The Bills offensive line isn’t well regarded nationwide. Erasing two starters (three if you count Cordy Glenn) from a group that created more yards than only three other teams last year will do that.
This year’s group does have one thing going for them: continuity. The starting five all were on the roster last year. Only a dozen other NFL teams can say that.
In an NFL era where offensive line continuity has gone the way of the fax machine, it makes a big difference.
“We all have a lot of experience with each other. We all watch each practice together, so we know how each person plays,” center Ryan Groy said. “We can be consistent with that and we can expect what the other one’s doing.”
“The more you do reps together, the more you have these innate things with the guy next to you,” veteran tackle Marshall Newhouse said. “Maybe you don’t have to say a word. You just give him a look or something like that. That stuff comes with time.”
Sean McDermott acknowledged there aren’t a lot of household names in this group (then again, how many offensive linemen are “household names”?), but he likes their pride and is confident in their ability.
“They’ve had to work for things up to this point in their journey as individuals,” McDermott said. “Now, they come together and there’s not a whole lot of… outside faith in them. I think they embrace that.”
Groy says the Bills linemen have an “underdog” mentality. The criticism fuels them. It’s also something they can push aside.
“When I hear people say we don’t have household names and stuff like that, it doesn’t matter,” Jordan Mills said. “We’re in the NFL. We play for the Buffalo Bills for a reason. Anybody who’s playing on a team is a ‘name’.”
Evaluating an offensive line piece by piece is an exercise in futility. It is never the sum of its parts. It is only the whole.
“We have to play as one fist, one unit, one step, one sound,” Dion Dawkins said.
“There’s a bigger picture. Everybody’s doing their part,” Vladimir Ducasse said. “Once you do your part and the picture comes together, that’s how we see it.”
The Bills have spent the offseason trying to make the puzzle fit. That includes dinners at the home of O-Line coach Juan Castillo. It’s a tradition he brought to Buffalo from the Ravens.
Ask any offensive linemen about the get-togethers and they smile, though they won’t reveal details.
“A lot of fun. A lot of jokes. A lot of card games. A lot of food and just guys being guys,” Dawkins said.
Ducasse thinks the bond developed, in part, through the group outings makes communication on the field easier. Maybe it can also help quiet the critics.
“We’re a fighting group. We’re a salty group,” Newhouse said. “We’re gonna go out there and prove it.”
“We gotta perform to earn respect,” Dawkins said. “As long as we just keep stacking days, our pads will talk for ourselves.”
The first chance to change the national narrative comes Sunday in Baltimore.