Defensive End Role Taking Shape for Bills’ Shaq Lawson

Photo of DE Shaq Lawson from

Shaq Lawson has a chance to become the player we hoped he would a few drafts ago.  It’d only be a few seasons late.  The Buffalo Bills defensive end could function like a bonus pick in 2018, which is a nice way of saying he hasn’t yet had the impact he’d like.

But lost potential is quickly forgotten if it’s recovered today.  I wish the gift shop sold it.

Blame the job category.  Defensive end is one of those positions where staffers may not realize how to do it well for awhile.  It often takes until, oh, a third year for an overwhelmed youngster to convert a preponderance of information into sacks.

Learning moves requires more than a few days in the same way karate men can’t rip out spines until after the dojo’s free trial is over.  The Bills dream of lessons finally clicking for Lawson.

Photo of DE Shaq Lawson from

Changing the way he’s used didn’t help.  The absurdity of Lawson playing linebacker in 2016 was like hiring James Joyce as a copy editor.  This season is almost only his second, as the misunderstood youngster can finally get comfy in his true home.  The present staff is not switching him to safety in an astute move.

You’d think Rex Ryan would have wanted to use his first-round prize properly.  Instead, he was like a DC Comics film producer thinking the audience wanted another superhero movie where you it’s too dark to see anything and Ben Affleck gets to play dress-up.

Photo/meme of Rex Ryan from

The canned buffoon’s fixation on certain players paired with an inflexible dedication to systems is only an unpleasant memory now.  Marry someone so you can tell the spouse what’s wrong with every decision.

All he needed was to be free of the guy who drafted him.  A straightforward attack where Lawson mans his natural position should be good for both player and team.  But the theory didn’t come true last year.  Here’s to more testing finally paying off in experience.

Water is fine, but let it ferment with hops and barley for true magic.  Lawson’s attempting to add speed to power, which is nice in theory.  The actual doing part is tricky.  But the joy of accelerating past a baffled offensive tackle justifies the struggle.  A well-rounded defensive end is a combo as delightful as bacon and maple.

It’s not uncommon for students leave school unprepared for work.  Some whippersnapper athletes are accustomed to overwhelming opponents with a single aspect.  Then they get to work and realize everyone they face is good at everything.  It takes time to develop an arsenal of abilities that’ll trick the other side’s mean technicians.

Photo of DE Shaq Lawson from

The ability to dominate push-up competitions isn’t useless on its own.  Lawson’s evident strength has allowed him to be a stout run defender.  Stopping handoffs around the line of scrimmage is helpful.  But he needs elusiveness to go quarterback-hunting, which is where ends turn from singles hitters into home run derby champs.

Lawson can’t blame a lack of talent alongside his line.  The additions to his position group provide both a good example and useful distraction.  If nothing else, his more proven teammates will have to cope with double-teams, not him.

Finally getting cozy at his position would help the guys stationed out back.  If you thought these safeties were vicious last year, picture them when passes aren’t delivered from a clean pocket.  And Tre White dreams of a quarterback crying while heaving the ball to avoid having his sternum crushed.

Photo of DE Shaq Lawson from and the Associated Press.

The secondary can benefit if the defense can manage more than 27 measly sacks. Lawson only managed four of those.  Even Jordan Poyer, one of the aforementioned safeties, got two.  At least it’ll be easy to improve.  As Ed Wood said, his next one will be better.

There’s a difference between not getting it and not feeling well.  Everyone connected to the Bills hopes Lawson’s health doesn’t factor into his performance again.  He didn’t play until well into his rookie season and missed the end of his second thanks to agony.  Fans condemning him from, say, a cushy recliner should know what it’s like to perform a physical job when the body needs repair.  It’s like a cramp from sitting still for too long, only worse.

It’s easy to wonder when a player will just start producing.  There are a multitude of factors that make each career unique.  While excuses don’t stop passing plays, we can still hope some members of our favorite team just bloom a little late.

Nobody wants to recreate the excitement felt on draft day more than Lawson.  He’s better than Maybin but not yet at Schobel on the Aaron Scale.  With his Bills career in the balance, it’s time for him to make his own name.

Editor’s babble: Shaq Lawson definitely needs to have a breakout year to avoid being added to the long list of Bills’ first round busts over the last couple decades. Thanks to Anthony Bialy for his contributions to our blog. You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy. Happy Hump Day!

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

7 Replies to “Defensive End Role Taking Shape for Bills’ Shaq Lawson”

  1. Speaking of camp studs that disappear in the regular season…talk last year was how Shaq looked like the most impressive player on the field. Let’s see what happens this year.

  2. “Some whippersnapper athletes are accustomed to overwhelming opponents with a single aspect. Then they get to work and realize everyone they face is good at everything.” Sounds like Lawson was used to dominating his competition at every level leading up to the NFL that he took that for granted. Also sounds like last year/this offseason was a wake up call for him. We’ll see if he answers.

    Another issue was the lack of push from the DT’s last season. We would see the DE’s getting around the opposing O-linemen, only to see the QB step up into the pocket and have more than time to throw the ball. Hopefully signing Star Lotulelei will help solve that issue for the Bills and we’ll see opposing QB’s having to step out of the pocket.

  3. Not to mention, that Shaq was hurt coming out of college and missed time last year… The Bills have had bad luck with Clemson players.

  4. he was playing better last season and then ran into an ankle injury- 4 sacks and 17 tackles in 11 games- not bad but definitely not first round draft pick numbers.
    All my life I have been optimistic about Bills players having one last shot to make their mark and it never seems to happen. Shaq will not be back after this season.

  5. “Shaq will not be back after this season.”

    His rookie deal is guaranteed…so as long as he’s not hot garbage or traded, it would be pretty stupid to flat out dump him…then again, Josh Allen. These guys aren’t exactly football Mensas. But Shaq better be the worst DE on the roster if they’re cutting him and paying him not to be there. Unless Hughes steps his game back up considerably, I’d probably sooner part with his 4 sacks and 10 million dollar salary than Shaq’s roster spot and guaranteed salary.

  6. What does it have to do with Shaq? You can’t put it past the front office not to do something stupid. And yes, I’m still upset about Josh Allen. And until either Josh Allen is better than Josh Rosen or Rosen also sucks, I will continue to be upset about Josh Allen until this sorry organization gets a legit franchise QB…either that or until I just drop the Bills like the bad habit they are.