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Analysis: Nyheim Hines gives Bills offense a matchup nightmare

Hines’ versatile skill set will let the Bills create and exploit matchups

Buffalo Bills v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills joined in the fun before the 2022 NFL trade deadline by sending running back Zack Moss and a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts in return for running back Nyheim Hines.

Hines was drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Colts. After accumulating 2,894 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns as a part-time back in his first three seasons, Hines signed a three-year, $18.6 million contract extension with Indianapolis in September of 2021.

Hines is known as a “pass-catching” back—just the type that general manager Brandon Beane has had rumored interest in leading up to this year's trade deadline. In his five-year career, Hines has racked up 235 receptions for 1,725 yards and seven touchdowns, while also carrying the ball 300 times for 1,205 yards and 10 touchdowns. The stats don’t end there—Hines also has 73 career punt returns, and two of those went for touchdowns. Let’s take a peek at some All-22 film of Hines this season to see how the Bills might deploy their new offensive weapon.

Play 1

Hines is lined up as the slot receiver for this play. You can bet Beane has visions of Hines doing the same thing for the Bills. Hines looks more like a wide receiver running a route on this play than a running back moonlighting out wide.

Play 2

The Bills have run a wheel route to the running back a few times this year, but with little success. Hines runs the wheel route out of the backfield to perfection during this play. Notice how he doesn’t get too close to the sideline, which gives his quarterback plenty of room to throw the ball. This is a great over-the-shoulder catch by Hines.

Play 3

The Colts have 1st & Goal here with two running backs on the field. Normally, a defense would think to bring an extra lineman into the game to stack the box against the run, but since Hines is such a receiving threat, they have an extra DB on the field instead. Before this video starts, Hines motions in from the slot; you can see the DB that I highlight has Hines man-to-man. Since the defense is worried about Hines catching the football, the offense uses that to its advantage, and quarterback Sam Ehlinger hands it off to him around the end for a touchdown.

Play 4

No crazy play call here—the Colts just exploit a mismatch of Hines versus a linebacker. He will be a nightmare for defenses to match up with, considering the Bills have plenty of other weapons on the field at all times.

Play 5

Another play where Hines lined up as a wide receiver—and he looks right at home doing it.

Play 6

Hines catches the ball well, but on occasion, he’s also a productive inside runner. The Bills will want to mix their play calls up when Hines is on the field to make sure the defense respects both the run and pass. He won’t run inside the tackles often, but Hines has proven effective in that role when given carries.

Play 7

Even when Hines is matched up with a defensive back, he’s still capable of winning his route.

Play 8

The Bills will look for ways to get Hines mismatched on a linebacker, such as on this play. Good plays don’t always have to be a “gadget play” or involve a complicated scheme. Sometimes it just comes down to finding a way to create these types of mismatches, and then running a simple slant route.

In summary

Nyhiem Hines gives the Bills a diverse new toy for an already-explosive offense. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will certainly have fun scheming up plays to utilize Hines and his unique skill set. How would you like to see the Bills utilize Hines?