The Buffalo Bills drafted Cody Ford with what looked like every intention of playing him at right tackle. Last season he rotated with Ty Nsekhe in an unusual move to help him learn the ropes. This year he lost that spot to Darryl Williams and kicked inside to right guard. Then he was moved to left guard, and now it looks like that’ll be his spot. Let’s see how that went.
First off, there were worse plays than this. By far actually, because this isn’t really a bad play in the grand scheme of things. But yeah, before we get to the positives there were a few snaps Cody Ford would probably like to take back. That’s pretty normal for any player.
I like this play in particular because from a technique standpoint there’s a lot that goes wrong right out of the gate. It’s important to see what a player does when things break down. Ford is losing the leverage game and is in danger of being walked back right into Josh Allen. He recovers with his right foot kicking back, then Clelin Ferrell starts to shift around to the side. Ford slides his left foot over and re-engages the block. As the GIF says, he bought pleeeeeenty of time despite the rough start.
The Bills had Cody Ford on the move quite a bit and he generally acquitted himself well. He doesn’t maintain the block for very long, but the quick change in stance creates an obvious impediment to Johnathan Hankins.
The synchronized movement is pointed out as an offensive line about to take on shifting defenders needs to be disciplined and patient. If one person flinches too soon it can create an opportunity for the defender. Here Cody Ford, Dion Dawkins, and Mitch Morse show excellent patience and pick up the right blocks. Ford is tasked with a safety blitz where speed is the major danger. I think it went well.
Since nitpicking is part of analysis though, I should add that Ford relies on turning his entire body and “chasing” the play. This got him into trouble against rushers last year at right tackle. Edge rushers have more mass and similar speed around the edge compared to Johnathan Abram above. This is less of a liability at guard as he shouldn’t see the combination of big AND fast as often as a tackle does.
Buffalo used similar play designs a few times against the Las Vegas Raiders with one or more skill players sneaking out as Ford pulled to the right. This play is executed very well by Ford who helps make sure Devin Singletary has plenty of room to slip out.
The Bills pick up the stunt by the Raiders’ defense and Ford finds himself one on one. I’ll let the GIF do the talking on this one and just leave it that he did fine.
At guard there’s a ton of helping and being helped so juggling blocks is an important skill. Despite the tackle position needing to do this a bit less than a guard, last year I noted this as a strength for Ford. Specifically, I felt he had good reaction time to rapidly changing plays and was able to bounce around easily in close quarters.
Both times I took a close look at Cody Ford last year there were a lot of positives to his tape. A few bad habits were noticeable but understandable for a rookie. Against the Raiders, Ford’s “tape” shows a lot of improvement. Some of this is certainly the position change as he’s less exposed to faster edge rushers that gave him the most trouble. Some of it appears to be true improvement though, including his footwork. So far the Ford-at-guard experiment seems to be a rousing success.