I’m not the first to say this, but it’s a testament to how the Buffalo Bills treat exiting players that so many are excited to come back. Now, if that’s true, how those same players react toward their former “other” teams is also a testament to how they felt things went in their time away from Buffalo.
With that premise out of the way, it’s safe to say that Shaq Lawson made it personal this week when the Miami Dolphins came to town. Lawson wasn’t perfect, but made sure to have an impact. Let’s take a celebratory look at his work in this week’s breakdown.
Play 1 - Sack Lawson
On Lawson’s sack, he did a number of things well to extremely well. He wins the shoving match against tight end Durham Smythe, with good hand placement and a violent initial push. Smythe backpedals toward Tua Tagovailoa, and as Smythe is off balance, Lawson is able to free himself, grab himself a little quarterback jersey, and finish the play.
Play 2 - Under Pressure ♪
Lawson is lined up opposite left tackle Terron Armstead. Lawson fakes inside, cuts outside, and uses a speed rush to pressure Tagovailoa. On the move, the pass goes a little wild, and the result is an incompletion.
Play 3 - Nobody’s perfect
I like to sprinkle in imperfections to temper things — although to be clear, this isn’t strictly a mistake by Lawson, either. Lawson is allowed a clean lane where he needs to make a decision on who will end up with the ball. Lawson sticks a bit to the outside in case Tagovailoa had kept it. That’s not the case, and he ends up a bit out of position to attack the running back. There’s a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” element to this play.
Play 4 - Timed deflection
Lawson looks like the veteran he is on this play. If you leave a guy untouched on the line, you need to do more than just cross your fingers he won’t make a play. On second thought, I’m not even sure the Dolphins had a plan here for Lawson as thorough as finger crossing. A quick pass here could get a playmaker behind Lawson the ball and take the defensive end away from the ball, but Lawson knows he’s not hitting home, and times a jump into the passing lane for the deflection. It’s also hard to tell from this angle, but on the sideline view, it’s tough to even fathom where Tagovailoa was throwing this.
Play 5 - Shrink the pocket
A lot of positive plays won’t ever hit a stat sheet. Lawson won’t get credit for sack on this play, but he contributed to it. Tagovailoa has a slim window to avoid the sack. The direction he’d need to go to do so is occupied by Lawson. This play embodies the idea of doing your 1/11th.
Shaq Lawson toured the league for a bit after leaving the Bills following the 2019 season, but found his way back to Orchard Park, NY. Lawson won’t be confused for edge rusher Von Miller, but is playing like he’s returned home. Lawson had an overall effective day against one of his former teams, and made a statement about the two organizations with his play on the field.