The Bills had two Pro Bowl offensive lineman and the number one rushing attack in the league last year. Is it possible the unit could be better in 2016?
The Buffalo Bills have the most continuity that they have had on the offensive line in the past 20 years. Their starters at the end of the season are all returning for the first time in that time span.
The Bills retained the left side of the line this offseason by re-signing Richie Incognito to a three-year deal worth $15.75 million. They also applied the franchise tag to Cordy Glenn before eventually agreeing to a 5 year, $60 million deal that will have him protecting Tyrod Taylor’s blind side for many years.
Another reason for hope is that line coach Aaron Kromer will be able to work with the line this entire year after being suspended for six games by the team last season after getting into an altercation with a kid over beach chairs.
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While the offensive line is basically the same, we still have to wonder will the unit be better in 2016 than it was in 2015? Unfortunately, my answer is NO.
The major changes in the Bills line this year revolve around the right side of the line. Guard John Miller should be better in his second year in the league with more experience in the system. It’s not an easy adjustment starting your rookie year in the NFL and he now knows what to expect.
Additionally, his body should be better rested after his rookie year in which many players experience “the rookie wall“. He should come in refreshed and better prepared to handle the length of the grueling NFL season from both a physical and mental standpoint.
Mills was a fifth-round draft pick in 2013 for the Bears. In September of 2015, the Bears waived Mills and he was claimed by the Cowboys the next day. He didn’t last long with them, only spending a week on the Cowboys. He was then added to the Detroit Lions practice squad before being signed by the Bills.
Henderson, while flawed, was still a better and more consistent player for the Bills than their current projected starter Jordan Mills. Mills was up and down in his performance for the team and did not play at the level that a starter should.
There are several reasons why the Bills line ultimately will not be as good as last year. The team probably won’t send as many people to the Pro Bowl this year and Mills should not be a starting tackle in the NFL. He is fine in a reserve role but not as a starter. Teams with talented pass rushers will be able to take advantage of the weakness on the right side of the Bills line.
When it comes down to it, any improvement from Miller is likely to be outweighed by the drop off from Henderson to Mills. That’s why I have to conclude that the Bills offensive line won’t be as good in 2016 as they were in 2015.