2015 NFL Season Preview- Buffalo Bills
The Bills improved from a below .500 team in 2013, to one game short of the playoffs.
Quarterback E.J. Manuel started the first four games, going 2-2 but played very badly in the two losses. He was replaced by Kyle Orton who was 7-5 as a starter completing 64% of his passes for 18 touchdowns, but was mediocre compared to the rest of the quarterbacks in the league. Running back C.J. Spiller missed almost half the season with a broken collarbone and Fred Jackson at age 34 can't be the offense's workhorse anymore. Wide receiver Robert Woods tied for the team lead with 65 receptions. The offensive line struggled all season and needs an overhaul.
The defense ranked fourth in the league and had the most sacks in the NFL with 54. Defensive ends Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes and defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus formed the best defensive line in football. The two Williams' and Dareus were selected to the pro bowl together for the second straight year. The linebackers played better than expected after Kiko Alonso went down in the preseason. Cornerback Stephen Gilmore finally lived up to expectations and the rest of the secondary was a pleasant surprise.
The rookie class was able to produce some true gems. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins was a consistent threat all year but suffered from inconsistent quarterback play. Linebacker Preston Brown stepped up after Alonso's injury to lead the team in tackles and snaps played.
Bills 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- 25th
NFL Rank- 3rd
NFL Rank- 11th
NFL Rank- 26th
NFL Rank- 4th
After the team finished the year with a 9-7 record, head coach Doug Marrone resigned to take advantage of a contract loophole in which he could resign and still collect his full 2015 salary. The team the hired former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan to replace Marrone. Ryan grew up in Buffalo while his father, Buddy Ryan, coached at the University of Buffalo so he knows what football means to this community. Ryan will look to break the league's longest active playoff drought.
Ryan brought in his defensive coaching staff to coach the defense including Dennis Thurman as defensive coordinator. The team also hired former San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman to be the team's new offensive coordinator.
In July, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer was arrested in Walton county Florida by deputies for punching a teen in the face over a dispute over a beach chair and threatening to kill the teen's family. He was then put on a paid leave of absence.
Notable Additions- QB Tyrod Taylor, QB Matt Cassel, RB LeSean McCoy, FB Jerome Felton, FB John Connor, WR Percy Harvin, TE Charles Clay, G Richie Incognito
Notable Departures- QB Kyle Orton, RB C.J. Spiller, TE Scott Chandler, OLB Keith Rivers, OLB Kiko Alonso, MLB Brandon Spikes
Sammy Watkins Rookie Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, Buffalo didn't have a pick until the second round because they traded this years first round pick to Cleveland in the 2014 draft so they could trade up and select Sammy Watkins. The team has many position concerns including quarterback, tight end, and offensive lineman.
Rex Ryan believes in E.J. Manuel is the quarterback of the future but the team also brought in Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel. Frankly all are unproven at this point.
The team has lacked an athletic, downfield threat for 20 years. The team signed Charles Clay but he is coming off his most unproductive season.
Cyrus Kouandijo and Cyril Richardson were big disappointments. Buffalo needs a more reliable offensive linemen.
Buffalo ended up selecting Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby in the second round. Darby has the ideal speed and hip movement but he relies to often on his speed rather than his cover ability.
The Bills also notably drafted Florida State running back Karlos Williams in the fifth round and Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary in the sixth. Williams has an exciting combination of size, straight line speed, and power but is more comfortable running on the outside rather than between the tackles. O'Leary is an old school tight end with great hands and excellent hand eye coordination but isn't a massive target down the seem and doesn't have game breaking speed.
Not sure what's up with Buffalo's obsession for Florida State players this year.
Ronald Darby Highlight
What to Expect
This team was able to beat some really good teams like New England and Green Bay, but struggled against mediocre teams like Oakland and Miami.
Offensively, Buffalo needs to figure out who the starting quarterback is. In Rex Ryan's ground and pound offense, the quarterback wont be asked to do much but they have to be able to make plays and avoid turning the ball over. Adding LeSean McCoy gives Buffalo a dynamic game changer who can score from anywhere on the field. Charles Clay and Nick O'Leary won't stretch the field, but they are reliable targets with good hands.
The defense will remain dominant thanks to Jerry Hughes resigning with the team. The four defensive linemen are strong enough to make everyone else on the defense better.
Rex Ryan was able to take Mark Sanchez to two AFC championships. All the quarterbacks on Buffalo's roster are better than Sanchez. This should be a wildcard team at the least.
Best record they can hope for: 10-6