I know, I know. Short week, terrible game by the Buffalo Bills. Why are we still dwelling on the New England Patriots? Well, this time I’m hoping to give us something to look forward to in Week 8. The recent injury to tight end Dawson Knox means we’ll be seeing more from rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid in all likelihood.
It’s bad news for Knox (who I like better than many) but Bills Mafia were already clamoring for more Kincaid before the injury was announced. Perhaps that’s due to the eight receptions on eight targets against the Patriots. Or the fact that he was third in receptions coming into the game and second leaving it. A 92.6% catch rate and a 7.7 average yards per reception means Kincaid is already a reliable outlet for quarterback Josh Allen and a likely chain mover.
Now some of the dynamics may change a bit with Knox out, but let’s check in on a few highlights with the wish that we’ll see plenty more.
On first down, the Bills could use a good chunk to get started. Dalton Kincaid was lined up looking like he may block. Which he did — a little bit anyway. Kincaid chipped and released to make the catch. The highlight here was the quick turn and acceleration. Often I’d describe this kind of action as “smooth.” It’s not for Kincaid on this play as he seemed to grab the ball and “snap” in the direction he wanted. It’s the catch, sudden movement, and acceleration that turned this into an eight-yard play.
At the risk of ranting over a single play, this sudden twist to turn upfield is something to perhaps come with caution at times. You’ve heard of players trying to run before they’ve made the catch and this is on the fringe of that. On the other hand... catch rate.
This was Kincaid’s longest catch of the game at 15 yards on first down. The Bills ran a two-tight-end formation and sent Kincaid on a route as a large, slot receiver. One-on-one with linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, Kincaid ran a good route for any player, let alone a tight end. Seemingly simple, the 240-pound Kincaid sold the cut to the right and made Bentley bite. The result was a wide-open grab.
Now lined up as a wide receiver, Kincaid caught a quick out (note that the ball was a bit low). I have you focus on the motion after the catch. While most tight ends should be able to push forward a bit through a typical defender, Kincaid lined up his impact toward the shoulder of his would-be tackler. Rather than plow through the player in front of him, that allowed Kincaid to glance off and push forward easier. Credit on the wrap during the tackle as Kincaid couldn’t entirely get past.
A little hint on GIF creation. Often if I find something interesting, I just record it and highlight it. If I see it a few more times after the first spot, I know I have a pattern and I can call it a “trait.” If I struggle to find it again, I can call it a “ceiling” or “potential.” Remember that thing I just said above about lining up hits to the shoulder of his opponent to gain yards after contact? That’s a trait.
Each of the first four plays occurred on first down. That was intentional on my part. In just four clips (half his targets for the game), Kincaid converted two first downs into another first down, and on two others he gained a huge chunk to make things easier on the rest of the team. That’s absolutely one way to be reliable and help the offense. Another is simply making the easy catch on an easy play.
Here, Kincaid skirted the line to gain so that when he made the catch, anything else he could do would be gravy. On 4th & 2, he gained four and made it relatively stress free.
So far the season hasn’t lived up to our expectations. Dalton Kincaid on the other hand, has. Kincaid was lauded as being sure-handed and more of a large wide receiver than a traditional tight end. I think all of that is true. While I’m not suggesting he start getting measurements for a gold jacket just yet, he’s proven capable of giving Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills a reliable source of chunk yards. Against the Patriots, he provided the Bills with consistently manageable follow-up downs and was a major bright spot during a very dismal day. If more components of the offense start meeting their potential, we may have some fun yet this year.