Possibly the biggest remaining question with the 2009 edition of the Buffalo Bills surrounds the offensive line—specifically left tackle position. With Jason Peters traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, Langston Walker steps in as the starter.
Walker performed admirably in the first two games last season, playing the entire first game at left tackle and swapping back and forth during the second game.
The question still remains if he will be able to stand up to a full 16-game season at the left tackle position. If the offensive coaching staff gameplans correctly, he should be able to man the position effectively. Just look at the Arizona Cardinals last season.
They made it to the Super Bowl with Mike Gandy starting at left tackle. Yes, that Mike Gandy who left Buffalo as a disgrace in the fans' eyes. Yet there he was, protecting Kurt Warner en route to a Super Bowl berth.
Who would you rather have at left tackle? Mike Gandy or Langston Walker? Arizona, and countless other teams, have proven that it is possible to gameplan around an average left tackle to hold up on the offensive line.
The Bills have assembled the personnel on the field to help Walker should he need it. Playing in a division in which the other three teams run a 3-4 defense, he will probably need all the help he can get, which is not a slight against him. A 3-4 defense is simply a faster blitzing defense with the linebackers.
However, the running backs and tight ends who have experience are good blockers. Lining up a tight end on Walker's outside shoulder and using a running back to chip the pass rusher could certainly help solidify the left side of the line. Protecting the quarterback is not simply about the offensive line, which is why the Bills could turn out just fine without a premier left tackle in the NFL.
It is not just the blockers that determine whether or not an offense is going to deal with a lot of pressure. It also is dependent on the offensive gameplan as a whole.
The Cardinals last year used a lot of quick slants and other passes designed to get the ball out of Warner's hands early before pressure got to him. Now, I am not saying that Trent Edwards is Kurt Warner, or that Lee Evans and Terrell Owens are Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
However, the three players for the Bills do have the abilities necessary to run a quick West Coast-style offense designed to keep Edwards upright. If Turk Schonert utilizes his weapons correctly, the Bills can succeed without Jason Peters at left tackle.
Oh, and the other starting left tackle in the Super Bowl? Max Starks. Not exactly a Pro Bowl-caliber player, yet the Pittsburgh Steelers still made it to the Super Bowl and won. Just saying.