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2020 All-22 analysis: Buffalo Bills guard Ike Boettger

A look at Ike Boettger’s 2020 season

The Buffalo Bills picked up Ike Boettger as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Waived once by the Bills he landed with Kansas City for 9 days and returned to the Bills where they’ve worked on developing him since. 2020 turned out to be the year to show his stuff, appearing in 12 games and starting seven. Did he play well enough to be a priority re-signing? Let’s look at the all-22 to see what he brought to the table.


Play 1

If you’re following along with all of the offseason analysis it’s only natural that you might want to compare Ike Boettger to Brian Winters. Our first GIF might give a clue on why the Bills eventually went with Boettger over Winters. One concern with Winters was his tendency to get beat to the sides. Boettger tends to grab a little more often which helps counter that.

Play 2

On the other hand, Boettger can get a bit high in his stance which can lead to him getting driven back.

Play 3

Ike Boettger comes across as more patient or deliberate in his work than many linemen. It pays off here as he makes sure McTelvin Agim (95) is sealed off before moving on to the next level.

Play 4

Boettger’s footwork allows him to maintain position against this shift and keep the block going. Blocking side-to-side for pass protection was an improvement that Boettger added. That doesn’t mean it was a universal improvement but for a team focused on the passing game it’s a significant consideration.

Play 5

Another look at how Boettger tends to set up blocks and try to lock his man into place. Isolating an opponent in this manner can’t occur every play as not every snap is directly man-on-man but this makes for a nice stable pocket.

Play 6

Interior linemen don’t see a ton of pass rush moves so it’s not critical to have expert counters on hand but this speaks to the greater point. Ike Boettger, like the rest of Buffalo’s offensive line can be a bit of a rollercoaster.


Summary

There’s no way to avoid comparing Ike Boettger to other options and put bluntly I don’t feel he’s a strict upgrade. If you follow me you’re probably sick of hearing my belief that linemen are best thought of as a puzzle. Rather than finding the five “best” pieces it’s more important to find five pieces that create a single picture.

Boettger did seem to mesh with the picture the Bills wanted to create in 2020. While stance and power issues were a factor, the ability to latch onto opponents and flow sideways on other plays felt like an overall gain for what Buffalo was looking for.

In the run game, no combination of linemen impressed so at worst Boettger would be considered a push. Get used to the phrase “not a mauler” by the way, as it applies nearly across the board. Should the Bills work to retain Boettger? Like Winters, Boettger sets a decent floor. Unlike Winters, Boettger could be assumed to still be developing. So it wouldn’t necessarily be trying the same thing and expecting a different result.

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