Bills 41, Chiefs 7: Notes From The O-Line, Week 1

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills in action during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It's a lot more fun to re-watch games where the Buffalo Bills have performed fairly well offensively. It would have been better still had DirecTV not had issues in my neck of the desert during the second half. I did get to see all of the first half, and the majority of the second. The breakdown for the line in the first half - 17 runs and 17 passes - follows after the jump. When time permits, I'll get what I can from my intermittent recording of the second half.

I was particularly interested in Demetrius Bell. Given Chan Gailey's history of giving linemen the yo-yo treatment (rotating linemen in and out of games, sometimes at bafflingly random moments), I watched to see if Chris Hairston would take reps at left tackle. He did, but not in the first half - and not until the game was no longer in doubt.

Bell kept Hairston on the bench by posting a respectable game. He had 15 decent run plays along with two bad ones. On the fourth run (first drive), Bell let Tamba Hali rush upfield, but didn't stay with him. Hali looped around and made the tackle. On run No. 15 (sixth drive), Glenn Dorsey got under Bell's pads and into Fred Jackson's run lane. He graded out at 72.7% on run plays. On pass plays, Bell had one good play, 14 decent and two bad. His one good play (pass No. 14, fifth drive) was a cut block on a linebacker to open a great throwing lane which was squandered by a bad pass. Bell's bad pass plays were pass No. 10 (fourth drive), in which he fell over chasing a twisting Hali, and pass No. 12 (fifth drive) in which Hali zipped right past Bell (and then past Jackson). His grade on pass plays was 73.8%. Bell got help on three pass plays in the first half. When the line slanted to the right, Bell was usually left in place with a back or tight end (sometimes both) to pick up one or two defenders.

Andy Levitre and Eric Wood had identical grades; 78.5% on run plays and 73.8% on pass plays. Levitre hit three guys on the fourth run (first drive), while Wood drove Wallace Gilberry all over the field on the same play. They combined again on the fifth run (second drive) when Levitre cut Derrick Johnson well downfield and Wood drove Kelly Gregg four yards backwards. On the seventh run (third drive), Levitre ended up looking like he had blocked in the back - but in reality, his defender turned around trying to get free of Levitre while Wood treated Gilberry like a blocking sled. On the ninth run (fourth drive), Wood peeled off of a block to get just enough of Johnson, who was shooting a gap, to save Brad Smith from a tackle for loss. On the next play, Levitre pulled and drove the linebacker out of the hole, which allowed Jackson to pick up six yards; Levitre followed that up by getting great drive to open a hole for Jackson to get three more yards. On run No. 13 (fifth drive still), Wood again made Gilberry look like he was wearing roller skates instead of cleats.

On the negative side of the ledger, Wood was driven down to his knees by Allen Bailey on Buffalo's first play from scrimmage, which almost led to no gain. Levitre missed a cut on Jovan Belcher at the line of scrimmage the very next play. Both Wood and Levitre were abused on run No. 14, which was a one-yard loss. Levitre had a single good pass play - pass No. 14, cutting an end to open a throwing lane just as Bell cut a linebacker - and two bad pass plays. On pass No. 7, Gilberry twisted to the outside and Levitre was left running after him - not a good position for any lineman. Levitre and Wood whiffed on pass No. 10 (fourth drive); Levitre was walked back into Ryan Fitzpatrick, while Wood was bulldozed by Hali - but the play still went to David Nelson for 35 yards.

Kraig Urbik had a quiet day. He graded out at 73.8% on both run and pass plays. He had one good run play and two bad. The good play was the last drive of the half in which he turned Bailey every which way but loose. Both of his bad plays were on the first drive. On the second run, he was bounced backwards by a linebacker, and on the fourth run, he whiffed in an attempt to block Cameron Sheffield in space. His only bad pass play was a screen on the second drive in which he whiffed on a cut of Belcher at the second level, which let Belcher make the tackle.

Erik Pears likewise had a quiet day. He did give up a sack in the second half to kill the opening drive, but was solid in the first. On the fourth drive, Pears had back-to-back good run plays (Nos. 8 and 9) in which he drove a linebacker four yards, then cut Tyson Jackson. His poor plays were on the next drive, in which Pears had an outright takedown on Bailey that should have drawn a flag. Pears had no bad pass plays in the first half, but did have one good play. On the last play of the fifth drive, Pears threw down Thomas Gafford, then threw him down again - a la The Life of Brian - when Gafford got back up. Pears graded out at 75.0% on run plays and 76.2% on pass plays. He had help on three pass plays (Nos. 15, 16, 17), all on the last two drives of the half. However, the Bills slanted the line to the right several times, which also gave Pears some support.

The Chiefs only blitzed five times in the first half. Fitzpatrick had one bad pass, one drop and one throw where Donald Jones could have gotten his feet down. His two completions against the blitz went for 19 yards (and a first down) and 14 yards (setting up 3rd-and-1). Look for the Raiders to bring more pressure on pass downs.

The Chiefs also laid back on run plays, loading the box just once in the first half (run No. 2, which went for five yards). The Bills rushed three times for 11 yards (3.7 yards per carry) through the left C gap, six times for 29 yards (4.8) through the left B gap, five times for nine yards (1.8) through the A gap, two times for nine yards (4.5) through the right B gap, and one time for one yard (1.0) through the right C gap. For a guy who publicly mused about upheaval on the left side of the offensive line, Gailey called over 50% of first half runs to that side. Perhaps he was looking to test Bell. If so, Demetrius answered the bell in Week 1. (Yeah, that was cheesy.)

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