One of the bright spots in the Bills’ revamped secondary this preseason has been newly-acquired safety Jordan Poyer. The signing of Poyer, a relatively unknown player, didn’t grab a whole lot of national attention, but Bills fans are now starting to realize what he brings to the team.
He shares some similar physical traits to the Bills’ other safety and big ticket free agent, Micah Hyde.
Jordan Poyer comps-Look at who is on the list. pic.twitter.com/ZmQuazWj0w— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 11, 2017
Former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott likes his safeties to be veterans, leaders, and communicators, much like Kurt Coleman in Carolina. McDermott turned Coleman into one of the most consistent safeties in the NFL. His style of play was the embodiment of Carolina’s defense. Coleman wasn’t ever an elite athlete, but he played with grit, intelligence, and high level of competitive toughness. When you watch Poyer, you see a lot of Coleman in him.
“He’s been flying under the radar, his role on this defense is vital,” HC McDermott
When I turned on the film of Poyer back in Cleveland, his physicality and competitive toughness flashed. McDermott plays a lot of cover 4 and cover 3, which are schemes that will often ask safeties to drop into the box or drive hard post-snap to fill a run gap. In these defenses safeties must have a certain mentality, a certain toughness.
I saw two plays from Jordan Poyer from @RDotDeuce & these two plays. I believe he is a starter. McDermotts safeties have a certain mentality pic.twitter.com/HvRX9idytX— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 10, 2017
They must be willing to sacrifice their bodies, sell out versus the run, and basically do whatever it takes to eliminate offenses’ upper hand as they try to outflank the defense.
Poyer is aggressive AND effective versus the run. pic.twitter.com/MlgT1kpf5d— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 10, 2017
The former Oregon State cornerback garnered more high praise from his head coach:
“Love the way he plays, love his brand of football; Works extremely hard, and really personifies what we’re about – With the hard work, with the toughness, he puts the team first.”
You saw that ‘team first’ mentality on the prior play, as he wiped out the oncoming lineman, allowing his teammates to make the play. Here, he does it again. He takes out two blockers and forces Blount to keep running wide, allowing the defense to string him out.
After his game versus the Eagles, you can tell why McDermott had such nice things to say about Poyer. He was extremely disciplined in all aspects of his game last Thursday.
On the following play the Eagles attempt to run an outside zone run, and Poyer plays within the structure of the defense to bring Blount down. He does a tremendous job of diagnosing the wide run, playing under control, leveraging the ball, and wrapping up the big running back with a form tackle. Wrap and roll; that’s how you bring a big back down.
McDermott loves having veterans on the back end of the defense because that position is the ‘quarterback’ of the secondary. They are often responsible for coverages and audibles from play to play. The Bills have two very good ‘quarterbacks’ back there, and it showed on film several times last game.
On this 3rd down play the Eagles bring a trips set to the field and Wentz wants to get the ball deep to the corner. But the secondary drops into zone and exhibits VERY GOOD spacing to deter the throw deep. Poyer is the split field safety to the top of the screen, and post-snap he does a good job of hanging low and not just dropping deep. In this kind of coverage Poyer is supposed to be aware of any of the trips WRs running the bender route down the middle of the coverage, but at the same time keep an eye on the hole that will develop as the LB Humber expands to the sideline.
Poyer does a great job of keeping his spacing and as Wentz throws it to Ertz, he and Wright close and force fourth down.
Very good zone spacing. Wright and Poyer rally to the ball to force 4th down. Little late by Wentz. pic.twitter.com/ndkMkHWBTP— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 19, 2017
The Eagles had a prime opportunity to score in the red zone versus the Bills’ starting defense, but they failed due to very good coverage. On this play, the Bills play 3-on-2 coverage and Poyer, Johnson, and Wright leave no green grass for Jeffery to operate.
As Agholor runs to the flat, turns and looks, all three defensive backs do the same.
Poyer stays over the top, leaving nowhere for Wentz to drop the ball in.
So far this preseason, Poyer’s recognition of route concepts, albeit simple route concepts, and his ability to take away options from the quarterback, were things that I didn’t see consistently on film when he was in Cleveland. That kind of coaching, technique, and improvement should be exciting for Bills fans.
Here he recognizes the high/low concept and forces the QB to go elsewhere.
Awareness and recognition of route concepts seems better already. Good recog on the high low by Brown and Poyer. pic.twitter.com/GgVYG9YzJl— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 19, 2017
Sean McDermott learned under one of the best defensive minds in the late Jim Johnson, and one thing Johnson loved to do was blitz his safeties. That’s exactly what he did on the following play. As the Eagles attempt to run a Run-Pass Option (RPO) McDermott sends Poyer, and Poyer gets in the passing lane, causing the batted pass. This was good play call and awareness by Poyer, as the Eagles had completed that same pass just minutes prior for a big gain.
His play through two games caught Coach McDermott’s eyes, but it will be up to Poyer to continue playing his brand of football. It’s a style that will not only make his coach proud, but it will also win over his teammates and hopefully help the Buffalo Bills win some games in 2017.