2012 Buffalo Bills “a year in review”
The Buffalo Bills are once again coming off another sub .500 season as the playoff drought continues. After being the winners in the off-season and landing prize free agent Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, expectations were flying high. Many fans went into the season with a play-offs or bust mentality and obviously so were GM Buddy Nix and team president Russ Brandon. After another dismal 6-10 season Chan Gailey was relieved of his duties and rightfully so. In Buddy Nix’s eyes he has tremendously improved the overall talent on this team and Gailey proved to be inadequate at getting this team over the hump. Gailey who also gave long time friend Dave Wannstedt the DC job and his defense fell flat on its face. One could argue that George Edwards’ defenses were better. I myself thought Wannstedt was the right man for the job, boy was I wrong. He installed a basic 43 base and relied on pressure from his front 4 and rarely blitzed or disguised anything he was doing. The QB’s and offenses are too good to let them know what, who, and where you’re coming from, and it was evident in the product on the field. They played a read and react style of defense, in a time when exotic blitzes and disguised packages seem to be the only thing to slow down the most high powered offenses.
The offense again was average, coming off of a 14th overall rank, the players and the fans thought a top 10 finish was in the air, but they actually went backwards. The emergence of CJ Spiller as a premier back, another solid 1,000 yards from Stevie Johnson and one of the leagues best offessive lines weren’t enough to mask Ryan FItzpatrick and Chan Gailey’s deficiencies. Ryan Fitzpatrick proved without a shadow of a doubt he is a bottom third tier QB if not just a solid back up in this league. He’s wildly inconsistent. When he’s on he looks like a solid QB when he’s off he looks like JP Losman and Trent Edwards adopted a kid and taught him how to play football. He misses open receivers far too often and he could never connect of big plays that could have solidified or even won a game for the Bills. He got worse in the 4th quarter when it mattered most. I am not letting Gailey off the hook here either. I know he put us and Fitzpatrick in some very bad situations with his pass happy style. He constantly relied on Fitzpatrick and didn’t use what he had at his disposal, and that was CJ Spiller. Gailey came here in 2010 preaching that he wanted a scat back, quick as a water bug, well you wished and you received. No one knows why he failed to utilize him more and take the pressure off of Fitzpatrick. He put his coaching career on the shoulders of a 7th round back-up QB, instead of on the legs of a 9th overall pick and future pro-bowler in Spiller and it cost him is job, and ultimately cost him a chance to ever coach in this league again
CJ Spiller emerged as a premier RB in this league. He’s fresh, due to his lack of workload and he’s hungry. He’s a dynamic multi-threat RB that showed he can run in between the tackles and score from anywhere on the field. What I also think goes unnoticed is how professional of a guy he is. Every interview he always talks team first, always about winning and never about his own personal stats. He truly is and can be the face of this franchise. I thought the oline as a whole played well and I think we found our left tackle of the future. Jarius Byrd returned to his pro-bowl form and Stephon Gilmore had a solid rookie campaign. I believe there are players to build on, with this defense. Darues, Gilmore, K. Williams, M. Williams, and Byrd. I think Searcy and Bradham can be break out players next year.
The bad? Well hard to find enough bad things about a team that lost 10 games and double digit losses in 3 straight years. The Bills came out of the gate and fell flat against the New York Jets, and seemingly never recovered. New DC Dave Wannstendt had no answers and looks as if the game has passed him by. He tried to play a base 43 and relied on his front 4 for pressure. Thats all fine and dandy if it works, but Mr. Wannstedt kept with it, even when it wasn’t working. Madden players make more in game adjustments that he did. He never got creative, and never tried to fix what wasn’t working. Instead, he stayed the course and it led him to the unemployment line. The defense was epically bad this year, giving up yards and points like like a high school team. This couldn’t sit well with the front office who spent a majority of the past 3 off-seasons on the defense. Darues, Gilmore, Searcy, Moats, Batten, Troup, Carrington, White, Bradham, Aaron Williams, Shepard, K. Moore, M. Williams, M. Anderson, Barnett, were all brought in to fix the defense, and it has not happened. Now looking at those names, I wasn’t expecting a top 5 D, but there’s not reason thoe types of players couldn’t muster a top 20 or even 15 defense. I’m not omitting the offense here either. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a turn over machine yet again, and he proved to be what a lot of people thought he was; a back up. He consistently turned the ball over in inopportune times, he consistently missed on big plays that could have changed the landscape of a game, perhaps the season, he consistently let the Bills down. The only think Fitzpatrick was consistent at was being bad. Chan Gailey on the other hand, though he had Montana in his prime. He consistently put the game on Ryan’s shoulders, when clearly it wasn’t the right thing to do. He avoided using Spiller like any other coach in the league would’ve used him. He took him out in crucial situation and at crucial points in a game, and it backfired, which is why he’s joining his friend Dave Wannstedt in the unemployment line. This team in my opinion wasnt a 10 or 11 win team, but they should’ve been an 8 or 9 win team. WHich is why Buddy Nix needed to make a change and he did.
Although the Bills were 6-10 their needs are as substantial as many would like to think. I have listed the top needs in order accordingly what is needed the most.
- QUARTERBACK – Now more than ever the Bills need to address the QB position in this years draft. I understand there are no sure fire guys in this draft, but we’ve become desperate and we have to take a gamble. The Bills will never find a QB unless they draft one. Hopefully they find the right one and can move on from the Jim Kelly hangover that’s lasted 18 years. I am of the opinion that this years draft lacks true superstars anywhere in the top 10, so this is the perfect year to reach for a QB. SUre they may not be worth it, but who is?
- LINEBACKER – The Bills fro years have had a mediocre LB’ing core and it needs to be addressed. WIth new DC Pettine planning on running a hybrid type of defense, the Bills must find top tier ILB and at least 1 pass rushing OLB. I know many think we need pass rushers too, but MArio Williams had 5 sacks in 5 games in an attacking 34 front in Houston. I think Kyle Moore will also excel as a standing up pass rusher. Kelvin Shepard has been a disappointment since coming here, but I’m eager to see him in an attacking defense, instead of a read and react defense. Mybe it works maybe not, but they still need to addrss ILB in a bad way.
- WIDE RECEIVER – I didn’t put this at 2 because I’m expecting them to address this need in free agency. They let Donal Jones and David Nelson walk, so the need is rising like a thermometer in hell. They need in my opinion a number 1 type WR. A big tall physical WR in which Stevie Johnson can compliment. BIlls made it known they for see Stevie on the slot, and its a good fit there, but that means they need 2 outside WR. Hello FA’cy and draft. I’m hoping the Bills can steal DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson in round 2
Please chime in, and give us your thoughts. I’ll be adding a 4th need soon which I’m currently debating between secondary and Tight End…