Are the Buffalo Bills safeties better in 2016 than they were in 2015?
The Buffalo Bills starting safeties last season were Corey Graham and Aaron Williams. Williams injured his neck early in the season and did not play another game after Week 5. The Bills would eventually slide Leodis McKelvin into the starting role once he returned from an ankle injury.
McKelvin and Graham were both former corners who converted to safety. Both players were inexperienced at the position but did a pretty good job holding down the fort. Sure there were plays made by each that left you scratching your head but they did good enough. In the offseason, McKelvin, who was released by the Bills, signed with the Eagles.
The Bills did not do a whole lot to replace him but did bring in Robert Blanton from Minnesota and Colt Anderson who last played for the Colts. Anderson’s main contributions to the team will come on special teams.
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Blanton, on the other hand, will be the first guy to step in if there is an injury. He should be able to easily take that role from Duke Williams. Blanton is much better against the run (111 tackles last season) than he is against the pass. Blanton can also help on special teams.
With that being said, let’s get to the point. Will the Bills safeties be better in 2016 than they were in 2015? In my opinion, the answer is YES.
How could they be better when they lost more talent than they gained in the offseason?
The answer is pretty simple. A return of Aaron Williams, who is young and still has a promising career ahead of him assuming his neck holds up, should do the trick. Williams is the best safety on the roster so him coming back and being able to stay healthy for the year would be a huge boost to the unit.
Unfortunately, he has not had a lot of success staying healthy in his career. In his five seasons with the Bills he has never played in all 16 games and only played in double-digit games in three of the five years.
On top of Aaron Williams coming back to start alongside Corey Graham the Bills also added a Hall of Famer to help out the unit. It’s not someone who will play a single down on the field but he is someone who can have an extremely positive effect on the players. Of course, I’m talking about future Hall of Famer, coach Ed Reed.
Ed Reed is not only one of the best to ever play the position but he is also known as a cerebral player who was a film geek. His addiction to studying tape during his career makes him a prime candidate to be an extremely impactful coach.
On top of that, the players on the team look up to him with the respect he deserves. Because he has the respect of the players, they are going to listen to every last word that comes out of his mouth.
He should be able to teach their safeties some of the minutiae that comes along with being one of the greats of all-time. He can show them the things that he noticed that no one else did which gave him an edge during his career.
The return of Aaron Williams to the roster as well as the potential Ed Reed has as a coach should definitely contribute to the team being better at the safety position this year in my opinion.