Here's an idea. Send Don Beebe a one-way ticket to Orchard Park, NY immediately.
After trading away Jason Peters, the Bills appear perfectly content buoying Langston Walker to left tackle. Yes, the 6-foot-8-366-pound-Mack-Truck Walker. A road-grader in the running game, Walker's sluggish feet could spell disaster on Trent Edwards' blind side.
Nothing fixes plodders like Beebe's warp-speed footwork drills in his summer speed camp. Have Walker tip-toe at full tilt through a ladder with Beebe on site as an assistant trainer. For Edwards' well being, it'd be worth it.
Eh, it's a thought anyways. It's clear that left tackle is the team's biggest mystery. While Peters developed a bad rep last year — being out of shape and allowing 11.5 sacks — he was undoubtedly one of the best young linemen in the game. A man of his size and his quick feet is rare. Replacing Peters is not a cakewalk, not a snap solution easily cured with a squirt of Windex. Before his arrival, the Bills' offense was hampered annually without protection on the blind side — a byproduct of Mike Williams flopping harder than Tony Mandarich.
Now, it's back to square one, back to shuffling and reshuffling. The first (and Buffalo hopes the last) remedy is to migrate Walker from the right side to the left side. For the all the flack Marv Levy took for signing him to a five-year, $25 million contract in 2006, Walker has produced. Marshawn Lynch often slid off Walker's hips for big gains over the past two years. In the Bills' power-based rushing scheme, Walker was an anchor.
The million-dollar question: Can he operate in space? It's a season-defining gamble. Playing offensive tackle is completely different on the left hemisphere. Buffalo's schedule is littered with bone-chilling pass rushers. Joey Porter, Julius Peppers and Mario Williams to name a few. If Walker implodes, it won't matter how open Terrell Owens says he is.
Granted, the Bills are incorporating a quick-hitting passing game that should somewhat compensate for Walker's slow feet. Edwards will be counted on to make quick, three-step throws with regularity. Unfortunately, this isn't college football where Sam Bradford takes approximately one-billionth of a second in the pocket to make a decision. Cornerbacks are getting better and better and extending plays and exotic coverages are spreading. As poor Andrew Walter would tell you, relying on Walker may be Russian Roulette. In his farewell tour in Oakland, Walker played a large role in the line allowing 72 sacks. Gulp.
On the other side, look for Butler to flourish. He isn't foreign to the position, as you can read here. Butler has been working with offensive line coach Sean Kugler every day after practice to get his steps down in pass protection. A heady, student of the game, look for Butler's career to take off at right tackle.
On the other side, look for Butler to flourish. He isn't foreign to the position, as you can read here. Butler has been working with offensive line coach Sean Kugler every day after practice to get his steps down in pass protection. A bright, smart heady player, look for Butler's career to take off at right tackle.
If you're still queasy about Walker as the team's security guard, hold out hope on the unknown. Buffalo has an intriguing batch of underdogs at offensive tackle. One of them could bite. After all, Peters was an undrafted free agent. Keep an eye on Joel Bell. He's extremely raw, but is a project worth monitoring. Bell told me he chose the Bills as an undrafted free agent because he'll have a wide-open opportunity at tackle. A son of missionary parents in Egypt, Bell had an unorthodox introduction to the game. With more seasoning, he could tap into some major unrealized potential.
For now, the telescope is focused on Langston Walker. His weight, his footwork, his timing, his steps. And you can bet that telescope will tilt toward Baltimore from time to time. The Bills had a chance to draft Michael Oher at No. 11 overall. Not many other teams would have passed on a possible Jonathan Ogden for a speed rusher than shined all of one year in college. As our draft expert at Scout.com, Chris Steuber, told the BFR, passing on Oher could come back to bite Buffalo.
Walker certainly deserves this chance. The clamoring for Levi Jones needs to settle down. Walker performed admirably in Peters' absence at left tackle last year, enough to warrant this promotion.
But you can bet those 3-4 edge rushers in the division are salivating at the mouth right now. Walker must shed some excess weight, get quicker and suppress those Raider nightmares to succeed on the blind side.
Is Beebe available?
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of BuffaloFootballReport.com and also writes for the Buffalo News, Olean Times Herald and Packer Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.