Since the Buffalo Bills selected Josh Allen with the 7th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, eyes around the league have shifted towards the quarterback battle taking place in Orchard Park. After moving on from Tyrod Taylor, the Bills brought in free agent A.J. McCarron, drafted Allen, and retained the services of Nathan Peterman. There is little doubt in the mind of Bills Mafia that Allen is the future, but the million dollar question is should he also be the present? Personally, I do not think it matters who the starter is this season. There is one glaring truth that fans need to realize about the Bills this season: a quarterback can only be as good as the pieces around him, and the pieces are simply not there.
This offseason has been clouded by allegations against LeSean McCoy, the retirement of two Pro-Bowl caliber offensive linemen (Richie Incognito and Eric Wood) as well as the departure of another in Cordy Glenn. McCoy has been the focal point of the offense since he arrived in Buffalo, but to date, he has not had to shoulder a larger workload than he will this season. If disciplinary actions are taken against Shady, the offense will likely crumble into mediocrity.
A constant of the Bills offense over the past four seasons has been the play of the offensive line; a line which has arguably been top five over that span. This year, the line is in shambles with the team scrambling to replace three positions. Dion Dawkins should be a like-for-like replacement for Glenn at left tackle, which is arguably an upgrade considering the injury riddled past few seasons for Glenn. The left guard and center positions are areas of concern, and whoever is under center this season will struggle and face constant pressure in the backfield early and often.
That brings me to the biggest uncertainty facing the Bills this season: the receivers. After having a bottom five core last season, little was done to fix this problem in the offseason. In the past, with a better receiving corps, the play of Tyrod Taylor and poor offensive play calling held the Bills back from their full potential. A healthy Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay should help, but the Bills will struggle to move the ball down the field and play over the top of defenses due to the lack of a deep threat. Over the past few seasons, the Bills have lost Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan, and Marquise Goodwin to free agency or trades. Jordan Matthews was disappointing last season, and the second wide receiver position this season remains up for grabs.
The lack of experience at receiver is also an issue. Free agent acquisition Jeremy Kerley adds a veteran presence in the locker room and versatility on the field. Zay Jones should rebound from a less than impressive rookie campaign. Benjamin, Kerley and Jones are likely going to be the top three receivers on the depth chart, which is right at the bottom of the league as far as skill is concerned.
As much as I want the Bills to succeed this season, it is going to be incredibly difficult to duplicate the magic of last year. The offense will be constantly looking over their shoulder regarding the McCoy situation and who the quarterback will be. Those who want Josh Allen to be the starter right away have a legitimate claim, but should be careful what they wish for. If he is the starter and has a less than impressive season, he should not shoulder all the blame. Unless McCarron, Peterman, or Allen pull off Tom Brady level performances, it is unfair to judge them as they are not walking into a situation that is conducive to success.