Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Three Keys to a Winning Season in Buffalo

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There are no promises in football and injuries play such a vital role in the success or failure of a team.  No team can withstand a large scale injury report. The Buffalo Bills, maybe more than any other team, need to stay healthy to have any chance at success this season.

Let me first define success for this team: Making the playoffs.  I think anything less than a wildcard spot is failure this season.  For this to happen, three things must have the alignment of the stars.

  1. EJ Manuel must not be injured.  I think the draft showed us that the Doug and Doug know this to be the case too.  They drafted three offensive linemen to make sure this doesn’t happen.  This is quite an investment.  In addition the Sammy Watkins deal was made to help the receivers get open—stretch the field if you will.   If Manuel misses an extended period of time, I have no confidence in Thad Lewis to make this a successful season.
  2. Someone has to step up and take control opposite Aaron Williams.  The safety position was vacated by Jairus Byrd and is a huge hole in the defense.  Doug Marrone has declared it an open competition.  Who will step up to the plate and can he remotely fill the void left by Byrd?  We should know the answer to this question by halftime of the Bears game.
  3. The Bills MUST enter the month of December with 9 wins.  The December schedule is absolutely brutal. They travel to Denver, Oakland and New England with a home game against Green Bay sprinkled in.  There is hope in beating Oakland and in that New England might not have much to play for in the final game of the season.  The Bills must be ready to win from day one.

What say you Buffalo?

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Tags: Buffalo Bills Doug Marrone Doug Whaley EJ Manuel Jairus Byrd

  • NWBill

    I would answer this with these three, in order of importance (to me, at least):

    1. EJ Manuel MUST consistently develop as the starter.

    2. The offensive line MUST gel, and gel QUICKLY, in order to establish the running game ….which will help the new receiving corps develop even faster.

    3. The new 4-3 defense MUST develop aggressiveness and consistency as quickly as possible. Schwartz is adept at putting players in new systems quickly, and getting everyone in the best spots within his scheme, so I think this will actually develop quicker than other aspects of the preseason and training camps.

    I think the offense is going to take more time to gel, because there are more changes there than on defense & special teams …and get the overall scheme of Hackett’s in place to start being truly effective. With a still-developing QB, new bodies on the OL, and a revamped WR corps, fans should not expect the offense to come together at the start; a lot depends on the OL, who will end up being the starting guards and RT ….because I think Buffalo’s going to emphasize the power running game this season, and EJ will do a LOT of play-action out of it. We’ll see more screens and sweeps, as well ….in order to get space for CJ to use his skill set most effectively. That’s a LOT to get done before the first game, so my prediction is that the defense and special teams will develop quicker than the offense does.

    I don’t see EJ’s health as a factor; he’s come through all of his rehab with flying colors, he’s worked on those things physically to get stronger for the rigors of the NFL …and I think the added bulk of the OL will help protect him tremendously. We’ve now got one of the largest O-lines in the league; but, these are not just hulking bruisers. These are Doug Marrone – type offensive linemen; big, strong, and light on their feet, in order to do as many different things as possible. We’ll see Marrone focus MUCH more on helping the newly-drafted OL guys get as good as they can be, as fast as they can absorb the offense. The question about EJ is – can he continue to develop and grow into his large talent during his second year? If the Bills had stayed pat with just an OC to help him, I would have had my doubts. But now, with a QB coach, a highly-regarded offensive assistant, and Hackett, he has more resources to call on, and get him to where he needs to be. To me, it was absolutely CRUCIAL that the team get him more help after last season; they acted quickly to do just that.

    My eyes will initially be on two things through the OTA’s and training camp – can we get a top-flight OL on the field for this team ….and can Watkins & the rest of the receivers give EJ enough weapons to score points? If one or both of those things DON’T happen, we’re going to see another 6-10 season. If things go according to plan, with the overall talent this team has acquired ….I don’t see why they can’t win 10 games and get into the playoffs.