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2020 All-22 Analysis: Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson

One of the new (to Buffalo) faces on the defensive line

The Buffalo Bills changed up their defensive line a bit in 2020. One of the changes was the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defender Quinton Jefferson. Hailed by analysts such as myself for his versatility, I know it was the hope of many fans that he’d be a natural fit in Buffalo. Was he? Let’s check in!


Play 1

Sometimes it’s helpful to discuss the rating scale being used. On this play Quinton Jefferson gets a decent push to start, but it’s brief and turns into a stalemate. For an offensive lineman I’ll usually call these a victory. Which means for a defensive lineman it’s usually a loss. A lot can happen quickly and to give credit to Jefferson he shrugs off the block at the end and is likely in good position to cause some havoc if Russell Wilson holds the ball for any length of time.

Play 2

These are the kinds of plays that made me giddy about Jefferson’s upside. The swim gives him good position to win this battle and even a second blocker isn’t enough to stop his momentum. He seems deliberate with the shoulder to keep the pocket collapsing.

Play 3

And here Quinton Jefferson singlehandedly blows the play up. There’s no fatal flaw in how the offensive lineman handled this either, Jefferson was simply the better player on this snap.

Play 4

The summary below is going to conclude that I think Jefferson is pretty good but, as always, I do want to bring up flaws. To be fair, it takes agility, strength, and technique in pretty large measures to prevent being blown off the play when you’re hit from the side. Jefferson can’t recover and this is a good plan to scheme against him.

Play 5

This is pretty similar to the flaw above. Because he doesn’t have the best angle, he’s unable to clear the hands with a swim.

Play 6

So what I’m getting at is that he probably isn’t a team’s first choice to bend around an edge or take an angled approach at a play. He does however have ways to disrupt things. Like the run he blew up above, he wins the head to head. I have the dominoes comparison because the push he gets gives less room to work for the player behind them, which helps Justin Zimmer with his block. This helps A.J. Epenesa find his gap as Zimmer’s opponent is frozen.

Play 7

Up above I said a defensive lineman not getting a push is USUALLY a loss in my eyes. This is an exception. Yes this was a positive play for the Kansas City Chiefs but not because of Quinton Jefferson. When you’re occupying two guys on your own, that means the teams are now 9 vs. 10. I don’t even hold the fall at the end against him. The spin to get free and pursuit pushes Patrick Mahomes wider, which gives more time for someone else to make a play or get in position to limit the gain.


Summary

Like I said above, I think Quinton Jefferson is pretty good. I do wish he was more consistently making impact plays as there were a fair few plays similar to Play 1, Play 4, and Play 5. I do wonder how much the lack of a full offseason hurt the Bills when it came to the defense generally speaking and in Jefferson’s case specifically. There was definitely a concerted effort to reshape the offense and that means less time/attention for the defense.

I bring up that last point because, if you’re deciding next year’s roster, the Bills started playing better defensive football toward the end of the season. That suggests the personnel might be less of an issue than suspected and you’d look to keep core players around. Since I’m supposed to be giving my opinion, I do like a lot of what Quinton Jefferson brings to the table. Add a pass rusher opposite Hughes who scares the opponent and I bet Jefferson would fit in just fine.

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