Buffalo Bills 2010 Season Preview: Cloudy Skies Still Looming
The Buffalo Bills have a loyal and almost rabid fan base. Unfortunately, they may be turning a bit sour, as the team has failed to reach the playoffs for 10 straight seasons.
To turn things around, team owner Ralph Wilson has turned to Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey for help -- the Bills' sixth different GM/head coach combination in 10 years. It's a fine mess that Nix and Gailey will have to fix: A horrid situation at quarterback, a new defensive scheme and a lack of talent start things off, but those aren't nearly the end of the troubles in Buffalo.
Offense -- The offense is in complete disarray, from top to bottom. No position is more disheartening than quarterback, where the Bills avoided any help in the draft and will watch a competition between Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm. Edwards seems to be the man for the job, or at least the best option currently on the roster. Fred Jackson was a great story in 2009, but he's nursing a broken hand and Marshawn Lynch has an ankle sprain. That means C.J. Spiller, the ninth overall pick, will get plenty of time to prove to Buffalo why it selected him so high. Lee Evans is the lone bright spot in the receiving corps, but will he be able to produce as the only option for whichever quarterback is in the game? Maybe losing Terrell Owens wasn't the greatest thing for Evans. Heat Index: 5
Defense -- George Edwards was brought in to install a flexible 3-4 scheme, and he'll adjust it to fit current personnel. The 30th-ranked run defense needed an overhaul -- Nose tackle Kyle Williams seems perfectly suited for the change, but second-round pick Torell Troup may need some time to adjust. Another player who will benefit greatly from the switch to a 3-4 is inside linebacker Paul Posluszny, who tallied 100 or more tackles in each of the last two seasons. The signing of two free-agent linebackers could mean that the Bills aren't confident Kawika Mitchell can adapt or heal from the knee injury that killed his 2009 season. While the rest of the defense is in transition or simply lacking talent, the secondary for the Bills is top-notch. Jairus Byrd, and his nine 2009 interceptions, leads a unit that is both strong and deep, and will greatly benefit from the return of injured corners Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee. The secondary isn't strong enough to cancel out the other weaknesses on defense, but it can slow the bleeding. Heat Index: 6
Special Teams -- Kicker Rian Lindell and punter Brian Moorman both get a ton of work as this offense doesn't cross the goal line as much as needed. It's helpful that both are quite good at what they do. Jackson does a great job in the kick-return game, averaging 24.7 yards per return, but the punt-return aspect of the Bills' special teams unit leaves a lot to be desired, Roscoe Parrish averaged just 5.5 yards per punt return and ranked near the bottom of the league. Heat Index: 8
Coaching -- When Gailey was hired to coach this team, you could hear collective cries from just about everywhere he's coached. Why? Why would the Buffalo Bills hire a coach who was fired in Kansas City before the season started, had six years of questionable service with Georgia Tech, and did nothing to inspire confidence in his time in Dallas? A lot of it had to do with the fact that Gailey was a consolation prize. The team wanted a bigger name, but could convince no one else to take the job. Heat Index: 5
Intangibles -- It seems as if there aren't too many good things going on in Buffalo. It doesn't help that the rest of the division is strong and heading in the right direction. The Bills can improve -- it would be hard not to -- but it won't be terribly soon. Heat Index: 5
Total Heat Index: 29/50 -- Spiller has the potential to be electric and could bolster spirits for a franchise that truly needs it. The same can be said for the defensive backfield. But those are the lone bright spots on a team that is going to keep getting kicked around for the foreseeable future.