Embattled Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Cody Ford was benched from his right guard spot this past week, opening the door for rookie Spencer Brown to debut. That wasn’t the only change, as Brown actually took Daryl Williams’s right tackle spot, with Williams replacing Cody Ford. That’s a big shift in a group that usually stresses “continuity,” sometimes at the expense of talent. Let’s take a look at how they did.
Note: The title is tongue in cheek as the NFL’s updates to Game Pass and the Coaches Film continue to give me fits. I really tried to do an All-22 breakdown this week but pervasive glitches and oodles of missing plays thwarted a true coaches film look. I managed to get a few, but most of these are the broadcast angle. See below for a couple examples (completely unedited) of what I was up against. Siiiiiiiiigh
Is Spencer Brown strong? Seems like it. No further commentary.
It wasn’t all flawless though. This starts off well and Brown’s long arms help him out again. It’s harder for a defender to get leverage when they literally can’t push back, and at 6’9” Brown is pretty close to making that happen on some plays. Charles Omenihu manages to twist and get his right hand up, which gives him enough leverage to pop off and add some speed into the mix. Brown tries hand fighting with his feet planted and Omenihu starts to get around him. Allen has plenty of pocket to navigate so this particular rep Brown doesn’t give up a pressure, but the lesson here is the same. He lost control of the play, which you hate to see.
Similar to above, but both Spencer Brown and Daryl Williams lose to speed. Williams is batted to the side at the line, which makes it hard to turn his hips and get his feet moving. Brown hesitates and tries a jab but it’s too tentative to disrupt his man and he’s off to the races as well. Luckily it’s a quick pass, but Allen barely has room to throw.
I’m setting a stage for “not perfect.” That doesn’t mean “bad.” I’ve heard a lot of rave reviews this week for Brown (mostly warranted I’d say) and even the team has already announced they’re going to ride with this lineup. However, I do think some tempering of expectations might be wise. Anyway, on to this play.
I have no issues with this play. There were a fair few like it from what I could tell.
And this one I absolutely love. Both Williams and Brown direct their man waaaaaaay wide of Allen.
Back to a negative, Williams over-commits to his push and he’s schooled. I questioned whether I should include this as it might temper expectations too much. In the end it’s here, so why did I keep it? I want this type of play etched into every single reader’s mind. If you pick a player and watch every snap, after enough players you come to the realization EVERY player has put out film like this. On the line think of it like rock-paper-scissors. Williams chooses “plow ahead” and his opponent chooses a perfect counter. It happens. If Roy Lopez (#91) had stayed home, Williams is in great shape.
Pretty clear what I’m trying to show here. A giant lane to run through. Brown isn’t facing the direction I’d prefer but he’s strong enough to hold on and keep his opponent in place (and also risk a holding call). Williams one-hand assists on the first defender while scooting out. He finds another target, completely neutralizes him and makes it harder for Justin Reid (#20) to make the tackle. Good rep for Brown. Great one for Williams.
This time they’re working different potential lanes. The GIF does the heavy lifting on the details, but both perform well.
The freeze frame is the all-important one of course. Spencer Brown has turned and isolated his man. Note how doing so also walls off other potential tacklers. Williams is doing the same thing but in the other direction. Williams can’t get a great grab on his target to completely wash him from the play, but you might notice that Devin Singletary easily faked the first. Now take another look. That critical lane that I freeze on is...drum roll...right where they need it to get to the sticks.
And one more for the rook. I used to point out something with Ty Nsekhe (also really tall at 6’8” and also insanely strong). They say “low man wins.” It’s really, REALLY difficult to be the low man at 6’9” against say...a linebacker. Now look again. That’s not a linebacker, that’s Demarcus Walker who happens to be 6’4” but still looks short next to Brown. Point being that Brown’s size actually works against him in some situations. Here it’s pretty apparent that he has some methods of compensating.
Again, this is unedited. I’m not asking game pass to skip a lot of plays that cover roughly half the field, it did that for me out of the kindness of its heart.
There’s no way around it. This analysis is begging for me to answer a dreaded question. Is the move to Brown/Williams better than the Williams/Ford combo? I’m never happy to criticize a player on our favorite team, and Cody Ford is easy to root for, making this harder.
Yeah, I think the Bills are better off with this lineup. As of TODAY. I don’t know if I’d call things “improved” though, mind you. Remember my knock on the Ford analysis I did last week wasn’t talent. It was applying it consistently. Most linemen have good tools. Mediocre or bad ones just lose that rock-paper-scissors battle more often than the good ones.
As of TODAY, Spencer Brown isn’t any more consistent in my opinion. And Williams is someone I liked last year at tackle and I like now at guard overall. The Bills are better then, because Brown isn’t any more inconsistent than Ford either. If I’m insinuating a wash as of TODAY the Bills are likely better off because, if you recall, this was Brown’s debut. He should have more room to grow than Ford.
Additionally, I like Ford’s physical ability more than some (I noted how it was remarkable that he flipped his hips late on a play and STILL beat his man to the point of attack). Brown’s physical ability though....holy crap. Simply put, as of TODAY the floor is the same. As of TOMORROW the new ceiling might be unrecognizable.