The Buffalo Bills’ offensive line was blown up by the play of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive line on Sunday. Heading into the offseason with free agents at multiple positions, the Bills decided to re-sign right tackle Daryl Williams, left guard Jon Feliciano, and OG Ike Boettger and roll out the same starting five as they planned a year ago. Early returns are not great.
Left tackle Dion Dawkins was called for holding three times and certainly didn’t look like his old self. Even though head coach Sean McDermott argued against this hypothesis, it seems obvious Dawkins may still be dealing with lingering effects of his four-day hospital stay due to COVID-19, be it strength or conditioning.
Jon Feliciano, Daryl Williams, and Mitch Morse were all called for holding, as well.
McDermott called the line play, specifically the penalties, “unacceptable” in his postgame press conference Sunday.
“That’s where you’re beating yourself,” said McDermott. “We were beating ourselves with holding penalties. We had eight, I think eight penalties, and a lot of those were holds, offensively. We can do a better job.”
Morse, the center, also spoke after the game and lamented not just the penalty yards, but the lost yards gained on the plays that were called back.
“The unfortunate thing is that most of the holding calls came with chuck plays. So not only did we go backwards, but this game is a game of momentum, and for the most part, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot today,” said Morse.
We haven’t watched the tape yet, but Pro Football Focus was very down on the Bills’ individual performances along the offensive line.
Grades are out from Pro Football Focus. Here are the pass blocking marks for the 6 #Bills o-linemen who played significant snaps:— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) September 13, 2021
Morse - 66.3
Ford - 61.2
Dawkins - 51.5
D. Williams - 49.6
I. Boettger - 31.6
Feliciano - 30.9
The group allowed 24 pressures in the game.
On Monday, McDermott doubled down on his comment from Monday, and also seemingly dropped a comment to his coaching staff.
“We didn’t win enough of our 1-on-1 matchups [on the offensive line],” said McDermott. “We won some, but not enough. We also have to do a better job helping them when we go against a talented front like that with our plan.”
Buffalo won’t see many defensive fronts as talented as Pittsburgh’s this year, but the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the schedule and they could face the Steelers, Chiefs, and Bucs in the postseason, too. It’s something for which they need to have a plan.