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All-22 analysis: Cole Beasley returns to Bills

What can the Bills expect from Cole Beasley in his return to the team?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills finally signed their coveted late-season addition at wide receiver: Cole Beasley. Just like we all predicted.

Beasley is, of course, familiar to Bills fans, but should we expect the same chain-mover we came to know before? Beasley wasn’t retained by Buffalo despite a healthy stat line last season, signaling a potential issue. A very brief stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady this season didn’t seem to assuage any fears.

Could the cliff have been that steep? We take a look at his (limited) 2022 film to see what to expect.

Cole makes a Beasley catch

There isn’t much special about the route, though I do like the stutter step at the beginning to try some misdirection. And to be fair, Beasley is very open for this kind of route. The ball is placed a bit ahead. Is Brady off target? Is Beasley a step too slow? Unfortunately, our sample size on their chemistry is too small to say with much certainty (though we can say Brady’s is large enough this season to say some decline is likely). Either way, Beasley still makes the diving catch.

Beasley runs route short of sticks

The Buccaneers did seem to ask Beasley to run similar concepts as he did in Buffalo. This one is a bit odd, as he’s shy of the line to gain for the first. Brady doesn’t throw it his way, which isn’t a terrible decision, as there are multiple defenders there to stop the play short. Brady takes a sack, and all we see is Beasley running a route.

Beasley comes up empty-handed

Beasley was targeted five times with the Bucs. This is the only one that wasn’t a catch. I picked this angle because it better shows that while the pass was behind, it was catchable. Some of this drop is on Beasley. This route is also intriguingly short of the sticks, and the Green Bay Packers have the middle covered well enough to suggest Beasley isn’t converting this third down even if the catch is made.

Beasley runs a crossing route

Similar to above, Beasley is crossing short of the sticks. What’s interesting is the use of multiple crossing routes to try and create some chaos, and maybe an open man. It doesn’t work well, as the Packers shadow everyone involved. Hence Brady running.

Beasley dives for the catch

Beasley sets up plenty of separation for such a quick route. The throw is in front again, and he makes another diving catch. I highlight the area in front of him. There should have been an opportunity for YAC, but diving limits that chance.

Beasley’s dive comes up short

This is the very next play. Another quick pass. There’s perhaps a chance to keep running and convert here, but Beasley loses his balance and gains only five of the seven yards needed. The lunge forward at the end is nice, but keeping his footing would have been nicer.

Beasley tackled by the grass

There’s almost no chance he’s going to convert this, but this stumble and fall is even worse than the one above. Beasley kills his own chance at additional YAC.

In summary

The sample size is tiny (13 snaps, five targets, four catches), but I have some opinions. I’m hoping the stumbling and balance balance issues aren’t anything more than a couple bad reps, but they have me worried there’s a problem there. Similarly, while I do believe Brady isn’t what he used to be (and chemistry doesn’t always happen overnight), there’s a risk Beasley was diving for catches because he’s lost a step.

That said, the guy is still making diving catches. Further, I can’t imagine he’s forgotten what the line to gain is, so I’m not really worried about the routes being short of the sticks in the examples above. Overall, I think Josh Allen will have a better feel for what Beasley can do, as well. I wouldn’t expect any magic, but it’s not unreasonable to think the Bills have a more reliable safety valve on the team than they did last week.