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Opponent preview: Minnesota Vikings tackle Riley Reiff

The defense looks to build off their solid second half against the Chargers. The Vikings’ starting left tackle could provide some opportunities

The Buffalo Bills’ defense allowed a couple more points than was desired during the first two weeks of the 2018 season. Despite the final scores being tilted a bit in favor of their opponents, a solid second half in Week 2 has fans once again crossing their fingers. To limit the Minnesota Vikings, a resurgent pass rush would go a long way. We take a look at Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff. Jerry Hughes will see plenty of Reiff on Sunday. Is there an opportunity to do some damage?

Play 1

Technically speaking, Riley Reiff prevents his man from getting to Kirk Cousins. However, the swim move beats him cleanly. Reiff recovers well enough to prevent the sack, but not well enough to prevent pressure. Reiff’s own trajectory takes him nearly into Cousins, who is flushed from the pocket by his teammate. A trend you’ll see here is that Reiff struggles against finesse moves and speed rushers.

Play 2

While there’s no finesse techniques on display, the speed of this stunt confuses Reiff and left guard Tom Compton. As a result, the entire left side of the pocket vanishes. Cousins is running for his life and lucky to throw the pass away.

Play 3

Against power moves, Riley Reiff generally buys Cousins more than enough time. Cassius Marsh may not be an All Pro-level defensive end, but at 245 lbs and a small amount of steam built up, this is a solid block from Reiff. Actually, three solid blocks from Reiff. By trying to play through Reiff, Marsh doesn’t even end up in the same zip code as Kirk Cousins.

Play 4

Physics favors the 280-lb Solomon Thomas even more than Cassius Marsh, yet he doesn’t have much better luck trying to power through Reiff. Thomas tries a rip at the back end of the rush but he’s too slow to completely free himself from Reiff.

Play 5

Let’s take a look at a bend around on Reiff from a smaller and faster player. Josh Jackson is a diminutive 196 lbs but his speed pays off. Cousins goes down because Reiff struggles to contain the shiftier defender.

Play 6

Nick Perry tries to bull-rush Riley Reiff. It goes about as well as it did for Marsh and Thomas above. Trying to plow through Reiff has been mostly harmless in 2018. While Jerry Hughes has good power moves for his size, they shouldn’t be expected to bring him success against Reiff. This isn’t to say he shouldn’t use more power-based techniques, but they should be used to set up a finesse move later.

Play 7

We’ll end on a great microcosm of Riley Reiff as Dean Lowry gets a chance to try out several different techniques on one play. As Lowry initially engages Reiff, he’s pretty well controlled by the tackle. A swim move gains significant ground very quickly—enough to prevent Cousins from stepping up if he needs. Reiff recovers alright, but Lowry sets up a spin move and ends up right in Cousins’s face.

When Hughes squares up with Reiff, he should have opportunities to rip, bend, and make his way to the quarterback. A big day from Hughes (or anyone on the defensive line for that matter) could go a long way to helping the Bills pull off an upset in Minnesota.