Though it is a strange proposition for a team that hasn't made the playoffs in over a decade, the question is very intriguing: Are the Buffalo Bills in a playoff-or-bust mentality?
The Bills have struggled in recent years and have the longest current playoff drought in the NFL.
Plenty of football players and a handful of coaches have passed through Buffalo. The frustration and anxiety has piled up, leaving fans hungry for a winner. Coming off a 6-10 season, it may seem like the playoffs are a few years away.
But Buffalo is ready to win and they want to win now.
Signing Mario Williams was extremely important for Buffalo for a variety of reasons. It showed the league that the Bills are willing to open their wallet.
It showed the league that the Bills can attract prized free agents in their prime. It showed the league that the Bills are not a laughingstock anymore. And it showed Tom Brady what the Bills have in store for years to come.
Along with Williams, the Bills added Mark Anderson to help bring down the quarterback. The defensive line of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and perhaps Mark Anderson might be one of the NFL's elite.
If Shawne Merriman can stay healthy, the Bills could have another weapon on defense. Nick Barnett has played great for Buffalo and fellow linebacker Kelvin Sheppard is expected to be a big contributor. George Wilson, Jarius Byrd and Stephon Gilmore lead an improving core of defensive backs.
The Bills defense has a lot of potential and money invested into 2012.
Barnett, Mario Williams, Merriman and Dareus all on the field at once creates a nightmare for a quarterback. Even rookie Nigel Bradham has the capability to deliver solid hits.
On offense, the Bills invested into Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson this offseason.
Before Jackson got hurt in 2011, he was a top-three back in the league and was making plays at a consistent level. When he went down, C.J. Spiller showed he was more than capable of making plays himself.
Ryan Fitzpatrick led some quality comebacks and showed he can out-sling some of the best quarterbacks.
Quarterback Vince Young was added for insurance and tackle Cordy Glenn was added to anchor the offensive line. All that is really lacking is consistency.
So while in theory every season should be a playoff-or-bust mentality, the Bills really did a nice job of making that a possibility.
The Bills invested a lot of money into players and contracts this offseason and expect to see results. The players are there and the pieces are set. All that is left to do is play smart football at a consistent level.
Is it fair to say that the Bills, who haven't made the playoffs in over a decade and are coming off a 6-10 record, are expected to make the playoffs in 2012?
The talent is there for Buffalo. The chemistry and tactics are still being developed.
There is no debating that Buffalo is a talented squad with a solid foundation of players, but is it fair for fans and the media to really expect the playoffs in 2012 out of a relatively unproven squad?
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