync. DiMarco looks inside for the ball and has to come back and make a diving grab to the outside. There’s almost zero yards-after-catch as a result.
Near the end zones the Bills are more likely to bring DiMarco in, whether it’s scoring position or backed up on the wrong side of the field. DiMarco is likely looking to block in case Allen decides to scramble on this play. He does look back in good position to make a catch however. A flick of the wrist and this might have been a touchdown (don’t worry, see the next play).
DiMarco was made the second-highest paid fullback in the league by Buffalo for a reason. He’s a good fullback. The ability to stop his man at the line clears just enough room for Chris Ivory to punch the ball in for a touchdown. DiMarco has been used often in short yardage situations. If there’s a Josh Allen quarterback sneak, there’ll be DiMarco—slamming into Allen to push him forward a bit more. The Bills haven’t had much in the way of short-yardage situations so far this year and it’s likely DiMarco sees more playing time if the Bills start seeing more third-and-short.
There’s been a few of these too. DiMarco isn’t a downgrade at the receiver position, but arguably he may have been more effective blocking this running play from the fullback spot.
There haven’t been too many plays where Patrick DiMarco has been asked to help in pass protection. This snap and another chip or two and one actual blocking assignment have been it. DiMarco hasn’t been the only back mostly absent from this role either. The Bills have been reluctant to have any of their backs help Josh Allen out by blocking.
It’s unfortunate that Allen can’t get the ball to the wide open DiMarco on this play as there’s a decent chance to move the sticks. This play was set up well by Brian Daboll. They used a similar formation including motion from DiMarco twice earlier in this game against the Vikings. The first time was a lead block for Ivory on a running play. The second was right before this play on what also appeared to be a run (Allen fumbled so we’ll never know for sure). DiMarco sells the block as if it’s the same play call. The defense bites and he’s wide open.
Despite DiMarco’s above average speed and agility for a fullback he’s been rarely used to block to the outside. He does his job well, and perhaps some more of this could help jump-start the Bills’ offense.
There’s a lot to like about Patrick DiMarco but he’s hardly perfect. He doesn’t get enough of the block and the lane he’s there to clear shuts fast (though it’s not completely his fault).
As they say, “always end on a high note.” DiMarco’s low snap counts don’t seem to be the result of poor play. His success here leads to a few more yards.