It’s no secret the Buffalo Bills offensive line was a disaster in 2018. LeSean McCoy couldn’t find a knot hole to run through and Josh Allen ran for his life most of the season. While discovering Allen’s elusiveness at the NFL level was a pleasant surprise, it’s not a sound recipe for future success if you can’t keep your franchise quarterback upright and on the field.
So Brandon Beane started the arduous process of a total offensive line rebuild by jettisoning and replacing Juan Castillo with upstart Bobby Johnson at the end of last season. This is no small task given the dearth of offensive linemen coming out of college prepared to play at the NFL level. The run-pass option schemes most college teams use these days does not lend itself to an easy transition to the NFL – and quality free agents are expensive and rarely available.
Furthermore, after mostly a horrendous performance last season the only player likely to return to the Bills’ starting offensive line in 2019 is LT Dion Dawkins. Dawkins himself ripped his performance during the 2018 season and stated he took his development during his second season for granted.
Here’s a quote from what Dawkins had to say about his 2018 season in a recent article by the Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci (subscription only):
“Juan is a great coach and if it wasn’t for Juan, my rookie season would have never been the way that it was,” Dawkins said. “Juan changed the entire way that I pass set and that run-block and that I think. And that second year, I just kind of thought, ‘OK, I’ve got this,’ which I really didn’t.
It’s also entirely possible Dawkins might also be forced into a change in position when the Bills brass finish reconstructing the offensive line during the off season. BillsMafia better be prepared for some serious growing pains while ‘the process’ takes shape.
In typical eye-rolling fashion, Beane fired the first salvo by signing C-G Spencer Long away from the Jets this week and BillsMafia was predictably quick to overreact on social media. It doesn’t seem to matter that the contract was extremely cap friendly and basically a “prove it” type deal.
Suck it up, buttercups. This move was exactly the right thing to do for a variety of reasons:
- The Bills weakened a divisional opponent (Jets), even if it is a depth signing.
- Building the foundation of a new offensive line by signing a depth player first will help shape what players the Bills target in the draft.
- Long plays both guard and center positions. In fact, Long said on Thursday’s edition of OneBillsLive that he didn’t start playing the center position until later in his career, so his versatility is a big plus.
- Experience playing in front of rookie Sam Darnold will help Long support Josh Allen’s development.
- Long will be motivated to prove newly-minted Jets’ head coach Adam Gase wrong for releasing him. Never underestimate the motivation provided by a grudge.
Signing Spencer Long is not the horror story some on social media are freaking out about. In fact I’d argue this was a solid move to begin putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.
I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
Editor’s babble: This is what competent general management looks like, something Bills fans haven’t seen in awhile. I love that Brandon Beane doesn’t give a rip what fans think. Best player available, baby. LOL. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.