The unexpected “retirement” of fan favorite center Eric Wood has left the Buffalo Bills one lineman shorter than intended this offseason. Ryan Groy was universally expected to slide into the lineup without a significant shakeup, and we analyzed what he brings to the table in January. With the signing of former Cincinnati Bengals free agent Russell Bodine, it’s natural to wonder if a camp battle is in the team’s near future.
Bodine was drafted by the Bengals in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. If starting experience matters to the current coaching staff, Bodine’s has two perfect attendance awards to his name in four years. He has never played fewer than 91% of snaps in a season, and has started every game since being drafted. He’s durable, but is he any good?
Note: The week five game against the Bills was selected for the majority of GIFs as Rumblings fans should be more familiar with the quality of competition in this case.
Oft-maligned head coach Marvin Lewis has remained with the Bengals for well over a decade by proving over and over that he has a clue. This play illustrates how much coaching matters. On paper, Russell Bodine gives up few sacks and here’s why. The initial frame shows that the defender is lined up to Bodine’s left side. The Bengals are consistently coached to have the applicable guard (Clint Boling in this case) help out Bodine. Centers do usually help out the guards, but observation on Bodine suggests a lack of faith in allowing him to be one-on-one.
Bodine is set up one-on-one with Adolphus Washington. To gauge the o-line it’s helpful to know that they should be losing, but slowly. On this match-up then, Bodine is clearly winning as he doesn’t yield any ground at all. One thing to note about Bodine here and elsewhere is that it’s surprising he isn’t called for holding more often. He’s questionably in the “frame” of Washington with his hands. Washington has poor technique here. Bodine is good enough to rate well against poor competition. Even still, when Adolphus decides to disengage, Bodine struggles to prevent him from breaking free.
Bodine wins again! This time against the star of the show, Marcell Dareus. This play is selected less for Bodine’s play than Dareus’. Note the lack of leverage as Dareus stands up immediately and doesn’t really decide how he wants to attack Bodine until much too late. For any fans still wondering why Marcell was traded, here you go. For Bodine’s part, his hands are on the fringe of holding yet again, and even a poor showing by Dareus isn’t completely negated. Marcell’s left hand is able to pop free easily enough to almost make the play, and when the big man has had enough he frees himself from Bodine handily. This is a win for Bodine to be clear, but it’s fool’s gold to expect this on the regular.
To be fair to Russell Bodine, this horrendous of a play isn’t frequent. Buuuuut...it’s not a play that should happen to a center. Ever. Brandon Williams owns Bodine from start to finish. While not this bad in most cases, Bodine loses one-on-ones regularly, illustrating why the Bengals have the guards assist him whenever possible.
The general commentary surrounding the Bills signing Bodine left it questionable if any positive would be found in game reviews. Bodine is surprisingly fast and agile when pulling. He’s on the move immediately and shadows his man quite well on this play. As a lead blocker, this was top notch.
Here’s another taste of pulling to prove it’s no fluke. This play could be dead in the water without Bodine. As a result of his block it’s a solid gain. If Bodine makes the starting lineup it should send a message loud and clear that the Bills plan on having a lot of pulls and motion from their line.
Let’s close on a fairly ordinary-looking play. Domato Peko gets the one-on-one here. Bodine’s initial shove is actually pretty good, and disrupts Peko. However, Bodine’s inability to effectively continue the hand fighting allows Peko to outmaneuver him. Peko circles around quite easily and makes the play. Better hands, footwork, or strength means Todd Davis (51) makes the play rather than Peko. The result is the same, but at least it wouldn’t be Bodine’s fault.