The Buffalo Bills play in one of the most challenging venues; unforgiving fans, cold, long winters, and constant wind off of Lake Ontario that will put a chill in the bones.
Yes, rough, gloomy, and yet, there is a glimmer of hope because the Buffalo Bills have a real opportunity to do something that they haven’t been able to do for a decade—make a postseason appearance.
Of course, having a solid team doesn’t mean always making the playoffs, but at least the Bills will have a shot at the prize if all goes as planned.
Rewind to last year, mid-October, the Bills had a 5-1 start last year and looked to be on their way to a postseason berth with the Patriots suffering the loss of Tom Brady, the Jets had there hopes on an aged Brett Favre and the Dolphins that looked like a team with potential, but with many missing pieces.
As it turns out, the Pats did well with Matt Cassel, Favre held himself together to make a playoff run and Miami surprised everyone with the Wildcat—the Bills, as we know, fell off and fell apart.
Some key moves from the offseason will either propel Dick Jauron’s squad into a winning season or could be the nails in the coffin for Jauron’s tenure with Buffalo. The Bills traded two-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters and released the underachieving Derrick Dockery.
These moves freed up some valuable salary cap room, got rid of some headaches, and paved the way for others to claim spots along the O-line. Langston Walker will make the move to left tackle with the rest of the line filling up with new faces.
Geoff Hangartner was brought in as a free agent and rookies Eric Wood and Andy Levitre are both versatile and will find a place somewhere on the line; Wood at center or guard and Levitre at guard or right tackle.
If the unit can gel and form a cohesive unit, this could bring life back into the Bills' running game—something it lacked for most of last year.
The Aaron twins on defense (Maybin and Schobel) are poised to put pressure on opposing offenses, especially at the quarterback. The addition of Maybin will give the Bills a dynamic rusher on the end and should boost the overall Bills' sack total. This all means good news for Schobel and hope that he can return to his high sack numbers from 2005 and 2006 when he tallied 28 sacks in two seasons.
Last year the Bills ranked 28th in sacks, which was one of the primary reasons that opposing offenses picked apart the Bills' secondary, but things will be different this year.
Along with the additional pressure on the QB, rookie Jarius Byrd will add a corner that can rack up the interceptions and play solid coverage.
Of course, the biggest and most controversial personnel change for the Bills was the addition of playmaker Terrell Owens.
T.O. has racked up 139 receiving touchdowns in his 13 season NFL career and has always brought the big play to any team that he has played for.
T.O. is coming off three 1,000+ yard seasons with the Cowboys where he constantly faced double coverage, yet led their receiving corps and was a valuable piece of the Cowboys success.
Like him or not, T.O. can play and he plays at a very high level.
T.O .brings a swagger to a team that needed it and he brings the big play potential that the Bills have lacked as of late. Lee Evans should see his numbers rise as the double coverage that he faced previously will have to disappear with the addition of T.O. on the opposite side.
The winter has broke in Buffalo, the spring is here, things are looking up and oh, by the way, the Bills are going to make a push for the post season…really!