After the 2018 season the Buffalo Bills almost entirely blew up their offense. When the dust settled there were a lot of new faces. Interestingly enough, there were two just at right tackle alone. Rookie Cody Ford and the veteran Ty Nsekhe split reps when healthy in what became an intriguing season-long story—a battle of potential ceiling vs. high floor all season. Let’s take a look at one half of this position.
Note: There’s no way to write this without comparing to the “other guy” and, as such, treat the trio of articles as companion pieces. For the GIFs, they focus on two common games (New York Giants, Houston Texans) and one solo game each (Washington, Dallas Cowboys).
The block from Cody Ford is a success, but it could have been a resounding one with a slight change. A defender getting a bit of a step is common, which leads to them showing their side/shoulder like we see here. Cody Ford is trying to push his man backwards but from an awkward position. Leaning into him or even extending his arms would have moved the block away from Josh Allen and further from the throwing lane.
Another successful play for Ford who gets to the second level and finds a block that helps open up the lane. Ford’s battle would have given Frank Gore a couple options had he hit that spot clean.
Passing a block off is pretty common, but this one was a little more aggressively passed off, hence the wording in the GIF. The extra momentum hitting Ford could lead to disaster, but he holds his own pretty well.
Is Cody Ford strong enough to play the position? That would be a “yes.”
This is a weird move to defend as DeMarcus Lawrence became momentarily airborne. While it locks Lawrence in as far as direction of travel, it also forces Cody Ford to deal with a lot of momentum from a 265-lb obstacle. This is likely partially responsible for Ford’s feet freezing. That said, you’d still prefer to see that right foot slide better. Think of this contest as a race between Lawrence and Ford. Now imagine Ford is backwards at the starting line and has to turn before accelerating. That’s why turning is a bad habit. You’ll nearly always lose. Instead, sliding right makes the contest go from a race into a shoving contest. Ford has a better shot at winning the latter.
See? Ford owns the shoving contest against Lawrence. This play is selected, however, because you can’t coach certain things—one of them being reaction time. Ford is focused on Lawrence when Jon Feliciano passes off a second block. Despite seeing it very last second, Ford is right there to help.
For Cody Ford, it was important to make sure to watch games across the entirety of the season. This is a lot like far too many plays I could have picked out where Ford’s feet betrayed him. Additionally, this one is against some of the hardest competition he’s had. Ever. But good feet = good block. And that’s before Feliciano helps finish it off.
Look, he’s getting better but old habits die hard. Josh Allen almost did as well.
Let’s end on a positive note against J.J. Watt. A lot of the things I’ve cited as flaws go the other direction on this play. His feet move well and he has good leverage. When Watt starts to slip around, Ford drives him out wider rather than trying to hold him back by his chest. It’s not a perfect block, but against this level of competition it’s an excellent performance.
This is the eye-test portion of the great, right-tackle battle of 2019 and you’re looking at my hand-selected runner up of the competition. Cody Ford demonstrated that physically he belongs in the NFL and can handle business at the right tackle spot all year long. When it came to technique, though, he was never going to make anyone shocked to learn he was a rookie. He did improve as the season wore on and made it a closer race. But Ty Nsekhe’s experience in the game and overall better technique made it an easier decision to rotate linemen.