Toward the beginning of the year, we reviewed a whole heck of a lot of players. Mostly our end-of-season review focuses on players who could be leaving the Buffalo Bills as Buffalo Rumblings simulates the front office and the decisions they need to make. But that leaves unfinished business in the way of players who we know will be back.
With such a strange season in front of us though, there’s good reason to circle back and check in on some guys we missed. Continuity might be pretty useful in a season such as this. Let’s keep going then on All-22 reviews of the offensive line, starting with the ShnowMan Dion Dawkins.
I’ll start with a few flaws and then on to the good stuff. For this play, Dion Dawkins makes good initial contact but as his opponent sees the play develop he easily slips away from Dawkins. There’s a fine line in what you can get away with and not get called for something, but there’s definitely room to hold off a defender longer than we see here. This didn’t often lead to a bad result, but once in a while this tendency allows the other guy to get back into the play.
This seems to be Dawkins’s biggest weakness. Players who make a quick move to either side can get around him. Matt Judon is no slouch and that’s some nice footwork so there’s no shame in the occasional loss to a move like this. If Dawkins is gonna get beat, there’s a good chance it’s something like this.
And semi-related to the two things above, Dion Dawkins has some trouble maintaining move blocks. It’s not entirely a speed problem as we’ll see in a bit. Particularly, the problem seems to be moving laterally like on this play. It appears there are some mechanics breaking down as the hips look like he’s trying to square up and sprint to the right at the same time, which leads to neither happening.
Let’s get to the positives because there are plenty. As a disclaimer, I focused on the Baltmore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and second New England Patriots game to see how far Dawkins has come in his time with Buffalo. Personally, I think he’s come a long way. His ability to process more complex attacks like this was definitely a positive and I didn’t see him fooled often. He finishes here with good hand fighting and keeps his side of the pocket clean.
Here’s one of the plays that makes me think his inconsistent move blocking isn’t a speed thing. Also, what an odd play design. This is a hell of a way to draw up a block. The way Dawkins moves suggests to me that this is what he’s supposed to be doing and candidly it’s a pretty genius way to get a block in for Allen as he rolls left. The timing is a little off unfortunately.
Taking on a defender head-on seemed to be a strength for Dawkins. While there were a few instances in the reviewed games where he was driven back, it was not common and again the games were primarily the most difficult opponents.
Here’s the other play that shows he has some speed. More importantly, his success depends on several things being timed and executed well and Dion Dawkins handles them all well. The initial swat pushes the first opponent exactly where the Bills want him. Then Dawkins quickly gets ahead of the play and seals his second defender off to open a big lane. Mitch Morse’s opponent is patient enough to not fall completely for his block otherwise this is an easy touchdown.
The patience and use of peripheral vision to keep track of the defense are both excellent things to see from Dawkins and this, too, seemed to be an area of strength. Some more hand fighting at the end of this clip shows it’s not a fluke either.
This is the largest opponent in the clips as Davon Godchaux weighs in over 300 lbs. Not only is it good to see Dawkins win the block, but the positioning to keep the lane open is excellent. There’s enough room not just for Devin Singletary, but Mitch Morse is able to scoot through with zero effort, which sets him up to make a block of his own to help this turn into a big gain.
Dion Dawkins is by no means a perfect player, but he has improved and is definitely an asset on the offensive line. His ability to see the defense and react against more complex schemes has gotten better as you’d expect. Dawkins was never a slouch either, even during a slump that he acknowledged.
There’s already talk of the Buffalo Bills having an edge on other teams as they’re returning such a large portion of the team, particularly on the offensive line. While continuity matters, so does talent. So to have faith that the Bills really have an edge, it’d be nice to return GOOD players. Dawkins is that. As we prepare for what could be the craziest football season in history, the returning Dawkins should indeed be comforting.