With the 2019 offseason approaching it’s clear that Bills need to improve almost every position on the offense. However, what position group is more important to rebuild first? Well, if we have learned anything from the 2018 Indianapolis Colts the picture is quite clear. Build through your offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bills had the 26th best offensive line in 2018, which needs to get better in order for Josh Allen to improve.
What we have seen from the Colts is simple. Sure, you can have a world class quarterback and a top tier wideout, but if your offensive line can’t give your receivers time to get downfield and keep your quarterback on his feet, it doesn’t matter. Not only did the Colts rebuilt offensive line improve the passing game, but it improved their rushing attack as well. The line was able to open huge holes for Colts running backs, as any Colt in the backfield was able to have success. Simply put, a good offensive line can make every other position on the field better.
Now, what position on the o-line must the Bills prioritize? Obviously, it’s not a wrong answer to say all of them, but a position that is becoming increasingly more important to have an elite talent at is the right tackle position. Sure, the old school football guys will tell you that your best tackle must be the one blocking the blindside of the quarterback. However, for a few years, we have seen a change in defensive strategy. The best edge rushers on teams are no longer always going against the left side of the line. Guys like Khalil Mack, Von Miller, and Joey Bosa are lining up against opposing teams right tackle (of course these guys do move a lot during games but their natural position in base defense is left end/ left outside linebacker). This is because usually right tackles on most teams are not elite pass blockers.
This philosophy of having elite right tackles has been used by teams that not coincidentally are really good. For example, the Eagles have Lane Johnson as their right tackle. The guy has been a dominant player in the NFL for a few years now. They took him high in the draft (fourth overall) back when he came out of college in 2013 and then paid the man a handsome extension. Why? Because he has consistently has taken care of the guys I mentioned before. He can stop these elite pass rushers who line up on that side of the line. He’s as important as their left tackle Jason Peters is, if not even more important. Ultimately, it been a successful formula for the Eagles and their offense. For years now, the Bills have struggled at this position whether it be Jordan Mills, Seantrel Henderson, or even Erik Pears a few years back. The Bills have not had a top tier right tackle as long as I can remember. The Bills have continuously rolled out right tackles that are not what the position is turning is turning into. Their right tackles have always been below average athletically and not great pass protectors. They’ve always been big bodied people-movers that are solid in the run game. But, in today’s pass-happy NFL you need more out of your right tackle than that.
I think it would be huge for the Bills if they could massively upgrade this position. Through draft or free agency, it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is the Bills need to get a really good right tackle this offseason.
Mitch Broder is a contributor for Buffalo Fanatics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @mitchell_broder