NFL – Buffalo Bills’ Season Review – Part 1

15 Jan

Today we begin our extensive four-part review of the 2019 Buffalo Bills’ season with a look at the performance of the front office and coaching staff. General manager Brandon Beane went into the free agency period last year with a plan, and he executed it well. He added a pair of valuable options in the passing game for his young quarterback, Josh Allen, in John Brown and Cole Beasley. Tight end Tyler Kroft was a gamble since he had injury issues, and the gamble didn’t work as Kroft missed significant time with a foot injury and made very little impact when he did get on the field. Beane also completely remade the team’s offensive line. Center Mitch Morse was the star attraction of the free agents and he was a consistent performer all season after having concussion issues in training camp. Also added were starting guards Jon Feliciano and Quinton Spain, who both became instant starters and major upgrades over the 2018 guards. Tackles Ty Nsekhe and La’Adrian Waddle had mixed results due to injuries. Former first round draft pick Kevin Johnson was added to the secondary and provided important cornerback depth all year. The rest of the signees were a mixed bag of players who provided help here and there during the season, with kick return specialist Andre Roberts being the most notable. Beane had an outstanding college draft, plucking players who should be cornerstones of the franchise in the future. Early choices Ed Oliver, Cody Ford, Devin Singletary and Dawson Knox all became starters who flashed potential to develop into Pro Bowl players. Late rounders Jaquan Johnson and Darryl Johnson were major special team contributors and Darryl Johnson was a regular part of the defensive line rotation also.

As for the coaching, head man Sean McDermott continued to preach “trusting the process” and has built a great culture among his players in his 3 seasons. In last season’s review, I commented that McDermott’s “process” had to translate to wins in 2019, and it did just that as the team finished 10-6 and locked up a wild card spot. He still is winless against Bill Belichick’s New England club, with the three year record now at 0-6. Plenty of fans were clamoring for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to be fired after the offense was mediocre this season, but he really produced adequate results considering the young QB, the totally revamped O-line and the fact that a couple of his main weapons, Singletary and Knox, were rookies who delivered typical rookie-like inconsistent results. Leslie Frazier did a great job coordinating the defense. He was masterful at mixing up coverages and having a good knack for blitzing at the right times. It was very telling that Tennessee defensive players, after upsetting the Ravens in the playoffs, reported that they developed their game plan to stop Lamar Jackson “using the Buffalo model”. The Bills had a new special teams coordinator in 2019, Heath Farwell, and the special teams really didn’t do much that was special during the season. In fact, a blocked punt cost them a game against the Patriots and they also allowed a 100+ yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Miami. It’s a good sign moving forward that McDermott, at his postseason press conference, stressed that there was still much room for improvement heading into next season. Facing a much tougher schedule in 2020, standing pat won’t cut it for this club.

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