For the first time in a very long time, the AFC East is wide open. With the breakup between Tom Brady and the New England, who have dominated the division for 20 years, the division is now up in the air. The Patriots are an older team, and both the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are still in rebuild mode. The Buffalo Bills have solidified their squad with a complete change around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane. Do they have the most perfect roster? Not even close. Are they a Super Bowl contender? As of right now, not yet. They are indeed the team to beat in the division and can become a threat in the AFC.
Since the team of McDermott and Beane arrived in 2017, the Bills have overcome a lot of obstacles that faced them ahead. The team has been in the playoffs two out of the last three years. The dead cap space has been cleaned up and the Bills are in a good spot financially.
The culture turned around drastically from the Rex Ryan era. Going from an undisciplined team to the kind of culture that emphasizes the slogan “playoff caliber” is something that most Bills fans probably did not expect in a short amount of time. Now, that playoff slogan has been upgraded to “championship caliber”.
The Future Of The Franchise
During the buildup of the 2018 NFL Draft class, the Bills were highlighted as team to trade up and grab one of the five top quarterbacks in the draft. That very thing did happen when the Bills traded up to grab the boom or bust prospect, Josh Allen out of Wyoming. Being pinpointed as the biggest bust of the quarterback class, Allen certainly proved a lot of doubters wrong, including ones that reside in Western New York.
Allen still has development that needs work, but he has come along nicely for the Bills’ system. Since being drafted, Allen has worked with the same offensive coordinator and same head coach. As a matter of fact, he is one of the only quarterbacks from the class of 2018 to still have the same head coach. Building a foundation with the same people who drafted you is an important essential.
He took a leap forward in his second season. Having worked on his decision-making, Allen has built up a profile where he can labeled as a threat to opposing teams. With the same coaching staff around him and an offensive that continues to improve in different areas, he should continue to succeed.
The Revamped Offense
The 2017 Bills offense was an average offense that got lucky throughout the season which ultimately helped them backdoor their way into the playoffs. Fast forward to the 2018 offseason, the Bills witnessed their offensive line crumble.
Richie Incognito retired for a brief time before making a comeback into the league a year later. Eric Wood was diagnosed with a serious neck condition that abruptly ended his career. The team traded away Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals, who was hogging up a ton of cap space, to move up into a trade position to grab Allen. The offensive line became thin and the receiving core was nowhere to be considered a threat to any secondary.
The 2018 Bills offense started out being led by none other than Nathan Peterman. That tenure ended quickly later on. Allen inherited a sloppy offense but did the best work he could, ending with a 6-10 record but showing flashes of potential for 2019.
The Immediate Bandage
The Bills went out and immediately fixed the offense to head into 2019. Recruiting Cole Beasley and John Brown gave Allen weapons to work with on the outside. They brought in veteran experience on the line with Quinton Spain and Jon Feliciano. The team drafted Cody Ford to help in the run-blocking game, as well as their now workhorse back in Devin Singletary.
The offense in 2019 was still a couple years behind the defense, but they did their part in games in crucial moments. While they were not the strongest unit, they showed resiliancy and it helped them get to the playoffs.
Now, that unit has played together for a season and they just added a star playmaker in Stefon Diggs. Say what you want about his character, he makes plays down the field. He becomes the number one wideout for Allen and is a great learning step in Allen’s development.
An Elite Defense
You think the offense is exciting? This defense is sticking together and they got better this offseason. The additions of A.J. Klein and Mario Addison solidify the holes the Bills had going into free agency. With this unit being led by a 21 year old Tremaine Edmunds and a shutdown corner in Tre’Davious White, this defense is going to be arguably the best for the next few years.
Being in the top rankings defensively, the Bills should not plan on going anywhere away from that. The pass rush is there, the veteran leadership is there and the talent is most definitely there. Get ready for another year of Bills defensive dominance.
Go Beyond The Division
With all of this talk about the Bills being the division favorites, that should not be enough for the Bills Mafia. The team is at its best state in years. Why not go beyond just winning the division? I’m not saying that this team is ready for the big dance in the Super Bowl, but they have the talent and production to challenge a team like the Kansas City Chiefs or the Baltimore Ravens.
Bills Mafia, get ready. The Bills are on the rise. They have the necessary pieces to succeed, now it is time to see it in action.
-Brandon Ray is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage who covers the Buffalo Bills. Brandon can be followed on Twitter at @brandon_ray79. Make sure to also follow @FPC_Bills for all Bills coverage and analysis.