Posted by Josh Katzowitz
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Although the Bills went 4-12 last season and were never in contention for any kind of postseason berth, there was reason for optimism at the end of last year. Against all previous indications, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t half-bad, young faces like RB C.J. Spiller and WR Steve Johnson showed potential, and the team took the Steelers, Chiefs and Ravens into overtime before eventually losing.
The head coaching abilities of Chan Gailey – in college or in the NFL – have never been that impressive to me, but I’d be an idiot if I didn’t say that he is making progress in Buffalo. Progress enough to compete with the rest of the AFC East? Not yet. But any kind of progress is good.
Very little elite talent
This obviously is a problem, because, aside from NT Kyle Williams – who’s a top-five interior defensive lineman – the Bills don’t feature any elite players (maybe S Jairus Byrd can get there at some point). With the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, that should change (you’d like to think so at least, if you’re a Bills fan). But remember, Buffalo went with Aaron Maybin with the No. 11 pick in 2009 and Leodis McKelvin with the No. 11 pick in 2008. Apparently, this franchise doesn’t always know how to pick the elite guys.
While Fitzpatrick did a decent enough job at the starting spot last year, after Trent Edwards thoroughly failed at it and Brian Brohm didn’t do enough to win it, Fitzpatrick doesn’t scream, “FUTURE FRANCHISE QB.” Since the Bills have the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft, it makes sense for them to take somebody who could make that claim. Considering GM Buddy Nix said that now is the perfect time to draft a QB, Buffalo might just do it.
Buffalo needs to shore up its 3-4 defense in a big way and procure players who can figure out how to get to the opposing quarterback. The Bills – who were tied for 27th in sacks last year – already have Shawne Merriman and Aaron Maybin at OLB, but it’s unclear if the former can stay healthy and the latter has been a big draft bust thus far in his career. Von Miller’s elite speed certainly would help in the linebacker corps.
3. DEFENSIVE LINE
The Bills were the worst team in football at stopping the run, so this spot obviously is in need of an upgrade. The line itself seems to be OK with Kyle Williams and Dwan Edwards, but a Da’Quan Bowers pick wouldn’t be shocking (though many experts are predicting Miller).
The Bills are still nowhere near making a bid for the playoffs, but there’s no reason they can’t improve on last year’s record. I think 8-8 would be a stretch – especially if Fitzpatrick is back at the QB spot – but 6-10 or 7-9 wouldn’t be out of the question. And it would be a sign of more progress.
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