The Bills Offensive Line Got Back to What They Do Well


LeSean McCoy and the Buffalo Bills’ offense currently rank 17th in rushing going into week five, a long way from their number one spot the last two years. The offensive line has had their growing pains in Rick Dennison‘s zone blocking scheme, but the staff picked the perfect week to bust out some old school concepts.


These concepts are ones that the personnel up front are familiar with. To neutralize the Falcons’ fast flowing defense, Dennison and the staff drew up some gap/man runs that attacked Atlanta downhill. They punched them in the mouth and did a great job of re-establishing the line of scrimmage.


Take this power run concept by Mike Tolbert in the 3rd quarter, for example. Here it is drawn up by Grandstand Sports Network’s partner FirstDown Playbook.




Much like the diagram the Bills send out 21 personnel and motion FB Patrick DiMarco into a strong I formation. The defense is in a 4-3 over front, but they shift LB De’Vondre Campbell to the offense’s weak side and drop down hard hitting safety Keanu Neal.


So the pre-snap front is completely different than the FDP diagram, but that’s ok because the offensive linemen have play calls to adjust their assignments. But even that changes post snap. Instead of LT Dion Dawkins and LG Richie Incognito working the double team on the DT then climbing to the backside LB, the DT and DE slant to inside, so Dawkins and Incognito must adjust. They do a great job of just washing the defenders down, taking them where they want to go, so to speak. With that being said, this is what causes a hiccup later.


Center Eric Wood executes a down block on the shade DT, and RT Jordan Mills hinge blocks to seal the backside. This allows RG John Miller to pull left and lead the play.


DiMarco takes an inside out line on the force linebacker in order to ‘kick him out’. RB Mike Tolbert executes a drop step and aims just inside of the guard.


Tight end Charles Clay has a mental lapse on the play. Due to the alignment and movement by the defensive line, Clay should wash down and then work to the backside to pick up Campbell. Instead, he blocks inside linebacker Deion Jones.


Jones is actually Miller’s assignment, and the safety Neal is assigned to WR Jordan Matthews.


Even though Clay missed his assignment, the offensive line absolutely collapsed the defensive front, allowing ‘The Toldozer’ to get downhill for an easy six yards.



That wasn’t the last time they ran the play. Three plays later, Dennison dials it up again, this time out of 22 personnel. Due to the 4-3 over alignment, the offense is able to get two double teams on the play. One of these was executed by Mills and Miller.


The other was taken by Tight ends Nick O’Leary and Charles Clay.


On the snap, C Wood down blocks and Dawkins hinges. Richie pulls and hugs the double team by the tight ends, and leads McCoy through the hole.


DiMarco has an easy block on the overhang cornerback. After working the combo block, Clay works to the second level.


It was blocked up well, but S Neal snatches Mccoy’s leg to hold him to four yards. This drive ate up over 11 minutes and wore down the smaller, faster Falcons defense.


After their success running power and counter trey versus Atlanta, expect Dennison to open up the play book even more against Cincinnati. These plays are here to stay.



Defend and Dictate


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