Signs of Life

A welcome sweep of the Miami Dolphins has moved the Buffalo Bills to 4-4. A loss may not have ended their hopes for the season but it would have dropped them behind the pack chasing a wild card berth. Last year the Bills’ poor record in the AFC dropped them well behind in the playoff race and despite a decent final stretch they never recovered. Given the optimism in Buffalo at the start of the season the team are well behind their own raised expectations but the crushing win is a much needed confidence boost.

Predictions before the season set up a number of benchmarks the Bills needed to hit if they were to break their playoff drought. Below is my assessment of these crucial targets.

Ground and Pound (Top 5 rushing attack): The target here was to control the clock and sustain drives with the running game to achieve two aims. Firstly to take the pressure off flaky quarterback play and also to keep the defence fresh. Statistically this is a tick, sitting second with 141.6 yards per game on the ground, but this stat has not supported sustained drives. Buffalo rank 30th in the percentage of 3 and out drives at 27%. By contrast Tampa Bay and New England are leading with below 12%. The inconsistent production of the ground game is not at a level that truly sets the team as a top 5 rushing attack and the statistics are inflated by being able to gash a poor Miami run defence twice in the first half of the season. The run blocking is a significant improvement on last year with Incognito a huge contributor. Getting McCoy and Williams back to full health gives the Bills a platform to drastically improve their productivity and consistency.  C+

League Average QB play (avoid turnovers): This is an area of suprising success. Tyrod Taylor has exceeded expectations throwing 10 TD’s to 4 INT’s in his six games. His ability to find open receivers on intermediate routes needs to improve but he throws a lovely deep ball. Now that Sammy Watkins is nearing full health teams will have to pick their poison, either load the box and leave your outside cornerback’s exposed. The drop in quality if Taylor is again injured is a big one and would probably doom their season’s fortunes.  B

Dominant Defence (Top 5 defence): This has been the major disappointment of the Bills’ season. The individual units have not shown a clear weakness but the sum of the parts is less than the whole. The secondary led by Gilmore and Darby has been as good as any in the league. Dareus and Kyle Williams have performed well in the centre of the line. Inconistency, confusion and ill discipline have reigned at defensive end, linebacker and safety. Statistically they are at best a top 8-15 defence. Spasmodic defence does not equal dominance. They have allowed too many long drives and consistently struggle to contain screens and other passes behind the line of scrimmage. This is the area requiring the greatest improvement. C

Play all three phases: Special Teams was a point of strength last year and had to remain so for the Bills to make progress. Colton Schmidt is shaping up as a Pro-Bowl caliber punter and the coverage unit has rarely allowed decent returns. Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay was briefly dropped from the roster but this was due to the glut of injuries rather than his own performance and was a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. Carpenter has been passable but it would be nice for him to return to the form of last year. The main problem has been a very poor return game and penalties consistently handing opposition teams better field position than they deserve. C

The Bills make the playoffs if they can improve the three deficient areas to a solid B.




Streaming Down That Creek sans Paddle.

Early Monday morning Australian time I was faced with a sporting smorgasbord. A choice had to be made. Bills at Jags at Wembley, Tottenham Hostspur visiting AFC Bournemouth or Australia facing Argentina in a Rugby World Cup Semi Final at Twickenham. Unfortunately due to the Bills having the earlier kickoff time that’s the game I chose.

This is turning into an unfortunately kind of season for the Bills.

Unfortunately they are 3-4.

Unfortunately Rex Ryan’s big talk of a best ever defence appears to be a pipe dream.

Unfortunately half the starting offence is on the sideline injured.

Unfortunately that mean EJ Manuel is required to start at quarterback.

Unfortunately he’s a long way from being an NFL quarterback.

Unfortunately the Referees don’t like the Bills.

Unfortunately they don’t help themselves very much by giving away a lot of unavoidable penalties of the misconduct variety.

Unfortunately even when they don’t a referee throws a flag for a non-existent pass interference.

Unfortunately they couldn’t beat the Jacksonville Jaguars just like the couldn’t beat a similarly odious Oakland Raiders team last season.

Unfortunately the Pats have Brady and Gronk, the Jets hired Bowles and the Dolphins are rejuvenated.

Unfortunately the Bills are not yet good enough to challenge in the AFC East.

Buffalo should have been out of contention in this game after EJ Manuel handed Jacksonville on the type of silver platter the Queen of England would use. In four minutes of playing time Bad EJ lost a sack fumble to an unblocked defensive back, threw a terrible interception by staring down his intended receiver and then trying to throw it through the chest of linebacker Telvin Smith and finally a merely bad interception to Paul Posluszny. The result was 20 points from the turnovers, Jason Myers continued his struggles by missing an extra point, and 27 total points in half a quarter.

Good EJ was subbed in for the rest of the quarter and hit Robert Woods with a nicely thrown pass and a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone. Jacksonville took a lead into the half at 27-13 and had the first drive of the second half. Fourteen plays and eight and a half minutes later they had a 1st and goal at the 1 yard line. Instead of a touchdown icing the game four consecutive carries by Toby Gerhart went for no gain and a turnover on downs. I wonder what TJ Yeldon was thinking on the Jacksonville bench during that two minute span? One would have thought averaging 5.5yards per carry for the game would have entitled him to at least one touch at the goal-line.

The two teams traded inept offence for a quarter before Good EJ re-appeared for the throw of the game and a 58 yard touchdown for Marcus Easley. A two point conversion brought the Bills back to 27-24. It was then Blake Bortles turn to be charitable by throwing a wobbly deep pass under pressure straight into the waiting arms of Corey Graham. Graham returned the gift 44 yards for a touchdown and the lead. It was now time for Jerry Hughes’ mandatory misconduct penalty, unsportsmanlike conduct for pretending to take a photo of Graham in the celebrations. This should have meant good field position for Jacksonville’s next drive but a great kick by Gay and even better coverage play by Meeks and Rambo brought Walters down at the Jacksonville 16. To be fair Walters hadn’t covered himself in glory by allowing the kickoff to bounce.

The critical play arrived on 3rd and 15, 3:04 remaining on the Jacksonville 47. Bortles threw a deep out in the direction of Bryan Walters. Nickell Robey was in tight coverage side by side with his receiver. Both stretched for the ball. Walters losing his feet but Robey getting closest to the ball with his two hands. Any contact was minimal to non-existent. A horrid call. Defensive pass interference. Bortles hit Hurns with a delightful touch pass on the run at the front corner of the end zone for a touchdown two plays later. The Bills were unable to score on the next drive and Bortles took a knee to run out the clock for the win.

Bad quarterback play and the inability of the defence to consistently stop the run (ironic given the goal-line stand that got the team back into the contest) cost the Bills this game. The quarterback play improves upon Tyrod Taylor’s return. The defence is a conundrum a talented unit is severely under-performing, leaving a dark stain on Rex Ryan’s defensive mastermind credentials.

What worked: The streaming experiment.

What didn’t: The connection between offensive co-ordinator Greg Roman and EJ Manuel’s headset. For large parts of the game Manuel was required to jog over to the sideline, get the play off Roman and then jog back to the huddle.

What’s broken: EJ Manuel’s chances of being anything other than a career backup.

What isn’t: Doug Whaley’s tenure, yet.

Ralph Wilson Gameball: Ronald Darby. Continues to grade out as a top 10 cornerback in the league. Impressive for a rookie.

It’s a trap!

As the great Admiral Ackbar once said, “It’s a trap!”

Seemingly on a roll after a splendid performance against the Dolphins the Buffalo Bills returned home to face the 1-2 New York Giants. They then turned in a 1st half performance devoid of any quality on offence or defence leading to the Giants opening a 16-3 lead at the break. There were moments in the second half when it appeared possible the Bills would complete an unexpected comeback. A Woods fumble with 6.40 remaining made the comeback unlikely, a terrible penalty call that cancelled a Clay touchdown in the last minute signaled its end.

The Giants are a decent team that doesn’t have many glaring deficiencies. They are an even money chance to make the playoffs due to their weaker than expected division. However, this is a team Buffalo should be beating at home. The three factors that lead to this defeat were a total lack of discipline, sub-par run defence and sputtering first half offence.

Rex Ryan struck a defiant tone post game but one thing is clear, the Bills are capable of beating themselves with bonehead penalties. Jerry Hughes and Preston Brown were the primary culprits with two personal conduct penalties each, but Duke Williams, Kyle Williams and Cyrus Kouandjo all gave up avoidable penalties at critical moments in the game. Hughes’ lack of discipline is becoming a serious issue, he is giving away at least one of these ego-driven personal conduct penalties a game. One would hope Ryan’s tone behind closed doors is markedly different to the lectern thumping defence of his players’ conduct in the games’ aftermath. The Bills are sailing along at record pace in the yellow flag stakes and it’s likely part of it is of their own making. It seems that you can’t advertise yourself as a bully pre-season and not expect the referees to focus on your behaviour. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the marginal calls are not favouring the Bills. An early pass interference call against Charles Clay and a touchdown cancelling holding call on Kraig Urbik fit this category. Of more concern was a call made against the bully’s bully, Richie Incognito, for a chop block. A 32 yard touchdown catch by Clay was cancelled out by this piece of imaginative refereeing.

It’s fair to say that when you have Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams setting the table for your run defence that the opposing team should not be running at will like the Giants did in the first half.

The offence totaled under 100 yards only only two first downs in the opening half. This is not going to be winning you many games.

What worked: The Bills OBJ plan. Odell Beckham Jr was targeted 12 times for only 38 yards and a longest catch of 9 yards. Buffalo decided to trust the rookie, Ronald Darby, and not have Gilmore follow Beckham Jr all over the field. Darby now has 11 passes defensed in 4 games, tied for the most in NFL history.

What didn’t: Running the ball. Karlos Williams carried the ball 18 times for 40 yards. Tyrod Taylor had 15 yards on 6 carries, although the Urbik hold cost him 31 yards and a touchdown.

What’s broken: Marqueis Gray’s arm. Although not a serious injury it’s enough to land him on IR and done for the season. A move that was necessary as Karlos Williams is in doubt as he goes through the concussion protocol this week. This leads to the Bills being terribly thin at running back and having to add ex-Colt Dan Herron.

What isn’t: The inconsistencies of having an inexperienced quarterback. Tyrod Taylor is performing very well for a first year starter but he is not the finished article yet. It still takes him and offensive co-ordinator Greg Roman to find a fix to problems presented by opposing defences.

Ralph Wilson Gameball: Corey Graham – justifying the shift to safety with 13 total tackles and a sack.

Move On, Nothing to See Here

After the loss to New England knocked the Buffalo hype train off the rails the Bills needed an away win against Miami to get their season back on track. They could hardly have done it in more emphatic style.

What worked: Offensive adjustments. Tyrod Taylor and Greg Roman adjusted to being shutdown for two quarters by the Patriots. Their first drive consisted of a lot of short passes, especially to tight end Charles Clay. Clay made the most of these receptions with some eye catching moves after the catch. During his touchdown catch he made a fool of the Dolphins secondary and a statement about the state of his knee, which had been questioned by sources within the Dolphins during the week. Having drawn the Dolphins in, Taylor then rained balls down behind them. He finished with a 21 of 29 for 277 yards and 3 touchdown stat line and is a long way to showing he belongs as an NFL starter.

What didn’t: Anything Miami attempted in the first half. They have been sluggish to start the season and are playing themselves out of contention in the AFC East.

What’s broken (or strained): The hamstring and calf of two of their most important playmakers. LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Sammy Watkins (calf) left the game early and will both miss this week against the Giants. The Bills rolled the dice trying to have them play through the injuries, it’s now time to shut them down until they are healthy.

What isn’t: Buffalo’s defence rebounded well from it’s mauling from Tom Brady. They kept the Dolphins scoreless in the first half and made Tannehill look very ordinary with three first half interceptions.

Ralph Wilson Gameball: Karlos Williams. 110 yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts meant the Bills didn’t miss McCoy. Doug Whaley’s propensity for stockpiling Williams’ has been very productive for Buffalo.

What’s next: After a tough start the Bill’s schedule opens up now. Five of the next six games are against teams that are unlikely to make the playoffs. Giants, @Titans, @Jaguars, Dolphins and @Jets. New York at home this week is a classic trap game but one that Buffalo must win if they are to be considered a contender. Their next real test should be the Cincinatti Bengals at home in week 6.

Steady on Chicken Little.

Hopefully this comes to be seen as the humiliation the Bills, and especially its defence, had to have. Given the overhyped cheerleading coming from One Bills Drive before the Patriots game it seems clear too many people had been reading their own press. Unusually it was primarily the defence and special teams that let the side down.

It is possible discipline, or lack of it, had more to do with this loss than any other one factor not named Brady. 14 penalties for 140 yards, and they were the accepted ones. These penalties more often than not cancelled a good play by the Bills or handed the Patriots great field position. In a four play Special Teams sequence the Bills had six penalties called on them. It’s tough enough playing one of the best quarterbacks ever without handing him 15 yards every other play. An inordinate number of these penalties were also for post-play misconduct. The occasional holding call on the offensive line or phantom offensive pass interference is to be expected but constant brain farts by talented professional players is a window into the locker room and the sight isn’t pretty.

If it wasn’t indiscipline wot dunnit then it was a defensive game plan that dared Brady to win the game in 5 yard chunks. Brady didn’t fall for the ego trap and dinked and dunked his way to a huge game. The ball was usually out of his hand within two seconds providing Buffalo’s defensive line with the task of chasing smoke. They rarely affected the Patriots’ quarterback. Belichick provided an exclamation mark to his dismissive attitude towards the money spent on the Bills’ defensive line in press conferences during the week. I’m confident in saying this will be the worst defensive performance of the year by some distance. The Patriots passed 500 net yards, I doubt another team gets past 400 against them.

He’s not the messiah, but neither is he a naughty boy. Tyrod Taylor also came back to earth from his first week win. In the first drive it looked like he might just carry on where he left off but then the Patriots took away the short throws and dared him to throw deep. During the middle of the game he was hesitant to do so and as a result drive after drive stalled. It was only once forced to take some chances due to the deficit that he started to challenge the defence again. Although he had three interceptions carelessness with the ball wasn’t his primary issue, stepping up into the pocket to avoid the rush and make plays was. One interception was a very poor throw, the other two were high but straight through a receivers hands. Taylor’s on a steep learning curve and the real challenge starts now. Teams will copy Belichick’s tactics until Taylor and Greg Roman prove they can counter them. With a rejuvenated running game to support him look for Taylor to steadily improve. I would also expect Buffalo’s offensive strategy to include designed plays to move the throwing pocket. Playing both to Taylor’s skills but also to hide the offensive line’s deficiencies.

What worked: The first drive. Then Belichick decided to take away Taylors short throws and force him to throw deep. Two and a half quarters of stuttering offence ensued.

What didn’t: The defensive scheme developed during the week by Rex Ryan and his coaches. It managed to stop Brady and the Pats for all of one series. After that it was a bit like a colander allowing Brady to pass for 466yds.

What’s (nearly) broken: Aaron Williams’ neck. Attempting to tackle Edelman as he dived for the endzone Williams’ head was snapped backwards as they hit the ground together. Williams didn’t get up and more than five minutes of medical assistance and an ambulance on the field had those watching fearing the worst. Gladly he was released from hospital later that evening and although not likely to play this week has come through relatively unscathed.

What isn’t: LeSean McCoy’s hamstring. McCoy was at his explosive best at times on Sunday. 15 carries for 89 yards. Based on better line play and McCoy turning blown plays into positive yards. He added another 27 yards on 3 catches. Starting to match his billing as the centrepiece of the offense.

Ralph Wilson Gameball: Tom Brady. 38 of 59 for 466 yards and three touchdowns. A peerless performance.

Bills Bandwagon Now Boarding.

Playing at home, Buffalo came into this game as underdogs. Numerous commentators were selecting the Colts to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl on the back of Andrew Luck’s arm while discounting the Bills’ chances in the AFC East. The common refrain was “if only they had a quarterback”. Questions about the Bills’ quarterback position, offensive line and secondary would all need to be answered before the league was going to take them seriously. The defence also needed to live up to the hype created by signing Rex Ryan to coach such a talented group.

The Buffalo Bills are developing a nice habit of making Hall of Fame bound quarterbacks look pedestrian. P. Manning 14/20 173 yds INT 2, Rodgers 17/42 185yds INT 2, Luck 26/49 243yds TD 2 INT 2 are some very nice scalps. Not only does this defence manage to affect the statistical output of some of the best players in the game it also seems to be able to impose itself to such an extent that the opposition signal caller loses that precious calm that sets them above their peers. The defensive side of the ball wasn’t subject to the same radical personnel changes as the offence. The scheme has changed but the results are the same. Frank Gore ran for 4yds per carry early but for reasons best known to Chuck Pagano the Colts decided to completely shelve the running game after the first drive. Gore had 3 carries for 13 yards in that first drive. The last run play was with 12.13 remaining in the first quarter. The Colts then proceeded to call 16 consecutive pass plays for no score and an interception. The next run was again Gore with 7.42 left in the 2nd quarter. Buffalo were good against the run but they were exemplary against the pass. It was a huge suprise that in the absence of Buffalo’s best run defender, Marcel Dareus (suspended), Indianapolis didn’t place more faith in the running game. Buffalo did not stop any run behind the line of scrimmage.

Potentially the most important takeaway from this game is that the Bills’ secondary will cope with whatever is thrown at it. Their most experienced player, Corey Graham, was out of the game after a few plays with concussion. Rambo and Duke Williams filled in without becoming a glaring weakness. Luck attempted to pick on rookie corner Ronald Darby but went away from that plan after Darby’s pick. Darby was hampered by injury soon after and was replaced intermittently by Mario Butler, promoted from the practice squad this season and talked up by Rex Ryan. Both made important plays to keep the stranglehold on Luck and the Colts. Unless the bad luck with injury continues this secondary is unlikely to be the weakness, in an otherwise supreme defence, some had feared.

The Bills’ starting quarterback submitted a wholly unsatisfactory performance. One handoff for -6 yards is not the type of production Buffalo was hoping for from their quarterback. Tyrod Taylor spent that first snap at wide receiver. Cassel took the snap and will be listed as the game’s starter, I wonder what that does for his bonus situation? I know I’ve buried the lede here but it’s intentional. The Tyrod Taylor hype train challenges that following Jarryd Hayne and today’s adequate performance is going to add plenty of carriages. By adequate I mean as efficient a 19 pass, 14 completion performance as you are likely to see. He was very careful with both the ball and his own body. Not one ball was thrown into coverage that offered an interception opportunity. I don’t count the near interception of one ball tipped high by a blitzer. Over 10 yards per pass shows he wasn’t settling for the conservative throw. 41yds were gained on the ground in 9 attempts, all but one a broken play not designed run. Importantly his sliding game was Wilson not Griffin (or McCown going by the replays of his helicopter flight), significantly increasing his chances of seeing out a season. He will have to perform like this over a much longer period before the Bills are really taken seriously but this was as good a start as one could hope for.

The only question mark that didn’t receive much clarity from this game was that hanging over the offensive line. Faced with a defence that was poor against the run last year McCoy only gathered 41 yards on 17 carries, mostly because the holes weren’t there. Karlos Williams was able to make more hay later in the day carrying 6 times for 55 yards. One of these a 26yard touchdown was all running back, not superior blocking. On the plus side Taylor wasn’t sacked and usually had sufficient time to find a receiver well down the field. It’s definitely an improvement on last year. The jury is out on by how much. Holding penalties continue to be a significant drive stalling problem.

What Worked: Rex Ryan calling for the crowd to get involved. Crowd noise disrupted the Colts. Some media were reporting it as the loudest they’d heard Ralph Wilson Stadium.

What didn’t: Cassel taking the first snap with Taylor as a receiver. A trick play followed and went for -6 yards. Also means Cassel is the starter in the record books and probably hands him a bit of bonus money.

What is broken: The aura around the Colts. It’s early but the roster appears to have too many holes

What isn’t: The AFC East. The division ut in an early application for pick of the conference and looks to have surpassed the North and West. All four teams locked at 1-0.

Where to from here: The Pats and yet another Hall of Famer in waiting. If this week was loud at the Ralph can’t wait for Brady and the arrive.

Ralph Wilson Game Ball: Tyrod Taylor 14 of 19 for 195 yards 1 TD. 41 yards rushing on 9 carries. Even better than the stat line was the composure he showed throughout the game.

Same Old Bills?

Reasons the 2015 version is not the same old Bills:

Rex – The list of Buffalo Bills’ head coaches over the last 15 seasons is not an inspiring collection. Williams, Mularkey, Jauron, Fewell (interim), Gailey & Marrone. Of the six only two are still at co-ordinator level, two are position coaches and two are no longer in the league. Ryan at lease has pedigree, depending on your perspective, he has already been a successful NFL coach before landing at the Bills. A boast none of his predecessors can make. Ryan is acknowledged as one of the best defensive minds currently in the league. He now coaches a team with as much talent on the defensive side of the ball as any in the league. They can, and if the Bills are to succeed this season, must be a dominant defensive unit.

Greg Roman > Nathaniel Hackett – Hackett followed Marrone over from Syracuse and was a rookie offensive co-ordinator under a rookie head coach with a rookie quarterback. This combination is generally not a recipe for success in the NFL. Greg Roman, much like Ryan, has his critics but has already been successful at his current level with another team in the NFL. He is being asked to institute a run heavy offence to complement Ryan’s defence. Everyone is operating within their comfort zone with this arrangement.

Tyrod Taylor – Taylor (or even Matt Cassell or EJ version 2015) will be more productive at the quarterback position than what the Bills achieved from the quarterback position last season. This is not a high bar to set. Manuel was 2-2 bfore being benched for Kyle Orton last year. Orton was productive for a 5 to 6 week stretch but then regressed to being one of the worst quarterback’s in the league over the final 6 week stretch. Cassel is a better quarterback than Orton and Taylor clearly outpointed him over the course of the pre-season. Taylor has shown promise on third down, where by virtue of his ability to salvage broken plays with his leg speed and force defences to worry about containment as well as their rush he is more likely to convert on critical third down plays.

Dominant defence – Three of the four defensive lineman went to the Pro Bowl and the other had 10 sacks. The depth at linebacker is thin but their talent, especially Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham, is underated. In Gilmore they have a very good cover corner who can be placed on an island, the rest of the secondary is solid. In the last two seasons they have statistically been a top 10 defence and I see little reason they won’t be top 5 this year.

Skill positions – Upgrades at running back, tight end and wide receiver. Charles Clay is a big upgrade on Scott Chandler and should provide his inexperienced quarterback with a dependable target. Production from the wide receiver group will depend on better quarterback play and Lesean McCoy is capable of have more than 1500 all purpose yards if the offensive line improves to league average levels.

Offensive line – Last season the Bills fielded a sub-standard offensive line. The guard position was a revolving door of ineptitude. Eric Wood sandwiched between the mess at guard had his worst season as a pro. Cordy Glenn suffered health problems in the pre-season and also had his toughest season since entering the league. Seantrel Henderson won the job at right tackle but suffered through challenges predictable for a starting rookie 7th round pick. The addition of Incognito through free agency and Miller at the draft should significantly improve the guard play. Wood and Glenn without the distractions of health and sub-par play around them should return to being top 10 at their position. Henderson again beat out 2nd rounder Kouandjo and will look to build upon his tough rookie season.

Reasons the 2015 version is the same old Bills:

In the NFL it’s all about the quarterback – The strength of a team’s quarterback position is not determined by the sum of its parts. So although a case can be made that each of Taylor/Cassel/Manuel are likely to perform better than Orton last season it is less likely the each individual player is capable of outperforming a middle of the road player like Andy Dalton. Taylor has the highest ceiling but is also the most likely to go supernova. Either through mental disintegration as his line waves through rushers or by exposing himself to injury as a runner one time too many. The Bills’ season will already be in trouble if they are forced to sit Taylor and turn to Cassel. If they make it as far down the depth chart as Manuel they are probably 2-6 and the season is dead regardless of his play.

How much better can the defence get? – The Bills’ have been an elite defensive unit for two seasons now and although Ryan may be an upgrade on Pettine and Schwartz the difference is not likely to be significant. In the salary cap era it has been very difficult for top defences to continue to maintain their dominance. Top offences find it easier to produce consistently because the quarterback position is so determinant of success. On defence no one position provides such influence and it’s difficult to keep all the moving parts operating at a consistently high standard.

Rex is gonna Rex – Some would say he already has. In combination with Doug Whaley he has added the lightning rods of Incognito, McCoy, Harvin and Enkempali to the locker room and cut leader and solid citizen Fred Jackson. If results are not favourable early in the season how long will it be until the fuse to this powder keg is lit?

Offensive line – Although the line play can’t get much worse it is no guarantee that it will improve. I believe it will improve it’s just a question of how much. To be successful the Bills’ running game must reach a top ten standard and the line must keep the pressure off their inexperienced quarterback while he adjusts to the demands of his first regular season as a starter. The most important characteristic for this group may be health. The Bills offensive line is not only a question mark regarding talent, their depth at the guard and tackle position is all but non-existent.

Lack of depth – Injuries on the offensive line, linebacker or in the secondary have the potential to cruel the Bills’ post-season chances.