When a new assistant coach is hired he often spends the early part of his offseason with his new club reviewing the previous season's game tape to get a feel for the players he inherits. In some cases those coaches formulate preliminary opinions about what their players are and are not capable of doing. Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer chooses to take a different approach.
"Obviously watching the tape is one thing. It gives me the opportunity to see their movement skills and how they play," said Kromer. "But understanding I don't know what they were being told or how they were being coached to do things, it's a case where I want to get with these guys and get out on the grass with them and get a feel for how they learn and how they pick up the things I'm going to teach them. I don't want to evaluate them too soon."
As a result every offensive lineman on Buffalo's roster will start with a clean slate, and the team's starting offensive line as of right now is nameless.
"It'll be a competition at all spots and we'll find the five best that can play and sometimes it's not the five most talented, it's the five who fit together the best," he said.
Kromer has had all of a week with his linemen in the offensive line room as the second week of Buffalo's offseason conditioning program just got underway Monday. Work on the field however, is still a couple of weeks away. So for now Kromer's focus with his players is to instill the base blocking concepts and how they pertain to offensive coordinator Greg Roman's system.
"The most important thing is understanding the fundamentals that we're going to employ and just applying them to the scheme right now," said Kromer. "They can't go out and do it yet, so they just have to have in their mind the reasons why things are happening in these plays and where they fit in. With the basic fundamentals and the basic schemes, then carry it over to the overall schemes that we're trying to put together. Guys can feel better about a new scheme or a new offense if they do that."
It's presumed that most of the incumbent starters from last year's squad will at least begin work on the first unit, but Kromer will be keeping a watchful eye on all of his linemen to see not only what combinations fit the best, but where they might still need to add players.
"I want to make sure that I get a feel for them on how we want to coach them and see what they can do from there," said Kromer. "We have a talented room, but like any NFL team you never stop acquiring more talent."
By the time training camp rolls around, Kromer along with Roman hopes a starting offensive line will be taking shape.
"You try to find a starting O-line, which is a long way down the road, and then you try to find guys who can fit into multiple spots because when you only dress seven in a game they have to be multiple and play both guards or guard and tackle on one side," Kromer said. "However it fits with the personnel we have at the end that's how you have to use them."
One player Kromer is eager to learn more about on the field is Cyrus Kouandjio. That's because there was no game tape of Kouandjio to review from the 2014 season.
"We're going to try him in a lot of spots, just because I didn't have an opportunity to see him do any of those things because he wasn't on tape," said Kromer. "So what we want to do is put him in his most comfortable spot and then move him around from there."
With just three true offensive tackles on the roster right now, Kromer does admit they need to increase their numbers there.
"Right now as we sit we don't have enough for training camp so we are going to have to acquire more talent," said Kromer. "We'll fit those guys in and everyone will have equal opportunity. Obviously if they're in college right now they're not learning the things that these guys are getting a jump on so they'll have to catch up and that's what rookie camp is for and hopefully in those three days they can catch up. But we're going to need some guys to come in here and fill those voids. We're going to find out who the best five are at the end."