Out of all of the position groups on a football team, the offensive line requires the most cohesion and chemistry between its players. They are charged with protecting the most important position on the field and if one piece of the puzzle is out of place it usually means disaster for an offense.
That’s why it is so important for new Bills guard Chris Williams to develop familiarity with the players he will be lining up next to in 2014.
“The coaches have been stressing over-communicating,” Williams said. “Calling things out you may not normally call in-season, so you’re trying to get to the point when you do get to the season, you’re only making adjustment type calls.”
Most important for Williams is making sure to get on the same page with Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood, the two players he has been situated in between for all of the OTA practices. Without pads, there is only so much an offensive lineman can do at this point of the offseason, so they are focused more on the technical aspects of working together at this point.
“The best you can, you’re trying to work fits – how me and Cordy would fit on a double team, how me and Wood would fit on a double team, getting our spacing down in pass protection, and just learning how to trust each other,” Williams said.
At the same time, it is still important for Williams to continue to improve individually. This will be the 6-6, 326-pound guard’s eighth year in the league, but there is always room for improvement. For Bills offensive line coach Pat Morris it is important to get back to basics with his group during this time.
“Coach Morris has been on me about some technique things we want to get fixed from last year, and I’m excited about it,” Williams said.
“We work on our get-off, on our approach to the pass set, and then our body position,” Morris said. “Obviously you can’t work on the strike and finish. He also has to work together with the center and tackles to help with communication. [Williams] has been good with communication.”
Williams started his career in Chicago and played the last two years in St. Louis, starting all 16 games for the Rams in 2013. For some players, it might be a difficult to adjust to a new scheme. Luckily for him, the adjustment a guard has to make to fit in with a new offense is usually minimal.
“There are only so many plays you can run. We did a little bit of everything in St. Louis. Depending on what team we were playing we had power and zone. But we didn’t have the no-huddle aspect of it. We’re not necessarily running more plays here [during OTAs], but at a higher tempo. Tempo is definitely a lot faster.”
Almost as important as on the field chemistry is being able to bond away from the gridiron. When the group of linemen can all have a good relationship with each other, it makes it that much easier to trust each other and be on the same page on the field during games.
“We hang out, get together and go to dinner, play golf… Most of the guys live on the same street which is funny, so we see each other often,” Williams said.
Of course, the best place for 300 pounders to get together is at a nice restaurant. Williams says he has yet to have a bad meal in Buffalo.
“The best place I’ve been to is Mulberry probably. We had a good meal at Ilio DiPaolo’s too,” Williams said.
“Those guys are great to be around,” Williams said of the rest of the offensive linemen in OTAs. “I think we’re going to have a good group.”