Life Under The Scope: Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills finished the 2014 season above .500 with a 9-7 record, but it wasn't enough to end their 14-year playoff drought. Last time the Bills were in the playoffs, they were victims of The Music City Miracle.
Heading into the 2015 season, they have a new coach that will bring a new culture into the “Nickel City”.
One of my favorite coaches ever, Rex Ryan, will try to lead the Bills out of their drought and to the top of the AFC East. Ryan was the first newly hired head coach of the 2015 off-season and he has the Bills' faithful already excited for the upcoming season.
We all know that Rex brings a different type of energy to a football team and him skydiving over Niagra Falls 2 weeks before the start of training camp is a prime example of that .
As far as on the football field, I'm excited to see what Rex can do with this team. This is a similar situation to when he was named coach of the Jets back in 2008; no franchise QB but a solid defense. The Bills will come into camp with EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel, and Tyrod Taylor to compete for the starting job. No matter what though, Rex has already made it known that this team will be run first.
I don't blame Rex for wanting to put together a dominate run game, it has worked for him in the past. In Rex's inaugural season as head coach of the Jets, when they made it to the AFC Championship game, his squad was ranked #1 in rushing, and #4 in 2010, which also ended with a trip to the AFC title game. In back-to-back season with Mark Sanchez as the quarterback, Rex used a run heavy offense to beat the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the playoffs, on the road.
And when you add Fred Jackson and Shady McCoy to the backfield, it's a no brainer.
Former Niners' offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, will be the play-caller for the Bills this season and he is more than suitable to run this offense. From 2011-14, the Niners had one of the best rushing offenses in the league.
Frank Gore in Roman's offense rushed for 1,000+ yards each season with a total of 228 first downs.
Now he has a much more explosive and younger LeSean McCoy.
In this offense, Shady could post one of his best season of his career, which is saying a lot. I'm still not sure why Chip Kelly wanted to get rid of Shady, claiming he wants a 1-cut back but it's not many in the league that is more elusive than Shady. With Roman and Ryan looking to build the best run game in the league, Shady could hit 300 carries for the third straight season, joining the likes of Barry Sanders, Jamal Lewis, Terrell Davis, Jerome Bettis, and a few more hall of fame backs.
A solid run game will be needed to help whoever is crowned starting quarterback. If I had to choose one it would be EJ Manuel, just because I think he deserves one more opportunity before we give up on him. EJ has only played in 15 games in his first two seasons, 6-8 as a starter. Inconsistency has been EJ's biggest problem and a running game could help fix that. None the less, if EJ can not deliver during training camp I expect Matt Cassel to handle the load for the Bills.
Percy Harvin will also provides some insurance for the quarterback but I think he will also have an impact in the running game. On ESPN's First Take, Percy spoke about how he is more accepted in the Bills locker room opposed to the his time with the Seahawks..
On the defensive side of the ball, I expect the Bills to continue to be top-five in the league. Last season the Bills were 4th in total defense, 3rd in passing yards allowed, and #1 in sacks with 54.
Rex Ryan has always been a defensive genius. He will inherit one of the best defensive lines in the league with Mario Williams, Marcel Dareus, and Kyle Williams. The three of them accounted for 30 sacks last season, Mario leading the team with 14.5.
All three are key pieces for the success of the Bills but Dareus is probably the most important piece of the three.
The 25-year old lineman has elevated his game to an elite level, becoming one of the best defensive tackles in the league. Last season, he posted 10 sacks which is a new career high. Buffalorumblings.com has Dareus ranked as the most important player on the Bills roster and the only reason why I wouldn't agree is because I think since they want to build the most dominant run game in the league, a lot of the teams success depends on the legs of Shady McCoy.
The Bills first two games of the season will be against the Colts and Patriots. Luckily, Tom Brady will be serving his 4-game suspension, so he won't be available in week 2. Brady's suspension does make the AFC East wide open. It's hard to go against the defending Super Bowl champs but a part of me does not want to count out Rex.