2018 Season Recap: Buffalo Bills
Division: AFC East
Record: 6-10 (2-4 Division) (3rd in AFC East) (No Playoffs)
Hi everyone, it’s /u/jiggs_ again and I am here to guide you once on the voyage long and strange that was the 2019 Bills season. This was not a notable season by any measure, but it still had its share of fun moments and big games. I am going to give you the crash course on why we got to 6-10 and how that is just so much better than where it could have been.
|BUF Offense||Value (rank)||BUF Defense||Value (rank)|
|Points/Game||16.8 (#30)||Opp Points/Game||23.4 (#18)|
|Yards/Game||298.6 (#30)||Opp Yards/Game||294.1 (#2)|
|Points/Play||0.267 (#30)||Opp Points/Play||0.386 (#21)|
|Yards/Play||4.7 (#31)||Opp Yards/Play||4.9 (#3)|
|3D Conversion %||31.67% (#30)||Opp 3D Conv %||36.45% (#9)|
|RZ Scoring % (TD)||59.46% (#16)||Opp RZ Scoring % (TD)||70.83% (#30)|
|TDs/Game||1.8 (#28)||Opp TDs/Game||2.8 (#19)|
|BUF Offense||Value (rank)||BUF Defense||Value (rank)|
|Rush Play %||46.43% (#5)||Opp Rush Play %||45.45% (#29)|
|Yards/Rush||4.2 (#21)||Opp Yards/Rush||4.2 (#10)|
|Rushes/Game||29.2 (#4)||Opp Rushes/Game||27.5 (#24)|
|Rush Yards/Game||124.0 (#8)||Opp Rush Yards/Game||114.9 (#15)|
|Rush TDs/Game||0.9 (tied #11)||Opp Rushing TDs/Game||1.1 (#26)|
|BUF Offense||Value (rank)||BUF Defense||Value (rank)|
|Pass Play %||53.57% (#29)||Opp Pass Play %||54.55% (#4)|
|Completion %||54.31% (#32)||Opp Completion %||63.62% (#11)|
|Yards/Pass||5.6 (#31)||Opp Yards/Pass||5.8 (#3)|
|Passes/Game||31.2 (#28)||Opp Passes/Game||30.8 (#2)|
|Pass Yards/Game||174.6 (#31)||Opp Pass Yards/Game||179.2 (#1)|
|Int Thrown %||1.4% (#31)||Opp Int Thrown %||1.0% (#7)|
|QB Sacked %||7.59% (#21)||Sack %||6.82% (#13)|
|BUF Offense||Value (rank)||BUF Defense||Value (rank)|
|Penalties/Play||0.06 (#29)||Opp Penalties/Play||0.05 (#23)|
|Penalties/Game||7.2 (#27)||Opp Penalties/Game||6.2 (#23)|
|Penalty Yds/Game||62.0 (#28)||Opp Penalty Yds/Game||61.0 (#13)|
|Penalty Yds/Pen||8.6 (#18)||Opp Penalty Yds/Pen||9.9 (#1)|
|Kyle Williams||43DT||UFA||$10,000,000||$4,500,000||Officially Retired, won’t re-sign|
|Vontae Davis||CB||UFA||$5,500,000||4,500,000||LOL. No.|
|Lorenzo Alexander||43OLB||$3,750,000||$1,600,000||Already signed|
|Ryan Groy||C||UFA||$2,500,000||$3,500,000||Benched for Bodine. No.|
|Jordan Mills||RT||UFA||$1,900,000||$400,000||Yes, sign for depth|
|Jordan Phillips||43DT||UFA||$1,090,727||$2,066,338||Must be re-signed, starting caliber|
|Derek Anderson||QB||UFA||$1,120,000||$90,000||Already Signed, QB mentor|
|Taiwan Jones||RB||UFA||$880,000||$45,000||Yes, but only if he gets the same amount or lower|
|Deonte Thompson||WR||UFA||$790,000||$0||Yes, have him compete for a slot|
|Logan Thomas||TE||UFA||$790,000||$0||No, draft a TE. Get him out of here.|
|Jeremiah Sirles||LG||UFA||$805,000||$0||Resigned to one year deal|
|John Miller||RG||UFA||$775,000||$680,000||Can do better, but he needs re-signed for competition.|
|Matt Darr||P||UFA||$630,000||$0||No, we already have Bojo|
|Lafayette Pitts||CB||UFA||$720,000||$0||Already Signed.|
|Eddie Yarbrough||43DE||ERFA||$555,000||$0||I love Eddie. Works too hard to not get a contract.|
|Reid Ferguson||LS||UFA||$915,000||$445,000||Already signed. Absolute legend.|
|Deon Lacey||43OLB||ERFA||$510,000||$0||Sign the tender for depth. Zo won’t last forever.|
In 2018, We made the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. As soon as we lost in a disappointing game to the Jaguars, it was time to fully come to grips with the near miraculous nature of our playoff berth. Before the season began, we were in full-blown tank mode. This roster was not good, and it had lost key pieces in Tyrod Taylor, Cordy Glenn, and Preston Brown. Sometimes, when looking forward to the future, you have to understand why you are successful in order to fully determine how to build toward that future. The Bills decided that we were still a bad team, and that we only had enough cap space to build on one side of the ball. You see, it really is a weird, almost unprecedented way to build a team. The Bills effectively ignored the offense for the entirety of the offseason, saying “it all starts up front” (referring to the new DL talents they just signed). So, by completely ignoring the glaring needs at OL and WR, the Bills chose to build a dominant defense. Here is how some of these moves panned out.
Review New Additions
I do not want to talk about Vontae Davis except to say he singlehandedly turned this defense around the moment he left at halftime. We completely kicked ass the moment he left. Addition by subtraction.
This section should just be called "Robert Foster, and the rest of the additions". And you know what? I'm going to go ahead and rename it that right now.
Robert Foster, and the rest of the New Additions
Ah, that’s better. So, anyways, let’s talk about Foster. He is insanely fast. Fast enough to beat most NFL CBs. He had some issues with dropping passes early this season, but those issues are long gone after the last few games that he had this season. He has insane quickness off the line of scrimmage that makes you think “how the hell did this guy go undrafted?”. And, to answer that question, you have to look at his production in college. He had less than 400 yards total over all four years at Alabama. Just seeing that was enough to make all teams turn away, but not Brian Daboll. As Alabama’s OC, he obviously saw a lot of Robert Foster and knew what he could do. So the Bills snatched him up.
Let’s check out the timeline for Robert Foster. He was a 5-star recruit out of high school touted as the next amazing Alabama receiver. He was promptly outclassed by Calvin Ridley and other amazingly talented WRs. He had a key drop or two, had some issues with effort level in practice, and overall ended up disappointing the staff at Alabama. Daboll has said that he wishes he used him more, but considering they won a championship I doubt it weighs on his mind much considering the results. Regardless, the combine rolls around and he runs a 4.41. Even that didn’t get heads to turn toward him enough, so he takes the contract offered by his former coach’s team. A coach that he knows can use him effectively even at the NFL level. He kicks ass in mini-camp but disappoints with 2 drops in the preseason. He barely makes the 53-man roster, but he makes it. He is in for a few games, and gets cut after another drop. He clears waivers and is put on the PS. This is Foster’s lowest point. In his eyes, he had his shot and he blew it. He was on an NFL roster, he was playing against top CBs, and he was open. But, he dropped the pass, and to him he probably felt like he dropped his career in the process. He could have just coasted from there and hoped for a job in the AAF eventually, but instead he listened, learned, and improved immensely. He said he had multiple conversations with Daboll regarding improvements and overall Brian Daboll and Foster have both said that the move back to the PS was exactly what he needed. It lit a fire under his ass, and soon enough he had another chance. This time, he didn’t drop it. Foster exploded for 3/105/0 statline and immediately everyone asked “who the fuck is this guy?” Over the bye week Josh and Robert didn’t go on vacation, they worked. They built chemistry the entire 2 weeks, and once the Jags rolled around Robert Foster beat them deep on the pass of the year, as voted by Bills fans. This was not the same Robert Foster. This Foster was here to kick ass.
All in all, Robert and Allen have progressed in the exact same way that it makes you instantly think that this is going to be a combo we will be talking about for years to come. The fact that their trajectories line up so well does not seem like coincidence to me. Foster is going to be a force. He’s got the physical traits and he’s got the attitude to make it work.
Star has never been a pass rusher. He has never been particularly amazing at anything, but he takes up a lot of space and is a fantastic anchor. The argument I hear quite a bit is that he is a "dying breed" and that "DTs who can't make a difference in the pass rush are a dime a dozen". That argument is fucking dumb. Just because the Rams have Suh and Donald both getting multiple sacks doesn't mean it is the only formula for a good defense. All I need to do is point to our defensive rankings to help anyone understand just how good Star has been. McDermott's defense runs through guys like Star being in the middle to draw 2 guys. From there the LBs can make run fits correctly without having to worry if the Guard gets up the second level. It also help the pass rush around the edge. In fact, Jerry Hughes had a career year and was literally the #1 pass rusher in the NFL among DEs according to PFF. Need I say more?
I'd say he was a disappointment, but I think the expectation for him was more in a "maybe he returns to dominant form, and if not we can just refuse the team option". In other words, his contract was a "prove-it" deal. I don't think he proved it, but maybe the Bills think otherwise. He was not in on nearly enough snaps due to injuries and issues with actually getting to the passer, but he could have been far worse. He will be overpaid if he is still on the roster next season, but oftentimes you have to overpay for guys like Trent. Pass rushers are hard to come by in the NFL. Again, not condoning re-signing him, but it's not an absolutely horrible decision if we do. We have the cap room, and we could do worse than Murphy out there.
Eh. He was fine. I don't want him anymore though. He just wasn't good enough to be a starter. Quality depth though.
Lost his job as slot corner to rookie Taron Johnson, and credit goes to the coaching staff for recognizing that the rookie beat the veteran fair and square. Some teams might lean toward vets in this position but the Bills agreed that Taron deserved the starting nod. Gaines was cut later in the season.
Didn't really do all that much. He was a slot guy we forced to play outside and thus his production took a hit. He got cut early in the season due to the feeling that we should develop rookies and young guys rather than retain veterans.
Well, it was worth a shot. We kicked the tires on Pryor (heh, I'm a poet) and didn't see much upside. Got cut a couple weeks later after a couple bad drops and overall poor performances.
He was asked to start straight off the Pats practice squad, and he was fantastic. Really solid level of play from Ryan, and I’m sure the Bills couldn’t be happier with how he has already developed. Makes me happy we could steal one from Old Bill Belly, regardless of whether or not he really pans out into anything more than a replaceable corner.
What a cool story. Came in for one game against the Jets and kicked ass. Then he signs an extension to be the backup QB long term. Love knowing that we have a guy who won’t pull a Peterman if Allen ever goes down. He also has a reddit account, so if you are lurking here Matt, we love you Bro!!
Another great story of a CB who was on our practice squad for quite some time and then stepped up and played some solid football. He was top-5 in overall CB grades for rookie CBs on PFF’s rankings, and he was undrafted! Hoping he can continue being great, because he was another big piece on our top-tier passing defense
I think I talked a bit about him in the game-by-game analysis, but this was just such a great niche pickup by Brandon Beane. Speedy, gadget-type receiver that could be plugged in anywhere on an offense, he is perfect for Brian Daboll. He’s a guy who can create mismatches underneath, and he was utilized very well. He is not a top-tier gadget player, but he is definitely good at that role. Hope we keep him around and bring in a rookie for competition as well. He has been stellar.
Starting this off with the 3 linemen. Don't re-sign any of them. They are replaceable talent and we have plenty of cap.
He was an absolute firecracker for us in the 2nd half of the season. He was not spectacular, but in McDermott's defensive scheme (I'll talk about that soon), DI is a thankless position with very little statistical worth. He was never going to jump off the stat sheet, but he made the most of his opportunity. After any play he was up and yelling at the crowd to get louder and it worked really well. I know quite a few people who would be super bummed out if he was to leave Buffalo. I really hope we can re-sign him to a team friendly deal, because he was a great rotational talent.
Just cut him a few weeks ago. Good riddance. He has gotten old and slow and his stats/film show that he only has a season or two left before he is an absolute liability. Just wasn't worth his massive contract.
He is under contract for next season, and Beane has said constantly that he would be on the roster next season, but I won't believe it until I see him in the game week 1. People keep saying he isn't much of an asset and that RBs are low-level targets for trades, but I see him fetching a 5th rd pick or lower. That could be worth it. I don't think it's worth it, but the Bills could feel it is. If we deal him I will certainly miss him but I won't pretend it was some sort of fleecing. He took a step back this season, and if that is enough for the Bills to trade him then so be it.
We're gonna miss you meatball man :(
Weekly Game Recaps
2018 Week 1 | Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
You may not believe me, but I wasn’t really all that mad about this game. It got ridiculously out of reach in an embarrassing fashion, but to be honest it just felt good to finally be able to say that Peterman would never play another down as a Buffalo Bill. I left the bar at halftime saying to my buddy “Well, at least we get a Josh Allen season instead of Nate fucking Peterman’s noodle arm.” I do not want anyone to think I was happy to see Nate fail, because I wasn’t. However, I did not have high expectations, so it was tough to do anything other than nod and think “well, I don’t know what we expected. At least it’s over now”. Boy was I wrong.
2018 Week 2 | Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills
Los Angeles Chargers
Josh Allen is announced as the official starter, and the Peterman revenge arc we all wanted never happens. “Thank the fucking Lord we can get past this laughing stock now” is all I kept thinking. Peterman’s subpar play certainly played a part in me being frustrated, but the biggest issue I had more than that was the damn defense. We were awful against the Ravens, and after getting beaten down by the Chargers it seemed like it would be a historically awful year of football. I think my post in the post-game thread was “Guys, we are historically bad and I think this might actually get worse before it gets better.” Vontae Davis retired from football at halftime. I cannot emphasize the unprecedented nature of this action. This has literally never happened in football history. Vontae walked into the locker room, took off his pads, took his keys out of his locker, and drove home after telling the team he was done. Sean McDermott took over defensive playcalling for the first time in his tenure as HC. Our team was a fucking disaster.
2018 Week 3 | Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings
Looking back at this game, I kick myself for not betting on it. It all makes complete and perfect sense that the Bills could win against this team. They had amazingly talented receivers, a solid QB, and a great RB in Murray. But, their line was awful. In fact, this would be the first time the Bills got to play defense against a poor offensive line, as the Chargers and Ravens both have solid units. On top of all that, Cousins has horrible pocket awareness and loves to fumble the ball in the pocket. Couple that with Jerry Hughes’ uncanny ability to get behind the line of scrimmage, and we get to the question of why the fuck did we not see this coming? The Bills offense was still pretty awful, but we almost forgot how good a defense could really be. The Bills reminded us of that. Oh also, Josh Allen hurdled Anthony Barr. I’m sorry did I say that with enough inflection? Let me repeat that. Our starting quarterback literally jumped over a linebacker. He pulled off a move that quite literally cemented him in our hearts. I am not kidding when I say that. Look at comments about Allen before and after that hurdle and it is night and day. He went from “prove yourself, rookie” to “if you fail we are all going to cry”. The minute this game ended, the memes flowed, expectations soared, and everyone was just so happy to see our young QB, and this team, succeed.
2018 Week 4 | Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
A trip back to earth for a squad that had no business being considered anything above #30 in the league. This was a sobering game that ultimately led to fans being much more realistic about our expectations. Josh Allen struggled mightily to get any semblance of an offense going, and the defense did all it could but just couldn’t stop the offense enough on a short break (lots of 3-and-outs from the offense). I was in Lambeau for this one, and it while it was nice seeing Packers fans speaking highly of Josh Allen, it was fucking annoying having to deal with the constant “GO PACK GO” as we kept digging our trench deeper and deeper. It was around this time where I had severe doubts of Allen’s ability to run Daboll’s offense. Multiple times I would point out to my brother a receiver with a bad matchup pre-snap that Allen needs to hit, only for him to either miss it or just outright look him off. It was frustrating to see that Daboll’s offense was creating solid matchups (the absolute cornerstone of his playbook) only for us not to capitalize. It clearly frustrated Daboll as well, because he took away Allen’s ability to make a pre-snap pass adjustment (the P in RPO was no longer allowed). This led to the conservative numbers that you see above, Daboll recognized that Allen needed time before he could confidently run the RPO offense, so he, for now, made short term changes to say “just give Shady the ball and hope he makes a play”.
2018 Week 5 | Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills
This game was pretty weird, if I’m honest. The Titans dropped a game-winning TD catch in the endzone, the Bills ran a really strange fake field goal that ultimately got our punter placed on IR, and Allen threw less than 20 passes. Like I said previously, this is the time when Daboll basically told Allen “just hand the damn ball off to Shady if the box isn’t stacked”, and it seemed to work. Shady had 24 rushes and averaged just under 4 YPC. Josh Allen also “led a comeback drive” that was mostly just run plays, but I am not going to pretend he doesn’t deserve some credit. He made a couple passes and kept the ball out of the defenses’ hands.
2018 Week 6 | Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
Remember when I said above “at least the Peterman era was over”? Yeah well this is where fate gets to take a giant dump on my head. For some ridiculous reason, it took the Bills until October 9th to sign an actual backup QB in Derek Anderson. Until then, Peterman could have been put in the game at any point. Now, I get that hindsight is 20/20, and I am not trying to hit the low-hanging fruit here, but Peterman is not an effective option as a backup QB. The Bills needed to sign a 3rd QB the moment everything exploded in their face in Baltimore, but they didn’t. So, the moment Josh Allen is clutching his elbow after struggling to throw the ball downfield, I had already ordered another 3 rounds of shots so that I would forget whatever decided to come next, because Nathan Peterman was warming up on the sideline. As I downed the second of 3 shots, Nathan Peterman threw an absolute dime to Zay Jones in the endzone and I was just about to the point where I was going to dance on the bar. It was a great pass and Peterman was actually getting me to think “holy shit, maybe he finally improved!” The Texans came back and scored on a long drive to tie up the game, and now it was really time for Nate to make a play. It was do or die time. I downed my third shot, and looked up from my glass to see Nate throwing the ball to a receiver running an out route. Everyone in the bar knew what that meant for Nathan Peterman. Pick Six. I will never forget the amount of expletives being yelled that moment. All I could do was drunkenly giggle. Nathan Peterman now represented not just a bad QB, but an absolute demon in the eyes of Buffalo. I feel bad for him, I really do. He doesn’t deserve death threats or ridiculous questions from reporters about selling insurance. He does, however, deserve to not be on an NFL roster. Also, to top it all off, he threw a second pick six in that game just to make us all laugh even more.
2018 Week 7 | Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts
For the next stretch of games, I will be honest. I barely watched. The moment Derek Anderson was announced as starter was when I decided that it probably just wasn’t really worth watching for awhile until Josh got better. This game was uneventful. DA threw picks in our own zone which led to easy points, and when he wasn’t throwing picks he was throwing ducks to no one in particular. This will be the story for the next few games, so feel free to skip this for a few weeks.
2018 Week 8 | New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots
I want to give a massive shoutout to our defense for this one. The score is deceptive here. The pats capitalized on late points when the defense was clearly gassed from all the three and outs, but they held the pats to a very, very low scoring first three quarters. All in all, we lost because we had no offense (as usual) and our defense once again has nothing to show for its great performance. At this point I think we were all just hoping the offense could do something just to give our defense some damn reward for their great performances.
2018 Week 9 | Chicago Bears at Buffalo Bills
No shot at winning this one. #1 defense in the NFL, and Peterman was starting due to DA’s concussion. I think the team gave up a bit in this one, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Part of me wants to say that I don’t blame them because there just wasn’t any shot of this offense playing up and winning against a ridiculous Bears defense, but on the other hand this is the NFL. You can’t just give up on games. McDermott addressed questions saying that they never gave up and all that, but I do think there were signs that there was just no fight in the team for this one. We were awful, there was lots of booing, and everyone was just looking at the calendar waiting for the day Josh Allen is out of his elbow brace and on the field.
2018 Week 10 | Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
New York Jets
All I have to bring up here is Robert Foster, but there is quite a bit of story behind the Bills offense here that I want to unpack because scoring 41 points is fucking insane when looking back at the offense that played in weeks 4-9. First things first, the offense was run completely differently than it was under Nathan Peterman. The reason they were able to do some new stuff because they brought in some damn speed. Isaiah McKenzie was signed off the Broncos PS and was immediately inserted as our slot receiver/gadget option. Robert Foster was called up to the 53 man from our PS and we cut some other dead weight. All of a sudden, the Bills had some burners outside. And they just picked up a QB named Matt Barkley who had the arm strength to yuck it to em. Here is how I think Brian Daboll’s conversation went with the offense when preparing for the Jets: “Ok guys listen up. I have played it safe these past few weeks trying to establish a rhythm and focus on ground and pound so that we can squeak by in some games. I am fucking tired of that shit. The Jets play man defense, so we are going to show them how we beat man coverage. Matt, just fuckin yuck that shit, fam.” Maybe Daboll was sick and tired of running a fraction of his playbook, maybe he genuinely didn’t give a fuck about his job anymore, who knows. All we know is that the Bills came to fucking ball. Every play was a deep pass, we spread it out 5 wide on some plays, it was like we had Tom fucking Brady in 07. We didn’t even bother selling the run, we just passed the ball all over the Jets until we decided they’ve had enough. Matt Barkley, you were the spark this team needed. Someday I wish you would tell us what Daboll said to you guys, but to be honest it might be better trying to guess what was said rather than knowing for sure. The Bills were finally showing some signs of life and just in time for Allen to make a comeback tour.
2018 Week 12 | Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills
Remember when I said the offense looked completely different? It stayed that way, even with Josh Allen making his first start back from injury. Gone were the days of half field reads and play action passing, Josh Allen was in shotgun. He was looking past his first read, making plays to extend drives, and most of all he was running all over the fucking Jaguars. Here is a highlight video. You will notice that it is mostly running highlights, because Josh had 99 rushing yards in this one. Should have been 101 but he knelt twice. Ramsey later said he never got beat through the air and that Josh only really hurt them with his feet. He’s right, but it doesn’t make me hate him any less regardless of the rationality.
2018 Week 13 | Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
The Bills were so fucking close to their third straight win. The offense wasn’t incredible but the defense was. We had a last second drive that was being moved down the field really well. Josh, on the last play of the game, juked defenders, barely dodged getting tackled twice, and hurled a throw to the endzone to a wide open Charles Clay. Who dropped it. If you want to know my reaction, it mirrored exactly what Daboll did. Seriously, look at his reaction, it’s fucking hilarious in hindsight. That was me, the moment that pass was dropped. The tweet says it best, “Looked like a sniper rifle got him”.
2018 Week 14 | New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
New York Jets
This one looked over the moment the Bills stepped on the field. The first quarter was a slaughter. The second quarter was more of the same. But our ST unit kept fucking up. We had a muffed punt, we let 3 separate returns get to the 50 yard line, etc. Our ST could not play football this week for some reason. Maybe there is more to it, but to me the ST unit lost us this game. We had this one in the bag but field position matters, and the Jets won on that in spades. Also, holy fuck Sam Darnold kicked serious ass in the second half. Some insane passes and play-extending from Sammy Small Hands.
2018 Week 15 | Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills
This game was pretty uneventful. The formula for stopping the Bills was solved by most teams by now, and the Lions are no exception. They shut down the middle of the field (except for one dime to Robert Foster here to seal the victory in the fourth quarter), and made us try to throw it to the sidelines to beat them. Josh has struggled there, and therefore struggled in this one for the most part. It wasn’t a bad game though by any means. He threw the ball to safe spots and didn’t turn it over. Keith Ford, our 3rd string RB, also played very well in relief of Shady and Ivory.
2018 Week 16 | Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Welcome to the NFL, Josh Allen. The Patriots, as usual, found that Josh Allen was the exploitable weakness, and, as the Patriots tend to do, they did all they needed to neutralize him. Rushes up the middle coupled with shutdown man coverage forced errant throws and overall disrupted him enough to pretty much dismantle our offense. A better O-line would probably have changed the story of this game considering how hard it was for Josh to have a clean pocket, but it’s easy to say that. Who knows what would have happened with a better line, better not to dwell on it. I was hoping this would be Josh Allen’s coming out party, but it turns out that was next week.
2018 Week 17 | Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
This is the game that has sealed Josh Allen as a great QB in the eyes of Bills fans. The Dolphins were not a great team, and they didn’t really have much to play for here. But neither did the Bills. So, this shouldn’t have really mattered. But, Josh Allen came out and absolutely dominated. He made full-field reads, was extremely patient in the pocket, and threw dimes constantly into tight coverage. My favorite, most underrated moment of this game was the back-shoulder fade to Robert Foster. I have never seen a play better at showing the growth of two rookies than this one right here. First we have the exceedingly difficult throw from Allen to the back shoulder with excellent timing and placement. On top of that, watch the rest of the video to see just how great the footwork from Foster is here. His steps are perfect and he gets just enough separation to make room for the incoming pass. Just so fantastic all around, regardless of how easy it looked.
Josh Allen is still just as volatile as before the draft began. He is the reason I stay up late arguing on Reddit far too often, but he is also the only reason the Bills had any chance of ever winning a game this season. People ask where all of the offensive weapons are, and all I can do is point to #17. He was a great quarterback and a fantastic leader. I know what PFF says and I understand people have serious concerns over his accuracy and field vision. All I know is that for the first time in my entire life as a Bills fan, I trusted the QB to get the job done. Even on a 4th quarter comeback drive.
The key word for Tremaine is improvement. He steadily got better and better over the season and by the end looked like a veteran threat. He began the season struggling mightily in coverage and was thrown to constantly by opposing QBs. Baltimore and LA had a field day the first two weeks taking advantage of Edmunds’ rookie mistakes. River especially took an interest in making Edmunds look like an absolute fool, and ended the game throwing toward him almost 10 times for a crazy 7/90/1 statline. From there though, he really shined. His biggest issue was selling on the run too quickly on PA, and you could visibly watch him improve in that regard throughout the year. Couple that with his tackling prowess, his ability to fill gaps quickly and efficiently, and we are looking at a possible candidate for “steal of the draft” at 16.
Horrible Harry is a 1-tech DT with issues in the pass rush. He was a top-tier run stopper at Stanford who was touted for his handwork and his ability to provide a solid push on 1st and 2nd down. That about sums up Phillips’ work this season as well. He never turned into a pass rusher or did anything spectacular, but he was a solid piece of the team through the season. He needs to improve on his pass rush because the Bills want him to move to 3-tech, but to be honest he probably will never get to that point. He just doesn’t have the mechanics that Kyle did, so he really can’t become the talent that Kyle was.
We all knew Taron as the dude who got hit in the face with a football at the combine. Little did we know he would go on to be a major asset for the Bills. Taron was an undersized outside CB that was considered too small for the NFL. He could not match up with guys like Nuk and Julio. So. the Bills drafted him and put him at slot. This sounds like an awful idea for someone undersized, because TEs are often in the slot. But, Taron was a scrappy motherfucker who did not allow for any doubt to remain the moment he hit the field. He was all over the damn place. He seemed to be in the backfield on every single run play, and in solid coverage on the pass. Overall, slot CBs don’t get a lot of love, but Taron deserves a spot in the conversation of top slot CBs of 2018. He was out for 5 games due to a shoulder dislocation, but if he had played the entirety of 2018, I think we could see him on some top 100 lists.
Siran was brought in on any down with an exotic pass rush. He got into the backfield on 100% of his on-field snaps, but he was only on the field for 6 of them. 100% is pretty nuts though. He was also pretty solid as a gunner on ST. Hopefully we can develop him into a solid backup safety for Poyer/Hyde
He played the final 3rd of the season and was noticeably better than John Miller’s dumb ass. That isn’t saying much though. He needs to improve even more if he hopes to keep his spot as starter. I am all for bringing in more talent to compete with him in camp, because it is entirely possible he loses the job. His run blocking was absolutely awful. PFF had him with a rank below 60.
Tough season for Ray-Ray. Fumbled a few returns, had some drops, overall disappointing. Just need to hope he improves.
Cut after preseason.
Coaching Staff Review
This is always my favorite part. This section always seems to write itself. I want to first off start by talking about McDermott’s coaching style and why we have recently seen a massive shift in the type of coach that this team is looking to employ.
The first thing that Sean would want to be known about him is that he is a man of faith. I am not generally religious or spiritual, so I will just leave it at that, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it considering how often he talks about it in his interviews. Like, seriously. Radio hosts have even begun to question whether he will completely dismiss a player if he is known to not be religious (this was discussed in depth during the endless Josh Allen vs Rosen debates). Anyways, let’s now discuss some of his coaching habits because I don’t think I did that enough in last year’s write-up.
McDermott is a big fan of team culture and a team-first attitude. He talks about it constantly and he definitely “walks the walk”. He is known to work out with his players and he has meetings with the captains daily. McDermott tends to be in-your-face if you make a mistake, and the first to cheer you on when you make a big play. This is not to say he is the first coach to ever do things like this, but it should give you a little insight into how practices generally flow. From understanding how Sean interacts with the team, we can get a general idea in what he values from the people he works with. That includes players, coaches, staff, etc. Let’s talk about the coaches. Keyword for McDermott is CULTURE
Frazier’s second year started out absolutely atrocious. Our defense let up 47 points to the Ravens in week one, and 28 points in the first half to the Chargers. We. Looked. Awful. I think my biggest issue with the Bills this season was never with the offense, because the offensive talent took a dive. However, I really had no idea how the defense that dominated in 2017 could be this bad in 2018. I specifically remember at halftime turning to my cousin and telling him that this may actually be the single worst NFL team the Bills have ever put on the field. The second half went surprisingly well and in garbage time Josh Allen looked somewhat decent, giving us a sliver of hope. After that game we found out that not only had McDermott taken over playcalling duties, but also Vontae Davis had retired at halftime. We’ll get into that later, but I want to mention it here to show just how low of a point this defense got to in the beginning of the season. Leslie Frazier was interviewed for two separate HC jobs in the offseason. Now his job in Buffalo was officially in jeopardy. McDermott came in for a press conference that Tuesday and he brought up two points right away. Firstly, Les was taking back the playcalling duties after a long discussion on how the games would be called. Secondly, Vontae Davis was officially retired. So much for that dominant defense!
Next up was the Vikings, who were an absolute powerhouse in 2017. We had low hopes. The Bills did not. Frazier got the game ball in a complete thumping of his former team and the whole locker room rallied around the veteran coach. To be honest this may be up there for one of my favorite moments of the season. The keyword for Leslie Frazier is RESILIENCY.
The funniest part about looking back at Daboll’s section last year was seeing that I really had no clue what kind of job he would do as OC. I came in expecting him to implement so many changes from the ground up in how plays get run, which personnel is on the field, etc. However, his real job this season was developing Josh Allen. He shadowed him on the practice field, ran long hours in the QB room, and generally played the role of QB coach. This isn’t to say he didn’t implement big offensive changes, but he did a fairly good job of working with the personnel he was given rather than forcing them into a system they had no clue how to run. Overall, Daboll isn’t Sean McVay, but he has been fairly creative in utilizing the swiss army knife that is Josh Allen. Key word for Daboll: VERSATILITY
Danny had been with the Bills since 2013 due to his ability to get effective results in the midst of total dumpster fires. He survived 3 different coaching staffs, so he was clearly doing something right. Our ST has never been top-tier, in fact it was often subpar, but he was always touted as hard-working and no-nonsense. It seems like he took a “straight-edged” approach to his coaching, which would make sense considering he got his start coaching at the Coast Guard Academy. This style of coaching is not a complete 180 from McDermott’s methods, but it isn’t the perfect match. Sometimes you need a hard-ass to mix with the hands-on attitude in order to keep players on their toes. That being said, Crossman got the axe due to the inability of his units to stop long kick returns in an era where the return game should be all but dead. It was infuriating watching us try to field a kick. There were multiple chants of “KICK A TOUCHBACK” at home games. He was called out all season, so when he was fired it was no surprise. After getting fired the sub joked for a bit about which Panthers coach would be brought in, so we were obviously not surprised when Heath Farwell, the former assistant ST coach for the Panthers, was hired. Heath is unproven, young, and fiery. He is a former player who will be able to immediately identify with the guys on the roster and he known for wearing receiver gloves in practice in order to run drills with his players. Sound familiar? This guy was brought in because he is a McDermott clone, and he will get the fringe guys on the roster indoctrinated in what the culture is in Buffalo. Keyword for Farwell: INTENSITY.
Juan was hired by McDermott in 2017 due to his experience and results. He has been around the block and then some, so it wasn’t really a surprise to see him join the staff. The advantage to having a guy like Castillo is that he was willing to coach his team to run just about any blocking scheme needed for the task. Since the Bills in 2016 ran power blocking and switched to ZBS in 2017, the versatility was appreciated in order for them to transition well. Considering how awful the line was this season, and how long it took for young talent to see the field when they were clearly the better options, it was no surprise when Castillo was let go. Juan favored the veteran guys too much, in my opinion, and that led to guys like Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger getting underutilized. Neither of those guys are amazing options but they are only marginally worse than the veterans on the squad and could have used some of the second half of the season developing.
Anyways, the Bills brought in Bobby Johnson, a
rapper coach who worked under the Colts last season in their dominant system. Hopefully he can bring some of that into the Bills. He has not spoken to anyone in the media and he has never really had a position as OL coach before so there isn’t much known about his style yet. His keyword is: OG. BOBBY. JOHNSON.
sigh another former Panther gets a job in Buffalo. Ken worked with Cam Newton and Derek Anderson for 5 years and has quite a bit of respect from Cam. Looks like Buffalo sees the Cam->Josh comp and is looking to develop him the same way. We can only hope it works like it did in Carolina, considering how fantastic Cam has been. Keyword(s): PANTHERS NORTH
Virgin Terry getting replaced by the CHAD HALL. Chad worked with the WRs alongside Terry for most of last season and got promoted this offseason. Players seem to think this promotion was well-earned, and considering how awful our receivers played, I wasn’t really surprised Robiskie was let go. Let’s hope Hall can bring a new style that gels better with our WR corps. Keyword: PROMOTION
Overall Roster/Individual Player Review
- Josh Allen (65.3 PFF grade) - Allen was the story of the season for Bills fans. Picked at 7th overall despite being the most controversial prospect in the draft, many fans were furious at the team for passing on Josh Rosen. Allen has won over most of the fanbase with his incredible arm talent and scrambling ability amid an abysmal supporting cast, but it’s clear he still has a lot of work to do and he desperately needs talent around him. Film Recommendation: If you are going to watch 1 game to get an idea of Allen’s full season, Week 13 at Miami highlights both his struggles and his individual talent and tenacity.
- Matt Barkley (61.6 PFF grade) - Barkley joined the Bills at the lowest point of the season. The offense was averaging just 7.6 points over the last 6 games, and now a guy freshly plucked off the street was going to start because it couldn’t get any worse. Barkley’s single game appearance can only be described as total catharsis. The frustration, anger, and disappointment of the season melted away for fans as Barkley laid an ass-pounding blowout on the Jets. He received a 2-year extension following the season and will continue to be Allen’s backup. Film Recommendation: Barkley appeared in 1 game this year, Week 10 at New York Jets.
- Derek Anderson (47.5 PFF grade) - Anderson started 2 games but never really clicked with the offense, and his season was ended upon suffering a concussion in Week 8. Despite his lack of on-field success, Josh Allen credited Anderson as being a major help to him over the season. He signed a 1-year extension following the season and it appears he will serve a player-coach role with the team.
- Nate Peterman (32.9 PFF grade) - I don’t want to talk about Nate Peterman.
It’s worth noting here that Josh Allen was the team’s leading rusher in both yards and touchdowns. While the team finished 9th in total rushing yards and 11th in touchdowns, if you subtract Allen from that they would have been at or near the bottom in both categories.
- LeSean McCoy (62.2 PFF grade) - McCoy had the worst year of his career by far. With career lows in both yards and yards per carry along with near-lows in TDs and receiving yards, McCoy had just one game over 100 yards. A lot of fans have attributed this to poor run blocking, no passing game, and not really playing at 100% health. It seems to me however that Shady is approaching the twilight of his career. His trademark elusiveness is starting to fade away as defenses begin catching him more often than he escapes. Brandon Beane reiterated the team’s confidence in McCoy going forward, but I think his time is limited as the Bills look to get younger and cheaper. Film Recommendation: While the Week 10 blowout was statistically Shady's best game, the Bills leaned on the running game to beat the Titans and Shady slogged out tough yards and led the team in receiving yards.
- Chris Ivory (74.2 PFF grade) - Ivory spelled Shady as more of a between the tackles power runner. He did pretty well in that category with few negative plays and only one fumble, and he added on a few huge receptions by finding holes in defensive coverage. Believe it or not, Ivory had higher yards per carry than McCoy. He will have camp competition in Keith Ford and potentially another draft pick or UDFA, but he’s cheap enough and dependable enough that I don’t think the team will actively look to replace him. Film Recommendation: Ivory got by far his largest workload in Week 3, with only 2.8ypc but a huge 55 yard catch-and-run that put the Bills in scoring position.
- Marcus Murphy (54.4 PFF grade) - The small and quick back showed a surprising amount of power during contact, and he returns punts and kicks. His running style reminds me a little of Fred Jackson but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Film Recommendation: While Week 10 was Murphy's most productive game (see a common theme here?), in Week 15 against the Lions he led the rushing attack until he was injured.
- Keith Ford (54.2 PFF grade) - The UDFA appeared briefly late in the season due to injuries. He trucked out some tough “I hit you harder than you hit me” yards and is as cheap as cheap gets, so McDermott may see him as potential replacement to Chris Ivory. If not, he’s still practice squad eligible. Film Recommendation: Ford led the team in rushing Week 16, a game in which Shady struggled to gain positive yardage.
- Patrick DiMarco (56.9 PFF grade) - Ex-Bill and radio color commentator Mark Kelso has a man-crush on Pat DiMarco, it’s cute. Fullback is a dying breed in the NFL but DiMarco quietly does his job as a lead blocker.
- Charles Clay (57.4 PFF grade) - Clay had the worst season of his career and was even outperformed by his own backup. He was released from the team following the season and is now happily retired in Arizona.
- Jason Croom (53.3 PFF grade) - Croom played pretty well and showed a lot of promise as a receiver, replacing Charles Clay as the #1 late in the season. He made one major mistake in Week 16 fumbling the ball while trying to fight for extra yards, and he is still developing as a blocker. Croom’s speed and height are his greatest assets as he was Allen’s best target over the middle, an area where the passing game has struggled for years. Croom's 132 yards after the catch far exceeded Clay's 85, and show that Croom was constantly trying to extend the play. Film Recommendation: Croom got his most significant playing time in Week 16, where he caught 4 passes but lost a crucial fumble in the red zone.
- Logan Thomas (52.1 PFF grade) - The QB convert has been learning the TE position for 3 years now, but to this point has only showed flashes in very minimal playing time. I think the Logan Thomas experiment is over as he is an RFA this season.
- Kelvin Benjamin (57.8 PFF grade) - Let’s just get this out of the way. There are all sorts of horrible things to say about Kelvin Benjamin’s time in Buffalo, but that time is now over.
- Zay Jones (62.2 PFF grade) - Zay’s offseason was highlighted by an apparently synthetic weed-fueled rampage in a hotel (don’t worry, he was fighting for Jesus). During the season he was extremely hot and cold, sometimes barely showing up and sometimes being the center-point of the passing offense. His best games came late in the season with the emergence of other receivers around him, a sure sign in my opinion that he can’t shoulder the burden of #1 WR and needs to transition into the slot to succeed. Zay's 41.5% red zone target share shows how much Allen depended on him in scoring situations, as his 7 touchdowns were a huge improvement over his rookie season. Film Recommendation: Zay led the team in receptions and yards in Week 13, and caught both of the Bills' touchdowns.
- Robert Foster (72.1 PFF grade) - After being demoted to the practice squad early in the season, Robert Foster re-emerged like a beautiful goddamn butterfly. He has good chemistry with Allen and the speed to chase down deep bombs which the team was totally missing otherwise. Foster led the team in target distance and produced a 117.7 quarterback rating when targeted, showing just how well he connected with Allen on critical deep passes. Foster will undoubtedly be an important target for Allen next year. Film Recommendation: In Week 15 Foster cracked 100 yards for the third time and caught a touchdown with a deep slant route that found a hole in the Lions coverage.
- Isaiah McKenzie (67.0 PFF grade) - The mid-season waiver pick showed a lot of versatility in Daboll’s offensive scheme. He handled punt returns, took trick plays (including 2 rushing TDs), and was a pretty good #3/4 receiver. While he was overshadowed by Foster, I think an offseason to work with Daboll will make McKenzie a unique rotational piece in the WR group. Film Recommendation: In a Week 14 loss against the Jets, McKenzie had 4 catches, 4 carries, a rushing touchdown, and did kickoff returns.
- Ray-Ray McCloud III (53.9 PFF grade) - Don’t say-say it’s so! Despite his cool name and preseason mojo with Allen, Ray-Ray never really showed up in the regular season. He had extremely limited playing time and it seemed like every new guy was penciled in ahead of him on the depth chart. My fingers are crossed that he can improve because his name is just so cool.
On the whole the offensive line was pretty good in pass protection and horrible at run blocking. The Bills were below average when running behind any lineman except for the Center, which is a credit to C Russell Bodine as well as the FB Pat DiMarco.
- LT Dion Dawkins (76.3 pass/58.9 run PFF grade) - Compared to his rookie season, Dawkins showed some struggles and committed 13 penalties as well. Nevertheless he is easily the best OL the Bills have at this point, and will most likely continue to anchor the Left Tackle spot for Allen.
- LG Wyatt Teller (78.3 pass/49.0 run PFF grade) - For a 5th round pick thrown into the fray, Teller played surprisingly well. He allowed only 8 pressures in pass protection and was an aggressive blocker, but he continued to commit mental errors and was tepid as a run blocker.
- C Russell Bodine (74.6 pass/56 run PFF grade) - Bodine was signed by the Bills amid an ocean of condolences from Bengals fans. He was not as bad as advertised and outperformed his competitor Ryan Groy until suffering a broken fibula late in the season. It’s doubtful that he will retain his starting position in the future but will likely remain on as a backup.
- RG John Miller (71.4 pass/56.8 run PFF grade) - You’ve probably never heard of Miller, but at this point he is one of the Bills’ longest tenured players. Miller’s career has been defined by inconsistency, as sometimes he looks solid and other times he barely justifies a roster spot. The constantly changing OCs and schemes have really harmed his development, but if Daboll thinks he can get the best out of Miller every week then the impending free agent may return.
- RT Jordan Mills (66.5 pass/47.7 run PFF grade) - Mills came in for an injured Seantrel Henderson in 2015, and since that point he has started every game for the Bills at RT. This is unusual because he’s never really played like a starting-caliber tackle, but apparently just well enough to not be replaced. As an impending free agent, it’s very unlikely that Mills will remain a Bill as the team desperately needs to improve at OL.
- T Jeremiah Sirles (55.2 PFF grade) - Sirles was the extra lineman in jumbo packages and only appeared in 13% of offensive snaps. I think he’s worth mentioning because the Bills struggled to run the ball effectively, but the jumbo package was one of the few things that actually worked for them after Sirles showed up.
- Kyle Williams (71.5 PFF grade) - The legend, fan favorite, and definite Bills wall-of-famer played his final season in the NFL. Despite a preseason knee injury that looked devastating, Kyle bounced back and started all 16 games. He had pretty much the season we’ve come to expect in his role as a penetrating DT, amounting 5 sacks and taking a trip to the Pro Bowl. His final play as a Bill was an emotional 9 yard reception that let the home crowd send him off with lots of cheers.
- Star Lotulelei (59.9 PFF grade) - Star came to Buffalo to fill the important role of stuffing runs and absorbing blocks. He wasn’t terrible, but many fans are upset that his large contract (as of now he is the highest paid player on the roster) translated into a mediocre performance.
- Harrison Phillips (68.0 PFF grade) - The third round rookie showed a lot of promise. In training camp and the preseason the coaches experimented with Phillips as a penetrating 3-tech, but for the most part the played 1-tech in the regular season. With the retirement of Kyle Williams and an uncertain future at DT, McDermott may want to expand Phillips’ role in the defense next year.
- Jordan Phillips (52.0 PFF grade) - Don’t let his PFF grade fool you, Jordan showed promise with Buffalo after being dumped by the Miami Dolphins. Phillips can bring a lot of fire to the line and single-handedly dominate a play when his motor is going, but his time with the Dolphins showed that he struggles to bring that consistently. Jordan hates Miami, and Miami fans hate him, so he seems like a natural fit in Buffalo and I hope the team retains him.
- Jerry Hughes (88.7 PFF grade) - This season was a renaissance for Jerry Hughes, who enduring his own struggles after the departure of beloved DC Jim Schwartz. Despite only getting 7 sacks, Hughes was a monster at generating QB pressure and brought constant energy to a front 7 that was near the bottom of the league in sacks. Hughes was named a PFF top 101 player for 2018.
- Trent Murphy (58.1 PFF grade) - Like Star Lotulelei, Trent Murphy's high paying contract didn't produce the quality fans expected on the field. Murphy appeared in only 13 games and was often limited due to nagging injuries, but a few times throughout the year he made plays that showed some ability. He may very well be a cap casualty this offseason, but I suspect that McDermott will give him one more year to turn things around.
- CB Tre'Davious White (61.0 PFF Grade) - Criminally underrated by PFF, Tre White is a top-tier CB who should be on anyone's top-100 NFL list (he'll certainly be on mine). He held mirrored plenty of top-tier receivers and held them to minimal yardage while drawing an insanely low target number. In essence, he put them on an island. If a receiver was shadowed by Tre White, they probably didn't do much. He committed some penalties, so it definitely drove down his score, but I think PFF puts too much weight into them considering 3 of them were declined anyways. All in all, if Tre White isn't on your short list of top CBs I think you are crazy.
- SS Jordan Poyer (68.4 PFF Grade) - Poyer is a staple of our defense that is constantly making plays. He is a fantastic tackler (really solid tackle efficiency rates), ball hawks with the best of them, and can consistently come up and blitz effectively as well.
- FS Micah Hyde (84.0 PFF Grade) - Amazing instincts, unbelievable playmaking ability, overall top safety in the NFL no question about it. He is a total film nut, and it shows in games when you see him move between defenders in his zone constantly based on where the QB is reading on that particular play. He can move seamlessly from attacking an over-the-middle route to double teaming a big target on the sideline. He truly does it all, and is another cornerstone of the Bills dominant defense.
- CB Levi Wallace (83.5 PFF Grade) - As I said, PFF has trouble with their grades. They weigh lots of stats incorrectly, in my opinion, and it creates strange lists of guys who probably don't belong super high on the list. Levi is a fantastic corner who really played well in his 7 games, but he just isn't the 4th best CB in the NFL. That being said, his instincts are similar to Hyde's in that he seems to know when to jump the route versus wait for the pump fake and follow the WR deep. It's spooky seeing him hard read an offense as often as he does. Another great late season addition.
- CB Taron Johnson (69.6 PFF Grade) - Fantastic slot corner who was always, always, always in position to make a play on the running back. His pass protection was fine (nothing amazing, nothing awful), but what always shocked me was his knack for making backfield tackles. You could think the dude was a fucking linebacker with how often he was behind the line. I don't know if it was scheme or not, but he was just so damn dynamic on running downs that it made me very excited for his future. Hoping he can continue to make plays for us after he is back from his injury.
Free Agency/Draft Concerns
Now ladies and gentlemen I don't have to sugarcoat this: our offense is hot steaming dog shit on a humid summer day. The 2018 Bills offense, you may remember us from such posts as "Are the Bills the worst offensive team ever?" and "Bills ranked last in offensive DVOA".
But no more! We have our QB of the future and now we just have to fix, well, everything else. On the defensive side, a different story, though retirements and rotational depth have spurned a few holes, they pale in comparison to our offensive issues.
With a metric fuck ton of cap space, and 10 picks (all our own plus an extra 4, 6, 7 via trades) we have the capacity for a quick turn around here. Picking 9th gives us a variety of options to hit a bunch of offensive holes
Bills draft needs ordered by necessity: OC, OT, WR, TE, OG, RB, CB, DE, DT
OC: With a rookie QB calling the shots, we cannot continue to have Russell Bodine and Ryan Groy at center. Russell Bodine was objectively terrible this year and Groy was mediocre at best. The ideal situation is we pick up C Matt Paradis from Denver. This is a capital investment. His presence as a top 5C sures up our line and opens our run game. Having a vet is invaluable to Allen's development and if we make one move this off season this should be it. If not, the draft should have numerous mid round C/G combos we can scoop up.
OT: Jordan Mills is ass. He just is. Jeremiah Sirles is not the answer. And Conor McDermott might not even exist. Hes been 4th on our depth chart for years. We need someone to pair with Dion Dawkins. To me, this is where we need to spend our first round pick. To me, the guy is Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida. This guy is a mean, nasty fucker in run blocking and passable in pass pro. He reminds me of a neighborhood bully who beats your ass for fun. With McCoy and Allen, we need to be able to run through the tackles and open up the offense. If we go elsewhere in the draft, Daryl Williams is an option in FA. Hes a former Panther and God knows we love those, and would be an instant upgrade at OT. It is my opinion that Dawkins profiles as a RT, and Williams is a great fit at LT.
WR: I ask you all, to name our WRs. For much of 2018 Kelvin Benjamin was our number 1. When he went to KC he became an occasional jump ball guy. Yup, that's bad. Add in Isaiah McKenzie, Zay Jones, Vic Bolden, Deonte Thompson, Ray Ray McCloud and Robert Foster, it's not ideal. Foster and Jones deserve to be on this team next year. But this is by far the worst WR core in the league. We need a combination of draft and FA to fix this. In FA, I'm a big fan of Tyrell Williams. He provides us a big WR who can win jump balls like KB was supposed to. In addition, John Brown and Chris Conley would provide valuable help. In the draft I think we need at least 2 WRs. As we've seen in the draft lately, a run on WRs in the second round is our first spot. Guys like AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, Marquise Brown, and Kelvin Harmon should be around this area and we need to get a receiver here. A mid round receiver also makes sense, one guy I'm very high on if we cannot get Williams is Hakeem Butler from ISU, a prototypical jump ball, physical receiver who will provide a big target for Allen
TE: Charles Clay got old, and then he got bad, and then he got released. I like Jason Croom but hes not a solution. For my money, Tyler Eifert, coming off an injury should be a guy we look for. I'm thinking 3/19 is a fair contract. Hes a pass catching TE that Allen relied a lot on when WRs couldn't separate and TEs in the flat have been an integral part of our offense. Either way, I do suspect a mid round TE on our radar in the draft. I could see a TE in the second round if Fant were to fall. Guys like Drax Raymond, Caleb Wilson and Drew Sample around round 4-6 will probably be our area of interest. We need a good catching TE in one way or another
OG: From 2018, the only returning starters are going to be RT Dion Dawkins and OG Wyatt Teller. We'll need another guard. We signed Spencer Long but as any Jets fan will tell you, he's not good. He might be a stop gap insurance policy at G/C but hes not a solution. Hes on a 1 year deal with 2 team options so its low risk. The guard FA pool isn't very deep and I don't expect a big splash. I believe this will be a draft position. Look for a 3-4th round guard. Definite draft concern, McDermott will be looking for a senior here
RB: Shady took a noticeable step back this year. Is he getting old? Maybe. But with a league worst OL he may as well have been fed to wolves out there. We also seemed to have more success running down hill with Ivory at many times this year. With Shady on his last year of his deal and Ivory also being old, we need to look to the future. We need a pass catching RB. I cant say I envision a RB in FA but I do in the draft. Again, we'll use our plethora of mid round picks. With the RB position becoming more interchangeable look for the Bills to plan for the future in rounds 5-6 because the clock is ticking on Shady
CB: We have Tre White, a lockdown sure fire CB1 in this league but need a CB2 to help him. Levi Wallace filled in admirably this season and I think assuaged much of our CB2 concern going into next year. However, if we can upgrade in FA we definitely should. I do envision a mid round CB drafted for depth but I would expect Wallace and White as a tandem next year
DE/DT/LB: With Kyle Williams retiring, Lorenzo Alexander on his last year and Trent Murphy being injured, we have needs for depth in all these areas. Envision some low level signings and some late round draft picks for these locations.
I must say, I am extremely excited for next season. I am hoping we can build on this core and be real contenders for the next few years. We have lots of rookies playing well in starting roles, we have the money to add veteran presence to areas of need, and we have a defense that was consistently fantastic (not a single starter is a free agent, either). So, we can expect the same type of dominance next season (I hope), let’s hope the offense can finally catch up.
Shoutouts to People who helped
/u/pixel_pete and /u/FriedChickenIsTrash were all a huge help this time around. Thanks so much guys!