Our divisional roundtable discussion is back for a second week. Brian from Buffalo Rumblings was kind enough to field a question of mine on the new look Bills offensive line.
In a November game that helped send the Bills into free-fall last year, Kris Jenkins absolutely manhandled the Bills' interior linemen and might have been the biggest reason the Jets left Orchard Park with a win. Do you think the additions the club has made inside will be enough to prevent a similar outcome when the teams meet this year? (From John B)
That's quite possibly the most important question the Bills need to positively answer outside of "Can Trent Edwards be a franchise quarterback?". Buffalo's offensive line was grossly overrated last season, and as you mention, the interior line was particularly awful. Jenkins wasn't close to being the only defensive tackle to annihilate Buffalo's entire offensive game plan last season.
In a division that features three very solid 3-4 defenses outside of Buffalo - with three excellent nose guards, to boot - shoring up the interior of the line was far more important than addressing tackle (though they obviously could have done both). This early in the pre-season, there's no way to tell if the trio of Andy Levitre, Geoff Hangartner and Eric Wood will be better than Derrick Dockery, Duke Preston and Brad Butler (who is now the starting right tackle). Both rookies are playing new positions, and Hangartner has never been a full-time starter. But all three are finishers; they'll play through the whistle and hit you in the mouth in the process. Last year's line did not play with that fire. From a mentality standpoint, it's a clear upgrade, but without seeing the product on the field - and knowing that little to no cohesion has taken place along the re-tooled front - it's impossible to know if we'll be better in that area next season. I will say this: I'm far more optimistic about this group than I was with last year's.
Thanks to Brian for answering my question. Head over to Buffalo Rumblings for more AFC East talk.