The Buffalo Bills’ offensive line was nearly universally described by fans and pundits as anything but great— truly in dire need of upgrades following the 2018 season. Apparently the Bills agreed as they’ve acquired offensive linemen in free agency as if they were Pokémon. Former Tennessee Titans’ guard Quinton Spain becomes the latest addition to the team. How does he fit into the suddenly crowded and very competitive line? Let’s take a look.
Quinton Spain isn’t a fast hand fighter which is one way to counter a quick rip or swim move. Spain does have a heck of a grip though. The compact rip in this play is ineffective because Spain’s hand simply refuses to come off the jersey. Spain also braces against the initial impact pretty well.
This clip isn’t to say that Spain routinely mauls someone. Rather, it’s to show that he’s not likely to quit or even slow down on a play. The timing on the initial block is a little off, and a little move from linebacker Zach Cunningham creates a miss. Turning pretty well on the move, Spain finds Cunningham and, well you saw it.
This is a pretty representative pass block for Spain. Would you love it more if he shoved his man way to the left? Sure. But the way Spain steers him back leaves a really nice zone to step into. Although Quinton Spain anchors pretty well, when blocking on the move he shines when he can direct where the movement goes rather than trying to stop it.
Quinton Spain was asked to block on the move quite a bit and overall there’s a fair amount to like. The first block is held just long enough to protect the quarterback. As essentially a timing play for lineman, the release and execution of the second block is also good. Spain is responsible for getting way ahead of the play. Because the ball heads back to the right he’s outmaneuvered by the smaller player on defense. (No shame there.) Had the play developed behind Spain, though, he likely makes the third block.
For Spain there’s a lot of similar jobs to do despite this being a running play. He helps and holds the first block long enough to let his teammate earn a decisive victory then goes on the move again. It’s not quite single-handed, but Spain is a major reason this run works as well as it does.
Let’s see how Spain does against some familiar faces. Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes are up to shenanigans. Williams and Hughes swap at the last second to try to catch the Titans off guard. Spain is patient to engage with Kyle Williams and doesn’t leave his spot to meet Williams. As a result, Spain is ready for Hughes. One hand on Hughes’s chest is enough to slow him down long enough to get the pass off.
For the first few steps Quinton Spain is going toe-to-toe with Star Lotulelei. It appears Lotulelei gains an edge as he digs deep and shoves Spain off. Spain uses the slight loss of forward momentum of Lotulelei and slips in front, creating an effective block.
Spain isn’t flawless by any means and can run into an occasional hiccup usually related to his feet or balance. On this exact play Jordan Phillips moves quickly around Spain and further away than expected. In an attempt to slow Phillips down, Spain leans too far over and falls. It’s not an all-the-time thing, but if Spain is running into trouble it’s probably at the hands of a faster player or unexpected angle.
This play is here for a couple reasons. I wanted one more running play and Spain shows off admirably. Leading the way for a lot of this push, it’s a good chunk of ground covered by the Titans. The other reason this play is selected is because it came later in the 2018 season. Spain suffered injuries to his shoulder and ankle during the year. This game later in the season showed a player who looked well healed.
It’s getting difficult to project starters for the offensive line due to the volume of signings and versatility of many of the players. Quinton Spain is by no means a flashy signing but represents a good play by the Bills. At the very least, Spain should compete for a starting role and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him earn it. Spain has a good variety of tools and could fit in with Brian Daboll’s stated vision of mixing and matching schemes to take advantage of opponents’ weaknesses.