After making the playoffs last season for the first time since 1999, the expectations are set low for the Buffalo Bills heading into the 2018 season. As a matter of fact, the bar was set low for them heading into last season. Predicted to go 4-12 last season and now projected to end this season at 3-13.
There are more questions than answers regarding the team. These questions, such as who will be under the center, will the defense bounce back, etc. are hopeful to be answered in training camp heading into Week 1. I do not see the Bills heading back to the playoffs, but most said the same thing and the outcome proved them wrong.
1.) The Defensive Renovations
If you like defensive football, you should be in for a treat with the Bills defense. Head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane took it upon themselves to renovate the horrific defense from 2017 and added extra pieces to both stop the run and create pressure on quarterbacks. They utilized free agency by bringing depth to the trenches as well as run-stuffer Star Lotulelei and one of the more efficient pass rushers’ in Trent Murphy. The team also brought back their veteran defensive tackle, Kyle Williams.
Go to the second level of the field. Sure, they were not able to retain linebacker Preston Brown, but I think who they replaced him with has a much higher ceiling for an NFL career. Getting a steal with Tremaine Edmunds at #16 in the draft should benefit the Bills in a huge way throughout the season.
The secondary lost E.J. Gaines to the Cleveland Browns in free agency, but gained Vontae Davis. Coming off a season-ending groin injury, Davis will have to prove what he has left in the tank but what will be beneficial is his veteran experience and leadership ability.
2.) Heading into a new era at Quarterback
This is both a scary thought and beautiful thing to think about. For the past three seasons, Tyrod Taylor was the man taking the snaps from under center. Taylor is a classy guy who has one of the best attitudes’ you will ever see from someone. He just was not the man who can lead the Bills for the future. His most passing yards in a season is 3,035 yards. His most passing touchdowns in a season was 20. Both of these numbers are from his first year with the Bills. He has dropped since then.
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Inconsistent play and not being able to throw the long ball at times cost the Bills various games. As a result after the playoff game lost against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team moved Taylor to the Browns for draft pick #65, which was eventually traded away later to grab Edmunds in the first round.
A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen. The three quarterbacks on the roster. Bills fans saw Peterman perform in 2017 as a rookie. More interceptions than touchdowns last season should motivate Peterman. McCarron was the last big name in the quarterback market to sign a deal on the first night of free agency and Allen was the third quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL draft at #7 overall.
Who knows what to expect from each of these players. The way I look at it, McCarron will become the Bills starting bridge quarterback while Peterman and Allen will compete to see who the future is of the club. Peterman was drafted a year before Allen, but Allen was a better prospect coming out of college. There is going to be a big competition in training camp and who knows, maybe one of these three becomes the next franchise quarterback. Something that the Bills have not had since Jim Kelly retired in 1996.
3.) Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane
This coach-manager duo has delivered since arriving to Buffalo. Have made smart moves, impactful choices and brought the Bills to postseason football. The front office for the Bills was a mess for a very long time. The big picture for the Bills is to “Trust the Process.” The players and fans bought into McDermott’s system and it panned out in a playoff birth.
The two men are showing off their magic within the organization. They obtained Kelvin Benjamin before the trade deadline and did not give up a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2018. They managed to trade up twice in the draft to grab two future hopeful stars of the league. Possibly even three with the ability to grab Harrison Phillips in the third round who has first round talent.
Who knows how 2018 will turn out for the Bills. One thing is for sure when it comes to Mcdermott and Beane. The front office is slowly but surely improving and the plan is to build the roster into a serious contender for the future.