1999 was the last time the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs. The Music City Musical as its remember closed the book on the most successful era in Bills history and since then there hasn't been much to look forward to come fall in Buffalo.
For most of the decade the AFC East has been dominated by the New England Patriots while the Jets, Dolphins and Bills play catch up. Miami in New York both took major steps forward last fall but Buffalo just couldn't keep up.
But all that may have changed.
The Bills may have made the move, or moves of the off season. Signing Terrell Owens? Trading Jason Peters? While both moves could be risky they might both pay off in spades.
Owens who was released by the Cowboys was quickly snapped up by the Bills to take pressure off of Lee Evans and add a tough receiver who isn't afraid to go over the middle. While the Peters trade gave Buffalo enough room in the draft to trade around and make moves to solidify the Offensive and Defensive Lines.
Both of these moves signify one thing for the Bills and their stoic coach Dick Jauron. It's time to win now.
After three straight seasons of 7-9 and a heartbreaking decline after Buffalo's 5-1 start last season the Bills coaching staff (with maybe the exception of Special Teams Coach Bobby April) is treading on thin ice, not just with the ownership but the fans as well.
Whats more all the will to succeed rests on the shoulders of third year quarterback Trent Edwards.
Edwards, the Stanford product has been installed as the starter now with the release of JP Losman. It will be his job to spread the ball around in Buffalos new no huddle offense.
This offense, which found it difficult to produce against AFC East defenses last year will have to this year or it means heads will roll. Edwards doesn't have to play perfect. He just has to play good enough to keep everyone happy. But keeping T.O. happy might not be his biggest worry.
When the Bills traded away Jason Peters for extra draft picks they didn't pick up a new tackle in the draft. Instead they drafted two interior linemen on the first day. Eric Wood and Andy Levitre will start on the inside with Geoff Hangartner who was brought in from Carolina.
The outside of the Bills line will instead be manned by Langston Walker who will move from Right to Left Tackle and Brad Butler who will move from guard to his natural position of Tackle.
The Bills also replaced long time TE Robert Royal with Shawn Nelson a 4th round draft pick from USM a gifted receiver and an underrated blocker a definite upgrade.
While the Bills have earned praise and high marks from various draft experts but let Outside Linebacker Angelo Crowell walk away this spring and Keith Ellison who while passable didn't wow anyone with his play last season leaving them with a glaring hole at OLB.
The Bills may have found a solution to that problem as well.
The Rams recently released Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa who was the leading tackler there last season. Tinoisamoa who once worked with Bills Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell is said to be eager to meet with officials from the team.
The Bills have certainly upgraded several positions but are still playing keep up in the division. The question of whether or not Buffalo has the talent to compete in the AFC East will be answered this fall. Ultimately the fate of this season will lay in the hands of Dick Jauron and his staff.
That is perhaps the biggest question, and the hardest to answer.
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