Comparing the 2012 Buffalo Bills Offseason Moves to the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles
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The Buffalo Bills took the improvement of their roster quite seriously this offseason and added several key pieces to their roster. While their moves may not have been as bountiful as the moves made by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 offseason, they have set the expectation of a winning season and a potential playoff berth.
This isn't for the sake of comparing the two teams; just a fun exercise in comparing their offseason moves.
And when you look at the moves, while there were different methods to the madness, the madness was the same: a desire for talent and to finally get over the hump.
How did the two teams go about their business?
Backup Quarterback: Vince Young/Vince Young
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Vince Young isn't a sure thing at quarterback—none of the 32 backups are. That's why they're backups.
But Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't a sure thing, either. Bills fans probably hate me because I continually bring up the fact that he's never had a solid front-to-back season. It looked like 2011 might finally be the year for that, but injuries put an end to those plans around the same time, as the injury bug put a damper on the Bills season as a whole.
If Fitzpatrick gets injured or proves ineffective, at least the Bills have a fallback option with starting experience. And that's exactly what both the Bills and the Eagles grabbed Young for. Like Fitzpatrick, Eagles quarterback Mike Vick has dealt with his share of injuries and a full season from him has been a rarity. The Eagles proved wise for making the move, and perhaps the Bills will as well.
But Bills fans sure hope they don't have to find out.
Either way, at least he hasn't used the "dream team" phrase this time around. I think he learned his lesson from last year.
Cornerback: Nnamdi Asomugha/Stephon Gilmore
No one is arguing that Stephon Gilmore is the next Nnamdi Asomugha, but both the Eagles and the Bills jumped at the opportunity to add top-end talent to the secondary.
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Nnamdi Asomugha was one of the league's best cornerbacks.
Stephon Gilmore is a rookie.
There's no similarity here besides position, but both the Eagles and the Bills jumped at the opportunity to add top-end talent to their respective secondaries.
Offensive Line: Evan Mathis and Ryan Harris/Cordy Glenn and Zebrie Sanders
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Both the Eagles and Bills entered their respective splashy offseasons with needs on the offensive line. The Bills only gave up 23 sacks as a team in 2011, the lowest total in the NFL, but the Eagles gave up the second-most sacks in 2010 with 49. They knew they needed to help keep Mike Vick upright.
Where the Eagles were exposed for a lack of top-end talent in 2010, the Bills were exposed for a lack of depth in 2011. It makes sense, then, that the Bills went about their business quite differently than the Eagles: Both of Buffalo's additions came through the draft, and both of Philadelphia's were free agents.
A backup with the Bengals, offensive guard Evan Mathis got a one-year deal with the Eagles to be their starter. After a solid 2011 season, the Eagles handed Mathis a big contract this offseason worth $25 million over a five-year period.
After left tackle Demetress Bell left (incidentally) for the Eagles, the Bills were left in need of talent and depth at tackle. Adding Cordy Glenn in the second round and Zebrie Sanders in the fourth ensured they got both. Glenn could start for the Bills and has taken all the first-team reps at left tackle, according to BuffaloBills.com.
Wide Receiver: Johnnie Lee Higgins/T.J. Graham
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Once again, the Eagles and Bills had the same thing in mind with their respective moves at wide receiver: Adding a player with explosive potential.
T.J. Graham timed out as one of the fastest wide receivers in the 40-yard dash at the 2012 scouting combine, but he's a raw prospect.
Likewise, Johnnie Lee Higgins joined the Eagles as one of the infamous 40-yard Raiders, a group of receivers with a ton of untapped potential assembled with Al Davis' lust for speed in mind. Higgins' untapped potential remained untapped through his time with the Raiders, and just when it looked like he might finally be tapped into, he was cut.
With that, the Bills are probably hoping for a little more out of Graham than the Eagles got out of Higgins.
Defensive End: Jason Babin/Mario Williams
Once teammates with the Houston Texans, Mario Williams will try to have the same success with a new team that Jason Babin was able to have with the Eagles last season.
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Both the Bills and the Eagles went after a top-notch pass-rusher in free agency.
The Eagles added defensive end Jason Babin in hopes of improving their pass-rush after logging just 39 sacks as a team in 2010. They finished with the most sacks as a team in 2011 and leaped all the way to 50 sacks with Babin coming off the edge. The Bills are trying to improve on a woeful 29 sacks in 2011.
Babin's career before joining the Eagles was unimpressive. He had one breakout year in 2010 with 12.5 sacks for the Titans, but was a journeyman to that point. The Eagles themselves didn't even know what they had in him; he played 12 games for the Eagles in 2009, logging 2.5 sacks before they let him walk in free agency.
It turned out to be the best offseason move they made, and it wasn't even close. Babin logged 18 sacks last season, third to only Jared Allen (22) and DeMarcus Ware (19.5).
How did the Eagles get so much out of him? They used him to his strengths, and he proved to be a perfect fit in the Wide 9 defensive alignment the Eagles employed last year.
Similarly, Mario Williams will be back in his comfort zone in a 4-3 defense.
Playing alongside a star-studded group of linemen will help him further. Only twice in Williams' six-year career has he surpassed double-digit sacks, but in a defense loaded with talent that will use him to his strengths, Williams should prove to be the key addition to the Bills that Babin was to the Eagles.
This guy gets it.
The Bills largely did their big business in the draft, adding developmental talent at several positions of need in hopes of building depth and building largely from scratch.
The Eagles cashed in on the aforementioned "madness" with a free-agency frenzy loaded with the league's most prominent names. Some moves paid off, others didn't. The Eagles could be paying the price for some of the moves that didn't pay off.
There were a few free-agency additions (Young, Williams and Mark Anderson), but Buddy Nix and the Bills clearly understand the team-building philosophy that has helped build long-term Super Bowl contenders in the past.