The Buffalo Bills seem to have found a gem in third-round pick Spencer Brown, but his ascension into the starting lineup and the benching of disappointing former second-rounder Cody Ford has one insider asking — What took so long?
Brown has turned in some strong performances since moving into the starting lineup and has been credited with helping spark the sputtering rushing game. But while the Bills have been praised for finding Brown, they are also taking some criticism for hanging onto Ford too long.
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Bills ‘Boneheaded Decision’ at Offensive Line
Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski ran through the most “boneheaded decision” made by all 32 franchises this year. While there may have been some more egregious decisions — like the Panthers trading for Sam Darnold or the Bears drafting Justin Fields with no plan in place for him to succeed — Sobleski still criticized the Bills for moving too slowly in replacing Ford with Brown.
“The logic seemed sound: Cody Ford should be counted among the Buffalo Bills’ starting five after being a part of the lineup for the last two seasons,” Sobleski wrote. “Third-round pick Spencer Brown would sit and learn after not playing football during the COVID 19-adjusted campaign.
“By Week 4, the Bills coaching staff had benched Ford and placed Brown in the starting lineup. The rookie’s inclusion should have come sooner considering the impact he’s had at right tackle.”
Sobleski is not the only one who believes the Bills blundered in selecting Ford and hanging onto him for too long. Bleacher Report colleague Chris Roling wrote that drafting Ford was the franchise’s biggest mistake over the last five years.
“Projected as a tackle, Ford made it in all 16 games as a rookie and got called for eight penalties and allowed seven sacks, earning a 52.4 Pro Football Focus grade (a replaceable grade, the lowest mark on the grading scale),” Roling wrote.
“Buffalo kicked Ford inside as a sophomore and over seven appearances, he graded at a 53.8, albeit with no sacks allowed. It’s the sort of poor early drafting a team like Buffalo can’t afford when trying to build around a player like Josh Allen.”
The Bills could be without Brown for the immediate future, however. He was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week, with no clear timeline from the team of when he could return.
Brown Earns Praise
After the Bills struggled to effectively run the ball during two weeks while Brown was out with a back injury, the rookie tackle moved back into the starting lineup against the New York Jets and helped to spark a strong ground attack. The Bills ran for a total of 139 yards with four different players scoring rushing touchdowns, and head coach Sean McDermott praised the energy that Brown brought to the field and his approach to the game.
“He is a young player that has to continue to learn what it takes to play in this league and he knows that and that humble and hungry approach is real and we need to carry that forward next week,” McDermott joked to reporters, via Syracuse.com.
Some had even bigger praise for Brown’s performance.
“Not sure I’m totally kidding when I say Spencer Brown should be considered for Rookie of the Year,” tweeted Nate Geary, the pregame and halftime host of the team’s radio broadcast on WGR 550.