Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott has received a lot of credit for his growth mindset and ability to change his opinion when presented with new information. One thing he’s done from the beginning is change a member of his group of offensive lineman who was struggling. In every season as a head coach, McDermott has shuffled the offensive line to get the best five out there, something coaches in the past have been reluctant to do in the name of continuity.
This year, it’s right guard Cody Ford who found himself benched after the first three weeks of the season. Despite his status as a former second-round pick for whom the Bills traded up to select, Ford was relegated to backup status against the Houston Texans. In his place, Daryl Williams slid over from the right tackle spot and rookie third-round pick Spencer Brown was inserted into the starting lineup. With how the duo settled in on the right side, we don’t expect this to change anytime soon.
Last year, the Bills didn’t have a ton of opportunity to tweak the line because of injuries. They did it anyway. Quinton Spain began the year as the team’s left guard but it wasn’t long until he was benched. Just two games into the season, the Bills replaced him with Ford, who started seven games at the spot before suffering an injury. Spain wasn’t just demoted, he asked for and received his outright release, ending up on the Cincinnati Bengals.
The 2019 offensive line didn’t have an entire replacement in 2019, but rather a platoon. At right tackle, the Bills didn’t trust Ty Nsekhe to play every snap due to his age and they didn’t trust rookie Cody Ford, so they had both of them split snaps. It was a novel idea that ultimately ended when Nsekhe was injured.
In 2018, the Bills started Ryan Groy at center in the first two games. He eventually ceded the starting spot to an equally bad player in Russell Bodine. Bodine was traded the next offseason after the Bills signed Mitch Morse. Groy did come back to finish out the season as the starting center after an injury to Bodine, though. He played for the Chargers in 2019 and 2020 and is out of football.
During McDermott’s first season in 2017, the Bills began the year with John Miller as their starting right guard. The former third-round pick started the first four games of the season before being inactive for the remainder of the year. He bounced back to start 15 games in 2018, but in 2017 was benched for Vlad Ducasse.
Do you see a pattern? See a problem on the offensive line, try to address it, even if it’s the first month of the season and continuity is disrupted. By the end of the season, you’ll have gone through the growing pains in time for the playoff run.