Cover 1 Mailbag: The Cole Beasley Effect, Offensive Line Combinations and Techniques


We are officially in the dead of the offseason. That means no practices, no film, and not much news to report, which makes it a perfect time to open our lines of communication with you! I took several questions and topics from you, the readers, in our first ever #AskCover1 segment, so let’s jump right in.

Can you compare older Bills play styles to any currents? Any similarities in play styles for any players? (ItsJimmyTwoShoes – Reddit)

I’ll start this off with a bang with two guys who have been in the news lately, Jim Kelly and Josh Allen. The Hall of Famer sat in on some meetings and even “grinded some tape” with the staff and Allen himself, but when I was watching Allen’s tape a couple of years back, his style reminded me of Kelly. Both players had big arms, competitive spirits, wonky mechanics, and pedestrian college statistics. Below, you will see Kelly backpedal to the top of his drop, eerily similar to what Allen was asked to do early last season, then he sails the pass well over Thurman Thomas’s head.

But put both in an empty set and they will make plays!

How will Beasley and Allen’s basketball background help their chemistry? (HardyBoy – Premium Subscriber)

I think that for any receiver on the Bills’ offense to have any sort of success, Allen has to play the point guard role and distribute the pill. “Consistently delivering the ball where it needs to be,” Allen stated in his presser last month. “Ball placement is huge, especially in this league. The type of concepts that we have, trying to get the ball to our playmakers where that can make some plays.” Allen needs to focus on ball placement so that the talent around him can flourish. Their basketball background could help when it comes to understanding the leverage of a defender. Beasley knows how to attack and gain the upper hand, and Allen will be able to distribute the ball once his guy wins leverage.

The 6-foot-5 Wyoming product looks more like a power forward than a point guard, whereas the 5-foot-8 Beasley may be the size of a traditional point guard but dunks like a power forward.


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@OBJ_3 had his so it’s only right to put one of mine up. #cowboysgiantsrivalry

A post shared by Cole Beasley (@bease11) on

Beasley’s 38-inch vertical and 126-inch broad jump were on full display, and it’s that type of explosiveness that he is going to bring to the Bills’ offense on option routes. His burst allows him to separate horizontally from linebackers and slot corners in the short area, and Allen will trust in his new receiver.

Will Beasley slow playing routes (above) allow Allen to get his feet set more effectively and use three-step drops instead of one step drops to throw short (based on the Simms interview, it sounds like a lot of his issues came on single step drops where his base was too wide and throw was all arm)? (HardyBoy – Premium Subscriber)

The quarterback’s progression and footwork typically match the depth and timing of the routes, so adding steps to the drop could time it up even better, so I like where your head is at. But for those who missed it, let’s take a look back at what Allen told Chris Simms in that interview:

Love how @CSimmsQB picked up on this. Hadn’t seen ANYONE talk about it. I assumed it was a comfort thing. He was right ft forward SR yr, square Jr. yr. I was waiting to write this up, glad I don’t have to!

Let’s analyze Allen’s production splits when in Shotgun, specifically 0/1-step drops and 3-step drops. When Allen returned from injury, the Bills dialed up nearly twice as many 0/1-step drops, and his completion dropped from 80% to right around 72%, which is still very good. Overall, Allen completed 75% of his passes when asked to take a 0/1-step drop and 42% when asked to take a 3-step drop, so ask yourself, do we really want Allen taking more 3-step drops?

What I believe is more important than just going to more 3-step drops and the accompanying footwork will be how Allen diagnoses the defense prior to the snap. Daboll wants to funnel the offense through his new slot receiver, much like the Patriots do with Julian Edelman. So I expect the second-year coordinator to utilize a lot of motion to ID the coverage for Allen, making his reads easier in order to continue to utilize a healthy percentage of 0/1-step drops or first-read throws to Beasley. If Allen knows the coverage, then he knows where to begin his reads and where to go with the ball, which typically means better mechanics.

In the end, I think your theory that slow developing routes or routes with multiple breaks could absolutely help Allen set his feet effectively, I don’t necessarily think that means more 3-step drops. I think Beasley was specifically signed because of his ability to help reveal coverages and read coverages, and his ability to separate, making him very QB-friendly. This hopefully means easier reads and decisions, and more efficiency by Allen. That could come from Allen standing tall in the pocket from a 0/1-step drop or throwing in rhythm from a 3-step drop.

What do you expect this offense to look like this season? With so many new pieces, how can they be deployed to beat different defenses? (Anthony – Premium Subscriber)

I expect the offensive line to be much better in both the run and passing game. They will play with a new level of nastiness, and I hope that the offense takes on their identity. All of these new pieces are going to take some time to jell, but they added talent up front and at the skill positions that is going to make it very difficult for defenses to defend. They have much more speed across the board that can really stress coverages vertically and, of course, a QB who isn’t afraid to pull the trigger. After all, Allen did lead the league in deep passing attempt percentage, launching it deep 19.7% of the time in 2018. That’s nearly 3% higher than the next QB, Mitch Trubisky, who attempted 16.8% of his passes deep. But the new-look offense also has the speed and explosiveness from guys like Beasley and TE Dawson Knox to stress the second level horizontally. So they have a better selection of weapons that can stretch a defense vertically AND horizontally versus man AND zone coverage.

Do you think the loser of the right tackle battle gets a chance at guard? (Duncan11jd – Premium Subscriber)

Let me start off by saying that I believe Ty Nsekhe wins the battle, relegating rookie Cody Ford to the bench. In my opinion, Ford could be a very good guard, but this regime seems dead set on trying him at tackle first and you can’t blame them, given Nsekhe’s age. Now, do I think Ford can beat out Jon Feliciano or Quinton Spain? Not to start the season. Ford would likely be playing catch-up at a position he hasn’t played in a couple of years. So any starts at right guard likely would come due to injury or simply because they want to see how he handles himself later in the year, similar to Wyatt Teller last year. The positional flexibility of guys like Spencer Long (C/G), Wyatt Teller (both guard spots), LaAdrian Waddle (both tackle spots), Feliciano (C/G), and Nsekhe (G/T), really open up a lot of different line combinations if injuries or consistency struggles were to arise. Simply put, aside from center Mitch Morse, I think any of the starters up front could be replaced if they aren’t playing up to par. This will hopefully push the starters to be the best versions of themselves.

Will the offensive line technique vary significantly from last year? (William Palladino – Premium Subscriber)

I expect it to. I think offensive line coach Bobby Johnson will bring more variety to the run game — specifically, more quick hitting trap runs up the middle and some perimeter runs via G-pull concepts, similar to what the Colts used to dismantle the Bills’ run defense.

In the passing game, the sets should be much more aggressive with a focus on finishing near the line of scrimmage.

The interior offensive line needs to hold the depth of the pocket with the tackles maintaining the width so that Allen has more space to operate. This will give him the green to focus on his setup and delivery mechanics.

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