In a recent Buffalo Rumblings story, you wrote, "Jason Peters was traded. Derrick Dockery was unceremoniously released. Duke Preston and Melvin Fowler? "Departed as free agents." Langston Walker is the new left tackle, and college tackle/pro guard Brad Butler is now manning the right side. Three new players - Geoff Hangartner, Eric Wood and Andy Levitre - will take over blocking duties against the division's excellent 3-4 nose tackles. Change doesn't always have to be good..." How will these moves affect the Bills' offense? Could this be a good "house cleaning" or are you worried? Also, give us your insight into a Hangartner/Wood/Levitre vs. Vince Wilfork matchup. (from Dave)
I feel obliged to point out that I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek when that particular chunk of text was written. Buffalo's offensive line was so terrible in 2008 that it's going to be alarming if the unit is worse next season.
In terms of the changes affecting Buffalo's offense, the impact should be fairly significant schematically. The Bills' blocking schemes will be altered; Peters was left on an island on nearly 100% of pass plays for the past two seasons, but that's not likely to continue with Walker on the left side. You'll see a more balanced line with more traditional blocking schemes; those were altered thanks to Peters' unique talents. But you'll see the same basic play calls that you saw from Buffalo in 2008 - altered slightly for a certain Mr. Owens, of course. Don't forget about that no-huddle, either.
As for the Wilfork matchup - well, I call Wilfork unblockable for a reason. Buffalo needs to get to the point where Wilfork is merely good in games against the Bills instead of downright dominant. There's a lot to like about Hangartner, Wood and Levitre, but we haven't seen any of them play a down in Bills uniforms yet. It's difficult to make predictions based on the lack of exposure. We'll wait and see, but I'm certainly far more optimistic that our new interior linemen will be able to compete with the likes of Wilfork than I was with last year's group.
I'll be looking to see if the Bills' O line can improve based on some of the changes Brian has outlined above. That is, when we're not playing them. Wilfork will still be dominant based on the inexperience of the players going up against him.
Thanks to Brian for his info on the O line. Head over to Buffalo Rumblings where I discuss Randy Moss' comments about the state of the 2009 offense.