A joke: The reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Month walks onto a football field for a loser-goes-home playoff matchup. How does Indianapolis stop him? The Colts trot out reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Month Deforest Buckner.
I never said it was a good joke. With 9.5 sacks on the season and 26 QB hits, Buckner is going to try his best to ruin Josh Allen’s afternoon. Ours too. Listed at 6’7” and 300 lbs, he’s an intimidating force up front. So let’s take a look.
Whenever you’re looking closely at a player there are a lot of fairly mundane plays. That’s not to say they aren’t of value for analysis—it’s just less “in your face.” This is a pretty good example. The early arm extension from DeForest Buckner (right arm) means he never gets too tied up in the block. That allows that little shove at the end, which closes a potential lane. The rest of the defense is also doing their jobs well so this is more of a final nail in the coffin.
The ability to push is certainly a commendable trait for a defensive tackle. The right hand probably could have been called for a penalty but the larger point remains. Buckner can push.
You’ve probably heard some variation of this before but here it is again. Allocating extra resources (time, energy, players) to stopping a single opponent is not without its risks. The above play is a demonstration of the conundrum on how you can completely stop a player while also being stopped because of that player.
Buckner isn’t always raw power. This play has some refined hand fighting to go along with it. He walks David DeCastro far enough back to impact how the ball is thrown. The sidearm throw is fortunate because Buckner gets a hand up to swat.
Speaking of which...
DeForest Buckner has a decent array of finesse moves. The swim seems to be his favorite, preferring a compact version. I highlight the follow through as getting your arm over an opponent’s head is great, but the complete swing can prevent them from turning back to the play.
And here’s a rip. This was less common in the games I watched but Buckner can be effective with it. Because of his height, Buckner doesn’t use this move to dip lower and get around his man here. Instead he uses it to leverage up and get Andrew Norwell onto the balls of his feet. Under the premise “low man wins” being tippy-toe is decidedly not the low man.
Last thing to note, Buckner is a high-motor player. That looked...unpleasant.
The Buffalo Bills will look to continue their winning ways behind a dominant offense. DeForest Buckner and the Indianapolis Colts are going to do their best to stop that from happening. Bills fans reading this are almost certainly already thinking “Buffalo has dropped a ton of points on more highly regarded defenses” and you’re right. Unless there’s a perfect storm, it’s incredibly unlikely that the Colts completely shut the Bills down. A disruptive player coming up the middle could go a long way though, and Buckner has been that kind of player.