- Previewing the Bills’ offseason
- Evaluating key offseason needs for Buffalo after playoff loss
- What moves should the Bills make in draft and free agency?
This year the Buffalo Bills showed significant progress in the postseason, winning their Wild Card and Divisional matchups against the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, following their defeat last season at the first hurdle against the Houston Texans.
Ultimately though, Sean McDermott’s team came up short against reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. Even the explosive offense the Bills have showcased this season was no match for Patrick Mahomes and co. Kansas City’s defense held the dynamic duo of quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs in check for much of the game.
What do general manager Brandon Beane and McDermott need to do this offseason?
Continue to evolve the offense
Make no mistake about it. Allen took a major leap forward this year, and even that is an understatement. The production level of the former Wyoming quarterback was beyond what anyone could have anticipated this season. But Buffalo cannot afford to rest on its laurels.
The Dolphins were more of a force than was expected and should continue to improve under Brian Flores in Tua Tagovailoa’s sophomore season. The Patriots won’t be down for long with Bill Belichick still leading the team in Foxboro.
One of the biggest steps the Bills can take this offseason, is to add a more dynamic running back to the roster. The run game was efficient last year but Devin Singletary was the team’s leading rusher with under 700 yards rushing. Providing a legitimate threat out the backfield would help open up more opportunities for the rocket armed Allen to throw it deep, whilst also enabling the team to protect Allen from having to shoulder the load in short yardage situations. If Allen is injured on a goal line sneak, the Bills season is lost.
Reinforce the offensive line
The Bills have three important contributors on the O-line who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this offseason: guards Brian Winters, Jon Feliciano and right tackle Darryl Williams. All three currently average less than $4 million per year. They could expect to see those earnings rise, particularly Williams. That could pose a problem for Beane with the team being tight against the projected salary cap.
The tackle spot is where Beane might look to use some of the money saved by not resigning veteran Ty Nsekhe to convince Williams to stay in New York state and make a title run. Outside of Williams, the free agent class at that side of the line is underwhelming.
Return the defense to the force it was
McDermott’s initial years in charge of the team were marked by a dominating defense. That side of the ball dropped off more so this season, though the team still has difference makers like Jordan Poyer and Tre’Davious White in the secondary.
The defense ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of sacks this season, but it was more of a case of spreading the wealth with linebacker A.J. Klein and defensive end Mario Addison leading the team with 5 sacks apiece.
The team needs to look at adding a more intimidating pass rush this offseason. That is especially the case if they hope to get past Mahomes and the Chiefs in the next few seasons.
In essence, that is what Buffalo should be tackling this offseason with one eye on. Mahomes and Lamar Jackson’s Ravens are likely to be the biggest obstacles in the Bills’ way in the immediate future, so adding an edge rusher who can win one on one matchups, enabling just a four man rush against Mahomes, will enable the team to create more varied and smothering coverages.