As we continue our offseason review, we stick to the offensive line with guard Vladimir Ducasse. Ducasse started the season at left guard but by the time the Buffalo Bills faced the Chicago Bears in Week 9, they had begun tinkering with the offensive line to create a spark. In that game, Ducasse gave up a handful of snaps to rookie Wyatt Teller. Apparently that was enough, as Teller replaced Ducasse the next week. Let’s check in on Ducasse’s 2018 season.
This is an egregious example, so don’t think this is a common occurrence, but Vlad Ducasse’s feet can get him into trouble. In this case, they don’t stop moving, which results in Ducasse getting spun around. When to flow, and when to fight back can be an art. Ducasse doesn’t make it work here and elsewhere.
For this play his feet take his lower body too far left to his opponent’s right shoulder. Had Ducasse stayed inside, the block would have completely sealed off his man. That noted, it’s actually pretty impressive that he moves the lane as far as he does like this. Ducasse doesn’t lack for power or athleticism, but little things prevent him from always rising to his potential.
Vlad Ducasse has no one directly in front of him so he elects to help Russell Bodine. A sharp shot with his shoulder is more than enough to give Bodine the edge and Ducasse heads over to assist Dion Dawkins. Ducasse uses his other shoulder with much the same result. This play is a resounding success for Ducasse for both decision making and execution.
Ducasse attempts to lead with his shoulder on this play, also. A quick slide by Deatrich Wise (91) gets him too-close-for-comfort to LeSean McCoy. The shifty Shady gets around Wise, but a slower back or longer developing play would have led to calamity. Well, a worse calamity at any rate.
Ducasse is fast enough to have gotten ahead of the block, but a poor angle and use of arms prevents it from happening. As a result he’s outmaneuvered and both defenders he could have negated are in excellent position to make a play. Athletically, Ducasse seems capable of blocking on the move, but often places himself in awkward scenarios like the above.
If you’re getting by Ducasse one-on-one, it’s probably via a finesse move. A quick swim and Trey Flowers (98) is by Ducasse and in the backfield. This isn’t a problem to the extent that a defensive lineman could do this all day to Ducasse, but it’s absolutely the best way to attack him. A quick change of balance or direction and some work with the hands is the way to go.
Ducasse’s strength lies in his, uh...strength. Put a man in front of Ducasse and dare him to go through the guard and you have a dependable blocker. Ducasse isn’t a mauler and shouldn’t be expected to always drive his opponent backwards. He is a solid anchor and when matched up like this will give the quarterback time to go to work. For this play, Ducasse gets an early advantage and just keeps driving on Brandon Mebane (92).
Vlad Ducasse isn’t a player who’s bad enough to be sent packing without a replacement. With the expectation that several new linemen will be added this offseason, the odds of a replacement coming to Buffalo are pretty darn good, however. Working in his favor, Ducasse has played both left and right guard, which means he can be in the competition for two spots and could also be considered a valuable depth player as a result. Working against Ducasse is the fact that Buffalo has already slotted in Wyatt Teller ahead of him.
The biggest factor could be Brian Daboll’s intended scheme. Daboll has gone on record as coveting a variable scheme, where linemen shift game-to-game among blocking concepts. Ducasse’s best asset is his ability to anchor. Beyond that, though, Ducasse struggles, which greatly diminishes his versatility. Is that enough to call it quits with Ducasse? It very well could be.