During the 2017 offseason, the new-look Buffalo Bills’ front office decided to replace every single defensive back on the roster. As part of this flurry of roster turnover, Jordan Poyer was signed to be the starting free safety. Originally a seventh round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2013 NFL Draft, a casual glance at Poyer would not have led to high expectations. Poyer was cut by the Eagles by mid-October of that year and was picked up the Cleveland Browns.
Poyer wasn’t retained by the Browns, who had just finished the 2016 season with a 1-15 record. Skepticism surrounding acquiring a player that wasn’t good enough for that squad was rampant. When the 2017 season concluded, Poyer was seen as one of the largest Pro Bowl snubs in the league.
There’s lots to like with this play. Jordan Poyer starts to move back to cover any potential deep routes. He quickly sees where the play is headed (to Travis Kelce on the screen) and runs to make the tackle. Poyer makes a quick cut around the blocker and wraps up the much larger Kelce.
Poyer covers his man beautifully, leaving himself in great position to break up the play. Poyer manages to shadow the route while keeping his eyes on the quarterback the whole time. Poyer’s ability to move through space effectively while keeping his eyes on the ball was a major factor in his breakout season with Buffalo. The GIF starts before the snap to show how active Poyer is in communicating. The entire secondary excelled in this department last season.
And here’s the payoff. Jordan Poyer sees the play coming and does his best impression of a guided missile. Eric Tomlinson may as well have not even bothered to catch this pass. Poyer lands his hit beautifully on the hip and the big man goes nowhere. For physics lovers, Tomlinson checks in at around 70lbs heavier than Poyer.
Jordan Poyer starts off-screen for this play. There’s two pauses to show a pretty incredible sequence. As Poyer comes in off the edge, he needs to make a decision about which side of Jerry Hughes he should attack to stop the runner. Poyer looks like he’s cutting inside. But when Jerry Hughes starts to go that way, Poyer puts his hands on Hughes and gives a little shove. This helps Poyer slow down and come back towards the outside lane. It also assists Hughes in moving to the inside lane faster. Leonard Fournette sees both lanes vanish in an instant.
If there’ a better way to end anything than with a Tom Brady pick-six, I haven’t found it. The two lines show Brady’s orientation and probable passing direction. Poyer looks like he’s about to settle back into his zone, but the instant he sees Brady change his stance to pass toward his side, he cuts off the route. Bills fans wouldn’t be upset to see a few more plays like this in 2018.