For the Buffalo Bills, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Following last season’s embarrassing 5-11 season, Bills owner Ralph Wilson apologized to fans and brought back former head coach, Marv Levy to lead them back to mediocrity at the very least and possibly, back into AFC championship contention.
However, if the now, 80-year-old Levy thought he had it bad, losing four consecutive Super Bowls, then the Bills’ current state should have him wishing for the good ‘ol days any minute now.
In addition to Levy, the Bills have hired former Chicago Bears head coach, Dick Jauron to take over this fledgling team.
Here’s the breakdown on the Buffalo Bills for 2006.
J.P. Losman may or may not be the answer to the Bills’ prayers at quarterback. If he isn’t, which I suspect is going to be the case, Buffalo can count on Kelly Holcomb to at least provide some veteran leadership from the postion.
Free agent Craig Nall, will most likely end up as the third stringer, but the Bills need to find out immediately if Losman is the answer. If not, they had better start looking elsewhere because Holcomb gets hurt like clockwork each season and Nall is a career backup.
Willis McGahee is unquestionably talented. However, the loud-mouthed running back had better put up or shut up this season. If the Bills get some kind of competent passing to help balance their offensive attack, McGahee has enough talent to rush for 1,300 or 1,400 yards.
However, it is quite conceivable that Buffalo won’t be able to pass the bal with any kind of consistency and then McGahee will face a ton of “eight-in-the-box” looks this season. Second-year man, Lionel Gates, Shaud Williams will spell McGahee occasionally while Daimon Shelton mans the fullback position.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Eric Moulds is gone now, so the Bills will depend on a veteran group of eceivers that includes, Lee Evans, Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish and off season acquisitions, Andre Davis and Peerless Price, who was severely overpaid by the way.
I think Evans may have the stuff it takes to be a number one wide receiver in this league and if nothing else, Davis, Price and the rest of the crew will provide solid pass-catching. Robert Royal will be the new starting tight end in 2006 and Kevin Everett holds some promise for the future at the position.
One little known fact that the Bills achieved last season, was the record for fewest yards gained in a 16-game season (4,122). Tackles Mike Gandy and Jason Peters and guards Chris Villarrial and Bennie Anderson are back this season, but the Bills’ 28th ranked offense is going to have to get some major improvement from their offensive line in 2006.
Former Minnesota center Melvin Fowler and Carolina guard Tutan Reyes, will either secure a starting spot of their own somewhere along the line or provide depth and leadership off the bench.
Succinctly, this is a unit that could either make or break the Bills in 2006. If these guys can’t block for McGahee and protect whomever is playing quarterback, it could be a long, cold winter in Buffalo – and I mean colder than usual.
The Bills 29th-ranked defense was just hideous last season. Defensive end, Aaron Schobel, , is a pretty solid player, however, he will need Chris Kelsay and newly acquired free agent, Larry Tripplett, to contribute and make an impact. Ryan Denney, John McCargo and Kyle Williams will provide depth and energy off the bench.
The Bills could have some problems brewing with their linebackers. Takeo Dspikes is coming off Achilles tendon surgery and Jeff Posey and London Fletcher are aging. Fourth-year pro Angelo Crowell will be called upon to help replace either Spikes of Posey should either falter. Josh Stamer, Liam Ezekiel and Mario Haggan will back up the Bills starting trio.
The defensive secondary is one of the Bills strongest units. Cornerback, Nate Clements is a big time playmaker for the Bills and Troy Vincent has been one of my favorite players since he came in the league 15 years ago. Young cornerback Terrence McGee, is an absolute gem and Jabari Greer and Eric King are solid.
The Bills selected Ohio State rookie Donte Whitner, with the No. 8 overall pick and he, along with fourth-round pick, Ko Simpson, will learn behind Vincent.
This is another area of strength for the Bills. Kicker, Rian Lindell and punter Brian Moorman have prove themselves to be fine young players while Terrence McGee has been nothing short of spectacular in his role as a kick returner.
I know that Jauron is a fine coach, however, I don’t think he is necessarily suitd to the role of being a head coach. That’s not a knock, it’s just the reality of the situation for some coaches. Norv Turner and Dom Capers fall into this category as well.
At any rate, we shall soon see whether Jauron has what it takes to succeed as an NFL head coach. However, I don’t think Vince Lombardi himself could win with the Bills roster as it currently composed – and until Levy acquires some more talent, the Bills will continue to be on the outside looking in come playoff time.