Where Richie Incognito Will Help the Buffalo Bills


Where Richie Incognito Will Help the Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills took their first big risk of the season on Saturday, when the team announced the signing of troubled veteran guard Richie Incognito. Although he’s been out of football for more than a year following his highly publicized off-field issues, the one-year, $2.25 million contract the Bills invested in him is a minor risk that could actually pay huge dividends — if it works out.

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Incognito is an interesting player to say the least though. While he was once voted the league’s dirtiest player in 2009, and second dirtiest in 2012, he was also a Pro Bowl player in 2012. If the Bills get a similar output from his four seasons in Miami, they will have an above-average guard who mauls in the run game and is actually not that bad from a technical standpoint.

Right now, he figures to slide into the Bills left guard position, and will likely only lose the job if he does something stupid off the field again. Which, given his past, is entirely possible. However, playing next to left tackle Cordy Glenn, Incognito can thrive much like he did in Miami when he played next to Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways Incognito will help the Buffalo Bills offensive line:

In the run game, Incognito is a powerful lineman that can drive defenders at the point of attack with his raw strength. He creates good leverage, scrapes off double teams and gets to the next level at a very effective rate.

An example of his power, when able to square up, is when the Dolphins took on the Patriots in 2012. Although Vince Wilfork gave Incognito fits for most of the game, their were a few instances, like the one below, where he was able to square up with Wilfork and more than hold his own.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Lining up head-on with Wilfork, slightly over his outside shoulder, Incognito will have to be quick out of his stance to help open up the A-Gap for a designed QB draw.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Squaring up at the point of attack, Incognito creates good leverage and is able to push Wilfork outside of the A-Gap, opening up space for not only the designed QB draw, but for himself to work Wilfork from the inside-out.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Once Incognito extends, he pushes Wilfork to the outside and gains leverage on him. Unfortunately, Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love swims guard John Jerry and blows up the play for a loss.

Although many draws utilize pass pro concepts that transition into a run play, this is one example of how well Incognito blocks when he is able to square up at the point of attack. Despite his raw power, he does have a tendency to be over-aggressive in the run game and can lean into defenders, allowing them to slip off of his block and get up the field.

But with his excellent strength, he proves to be a consistent force in the run game. His aggressive nature translates well, as he comes off the snap hard and adjusts in space to help him get to the second level and finish plays.

In pass protection, Incognito is an adequate blocker that could use some polish. Despite his power, he can struggle to contain defenders when he is forced to move laterally, specifically when defenders attack the left side of his stance, often leaving him susceptible to a swim or stutter step move. However, when he extends his arms and locks with pass rushers, Incognito is an effective pass blocker that creates space and can anchor down with power.

An example of him anchoring down a defender is when the Dolphins played the 49ers in 2012.

On this particular play, it is second-and-nine with Miami in 11 personnel. The 49ers are lined up in a 2-4-5 formation, with Incognito set to go one-on-one with nose tackle Ricky Jean-Francois.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Incognito immediately fires off the snap and gets great extension on Jean-Francois.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

From there, he anchors him and gives Tannehill space to climb in the pocket and get a pass off, even with Aldon Smith creating pressure off the edge.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Although the knock on his lateral movement is perhaps a bit of a nitpick, since he does have solid footwork, it is still worth mentioning.

In comparison to the Bills dreadful guard play last year, Incognito is certainly an upgrade over often-injured starter Chris Williams, declining veteran Kraig Urbik, and rookie Cyril Richardson.

Of course, the main issue for Buffalo is deciding how comfortable they are with taking a risk on entrenching Incognito in the starting lineup, knowing that one off-field issue could blow up any plans made at guard.

But after starting four different players at guard last season, I’m sure Bills’ fans won’t mind taking a chance on Incognito.

What do you think Bills’ fans? Is Incognito worth the risk? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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