The Buffalo Bills under head coach Sean McDermott have had a bit of a reputation for trying to do the running-back-by-committee approach. For 2020 this included some back and forth between Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. It appeared this would continue in 2021—until Moss seemingly fell out of favor. Nowhere was this more evident than the Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs. Moss was active but never saw the field. What gives? Perhaps the film has the answers!
There aren’t too many greater truths to be told on this play. I just wanted to show it because of how weird it is to have Stefon Diggs lined up like this. This play gets Kansas City to bite toward the center and it’s easy work to bounce it outside. It’s even easier thanks to the holding by Dion Dawkins. Still, it’s a neat play.
There’s really no way to do this without comparing Moss to Singletary. For me, this is one of the biggest differences between the two. Singletary provides a more consistent blocking presence which is pretty important for a passing team. Moss slows his man here, but I think we’d all like to see it be for a longer duration. Also, Moss isn’t the only one struggling on this play.
Overall I like the balance Zack Moss shows. He recovered well from the first contact and turns back completely into a runner. No stumbles and full body control. After that I get to have my “I told you so” moment. Back when Buffalo drafted Moss, many felt it was the “Thunder” to Singletary’s “Lightning.” I went on record as being skeptical of this as I didn’t see Moss as a people-mover. He spins off the first tackle but the second is more straight on. Moss lowers his shoulder but really doesn’t go anywhere except down.
I actually went on record saying the two backs were far more alike than different. Can you see Devin Singletary making this exact same play? I can. There’s good wiggle on the move, good body control, and great effort.
And here’s some good vision. He sees the tackle coming, dips real quick and keeps running. Note again what happens when someone makes solid contact.
Another look at pass catching from Zack Moss. He’s not doing anything to suggest he’s a home-run threat on plays like this, but there’s some shiftiness that helps get another yard or two.
What happens when Moss meets a wall? It just kind of sticks there. Am I talking football or architectural vegetation? Yes.
Here we have a goal-to-go touchdown, which is where you’d expect your short-yardage back to come in. Moss is in and gets the score, but it’s more about that balance and vision than moving a pile.
It sounds like I’m focusing a lot on that inability to move the pile and, to be fair, I absolutely am. It’s not to criticize Zack Moss though. What I really want to get across is why Moss likely fell out of favor. You’re not a change-of-pace back unless you provide a significantly different skillset than the primary guy. Moss doesn’t do that. It’s more like “continued pace” than a change of one.
Moss is also a bit behind on pass blocking and, from what I and also the stats can tell, he trails in consistency. Moss was a bit uninspiring this past season, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. He had his share of runs stopped for little or no gain. Some of this could be due to play-calling differences when the two backs were on the field but I don’t think all of it can be explained by those potential differences.