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Cordy Glenn’s injury-filled 2017 leads to shaky roster status with Buffalo Bills

With question marks surrounding key pieces of the Buffalo Bills, we take a look back to see who should be retained.

Despite rumors of a position change becoming something of a running joke, Cordy Glenn has locked down the left tackle position for the Buffalo Bills since 2012. Glenn has started 77 games since then, with three consecutive 16-game seasons tucked in. Injuries were problematic in 2016 and 2017, with Glenn only appearing in 6 games (starting 5) this past season. Lingering foot/ankle issues led to Glenn being placed on injured reserve in mid-December. With a seemingly ongoing exodus of high-priced players, Glenn’s contract and injuries concerns have led to questions about his future with Buffalo.

Reliable statistics are few and far between for offensive lineman so this will be a rare occasion that leaves out any semblance of raw data. Stats aside, Glenn has been lavished with praise for athleticism and talent over the years, while occasionally being dinged for inconsistent play.

Run blocking

If there’s an aspect of his game that comes across as inconsistent, it would be the run game. Glenn has the size and strength to get good push, but doesn’t always make it happen. That being said, it’s difficult to chalk this up as a complete negative, as he’s rarely driven back either. As an anchor, he’s dependable. Beyond the trenches, Glenn demonstrates the speed and agility to get to the next level to block, and when he finds someone to hit it’s usually a success.

In limited 2017 action Glenn often looked shaky in run support, with lower body injuries likely factoring into his overall strength. Glenn never looked completely comfortable bearing his own weight, let alone that of others. Compounding this were changes in blocking schemes and techniques that didn’t seem to suit Glenn. Fans might recall linemen diving to cut down defenders on run plays early this season under Rick Dennison. Glenn didn’t seem comfortable with this style of blocking, with mistimed dives leading to poor contact.

Pass Protection

Glenn’s ability to protect the QB was mostly intact in 2017 despite injury. A large part of this is due to a decreased need to drive an opponent back. Glenn was able to successfully anchor when needed, despite losing some power with the foot/ankle issue.

A greater portion of why Glenn’s pass protection skills weren’t hampered is due to how unconventionally he plays the position. Several aspects of Glenn’s game stand out in comparison to many peers that helped him be effective even when injured.

A major component of the job for left tackles on passing plays is the need to create an effective bubble around their QB. This has to be done without being able to see where the QB is at any given time and requires a good deal of confidence and awareness. As a result of the above, tackles will often step up or pause to meet a rusher and initiate contact early in the play. This increases the size of the bubble and theoretically ensures a better (larger) pocket for the QB. Here’s a couple “not Cordy” left tackles to take a illustrate.

Glenn typically doesn’t do things that way. Instead he generally chooses to avoid contact as long as possible and slide more directly back. While this does create a smaller pocket initially, let’s use math and a terrible drawing to demonstrate why this can be quite beneficial for a tackle.

Cordy Glenn And Tyrod are likely self explanatory. This week’s guest edge rusher is Laserbeak. Glenn’s responsibility is to protect the gray part of the bubble/pocket. As shown above, many tackles will move along the brown line to initiate contact as soon as possible and increase the size of the pocket. Glenn typically moves somewhere between the two blue lines. To beat the tackle, edge rushers often have to go around. From a geometry perspective, the lighter and more agile rusher will often head straight back (like Laserbeak does) and try to bend around the tackle to gain an advantage. This turns the contest into a footrace where the rusher can gain a physical edge due to speed. By moving along the blue line, Glenn makes his path shorter, making it easier to win the race. More importantly, it allows him to keep his footwork tighter which is beneficial for balance. Edge rushers who try to cut back inside or use a spin move often find that Glenn is still well anchored. It can be a somewhat subtle thing, but immensely beneficial if done well. Here’s a Glenn GIF that shows him pass blocking on two plays. On one of these, his usage of the tighter path helps him disrupt two defenders when the Jets try to stunt their way past Richie Incognito.

For futher comparison, here’s another tackle you might recognize that goes by the name “Jason Peters.” Because of his injury this season, the clips come courtesy of his 2013 first-team All-Pro seasons. Take a minute and compare Glenn to Peters, and you can see a similar play style.

Decision time

Trade rumors are loud with Glenn, but the cries for a reset at QB ring louder still. Glenn’s position is paid at a premium for a reason. If it’s expected that he’ll rehab well from his injury, he’s more than adequate at playing what is arguably the second-most important position on the team. Unless the Bills aren’t telling us something about his injury, or he’s used as part of a deal to land the next QB savior, the Bills would be wise to keep Glenn.

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