Buffalo Bills Breakdown: Keys to Victory Part One: Offensively Speaking
The Bills, however, will need to rely on some key pieces to perform week in and week out in order to compete.
The offensive line will be the biggest hurdle that could trip up the well-laid plans of Dick Jauron and company. Even if all the other pieces come together, without the success of the front five, the Bills' efforts will be in vain.
The release of left guard Derrick Dockery and the trade of Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters has created a void on the left side that will be difficult to fill.
The former starting right tackle for the Bills, Langston Walker, will have the dubious honor of lining up against the likes of Jason Taylor and Julius Peppers week after week. Walker, a mountain of a man at 6' 8" and 366 lbs, has the size and technical ability, but a lack of quickness to defend against a speed rusher.
The current roster's guards, Kirk Chambers at left guard, and right guard Seth McKinney, will have to battle for their positions with two rookies; Andy Levitre—a natural for left guard, or former college center standout, Eric Wood.
Wood and Levitre are both expected to make strong pushes in order to break into the starting lineup.
Another offseason addition is a former starter at center for the Carolina Panthers, Geoff Hangartner, who looks to be the front runner for the center position based on experience.
The right tackle position looks to be anchored by last year's starter at right guard, Brad Butler. Butler, a former tackle in college, is 6'7" and 315 lbs, and played well at right guard as well. The question remains if he will be as successful as a tackle in the NFL.
For the rest of the offense to succeed, the O-line will have to quickly become a team within a team and learn to work together like a well oiled machine. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler will have his hands full trying to get this group to work as a unit.
This blue-collar unit of pieced together jigsaw pieces must come together if the Bills hope to have any success on offense.
QB Trent Edwards has solidified his position as starter for this team with the departure of J.P. Losman, and started looking like a true leader last season. In his second NFL season he put up 11 TD's with only 10 INT's and threw for 2,699 yards in 14 games.
The Bills will need a lot more of that and then some from Edwards.
RB Marshawn Lynch will have to be explosive in the backfield and will have plenty of opportunities to do so after his three game suspension. Lynch has been a workhorse runner that is capable of busting loose for a long one every time he touches the ball.
Lynch is under utilized as a pass-catching threat, but he should have more opportunities underneath with the other additions that the Bills have made.
Fred Jackson and Dominic Rhodes look to be the steady replacements for Lynch. Jackson has been a valuable piece of the Bills' puzzle in the past and is often overlooked, but most Bills fans know the value that Jackson brings to the Bills offense.
Rhodes is very similar to Jackson, just older. Rhodes will see plenty of time early in the season when Lynch is out.
The Bills backfield must be capable of carrying the team and doing a workman-like job of moving the Bills down the field slowly, but steadily.
The one aspect of the Bills team that has received a tremendous amount of attention is the receiving core. In particular, Terrell Owens, and to a lesser extent Lee Evans, but there is more going on here than the obvious.
Yes, T.O. brings a certain dynamic to this team—a physical presence that is remarkable in the red zone.
Yes, Evans will benefit with the addition of T.O., seeing no more double teams and more deep balls.
That is the obvious for the receiving corps, but let's dig a little deeper—what other tools do the Bills have to be successful?
Wide receiver Josh Reed will move to the slot position where he must flourish. Reed needs to be the kind of receiver that can always be counted on for the 8-10 yard pickup, nothing glamorous, just consistency. Reed will deliver.
Rookie tight end Shawn Nelson is a welcome addition to the Bills. At 6' 5", 240 lbs, and with a 4.5 forty time, the former wide reciever will be difficult to contain in passing situations. Nelson will give Edwards another viable threat downfield.
The recievers have gotten much of the attention this offseason, but are not as crucial to success as the other two aforementioned pieces.
Formula For Success
The biggest question for the Bills is whether the offensive line can become a solid unit that is capable of opening holes for Marshawn Lynch and protecting Trent Edwards. so that balls can be delivered down field to Lee Evans and Terrell Owens.
If the O-line can deliver as hoped, the other pieces of the puzzle are already solidly developed and the Bills are capable of making a deep playoff run.
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