Buffalo Bills Hope for Gains from Those Who’ve Been Around

Photo of DT Star Lotuleilei from buffalonews.com.

Players with something to prove have motivation.  Oh, and they’re getting paid.  The incentive is built in no matter the salary.  Looking for development means those in question haven’t quite lived up to expectations.

Fans are waiting for a few Buffalo Bills to hit the truck stick.  Sudden proficiency could be forthcoming, which is the same thing we slackers tell you about our output.  It’s like you don’t enjoy unexpected surprises.

Star Lotulelei mans the nose for a living, so he’s used to not being thanked for freeing up others to make spectacular tackles.  As with wondering whether the belt holds up pants or the loops hold up the belt, it’s tough to determine who’s doing the primary work.

Nose tackle is the toughest defender to measure.  Selflessly allowing others to make plays means few chances to stop them oneself.  Still, we’d like to see Lotulelei be credited for slightly more than one tackle per game, especially on a defense where even the biggest lineman is expected to singlehandedly create more mayhem than John Wick after his pet’s killed.

Imagine if the Bills could bruise quarterbacks.  Racking up a meager 36 sacks was a shortcoming from last season’s otherwise statistically formidable outfit. Tackling the quarterback is as satisfying as it is effective.

Backing up drives in the most physically and psychologically damaging way separates special defenses from competent ones.  Sacks may be tough to obtain when philosophy means blitzing is as rare as a pleasant Patriot.  A cover 2 defense just means chances to impress by getting it done without help, right?

Photo of DE Shaq Lawson from NewYorkUpstate.com.

The simplest way to flatten more quarterbacks is for defensive ends to shove aside offensive tackles.  That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.  Shaq Lawson was hired by the last guy and is still trying to demonstrate previous judgment wasn’t entirely skewed.  Developing his technique this camp would help immensely.

Trent Murphy could act as an addition this year, which is a nice way of saying he wasn’t as effective as hoped in his first season.  It’ll feel like finding money in your pocket if he can stay healthy.  His consistent presence would create a welcome problem, namely finding the best option for one job.

There are only so many snaps, not many of which can be shared by defensive ends on the same side minus some of the most innovative formations the game has ever seen.  As with having co-managers of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch, two people doing one job doesn’t work.  Will Lawson keep his job title or watch someone else take it?

Zay Jones has to show he can take another step beyond his trying rookie season, and not just because he blocked me on Twitter. I didn’t even chirp at him, but that’s unimportant right now.  He improved last year when he was one of the few options for a quarterback learning to step into throws.  Now, he must keep pace with a reloaded roster.

Jones isn’t so young anymore, which is the remarkable thing about how time works.  The third year is when the breakout should occur if we let Eric Moulds set the standard.  He has to show he can continue growing and that his initial struggles were just a matter of getting adjusted to a new office.

Photo of WR Zay Jones from bleacherreport.com.

The East Carolina product is not the offense’s grizzled veteran like he was last season.  Wideout additions have pushed him down the age depth chart.  More targets mean less targeting, so he must take advantage of altered circumstances.  I also hope he can contribute to the run game by blocking as well as he does on social media.  Not that I am bitter.

Have you tried lowered expectations?  The easiest way to improve is to be lousy the season before.  Phil Housley tried it without any more success than he had getting defensemen to head somewhere useful.  Those who can’t do anything else right also fail at convincing others they’re competent.

Franchises hope to do better than gain by comparison to their own lousy standard.  Buffalo should seek to improve next to an objective fixed mark instead of noting a wild card loss was better than usual.  Only this club could could make its fans debate if absolute truth exists.

The Bills were uncompetitive by any measure last season. But they need to make progress against the conference and not just their six-win sorry selves.

The roster could get better even without factoring new additions.  Change comes from within, I told the barista who expected a tip.  An enhanced performance from previous versions means underachievement’s been an issue.  That said, there’s no time to reach potential like now if it hasn’t happened yet.

A software update on a phone you’ve had for two years might keep you from leaving an Apple Store $73,000 poorer.  The best improvement comes from within. Believe it if you want life to feel like it’s scripted.  Like Evil Dead II, present the same story in a sequel while using experience to tell it better.

Editor’s babble: It’s anybody’s guess what this offense is going to look like this season. Hopefully we will begin to get a glimpse in a couple of weeks. Thanks to Anthony Bialy for his thought provoking and hilarious contributions to our blog. You can find Anthony on Twitter (albeit w/out a follower in Zay Jones) @AnthonyBialy. Have a great Wednesday!

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.