State of the Offense:
The Bills mostly concentrated on reviving their front seven on defense this off-season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick did get one significant addition to help him keep his starting spot. Rookie Cordy Glenn will start at left tackle from Week 1. Glenn replaces the departed Demetress Bell in what should be an impressive offensive line on the whole. If the line play to their potential both CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson should have every opportunity to put up big numbers. Even though the Bills don’t have a standout second receiver behind Stevie Johnson, the receiving combination of Jackson and Spiller gives Fitzpatrick a dynamic trio of gamebreakers.
State of the Defense:
By now you will likely know that Mario Williams has joined the Bills, but it is the return of another Williams that could prove most crucial. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is a superstar player who isn’t well known because of where he plays. In the Bills’ new defensive scheme, both Williams'(Mario and Kyle) and Marcell Dareus should all be Pro Bowl candidates at the very least. Behind them youngster Kelvin Sheppard is joined by Arthur Moats and Nick Barnett at linebacker, while the team’s talented secondary will be looking to take advantage of the newfound pass rush upfront.
For a team that had basically no pass rush last season, the idea that the Bills’ greatest strength will be their pass rush this year is difficult to conceive initially. However it is true. Mario Williams and the change to a 4-3 defense will have massive knock-on effects on the whole team. Mark Anderson and Chris Kelsay will get very little attention at left defensive end, as each of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus are good enough to command double teams. This unit is very reminiscent of the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line over the past few years, and not just because they also have two players named Williams.
The Bills don’t really have a receiving problem but they do lack play-makers outside of their big three. Tight End Scott Chandler is solid but unspectacular. Donald Jones and David Nelson are reliable, while rookie TJ Graham has to establish himself. If the Bills lose any of Johnson, Jackson or Spiller, they could have some serious problems putting points on the board.
The quarterback on every team is decisive. Ryan Fitzpatrick is no exception. The recent trade for Tarvaris Jackson is not a sign that Fitzpatrick’s job is at risk, but he does need to take a step forward in his play to carry the team to the playoffs. If he doesn’t they have no chance of living up to the off-season hype.
Cian Fahey writes for Irishcentral and the Guardian. You can follow him on twitter @Cianaf