The Buffalo Bills have tried to fix/start over/rebuild themselves for well over a decade now.
After their loss to the run-up-the-score Seattle Seahawks yesterday they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the 13th straight season.
Yeah, the thirteenth straight season. Also, coincidentally the longest streak in the NFL.
The main reason for this is the ownership and the misguided signings (or lack thereof) of the GM Buddy Nix.
It’s not that the signings he made where bad (they weren’t, well not all bad anyway), it’s that he didn’t go far enough. Mario Williams started slow, but has come on nicely after becoming more healthy.
DE Mark Anderson has been absent most of the year having only appeared in five games and managing only one sack and 12 total tackles. On paper though, I couldn’t hate on the signing because it made sense. Pairing him with Williams and DT’s Kyle Williams & Marcel Dareus seemed to fit. It, obviously, hasn’t worked out.
The Vince Young signing was a bust, but no harm no foul as it was only a 1 year, $2 million dollar deal.
Now the lack of filling in the holes is what hurt the Bills. Through free agency and the draft they had ample opportunities to fill at least a portion of their glaring deficiencies.
They went into free agency with multiple holes that needed filling (OL, #2 WR, OLB, ILB, CB). They (seemingly) handled the d-line, but neglected every.other.thing.
Thankfully they drafted Stephon Gilmore because he easily made himself the teams #1 CB just a few weeks into the season. He was a fantastic pick #10 overall. The rest of the draft yielded little else save for OT Cordy Glenn and raw, but talented WR T.J. Graham.
Management did very little to actually fix what was wrong. Now they are reaping their ‘rewards’ as they currently sit at 5-9 and are close to securing a top 10 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. It hurts to say it, but the best case scenario would have the Bills losing their last two games to finish at 5-11 and virtually guaranteeing themselves of a top 6-10 pick. This season is over and they have nothing left to gain from it.
So what do the Bills need to become truly competitive? Almost everything. The easier question is “What do the Bills already have to work with?”
That’s a shorter answer because the Bills are deficient in so many areas.
They are set at #1 WR (Steve Johnson), RB depth (CJ Spiller & Fred Jackson), DE, DT, #1 CB, FS & SS.
They have problems with;
QB – I like Ryan Fitzpatrick. He cannot throw the ball (accurately) past, say, 20 yards though. This requires a certain kind of play calling that Chan Gailey and his offensive coordinator simply refuse to call. He could produce at a higher rate if his coaching staff would put him in position to do so. Unfortunately this team in its current form is no place for Fitzpatrick. Tyler Thigpen is serviceable as the back up.
WR – Everything after Johnson is terrible. David Nelson has shown flashes of being decent in the slot, Donald Jones is fast as hell, but far too raw. T.J. Graham might be something if he progresses as some might thing, but right now he’s #4 in best case scenario.
OL – At G with Levitre & Urbik they are looking good. Everything else could be upgraded, also depth is nonexistent.
TE – I like Scott Chandler. He can block and while slow, has great hands and at 6’7″, 260 lbs he is a fantastic red zone target. After him there is nothing.
DL (depth) – The starters (with the exception of Mark Anderson) have been solid for most of the year. The lack of depth is shocking though.
LB – Barnett, 31, isn’t getting any younger and Sheppard has been serviceable, but unspectacular. Nigel Bradham has shown some flashes in his rookie season. Again, no depth to speak of.
CB – Gilmore has been very good and has held his own as a rookie having to defend against every teams #1 WR every week. After him though is little else. Aaron Williams is serviceable and Leodis McKelvin shows flashes and is incredibly athletic (particularly as a punt returner), but not very good in coverage.
So it’s clearly no easy task, but the process has to begin somewhere.