The Buffalo Bills hosted free agent running back Chris Ivory on Monday, February 26th. After an eight-day process, Ivory and the Bills agreed to terms. Ivory’s 6’0” and 222-pound frame is a mere two inches and seven pounds difference from star back LeSean McCoy, but is known for a more bruising style of play than what Shady brings to the table. Bills fans likely remember Ivory from his three-year stint with the New York Jets, putting up more than one solid performance against his new team.
Ivory will hit the dreaded 30-year mark soon after the ink dries on his signature (March 22nd). With two years straight below 4.0 yards per carry, questions naturally turn to what Ivory can bring to the table for Buffalo.
As noted, Ivory is not significantly larger than LeSean McCoy. The perception of him being a power runner is more about style than raw physics. Brian Orakpo isn’t competition to take lightly, but ideally a power back shouldn’t be stopped so cleanly at the point of contact by an arm tackle. One play can’t capture an entire season, and Ivory did demonstrate better strength at times.
Chris Ivory was often in for pass protection which could be enticing to the Bills. This play shows Ivory’s typical style of driving into the defender and potential pitfalls. Ivory is a little off on the angle of attack. As a result he loses his balance. To be clear, he makes the block and Blake Bortles has a pretty clean cushion from Ivory’s side. Ivory’s aggressive blocking style works well initially, but slower developing plays could be problematic. Who he’s blocking for will likely determine how successful he is at it.
Ivory does everything well while pass blocking on this snap. He quickly scans and finds the right man. Note the same aggressive blocking style as the last play. Here he finds a better angle and this is a “win” for Ivory all around.
Ivory displays some of the reason for his reputation for power running once he starts running after the catch. Also take note of the route. He suddenly accelerates and turns near the line to gain, providing an easy target for Bortles. His 75% catch rate on the year is further evidence of his reliability when called upon.
Ivory has a slight hesitation to make a play here, and the end result isn’t pretty. While the blocking breaks down in front of him, a decisive move here would yield some positive yardage. Ivory isn’t strong enough to shove aside Cameraon Heyward. He also lacks the speed and agility to go around or cut back and make something of this run. The pauses show that the Steelers weren’t selling out on the run either. It’s six on six in the trenches and the defensive backs are giving a big cushion. They weren’t selling out to stop the run, but managed just fine. Ivory won’t make up for mistakes in the scheme, and will need a solid effort in front of him to get going.
And here’s that solid effort in front of him. Everything clicks here and Ivory makes a nice gain.
Giving credit to Ryan Shazier, this is a nice tackle. But, for a true power back it’d be great to see Ivory keep his balance better and keep churning toward the goal line.
In 2017, Chris Ivory showed that he still has plenty to offer despite not quite living up the reputation of a bruiser. Brian Daboll stands as the bigger question mark. Ivory won’t elevate the Buffalo Bills, but won’t do anything to hold them back either.