Buffalo Bills Tinker with Offensive Line; Buddy Nix Explains Moves
With only five days left before the start of the regular season, the Buffalo Bills continue to make adjustments to their offensive line.
It is often said that teams use the preseason and summer camp to build cohesion and allow the offensive linemen time to work together so that they can communicate with each other and will know what the guy next to him is doing on every play.
Well, at the rate the Bills continue to play a game of musical chairs with all of their offensive linemen, the internal cohesion that is so definitely desired will be attained sometime around late October or early November.
Now, we can't blame Buddy Nix solely for this, because the 2011 NFL offseason was just one crazy unpredictable ride. I imagine if Nix had the ability to look into the future and know that they were going to acquire Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison, they might have drafted a lineman in the third round also.
The Bills are focused on adding young talent to the offensive line, and we will detail some of the moves made this week to show what changes they are making.
I just listened to an interview Buddy Nix conducted on Tuesday, and we will share some of the insights from that session as well.
Bills Add Sam Young off of Waivers from Dallas Cowboys
On Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills claimed offensive tackle Sam Young off of the waiver wire.
Young had just been released by the Dallas Cowboys, who had just signed an ex-Buffalo Bills lineman, Derrick Dockery. It is ironic how this stuff works out sometimes.
Young was an experienced tackle coming out of Notre Dame, where he started all four years and had experience in 50 games.
Young is huge, at 6'8" and 322 pounds. According to Buddy Nix, he has that right amount of "nasty" to him, which is something Nix likes to see in his linemen. The plan for now is to let Young focus on right tackle.
While at Dallas as a rookie last year (he was drafted in the sixth round by Dallas in the 2010 NFL Draft), Young saw action in only two games, as he missed a portion of the season due to injury.
Young had been scouted by the Bills back in college, and they were happy to see him hit the waiver wire. Young is thought to be stronger at run blocking at this point, so the Bills will start to work with him on improving his overall game.
We also learned that by being claimed off of waivers, Young has to remain on the Bills roster for at least three weeks. To make room on the roster, the Bills released wide receiver Ruvell Martin, who they had recently signed as a free agent in the past 10 days.
One final note is that Naaman Roosevelt has been brought back to the Bills practice squad. To make room for Roosevelt, the Bills released center Michael Switzer from the practice squad, according to WGR's Joe Buscaglia.
Michael Jasper Is Now on the Offensive Line
The other development from this week is that the Bills have decided to convert Michael Jasper back to an offensive lineman, which is what he was playing in college in his senior year.
Jasper was working out with the offensive lineman in practice on Tuesday. At some point, when the Bills think that Jasper has developed more, they will activate him from the practice squad.
I don't think the Bills will let another team claim him, because they are too high on him. That is one of the reasons that they made this switch now.
They didn't want other teams to see him perform on the offensive line so that he could pass through waivers without being claimed. The fear was that if somebody saw how athletic he was, there would be at least a team or two that would take a chance on him as a developmental project.
Another development on the offensive line is that rookie Chris Hairston can now just focus on the left tackle spot. He was flipping back and forth from one tackle slot to the other, and it was slowing down his progress.
So, if Demetrius Bell begins to resemble the player that was horrific in Denver, the Bills will not hesitate to bring in Hairston and see what the rookie can do.
Bell has not been receiving any ringing endorsements from Chan Gailey lately, and whenever Gailey has done that in the past, (James Hardy, Aaron Maybin, Shawn Nelson all come to mind), it is not long before that player is gone.
So, either Bell wakes up and plays with a fire and passion, or he will be exiting stage left.
Bills Keep Adding Size to the Offensive Line
Looking at the newest members of the offensive line, it is clear that the Bills are placing a premium on size and on attitude.
By attitude, we are talking about the will and desire to finish off blocks. Buddy Nix likes to use the term "nasty" to describe the demeanor he looks for in his linemen.
If you look at all of the lineman that Nix has added since he came on board, there is one constant: They are all huge. Here is a rundown of the linemen Nix has brought over since he became general manager:
- Chris Hairston, 6'6", 332 pounds
- Erik Pears, 6'8", 314 pounds
- Chad Rinehart, 6'5", 323 pounds
- Lee Smith (tight end), 6'6", 269 pounds (pictured).
- Kraig Urbik, 6'5", 329 pounds
- Sam Young 6'8", 322 pounds
Nix is assembling a large unit that he thinks will allow the Bills to be more physical at the line of scrimmage and eventually lead to more holes being opened up for the running backs to exploit.
Buddy Nix Radio Interview Observations
Earlier on Tuesday, Buddy Nix sat down with the Shredd & Ragan Show for an in-studio interview. During the show, Nix touched on a number of topics that we have highlighted here for you.
Most people think of Nix as a no-nonsense straight shooter, but there is also a sense that he is a sly country fox, where you are not sure if he is pulling your leg or not.
Anyway, these were some of the more interesting observations brought up in the interview:
Geoff Hangartner was cut because he lacks strength to anchor at the point. Geoff has to be able to back up at guard, (and we didn't think he could). We wanted to go with only seven lineman, with one backup tackle, and one guy to backup center and guards. Geoff was a great community guy and we liked him very much.
Buddy prefers not to talk to agents much. He defers that to other front office personnel. He is not comfortable doing that.
On claiming Sam Young off waivers:
I scouted him in college, so did Doug Whaley. Joe D'Alessandris, our offensive line coach, was familiar with him. Huge man, smart guy, brings the right nasty attitude with him. Much better run blocker than pass blocker. He is not fleet of foot but he finishes blocks. We will play him at right tackle. Sam Young has to stay on our active roster for three weeks because we claimed him off waivers.
Buddy Nix Interview Part Two
On cutting down to 53:
The better we are the harder it gets. Last year we were hunting for players to get to 53. This year, we cut guys that were good players. We cut Naaman Roosevelt. We like Naaman. It got down to a numbers situation. We had six receivers, we normally have five. Plus, we have Brad Smith.
On Lee Evans being traded:
Lee Evans was traded because the trade makes us better. We all liked Lee. Lee was a deep threat. He was not a guy that would go across the middle. We want to ascend and go up and not down. He was not the greatest blocker, or at taking shots when he caught the ball. We hope he will do well in Baltimore. We have no buyer's remorse.
We think Donald Jones is a step up over Evans. He is young, strong and can beat the press.
On owner Ralph Wilson being cheap:
Mr. Wilson has wanted to sign some expensive free agents that I had to talk him out of, on more than one occasion. We can spend the limit of the cap. We are not close to it now. We are just trying to get better players.
Any moves we make, we try to do things that will make our team better. Our moves are not about money or what round a player was drafted in. We have to win games, period. The only way that we will survive and be successful is to win games. We know what the cap is, and we can spend it all.
Buddy Nix Interview: Part Three
On the Tyson Clabo negotiations:
We think he used us to get a better deal for himself from the Falcons. Clabo's agent called us to start with. I think he wanted to stay in Atlanta. We played along only so far in the negotiations.
Claiming Lee Smith:
He is a 270-pound tight end, that is a blocking tight end. He can block a defensive end or a linebacker. He has some nasty to him.
On the offense this year:
Fitz knows the offense better. We're much better in the offensive line, and we are better than people think we are. We just don't have great depth on the outside of our offensive line, and that is why we made the recent moves. It is tough for Hairston to back up both tackles.
On switching Michael Jasper from defense to offense after NFL final cuts were announced:
He weighed 440 in college at one time. He is a genetic freak. We tried to get him down to 350, but we couldn't because he has so much lean muscular mass. He will be a good player. He has played all over. You don't want him looking too good in the preseason (for obvious reasons).
Run defense vs KC:
We will find out how much better we are. We are bigger and stronger. We were knocked around because we were undersized. We can't be smaller like the Colts indoors defense. On bad fields in winter, we need to be bigger and stronger. We accomplished what we wanted to do. It is a hard place to play (in KC). I will watch the game from the press box.
On where the Bills are now in year two in the Nix/Gailey rebuilding effort:
We are on schedule. We feel good about where we are. We are bigger, stronger, faster. We are better all across the board. Not sure how many more wins we will have, but we like the team better.
To listen to the Shredd & Ragan Show interview in entirety, click on this link.