The 2012 Buffalo Bills are composed of the following:
- An Offensive Rookie of the Year
- A Defensive Rookie of the Year
- 6 players that have made an All-Rookie team
- 7 players that have made at least 1 Pro Bowl
- 7 players that were named All-Pros
- A receiver who became the first wideout in team history to record 1,000 yards two years in a row
Taking into account just those facts, you'd think, "Wow, that's an impressive roster!" Looking at the actual players who hold these credentials, however, tells a slightly different story.
- Vince Young, competing with Tyler Thigpen (that's right, TYLER THIGPEN) for the backup quarterback position
- Shawne Merriman, a player who has barely played the last three years because of injury
- Mark Anderson (12 sacks his rookie year, 13.5 sacks over the next three years); Andy Levitre (a solid left guard); Jairus Byrd (9 INTs his rookie year, 4 since); Marcell Dareus (great rookie year with 5.5 sacks); Merriman, and Young
- Kyle Williams (coming off a season where he played just 5 games); Terrence McGee (has played just one full season w/ Bills in 8 years with the team); Brian Moorman (punter and probably the best player on the Bills from 2000-2010); Mario Williams (played just five games last year) Merriman, Young, and Byrd.
- Nick Barnett (Bills signed him after he was released by the Packers) plus all the Pro Bowlers except for Vince Young
- Stevie Johnson, and wow, the Bills have never had a WR get 1,000 yards two seasons in a row before?
As a life-long diehard fan of the Bills, I wish I could tell you I'm more excited for this season than any of the previous 12 seasons that ended without a playoff berth, but I'm not. That doesn't mean I'm not excited this year; it just means, I've been excited every other year too, like an idiot.
I was excited last year, when the Bills started off 5-2, including the first win against the Patriots in eight years. They finished 6-10.
I was excited in 2008 when the Bills started off 4-0 and Peter King had Trent Edwards in the discussion for league MVP. They finished 7-9.
All the Bills had to do in 2004 was beat the Steelers’ backups in the last game of the regular season to make the playoffs. They lost 29-24 to finish 9-7.
I was ecstatic in 2003 when the Bills started the season with a 31-0 beatdown of the Patriots, only to end the season getting beaten down by the same score to the same team. They finished 6-10.
This year though, it's not just people in Buffalo that are excited about the Bills. A lot of mainstream analysts seem to feel like the Bills are a much-improved team with a shot at making the playoffs. But that’s not to say there aren’t serious questions surrounding the team.
Will signing the best defensive free agent available in Mario Williams improve their biggest weakness (pass rush)? Does it prove to the fans that the team is serious about building a contender and show other players in the NFL that Buffalo's not so bad?
The Bills signing Mario Williams was a surprise to everyone. It certainly makes the team more talented, and if he can stay healthy, improves a pass rush that was one of the worst in the league last year. Adding Mark Anderson, a 10-sack guy for the Patriots last year to a team that already has Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, makes the defensive line of the Bills potentially one of the deepest and most disruptive in the league.
However, I don't think the signing changes anything about the perception of Buffalo to the other players in the league, especially when one considers just how they got it done. The team picked him up on a private plane in his hometown as soon as Free Agency opened, then refused to let him leave Buffalo for three days so that he would forget what other cities looked like, flew in his fiancee as well, then took Williams, an avid hunter, to Jim Kelly's house in the woods and showed him all the deer he could kill.
Oh, and they promised to pay him way more than any other team would.
The Bills aren't always going to offer the most money or wine and dine players the way they did Mario. And NFL players aren't always going to be big time hunters who want to live in a small city that reminds them of where they grew up. Buffalo got lucky with the perfect storm, and the Bills front office did one hell of a job in making sure he didn't leave.
Can Ryan Fitzpatrick play a whole season the way he played the first half of last year?
It's well known by now that Fitzpatrick played the second half of the year with cracked ribs, and that seriously affected his play. I get that. But I'm not willing to say that it's the only reason for his it. He's a smart guy who should be more understanding of his limitations, especially when those limitations are increased by an injury like that. He didn't throw 16 interceptions the last 9 games of the year because of cracked ribs. He threw 16 interceptions because he decided to make throws that someone with cracked ribs shouldn't be throwing. He's a gunslinger and he's going to make bad throws with or without an injury.
Bills fans and local media are making a big deal out of new quarterback's coach David Lee. Lee is a master of QB mechanics and was the quarterback coach that helped Tony Romo become a 3-time Pro Bowler after going undrafted. Fitzpatrick says this is the first time he's ever had anyone coach him on the mechanics of throwing a football, which is ridiculous. Imagine being in your 7th year at a bank before being taught how to be a banker. It's ludicrous, but how much can he change as a 29-year-old who's been doing it one way his whole life?
Do they have a left tackle that can protect Fitzpatrick's blind side?
The rest of the league doesn't think so. The Bills drafted Cordy Glenn in the second round of the draft, a man that pretty much every other team in the league and every draft analyst says is nothing more than a guard in the NFL. Yet the Bills drafted him to play left tackle. What will help Glenn is that the Bills run an offense that gets the ball out of the quarterback's hands extremely fast, but he'll still have to protect for at least a little while. If not, Chris Hairston, a guy who started seven games at LT last year, will be forced into the role for the second year in a row.
Will their young cornerbacks be able to hold up?
Rookie Stephon Gilmore has had nothing but good things said about him during training camp and looks to be a future lockdown CB for years to come. The man on the other side, second-year pro Aaron Williams, looks much shakier. I won't be surprised if he replaces Leodis McKelvin this year as the cornerback Bills fans get most frustrated with. I'm holding out hope that Terrence McGee can get healthy and contribute, but if he can't, Bills fans have to hope that the pass rush is as good as advertised so the lack of depth at CB doesn't come back to haunt them.
So how good can this Bills team be? Injuries are always a concern for them, as they've put at least 15 players on injured reserve each of the last three years. This year's team is deeper at every position than they were last year, so injuries shouldn't affect them as much as they have in the past. They're also playing one of the weakest schedules in the league with what could be the best 1-2 running back combination in Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. They're defensive line coordinated by Dave Wannstedt should also be able to wear down every offensive line they face this year.
The die-hard Bills fan that remembers that these are the Buffalo Bills who haven't made the playoffs since 1999 says there's no way things change this year. Fitzpatrick was a career backup before he got to the Bills for a reason, and the Bills will be lucky if Mario Williams doesn't re-injure his pectoral. Tebow's sure to create magic with the Jets and beat us in the first game of the year with some last minute Hail Mary that's re-named a Hail Timmy.
The die-hard optimistic Bills fan in me says the Bills should be disappointed in anything less than a playoff spot. That there's no way Fitz can continue to play as bad as he did the second half of last year, that injuries can't decimate the Bills they way they did last year, and that our new defensive line will terrorize opponents, beginning with the Jets when they create a quarterback controversy the first game of the year. CJ and FredEx will run all over the Patriots and the Bills will lose in the Super Bowl for the fifth time in our team's history (that's really the best we can hope for).
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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