Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone (left) talks with offensive lineman Colin Brown (74) as the guards and centers practice blocking during Tuesday's session of training camp at St. John Fisher College.
Pressure is on for Bills offensive line
PITTSFORD – If it’s true that numbers never lie, than the Buffalo Bills boasted one of the most efficient offensive lines in the NFL the past two seasons.
In 2011, the Bills o-line gave up just 23 sacks, which was the lowest of any team in the NFL. Last season, the line took a step back, but still ranked in the top ten in sacks allowed, giving up just 30.
Last season, the line was led by center Eric Wood, along with left tackle Cordy Glenn and guard Andy Levitre. It appeared Buffalo finally had a solid offensive line core in place, a position at which they had struggled with for years, before Levitre bolted to Tennessee in the offseason.
Now, after losing a star guard and undergoing a quarterback change, the line is under new pressure all over again to live up to their past work.
“We expect a lot out of ourselves,” said Wood. “We expect to get better each day out here, through camp and during the season. We expect high performance throughout the year. I think we have a really good group up front and if we continue to get better, I don’t think we will miss a beat this year and we’ll be able to get back to where we were.”
Glenn, the second-year pro out of Georgia, agrees that camp is about working towards the future, not thinking about what they’ve already done.
“We can’t really worry about that,” said Glenn, about the line’s past success. “We know as a line that we’ve just got to keep working and get better every day. That’s all we can do and that’s the only thing we can hope for.”
Head coach Doug Marrone is pleased with how the front five is playing thus far. Tuesday’s practice was the first day in pads, and Marrone was able to see a little more out of them than in previous sessions.
“They’re coming along,” said Marrone. “You talk about fundamentals and technique, and you have to work on it quite a bit. You’re not going to see a quick change automatically, and that’s one of the things that I tell the players. But if we keep working on it, we’ll start to see that carry over onto the field. I feel good about that.”
Marrone, a former offensive lineman at Syracuse University, before playing with the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints, is often spotted working hands-on with the line during practice. He gets right into the drills, and even snaps the ball to his quarterbacks during the individual period.
“I do like it,” said Marrone. “You’ll see it throughout training camp. I’ll be working with them and catching myself up to what I’m not able to visually see when I go back and watch the film.”
Wood and Glenn also enjoy the special attention they get from their coach.
“It’s great just having multiple o-line coaches,” said Glenn. “We’re getting plenty of help and more help makes me better. I’m all for it.”
“He’s got a lot of experience,” said Wood. “And the o-line’s he’s coached, I have a lot of respect for. Those guys performed at a high level. So, we’re all very excited to work with Doug through individual drills.”
The new system and new quarterbacks won’t mean a thing if the line can’t give either Kevin Kolb or EJ Manuel time to throw the football. They will definitely have a big role to play this season.