Bills' O-line breaks down on third down

July, 26, 2014
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- There was a point in a practice earlier this week when Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone turned to offensive line coach Pat Morris and threw up his arms in frustration at the offensive line's performance.

Marrone didn't repeat that gesture Saturday night, but he would have had plenty of reason.

The Bills' offensive line had an awful 16-play stretch in 11-on-11 third-down work that defined the practice. It was so bad that after one rep with Thad Lewis under center, that period of practice was cut short.

Here is our log of the drill:

EJ Manuel, first play: Screen pass to Anthony Dixon
Manuel, second play: Sacked
Manuel, third play: Sacked
Manuel, fourth play: Sacked
Manuel, fifth play: Hand-off to Bryce Brown

Jeff Tuel, first play: Defensive offside penalty
Tuel, first play: Sacked
Tuel, second play: False start against Cyrus Kouandjio
Tuel, second play: Completion to Marcus Easley for first down
Tuel, third play: Completion to Marcus Easley for first down
Tuel, fourth play: Sacked

Manuel, first play: Completion to Chris Hogan
Manuel, second play: Sacked
Manuel, third play: Pressured and scrambled
Manuel, fourth play: Pressured and completion to C.J. Spiller on dump-off
Manuel, fifth play: Scramble, good protection

Lewis, first play: Sacked

The Bills in particular had problems at right tackle, where both Erik Pears and Kouandjio had a rough night. But pressure on Manuel came from both inside and outside, depending on the play.

"We're putting a lot in and we have some individual breakdowns right now where 10 guys are doing the right thing and one guy [is] not," center Eric Wood said after practice.

As for whether the protection problems could be attributed to Manuel holding on to the ball too long, Wood didn't place blame on his quarterback.

"No, I think the only time he's holding on to it is when the progressions are more downfield," Wood said. "We just have to do a better job protecting."

What didn't help the Bills' struggling offensive line was the Bills' defensive line, which is now back to full strength with the return of Marcell Dareus on Friday.

"We understand that if we can block our front four, we'll be able to block about anybody," Wood said. "For my money, I think they're the best in the league. But that's no excuse. We've got to be able to do our jobs, and we've got to do a better job.

"I think in regular down and distance, we're doing a good job of understanding situations, but when we do all third downs and all third-and-long, we're not executing as well right now."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter



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