Ike Boettger had a very quiet free agency, especially with the hubbub surrounding Ryan Bates’s new contrast. Last year’s main starting left guard returns to the Buffalo Bills, although he’ll be returning from an Achilles injury. Let’s take a look at what he brought to the table in 2021, and what the Bills hope to have back.
Last time I took a look at Ike Boettger it was the year of the phrase “not a mauler.” Boettger made the list that I attached the phrase too and I don’t think anything has changed. On this play, he enters the block with a high stance and doesn’t have a leg planted to prevent himself from being walked back. Boettger still slows the defender down, and plenty long enough for Josh Allen to get a throw off.
I always like to point out if a player can be counted on to run the silent count, and Buffalo thinks Boettger can be that player. For the blocking, Boettger passes off the first opponent to Dion Dawkins and needs to adjust to a quick defender coming in. I highlight the right leg as Boettger lifts it as he’s pivoting and holds it in the air until he establishes the right angle of attack. The leg comes down hard to plant and it’s a primary factor in why he’s able to drive his second man around Allen.
There are many different tools in a blocker’s kit, with some players preferring to punch and others preferring to latch on. Boettger is a frequent latcher, grabbing on and trying to maintain blocks with constant contact. Kudos to Boettger here who lets go right before this would be a holding flag.
And here’s where we see if Boettger really fits in. The focus for Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates, and Spencer Brown was seemingly their ability to work on the move. Boettger doesn’t seem as quick as that trio but navigates well here. Boettger hits with force, making sure his part of the lane is quite secure.
Similarly, here Boettger is asked to get to the second level and find someone to hit. That can get a bit tricky for the big men as they’re now being asked to match up against speed and agility. Boettger starts off well, creating some hesitation initially, which leads to solid contact. Boettger can’t maintain the block though, losing out to the agility of his opponent. It’s not until after a decent chunk of time though.
I could have pointed this out above, but here’s a better angle of something you like to see when players are blocking on the move. When Boettger hits, he turns his back to where the play will hopefully develop. Naturally that makes it harder for the opponent to try to cut into the running lane.
There’s often a desire to compare players and rank/rate them, but for offensive linemen this gets very tricky. It’s often less about overall talent, and more about fit. Ike Boettger is a solid player with good value. On the Bills that value should be considered higher. He’s unlikely to push any piles, but his skillset matches that of the rest of the line. He can work on the move and is versatile enough to give Josh Allen and company options. It’s not a flashy signing, but it’s a good one.