The State of the Buffalo Bills

The parade of new bloggers continues! Please welcome Ryan Kraus (aka @TheKrausHouse) into the fold.

Well, here we are. Once again, it is week 13, and our beloved Buffalo Bills are on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned. It’s been a roller coaster of a year, as many fans (myself included) have been back and forth about this team many times. Where does this team really stand? Have they really turned the corner as a franchise, or are these still the “same old Bills”? It’s time to break it down. What’s good about this Bills team, what have we all learned? I need to find out.

1.) The 2011 Draft is the Bills’ best in years.
I know it’s early, but this seems obvious. While first rounder Marcell Dareus hasn’t done the things that some fans expected of him, he has definitely played solid football. Aaron Williams has been arguably the team’s best corner while healthy, despite some rookie mistakes. Kelvin Sheppard has stepped up nicely at MLB, and Chris Hairston might (fingers crossed) be the answer that we’re looking for at LT. Da’Norris Searcy has also shown a lot of promise, both on special teams and while filling in for George Wilson in the starting lineup, and corner Justin Rodgers (7th rounder) has already proven to be better than former first rounder Leodis McKelvin. Anything else that comes out of that draft will be a bonus.

The 2010 draft class is saved if Spiller is the real deal. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
The 2010 draft class is saved if Spiller is the real deal. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

2.) The 2010 Draft… isn’t quite as good.
C.J. Spiller showed us all last week that he isn’t a bust yet. He still could end up being one, but he showed some serious potential against the Jets as a starter on Sunday. As for the rest of the draft you ask? Well, things don’t look so good in that front. Torrell Troup has been placed on IR, after failing to live up to his promising preseason. Alex Carrington is a non-factor, and late round picks Ed Wang, Levi Brown and Kyle Calloway are already off the team. Marcus Easley has shown tons of potential, but has failed to stay healthy over the past two years and has yet to play a regular season game. However, I do not and cannot blame him for his heart condition, and hope he can recover to the point where he can someday reach the great potential he has shown. The two brightest spots from the 2010 Draft for the Bills are a couple of linebackers chosen in the late rounds. Danny Batten and Arthur Moats have both played well when given the opportunity. However, why haven’t they been given more opportunities? Spencer Johnson is okay, but Moats needs to be starting at OLB, and Batten should be getting more reps then he is. All in all, this draft can still be saved if Spiller is the real deal.

3.) For once, our offense only needs “tweaking” in the coming offseason.
How many years in a row have the Bills been searching for big pieces on offense during the offseason? Whether it’s a franchise quarterback, offensive lineman or wide receiver, this team has always had a few large question marks on offense to fix through the draft or free agency. As the next offseason gets closer however, it appears that Buddy Nix and company will have much less work to do offensively this time around. Fitzpatrick is locked up long term, and despite what I’ve read on some sites about a possible option in his deal, there is no way he isn’t lined up under center Week One of 2012. Our O-Line looks the most solid it has in years, and our receiving corps is fairly deep. This offseason, the only things Buddy needs to focus on offensively are depth things along the trenches, and resigning Stevie Johnson. He can focus all of his attention on fixing the defense, which still needs lots of help (and maybe a new coordinator).

4.) The Bills shouldn’t resign Freddy Jackson
At least not yet. Look, I love what he has been doing as this team’s starting running back as much as I love the fact that Jay Mohr has blocked me on Twitter. But the facts are lined up against Fast Freddy getting a new deal this offseason. Running backs have a terribly short shelf life in the NFL, and it seems to suspiciously end as soon as they sign their first big contract (See: Johnson, Chris and Alexander, Shaun). Coming off an injury that put him on IR can only make that worse. I would rather see the team give him a deal during the season next year, after seeing how he comes back, or just let him hit free agency.

Nix and Gailey have renewed fans' faith in the organization. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Nix and Gailey have renewed fans' faith in the organization. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Now, I know I will feel hate for this. But recent history has convinced me that nothing good can come from giving a running back his big payday. Now I doubt that Freddy will not like not getting a new contract, so he could request a trade. This team could survive without him. CJ Spiller is an equally good receiver out of the backfield, and showed last week that he could develop into a good starting running back. Also, running backs are like goaltenders; they truly are a dime a dozen nowadays. Who would have seen that DeMarco Murray showed so much promise when he was drafted in the third round? After years of disappointing, Reggie Bush has shown promise in Miami. We could find a suitable replacement, either in the late rounds of the draft or in free agency, if this situation plays out the way I see it.

5.) No matter how this season ends, I have faith in this team again.
Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey have renewed my faith in this organization. In the past years, if I were to list all of these problems/situations, I would have zero faith in this organization to fix them. But this year? I have faith. At the risk of sounding cliched, I believe in this team. Maybe not this year, maybe not next, but the pieces are in place for success.

Ryan Kraus
Bills Mafia Blog