Jordan Mills has started the last 54 for the Buffalo Bills (including playoffs), a streak that started on December 6th, 2015. While never achieving the status of “fan favorite” Mills has been a part of offenses that boast incredible rushing numbers and above average scoring. Despite some success, Mills is frequently cited as a weak link with many asking for a change at right tackle. Which one is the real Mills?
Jordan Mills takes on Melvin Ingram who is widely regarded as “no slouch.” We have good and bad here as Mills steps into the block at nearly full height. This allows Ingram to get underneath. Despite the technique concern, Ingram only manages to briefly rock Mills, who quickly recovers. Mills often comes out ahead in head-on collisions as he has plenty of strength to be a successful tackle.
With a better stance, a less imposing opponent and a step before impact Mills gets Isaac Rochelle to move off his spot quite handily. This is Mills at his best, which helps explain why he’s been part of a successful offense in the past.
Mills’s best play based on the call is to step inside to seal that lane while John Miller pulls to the right. Mills’s left foot moves where it ought to go, but his right foot gets him in trouble. A wide stance helps balance, but Mills goes too wide and prevents a quick shift to his left. As a result he rapidly loses the block.
This is a best-case scenario for Jordan Mills on the move. He’s able to shuffle right and square his block. As a result, he’s able to plow forward, which we’ve seen he’s not too bad at. LeSean McCoy has a wide running lane with a big part of it being cleared by Mills. When unable to get his shoulders situated like we see here, Mills is less effective.
To be fair to Jordan Mills, J.J. Watt makes a lot of players miss blocks. The thing to note on this clip is that Mills’s hands don’t help him at all. Defenders with fast hand work were typically successful against Mills. With his best asset being strength, it’s nullified by a sweep of the hands. Suspect footwork as seen here and above means he can’t always rotate and follow the defender either.
J.J. Watt had a good day against Jordan Mills, but even against one of the best in the league Mills still had his moments. An early miscalculation on Watt’s speed has Mills stepping awkwardly to catch up. Once he does, he anchors against a running Watt quite well.
This one might sound familiar. Mills doesn’t budge when shoved, but has his arm pushed aside by Cameron Wake. Wake then uses superior footwork to navigate around Mills and back into the play.
Based on the other seven plays, this one should come as no surprise. Reshad Jones gets a quick step to the outside and Mills never recovers. Trying to keep up he completely turns around and starts chasing Jones.
Which Jordan Mills do we have? The one who helped lead a potent attack, or the one who shouldn’t be on the team in 2019? Well, it’s both. We’ve covered enough linemen for my big reveal. None of the linemen employed by Buffalo are terrible. In fact, they’re all pretty average. The problem is that they’re all average at different things.
Let’s pretend we’ve been asked to choreograph a performance using five dancers. They’re all average talent. If they’re all average at ballet we can simply choreograph to that style and have a serviceable performance. But what if two were ballet dancers, two knew a good deal of hip-hop, and one had some sick robot moves? You’re going to struggle to make your troupe work cohesively.
It’s not a question of whether Jordan Mills is talented enough for the Bills to try to retain. The better question is does he fit the style they’re looking to run. With a new offensive-line coach this is a difficult question to answer. With 2018 in consideration, the Bills aren’t doing anyone any favors by putting Mills back out there as a starter.