It has been a busy offseason at One Bills Drive. Where once there was a roster depleted of talent, now there are a plethora of new faces that are part of a roster that boasts some pretty good players. One area the Buffalo Bills were clearly looking to upgrade was the offensive line. After being ranked as the 26th best offensive line in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, Brandon Beane made a huge effort to improve this unit. From adding guys like Mitch Morse, Quinton Spain, Ty Nsekhe, and drafting Cody Ford in the second round, there is no question that the Bills have completely overhauled this unit. However, there is someone playing a much bigger role in this overhaul that might not come to mind at first. His name is Bobby Johnson, the Bills new offensive line coach.
When I said the Bills overhauled the entire offensive line, I meant it. Even the person coaching this unit is new. After the Bills fired former offensive line coach Juan Castillo, they brought in Bobby Johnson. Johnson has got a good track record as an assistant coach in the NFL. He was an assistant offensive line coach for the Colts last season and played a big role in turning that unit from the worst offensive line into one of the best in the league. He even was an assistant offensive line coach for the Bills back from 2010-11. Johnson is a someone who will be crucial to the 2019 season and beyond if the Bills want to reach their full potential. But what if I told you that Johnson might have already made a huge impact to this Buffalo Bills team?
Former Bills center Eric Wood wrote an article on The Athletic called, “Why I endorse the Bills’ choice of Bobby Johnson as new offensive line coach.” Eric Wood even tweeted on the day the Bills hired Johnson, “Bills got a great coach and a great man in Bobby Johnson! He will fit in on this staff extremely well and the guys will learn a lot from him.” There is no question that Eric Wood believes the Bills made a great hire, and he is not alone.
When you go back a read through the interviews of the Bills newest offensive linemen, many of them mention the same thing. How much they love Bobby Johnson. In an article on the Buffalo Bills official website about why Buffalo was Cody Ford’s preferred destination, Ford talked about the bond he formed with coach Johnson,“Coach [Bobby] Johnson is a great guy, any time we talked it was all good stuff. Really can’t wait to work with him so that we can go in and start making some noise early.”
It wasn’t only Ford who raved about Johnson, so did Jon Feliciano, a potential starter for the Bills this season. In an article by the Buffalo News, Feliciano had this to say about Bobby Johnson, who coached in Oakland from 2015-2017, Feliciano’s former team, “I know he helped me, and I really want to come here and help as much as I can,” Feliciano said. “He helped me before he was an O-line coach, being a tight end coach. I think he’ll be able to help us see the game in a different light. I have full confidence in Bobby… I can’t stress enough how excited I am to be here. I think it’s going to be a great fit.” Feliciano clearly thinks quite highly of Bobby Johnson, and his previous relationship with Johnson was a big reason that he came to Buffalo.
Feliciano isn’t the only guy with previous ties to Johnson. LaAdrian Waddle is clearly a big fan of Bobby Johnson. Back in 2013-2014 Waddle posted his highest graded seasons by Pro Football Focus as a member of the Detroit Lions. In 2013 he received a grade of 75.7 and in 2014 a grade of 70.1. Why is this important? Bobby Johnson was an assistant offensive line coach for the Lions during this time. Coincidence? I think not.
Lastly, Quinton Spain had some high praise for Johnson as well. After Johnson told Spain he’d have to earn a starting job, Spain said, “When he told me that, I felt like, OK, so he’s for real. It’s about competition. Nothing’s given. He’ll treat everybody the same.” Credit must be given to the front office for the offensive line overhaul that has taken place. However, Bobby Johnson played a larger role then you might think.
Mitch Broder in a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him at email@example.com or tweet him @mitchell_broder