This is far from a full-fledged article, moreso a lengthy ramble that can’t be contained within the confines of a Twitter message, but the impact and message should be all the same.
It’s a joke, an absolute joke, that with about two and a half weeks before opening day in Kansas City this team has one position on the offensive line penciled in, and even that’s not definite.
Eric Wood, one of the team’s first round selections in 2009, is looking to be the starter at center after spending the past couple of months competing lightly with Geoff Hangartner for the job – past him, though, nothing is certain. Last year’s starter at left tackle, Demetrius Bell, has been inexcusably terrible this summer and lost his job to Andy Levitre… yeah – the same. The same Levitre that was our best, most consistent offensive lineman for the past two years who just recently lost his starting left guard post to Chad Rinehart, who isn’t even relatively good, either. Levitre is in one hell of a position. No matter what, he has a starting job. Gailey doesn’t like his frame at guard, and no other coach would like him at tackle because of his short arms and low level of athleticism. Homeboy’s got it made.
Kraig Urbik is the current number one at right guard and has played like a UFL backup. The only reason he hasn’t been replaced is because they have literally noone else to put there right now besides Hangartner, who’s currently scratching and clawing to become the starter at center. I truly think that Hangartner will end up manning one of the guard positions once Wood is definitively named the starter, but for now it’s Urbik unfortunately. Erik Pears is the top dog at right tackle and really, has a great shot to stick there for a good portion of the season unless his play severely drops off. He hasn’t been awful, and he hasn’t been outstanding, but he’s been near solid and that’s a lot more than the other shmucks on the line can say right now.
The opening day line, as it looks to me right now with the personnel we have is Levitre, Rinehart, Wood, Hangartner, and Pears. The left side will be decimated by even the lowliest of defenders with Andy playing out of position and Rinehart struggling to keep up. Fitzpatrick will frequently be on the run and the offensive production will suffer. The blatant ignorance from Nix and company in regards to upgrades available is baffling. There have been available commodities out there since the lockout has ended that haven’t had so much as a glance from the team. Tyson Clabo was, assuredly, a major target who slipped away, but him returning to Atlanta shouldn’t have been the go-ahead to give up all hopes.
Jon Stinchcomb is still out there, Max Starks… Bryant McKinnie was available. I won’t continue to name names, but the opportunities are there. If this team is serious about winning and improving, they need to make some moves and get at least decent stop gaps and depth players along the offensive front.
Good football teams, quality football teams don’t do this year in and year out. They pick their guys, and they may have positional battles if a couple are near the same level, but more or less they understand by now who is starting and what positions everyone is playing. In a week where it became disturbingly obvious that the team needs offensive linemen added to this roster more than any one thing, what do they go out and sign?
A linebacker and a wideout.
Congrats, fellas. Hope you enjoy watching a lot of Tyler Thigpen this year, because Fitz won’t last long running for his life.
Something with more substance coming soon. Fueled by frustration right now, looking forward to being in the house for three quarters of starters on Saturday so hopefully I’ll have some more insight on what’s happening there. By the way, I like the Kirk Morrison addition – linebacking corps is looking so much better and I believe this will spell the end for Andra Davis since I can’t see them justifying paying a backup the type of money he makes. Ruvell Martin is someone I’ll have to see play first because I truly don’t know what he brings to the table that we don’t already have. I’ll check him out and put my ear to the ground and let you all know. Until next time, try to contain your excitement and hold off on pre-ordering those Buffalo Bills 2012 AFC Championship tee shirts for just a few more weeks.