When the Buffalo Bills begin the 2018 NFL season, their offensive line will look quite a bit different than it has over the last few seasons. Gone are interior stalwarts Eric Wood and Richie Incognito, as the center and guard (respectively) retired in the offseason. Also moving on is left tackle Cordy Glenn, who started 61 of a possible 64 games from 2012-2015, but then missed 16 of the team’s next 33 games over the subsequent two seasons due to a litany of foot and ankle injuries.
While some would say that the only constant in life is change, NFL personnel people like for things to remain fairly neutral, especially at a position such as the offensive line where communication and familiarity are essential to success. Head coach Sean McDermott noted that continuity is important in a press conference last week, but he also mentioned a few new names who he sees as potential leaders to fill the void left by those who are no longer active members of the Bills’ roster.
“There is something to be said for continuity; I just know that’s hard to say every year at every position,” McDermott said. “It just so happens [that] we’ve had some guys come and go at the offensive line position, to name one. That said, you mentioned on of them, Ryan Groy, the leadership he has shown, and we haven’t been together very long now, it’s been a day, but even previous to today, the leadership he’s shown, the leadership Jordan Mills has shown, Dion Dawkins, even for a young guy. These guys are stepping up, and that’s what you want to see.”
In one fell swoop, McDermott essentially name-dropped three players who are going to be expected to do a great deal more than they did in years past. Dawkins, a second-round draft pick last season out of Temple, filled in admirably for Glenn while the latter was injured. However, he will be expected to take a step forward this season. Groy has been with the Bills since the 2016 season, and he has played well in relief of Eric Wood before; however, that was in short bursts, and he’ll now compete for a full-time job as either a guard or center. Mills has seemingly been on the verge of being replaced since he was named the starting right tackle in 2015. McDermott’s name-dropping here could bode well for Mills’ chances of maintaining that job.
In a year where the Bills will look to begin a different kind of playoff streak—the one that every franchise wants to experience—it certainly isn’t ideal to need to replace three-fifths of the starting offensive line. If early returns are to be believed, however, then Buffalo may not be in such dire straits at the position.