A lot has to go right for the Buffalo Bills in order to make the playoffs this season.
New additions on offense in the forms of Terrell Owens and Shawn Nelson should help quarterback Trent Edwards succeed on the field.
But a lot of his success relies on offensive coordinator Turk Schonert’s designs and play-calling with the new additions.
The offensive line is the most important new element of the offense. Rookies Eric Wood and Andy Levitre should play with the first unit right away. Geoff Hantgartner is a solid addition at center and reserve free agent Seth McKinney is a good backup. Watching the transition of Darwin Walker to left tackle and Brad Butler moving from guard to right tackle should be interesting for a lot of reasons.
Walker made the transition seem easy during the four games he played at left tackle; the Bills won three games and loss one. Butler is smart enough to make the transition easy, but it’s still tough because the footwork changes and he’s somewhat undersized to play tackle.
Edwards has more weapons, along with stalwarts Lee Evans and Josh Reed. Reed should continue to make catches over the middle as it becomes freer with Evans and Owens on the outside. Roscoe Parrish will still be an important part of the offense on third down because of his speed and quickness when running after the catch
The defense side of the ball is more interesting:
Some players were added through the draft. Aaron Maybin should contribute on third downs rushing the quarterback. He’s already 30 pounds heavier than when he played at Penn State. The linebacker corps wasn’t addressed. The coaching staff must have faith in Keith Ellison. Paul Posluszny should make strides in his third season.
The defensive line is overlooked. Chris Kelsay is a good locker room guy, but doesn’t produce in the sack column. Aaron Schobel should bounce back after his foot heals. The run defense should continue to be solid with Marcus Stroud and Kyle Williams inside. Williams needs to generate a better push up the middle in order to push the quarterback to the outside for Maybin and Schobel.
The secondary should have the most intriguing battles heading into training camp. Drayton Florence should be the nickel cornerback. The starting jobs are secure with Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin manning the position on every down. It’ll be interesting to see how well Ashton Youboty responds after having such a solid training camp and start to the season last year before going down with an injury.
The safety positions are another competition to watch in training camp. Donte Whitner will be moved back to strong safety. Ko Simpson should start training camp as the number one strong safety, but he’ll be pushed by second-round pick Jairus Byrd. The coaching staff really likes Byrd’s ball-hawking skills and Simpson hasn’t really produced many interceptions.
A lot rides on this season, the future of head coach Dick Jauron hinges on the team making the playoffs. Tom Modrak is also in deep because of the recent failures in spending on the offensive line and the failure of J.P. Losman and John McCargo. There will be significant changes within the Bills organization if the Bills don’t make the playoffs.