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2020 All-22 Analysis: Buffalo Bills running back Matt Breida

The running back is getting a massive uniform upgrade this year

The Buffalo Bills are hard at work with team tinkering leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft. The latest move is the addition of former Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida. Used on a rotational basis in Miami, it’s unlikely that Breida will challenge for the feature back spot. That said, the Bills haven’t really had a feature back recently and the speedy Breida could fit in well with a committee approach. Let’s hit the film!


Play 1

For our first look we have Matt Breida getting some yards after contact partially thanks to good reflexes. The first would-be tackler gets one arm up. As noted in the GIF, Breida reacts by bringing in his right arm and twisting his body. That slams his shoulder into the tackler’s bicep, which prevents the arm from latching on. There’s some nice footwork in there as well. On the second attempt the defender has a better shot at Breida. By lowering the body, Breida makes it harder to hang on and the tackler slips down his body, allowing a little more yardage as Breida falls forward.

Play 2

You’ve probably already heard about this from oh, everyone, but Matt Breida is fast. A 4.38 time in the 40 is a nice start to the story, but you should also know Next Gen Stats has him charted as being able to break the 22 mph barrier. That’s fast enough to escape a polar bear but shockingly not fast enough to escape a hippopotamus. Breida is able to make something out of a play that doesn’t appear to be designed to hit the sideline.

Play 3

In both these plays to the sideline the defender(s) aren’t in bad position. Breida just changes gear and gets to the edge too fast to completely shut down.

Play 4

The cut here and on most plays isn’t magnificent but it’s pretty good. This play is here because Breida often seems to have chosen a Plan B after an initial gap was shut down. He recognized them quickly and his physical speed allows him to take advantage.

Play 5

Now before I lay the numbers on you, know that Matt Breida didn’t have enough targets/receptions to qualify for receiving rate stats (10 targets, 9 catches). He had a 90 percent catch rate, which is fantastic even for a running back, a position usually inflated in this stat due to short passes. He averaged 10.7 yards per reception, which is incredibly high for a running back. On that last note, this didn’t seem to be the result of a downfield pass or two skewing things. Breida was thrown dumpoff passes like we see here. Credit his teammates and play design for some of the high average, but credit his speed and difficulty to tackle too.

Play 6

I noted in the Zack Moss and Devin Singletary writeups that both had similar willingness to block and solid technique. I liked Moss more than Singletary as the 20-lb difference between the two was significant when it came to winning the physics part of matchups. Matt Breida doesn’t shy away from blocking. He seems to have good technique. Breida’s listed weight of 190 lbs is 13 lbs lighter than Singletary. I should also note that Breida wasn’t asked to block often, so the sample size is quite low.


Summary

Matt Breida brings an element missing from the Buffalo running game and that’s speed. He’s shifty enough to create some opportunities for himself, and pretty hard to tackle. Especially considering his smaller size. That said, he’s unlikely to plow through anyone. I’d also be concerned about relying on him for consistent pass protection. Again noting the sample size for Breida, that concern is mostly rooted in physics.

It’s hard to call Breida a receiving threat due to limited samples, but what he has put on film is promising. Speed and shiftiness aren’t bad traits in the passing game after all. It’ll be hard to push the offense any further than they achieved in 2020, but Breida is an intriguing addition who might just help move the needle.