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2019 All-22 analysis: Buffalo Bills tight end Lee Smith

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Gee, I wonder what Skare thinks about Lee Smith?

I don’t claim to be the world’s best football analyst (though it’s cool if you think I am). If there’s one thing that I take pride in though, it’s trying to bring an objective article to you each time I put fingers to keyboard.

As the President of the Lee Smith fan club I maaaaay have to take a couple extra steps to accomplish that. So, like I’ve done with a couple Buffalo Bills players now, I turned to Twitter for play selections*. As an extra layer or fairness, I do not indicate which player I’ll be using these for. Here we go!


Play 1

Chosen by Kyle Schenk (Game 4, Quarter 1, Play 1)

This is a good, but not great rep for Lee Smith. Helping Cody Ford with the initial block it’s no surprise to see them winning fairly easily. Another defender, Ja’Wuan Bentley (No. 51) slams into the pile and Ford/Smith repel him as well. They can’t lock him up and Bentley escapes back into the play. Smith breaks off and finds more work.

Play 2

Chosen by We can do better (12, 3, 5)

Cody Ford is doing fine but after a hard shot to his opponent courtesy of Smith he’s doing great. Smith doesn’t get much of the second man, but enough to slow him down for Quinton Spain to come in and help out. The whistle hasn’t blown yet so Smith seals off yet another defender. It’s not a perfect rep, and astute Rumblers can likely point out some flaws, but this is another good snap for Smith.

Play 3

Chosen by David Medina (2, 4, 5)

I’d call this an ordinary play for Smith. He does well hand fighting to prevent his initial block from getting through. Because he’s keeping off his man using his hands, he’s there to help if needed.

Play 4

Chosen by We can do better (7, 1, 3)

Yes, Lee Smith runs routes. Dude has four catches all year (five with playoffs) and the random system found one. I’m a big fan of Smith, but being honest there’s nothing special about the route or speed. In fact he’s likely only open because no one thinks he’s getting the ball. A big takeaway is that he catches with his hands, not his body. He’s in a pretty decent collision and hangs on to it too.

Play 5

Random number generator (RNG) (1, 4, 4)

Coincidentally, the very next random play is another route. Smith doesn’t get the ball and based on Josh Allen’s body and head movement I have to think this was designed left. I point out the down and distance because it’s acceptable to have a chunk play here. Smith isn’t scoring here in all likelihood but it’s a good start to this set of downs if the ball comes his way. This is a good play to point out that Smith is an effective blocker and can run the occasional route and be effective there as well. Consider this when comparing to a sixth lineman, which are not infrequent.

Play 6

RNG (6, 3, 2)

No analysis needed. That block is slick as hell.

Play 7

RNG (12, 1, 1)

Let’s revisit the idea of comparing Smith to a sixth lineman. How many linemen off the bench do you trust to go one-on-one with T.J. Watt? Smith can do it.


Summary

We all know I’m a fan of Lee Smith hence the random play selection. There’s still a chance I’m using the above plays and unfairly extrapolating these to conclude these are the way you can expect him to play every down. On that you’ll have to decide whether or not to have faith in my objectivity. I will assure you I watched a lot more than these seven plays and, yeah, Smith is good. I would trust him to block defensive ends before most extra linemen. I would trust him to pick up a chunk here and there. And I’d definitely trust him to consistently block with the best of them.

With all that said, I feel the same way about Smith as I do Patrick DiMarco. Both are great at what they do, but you need to have a plan for them. If Lee Smith is part of the plan it’s highly unlikely they’ll find any player better than Smith that brings this skill set to the table. A diminished role in the offense (like we saw the second half of the season) makes it harder to justify keeping him on the team.

*I didn’t get enough responses, so the last few were selected by a random number generator. Due to low snap counts, games at Miami, vs. Baltimore, and at New England were omitted from consideration.