Buffalo Bills Offensive Line Review: Right Guard

While the right tackle position was an obvious mess all season for the Buffalo Bills, right guard was also quietly less than settled. Eric Wood began the season while still recovering from a nasty leg injury. Not wanting to push Wood too far too fast, Chan Gailey pulled him for series long breathers in Weeks 3, 4 and 5. Enter waiver-wire addition Kraig Urbik.

After spelling Wood for brief periods in the first part of the season, Urbik wasn't called upon again until taking over in the Bengals game. While Wood only missed the next two games due to injury, he had played his last snap at right guard in 2010, as he was forced to return to the lineup at center, where he closed out the season.

Urbik was called off the bench for the Pittsburgh game, and then maddeningly split reps with Cordaro Howard in the debacle in the then-structurally-sound Metrodome. Howard and practice squad signee Chad Rinehart split reps against Cleveland after Urbik landed on IR; Rinehart became the full-time right guard to close out the last three games.

Yeah, I think I had blocked out all that chaos, too.

I wanted to do the same sort of amalgam charts that I had done for right tackle. However, I realized that that really wouldn't tell the whole story. After all, the real questions people want answered, in my estimation, are:

1. How did Eric Wood do at right guard (and center - but that's the next in the series installment)?

2. How did Chad Rinehart do, and could he be the starter in 2011?

So, I've got four charts below. The first two represent the amalgam of the performance the Bills received from the various individuals who manned the right guard position. The third and fourth charts (mushed together inside of a copy of the single chart used for the amalgam) show Eric Wood and Chad Rinehart extracted from the amalgam. I was too lazy to do charts for Urbik and Howard.

Right Guard Run Grades - 2010 Season
Week Player(s) Good Decent Bad Killed Grade
1 (MIA) E. Wood 1 13 0 0 76.4
2 (@GB) E. Wood 6 20 3 0 77.1
3 (@NE) E. Wood, K. Urbik 6 15 1 0 79.6
4 (NYJ) E. Wood, K. Urbik 1 8 2 1 73.2
5 (JAC) E. Wood, K. Urbik 6 11 2 0 78.0
7 (@BAL) E. Wood 8 22 2 0 78.8
8 (@KC) E. Wood 6 19 2 1 78.0
9 (CHI) E. Wood 5 12 1 1 79.4
10 (DET) E. Wood 9 22 2 0 79.2
11 (@CIN) E. Wood, K. Urbik 5 15 1 1 78.8
12 (PIT) K. Urbik 2 14 0 0 77.5
13 (@MIN) K. Urbik, C. Howard 3 15 4 0 74.1
14 (CLE) C. Howard, C. Rinehart 4 35 1 0 76.5
15 (@MIA) C. Rinehart 4 17 5 2 74.2
16 (NE) C. Rinehart 5 6 1 0 81.7
17 (@NYJ) C. Rinehart 1 15 2 1 73.9
Totals 72 259 30 7 77.3
Right Guard Pass Grades - 2010 Season
Week Player(s) Good Decent Bad Killed Sack Help Grade
1 (MIA) E. Wood 2 36 2 1 0 0 75.0
2 (@GB) E. Wood 1 24 2 1 0 0 74.3
3 (@NE) E. Wood, K. Urbik 1 29 2 1 0 0 74.4
4 (NYJ) E. Wood, K. Urbik 1 29 4 1 0 0 73.2
5 (JAC) E. Wood, K. Urbik 0 37 2 0 0 0 74.0
7 (@BAL) E. Wood 3 44 0 0 0 0 76.3
8 (@KC) E. Wood 1 57 1 0 0 0 75.0
9 (CHI) E. Wood 0 48 6 1 0 0 72.8
10 (DET) E. Wood 3 20 2 0 0 0 75.8
11 (@CIN) E. Wood, K. Urbik 1 33 3 1 1 0 73.9
12 (PIT) K. Urbik 2 45 4 2 0 0 74.2
13 (@MIN) K. Urbik, C. Howard 1 25 1 0 0 0 75.0
14 (CLE) C. Howard, C. Rinehart 0 26 1 0 0 0 74.3
15 (@MIA) C. Rinehart 3 27 2 0 0 0 75.6
16 (NE) C. Rinehart 0 21 0 0 0 0 75.0
17 (@NYJ) C. Rinehart 0 26 3 0 0 0 72.9
Totals 19 526 35 8 1.0 0 74.5

By the way, I only track 'help' numbers with the tackles, given that it's pretty rare to see a back or tight end chip to help an interior lineman. Also, I had to transfer in these number manually, so I'm hoping that I didn't screw any of the transcription up too badly.

Eric Wood and Chad Rinehart Run Grades - 2010 Season
Week Player(s) Good Decent Bad Killed Grade
1 (MIA) E. Wood 1 13 0 0 76.4
2 (@GB) E. Wood 6 20 3 0 77.1
3 (@NE) E. Wood 6 14 0 0 81.0
4 (NYJ) E. Wood 1 7 2 1 73.0
5 (JAC) E. Wood 5 9 2 0 78.8
7 (@BAL) E. Wood 8 22 2 0 78.8
8 (@KC) E. Wood 6 19 2 1 78.0
9 (CHI) E. Wood 5 12 1 1 79.4
10 (DET) E. Wood 9 22 2 0 79.2
11 (@CIN) E. Wood 4 9 0 0 81.1
Wood Total 51 147 14 3 78.5
14 (CLE) C. Rinehart 4 19 0 0 78.5
15 (@MIA) C. Rinehart 4 17 5 2 74.2
16 (NE) C. Rinehart 5 6 1 0 81.7
17 (@NYJ) C. Rinehart 1 15 2 1 73.9
Rinehart Total 14 57 8 3 76.5
Eric Wood and Chad Rinehart Pass Grades - 2010 Season
Week Player(s) Good Decent Bad Killed Sack Help Grade
1 (MIA) E. Wood 2 36 2 1 0 0 75.0
2 (@GB) E. Wood 1 24 2 1 0 0 74.3
3 (@NE) E. Wood 1 26 1 1 0 0 75.0
4 (NYJ) E. Wood 1 21 3 1 0 0 73.4
5 (JAC) E. Wood 0 32 1 0 0 0 74.4
7 (@BAL) E. Wood 2 44 0 0 0 0 76.3
8 (@KC) E. Wood 1 57 1 0 0 0 75.0
9 (CHI) E. Wood 0 48 6 1 0 0 72.8
10 (DET) E. Wood 3 20 2 0 0 0 75.8
11 (@CIN) E. Wood 1 21 3 1 1 0 73.4
Wood Total 13 329 21 6 1.0 0 74.6
14 (CLE) C. Rinehart 0 11 1 0 0 0 73.3
15 (@MIA) C. Rinehart 3 27 2 0 0 0 75.6
16 (NE) C. Rinehart 0 21 0 0 0 0 75.0
17 (@NYJ) C. Rinehart 0 26 3 0 0 0 72.9
Rinehart Total 3 85 6 0 0 0 74.4

Wood, unsurprisingly, was the best of the men who played right guard. He played the majority of ten games at right guard. His 78.5% run grade and 74.6% pass grade are better than the amalgam and better than Rinehart. Moreover, Wood - through almost 10 games - had just under half of the bad and killed run plays by right guards, while posting two-thirds of the good plays. On passing downs, Wood had about two-thirds of the good (13 of 19) and bad (21 of 35) plays by right guards. On the downside, Wood had six of the eight (75%) killed pass plays by right guards, and gave up the position's only sack in 2010. In short, the Bills will be hard pressed to replace Wood's production.

The man with the inside track to man the right guard position in 2011 appears to be Rinehart. His 76.5% run grade looks like a sizable drop from Wood's grade, and it is. He killed as many run plays (3) even though he played in about a third of the games that Wood did. He killed 6.4% of pass plays compared to 5.7% killed by Wood. The question is whether or not Rinehart showed enough to Gailey to be penciled in as the starter going into the offseason. My guess is that he has, but with a caveat.

You'll notice that his grades went up and down through the last four weeks. On running plays, he had a good week against Cleveland, a meh outing in Miami, another good week against New England, and his poorest showing against New Jersey. Likewise, on pass plays he did better in the middle two games of his run at right guard. Compare that to Wood's consistent six-game streak on run plays to close out his tenure at right guard. If Rinehart can do likewise, he'll settle in at right guard and give Buffalo a formidable interior line.

Urbik and Howard were the two bit players at right guard. Urbik spelled Wood early in the season for a series here and there. He later filled in when Wood was injured, until injury claimed Urbik as well. In the games where he saw significant snaps, Urbik posted run grades of 75, 77.5 and 76.1 and pass grades of 75, 74.2 and 75. When he screwed up, though, he did so thoroughly - 1/3 of his bad plays were also killed plays.

Howard didn't spend much time at guard, just portions of the Minnesota and Cleveland games. In those contests, he graded out as 72.7 and 73.8 on run plays and 75 and 75 on pass plays. He didn't kill any plays in those two games, but then he had essentially one busy game's worth of stats. Howard didn't have the same physical presence as Urbik, and seems unlikely to make the 2011 roster.

With Rinehart, likely Geoff Hangartner and Urbik all vying for playing time at right guard, it would seem that Buffalo doesn't want for options or depth at the three interior positions. My money would be on Rinehart eventually earning the starting right guard position, mainly because he brings the sort of physicality that Gailey seems to value. I wouldn't count out Urbik or even Hangartner. At the very least, this season has demonstrated that Gailey does love to tinker.

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