It wasn’t until year three for Ryan Bates that he started a game for the Buffalo Bills. And it wasn’t until the end of the year that he was starting for the entire game. The general consensus was that the Ryan Bates experiment went well. Also the scoreboard said the same thing. Let’s take our own look.
Ryan Bates sets himself up well initially. I slow down for what I consider to be the critical error. Bates tries to adjust his left hand, which is all the opening his opponent needs to brush it aside and win the battle to the outside. This rep sets the stage well for “Ryan Bates is not perfect.” That’s important to note, because the rest of this is pretty much “Ryan Bates was very good with this Bills offense.”
During head coach Sean McDermott’s tenure, Buffalo has never been exactly shy about using pulling guards. I don’t have the hard data to back my hunch, but they love using Bates to pull across the formation. As noted the Bills needed one yard. They got six. I point out a guy rolling on the ground. That’s Bates after hitting the line to block for Devin Singletary. He blew right through it. It was more than just Bates who made this play successful, but you don’t often see this.
I always point this out when I see it because not every lineman does this consistently. Not only does Bates make good initial contact, he sets himself up well to turn his man away from the lane by hitting hard with the right shoulder. That’s not always enough, and Bates wins the technique battle after as well.
Linemen are often responsible for multiple possible defenders. Having good peripheral vision is a great asset. Bates not only sees the first guy without looking directly at him, he provides solid contact without looking directly at him. This is the lineman version of the no-look pass. After seeing the first block is well taken care of, he looks for more work too.
I pulled this play simply because it’s so much fun. The fake pull is fantastic. Bates sets himself up perfectly to take on what looked like a free rusher. I made the dang GIF and I’ve still watched it about 100 times on loop.
A couple quick things here. Buffalo trusts Bates to run the silent count and carry out his assignment after. In this case it’s a solo block, which I think we can all agree went well.
Another couple quick things. There’s another silent count, but it’s different. He’s starting from standing, not crouched and looking between his legs. Watching Bates run the silent count felt like there was overall more variation in timing and visual cues than I’ve seen in the past. The second quick thing is his feet. Bates plants hard and slides to his left immediately, sealing off the lane for Josh Allen.
I’m rooting hard for Buffalo to bring Ryan Bates back into the fold. I’ve often noted how linemen are often closer in ability than we like to think, with the major difference between players being the degree they fit in with the players around them and the scheme the team prefers. Ryan Bates fits in. The contract stuff might be a bit tricky but, from a talent perspective, Bates improved an already lethal offense. If you can keep that, you do it.
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