Happy Tuesday, Bills Mafia! I hope everything is going well in all your everyday lives. Everyone knows what happened this past Sunday, so I won’t harp on it too long. Stefon Diggs balled out (again), John Brown had a good game that ended too soon, A.J. Klein had another strong outing, and Tyler kicked the living Bass out of the ball.
Cole Beasley also played a key role in that game as well, catching 11 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. He carved up Arizona’s defense like the Thanksgiving turkey Americans will consume in a week from Thursday. Buffalo has never had a slot receiver like him before. However, when he shakes off defenders and makes spectacular catches it reminds me of former fan favorite, Stevie Johnson. So, in this week’s “2020 Vision”, I will compare the game play of the scrappy slot receiver to the bold and brash number one target.
Both Beasley and Johnson have an innate ability to shake and bake defenders both in open field and tight coverage. There is a ton of film out there that we could examine (see supplemental videos #1, 2, and 4 in the Author’s Notes), but for the sake of readability, I will look at one play for each receiver.
Beasley’s TD Reception vs. Arizona (Week 10, 2020)
1.) Beasley works outside as he approaches Patrick Peterson at the start of his route.
2.) Beasley does a quick three-step shuffle, forcing Peterson to plant outside to obstruct his route.
3.) Except Beasley moves inside, leaving Peterson in his wake and crossing the field uncovered en route for the touchdown.
Stevie’s TD Reception vs. New Orleans (Week 8, 2013)
1.) Johnson starts off moving outside as Kenny Vaccaro prepares to contest the outside route.
2.) Johnson counters with a two-step pivot to the inside, causing Vaccaro to react a second too late.
3.) After some brief contact, Johnson finds open field for six points.
Both players also have the ability to make extraordinary acrobatic catches as well. At 6’2” and 210 lbs., Johnson was not only a threat in deep pass and 50-50 situations, he made them look easy. Beasley, the 5’8”, 178 lb. slot receiver, should not physically be able to make those jump ball catches, but has done so multiple times throughout his career (see supplemental video #3). Once again, let’s look at the film.
Beasley’s One-Handed Catch vs. Arizona (Week 10, 2020)
With 2:57 left on the clock, Josh Allen took the snap and backpedaled to avoid the oncoming pass rusher (and teammate Dion Dawkins). At 2:56, he threw an off-balanced pass that would result in an incompletion 99 out of 100 times. This was that one other occasion as Beasley extended himself and the drive with an Odell Beckham-like leap and toe tap. It was as majestic as his long, flowing blonde hair and as dope as his rap album.
Stevie’s 5-yard TD vs. Jacksonville (Week 5, 2010)
On this occasion, Johnson was lined up for a standard goal-line fade route. When the ball was snapped, the hand fighting began as Johnson battled his way into the end zone and created enough space to catch the pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick. The truly amazing part of this play is that he somehow twisted his torso to make the grab while keeping his legs pointed towards the back of the end zone. It was (*chef’s kiss*) perfection, even if it made me wince watching it repeatedly.
This all goes to show that big plays can come from players of all sizes. Cole Beasley has put together two solid seasons in Buffalo so far and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. He is also a likable guy on and off the field, having become a fan favorite just as quick as he cuts on hitch routes. As a player, he is just like Stevie Johnson; some may say that he’s Johnson’s (*dramatic spy music*) “Mini Me”.
* Player bios (height and weight) provided by Pro Football Reference.
* Game film and Screenshots provided by YouTube.
- Supplemental Videos: (1) Cole Beasley Route Running, (2) Arthur Moats Breaks Down Cole Beasley’s TD vs. Raiders, (3) Cole Beasley Circus Catch, (4) Stevie Johnson Bills Highlights.
* I would like to thank my editor, Adam Nannini, for helping me come up with this topic and for giving me this platform to write about the Buffalo Bills.
What do you think? How do these two stack up? Let me know on Twitter (zvaughn2712).