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What impact does Buffalo Bills DT Ed Oliver’s arrest have on the team’s season

Photo: Lynne Sladky, STF / AP

By now Billsmafia knows about the arrest last weekend of Buffalo Bills Starting defensive tackle Ed Oliver. According to the report from Montgomerycountypolicereporter.com, on May 16 at 9 pm Oliver was pulled over by Montgomery County (TX) Sheriff’s deputies. Deputies administered a field sobriety test and determined Oliver was impaired. Oliver also admitted to taking Adderall and deputies later found a pistol in the vehicle. Deputies charged him with driving while intoxicated and unlawfully possessing a firearm, both of which are class B misdemeanors in the state of Texas.

At the moment nothing seems to have changed. He is still participating in the Bills virtual offseason. The Bills have not commented publicly other than “We are aware of the situation and we are gathering information” per ESPN.com. If Oliver is suspended or spends time in jail, how will it affect the Buffalo Bills 2020 season?

Potential Suspension

The NFL’s alcohol policy states that first time DWI offenders should receive a 2 game suspension. Commissioner Goodell is then free to use his discretion to increase the suspension. An increased suspension usually occurs if there was an aggravating circumstance. Resisting arrest, property damage, injuring others, and being verbally aggressive with police would all seem to be aggravating factors. There are no reports that Ed Oliver exuded any of these behaviors. Until Oliver is arraigned and the commissioner makes a decision about punishment from the league, fans and media are left with nothing more than speculation. I decided to speculate on what the first quarter of the season might look like if Ed Oliver is suspended. Buffalo’s first four games are the Jets at home, the Dolphins away, the Rams at home, and the Raiders away.

Jets and Dolphins

Let’s start with the Jets. Joe Douglas has made some good moves in free agency and the draft. Give Douglas credit for improving the offensive line and drafting well but Adam Gase is still the coach. Losing Ed Oliver shouldn’t affect the Bills’ ability to win this game. Next up is Miami. This is a game where the loss of Ed Oliver could really hurt the Bills. Oliver was the team’s best interior run defender in 2019. Miami has a two-headed monster at running back with Jordan Howard and Matt Breida. Not to mention Brian Flores bringing in many new defensive players that really fit his defensive scheme. Losing Oliver for a road game in Miami would really hurt.

Rams and Raiders

The Rams come to Buffalo in week three and Ed Oliver would be key to getting pressure up the middle to make Jared Goff uncomfortable. Luckily for the Bills, the Rams would most likely be starting rookie running back Cam Akers. Both of these things are partially reliant on the Rams offensive line continuing their poor play from last year. After the Rams game the Bills travel to Vegas in what should be a classic “Billsmafia takeover” game. There are several reasons why a suspended Ed Oliver would be missed. Firstly, to slow down Josh Jacobs and Lynn Bowden. Secondly, his inside pressure should make Derek Carr even more uncomfortable in the pocket.

Outlook

Brandon Beane did an excellent job this offseason building the Bills defensive line depth. The team is legitimately five deep at defensive tackle with Ed Oliver, Star Lotulelei, Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, and Harrison Phillips.  The Bills have the depth to withstand an Ed Oliver suspension so his absence won’t necessarily be a death sentence but there are two main concerns. Harrison Phillips is coming off a ligament tear in his knee and most importantly Ed Oliver is their best defensive tackle against the run and pass. It will be several months until there is any resolution to this situation, however, It seems like the Bills have enough depth to ease the impact of a potential Ed Oliver suspension.

 

 

 

Charlie Gross
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