Bills Defensive Line Coach Gets Brutally Honest About $11 Million Starter

Ed Oliver

Getty Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver celebrates at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022.

While the Buffalo Bills are in the midst of figuring out who will step up to replace two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who signed a $72 million contract with the Chicago Bears this offseason, they will soon need to make an executive decision on starting defensive tackle Ed Oliver.

The Bills preemptively picked up Oliver’s fifth-year option last April, which locked the 25-year-old through the 2023 NFL season, nearly doubling his salary to $10.75 million. Buffalo’s former No. 9 overall pick from the 2019 NFL Draft has been serviceable, but he hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick.

This is a make-or-break season for Oliver and defensive line coach Eric Washington didn’t hold back when asked what the Houston alum needs to do in order to prove he’s merited nearly $11 million in guaranteed money and worth keeping beyond next season. His comments made The Buffalo News‘ Ryan O’Halloran write, “Hooboy. And Wow. And Yikes.”

While Washington noted that Oliver is “more vocal” and “has things he can add to the conversation,” if he’s looking to stay in Buffalo long-term and earn that big money contract in 2024, his mental approach needs to match his physical talent.

Ed Oliver Needs to Focus ‘As Much As Possible From the Neck Up’

Ed Oliver

GettyBills defensive tackle Ed Oliver walks on the field at SoFi Stadium on September 08, 2022.

Washington said, “[Oliver] just continue to play the game as much as possible from the neck up. When you have the kind of talent Ed has, you have to understand situations that could mean the difference between separating yourself from the opponent (and saying), ‘I have to able to process very, very quickly so I can win my one-on-one so I can play ahead of the play as opposed to playing with the sequence of that particular play.’

“With Ed, from an experience standpoint, we need him to play ahead as opposed to with the tempo of the play so (understanding) situations, certain nuances with certain calls and understanding where he can take advantage based on his position (is important).”

Reading between the lines, O’Halloran surmised, “Washington wants Oliver to do more video study and be more committed to during-the-week preparation in order to perform better in games – that was 100% my lean once I transcribed the quote… If his motive was sending Oliver a message through the media – after undoubtedly doing it behind the scenes – bravo to Washington. Some guys will heed the message only if delivered publicly. The Bills need Oliver to be one of those guys.”

During the 2022 NFL season, Oliver recorded 34 total tackles, 14 quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks, and one safety. Buffalo would like Oliver to put up numbers closer to his rookie season, during which he tallied 43 total tackles, 19 quarterback hits, and five sacks.

Back in March, Oliver posted then deleted the following message on his Instagram Stories: “Show Me The Money or Ion Wanna Talk!!!” But if he wants to see a big pay day, Oliver may want to heed Washington’s advice.

Brandon Beane Said ‘There’s Still Meat on the Bone’ When it Comes to Ed Oliver

Ed Oliver

GettyBills tackle Ed Oliver #91 celebrates a fumble recovery against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 24, 2022.

Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane said during his end-of-season press conference that there’s still “meat on the bone” in terms of what Oliver can do. While he tallied a sack and two solo tackles again the Miami Dolphins in the playoffs, against the Cincinnati Bengals, when the Bills needed him to step up most, he recorded one tackle.

Right now, the door is wide open for the 6-foot-1, 287-pounder to have a breakout season, and perhaps he’ll have a fresh start with head coach Sean McDermott taking over as defensive coordinator. According to Micah Hyde, it’s not just Oliver who can give more this year, but all the veterans.

“I think everybody just has to ramp it up a little bit,” Hyde said, per One Bills Live host Chris Brown. “We’ve all in the last how many years with those core guys, we haven’t won a Super Bowl yet. So we’ve come up a little bit short.

“So I think just all around whether it’s core guys or guys just getting here, I think everyone just has to ramp it up a little bit and understand that what we’ve been doing these last couple years isn’t getting it done. We all got to get better in every area, and it doesn’t matter if guys have come and gone throughout the years. Just continue to work together and get better.”

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