Buffalo Bills, Playoffs or Bust: Pulling out the Blueprint After 20 Years

Michael McMastersCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 19:  Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian walks on the field during warmups for the game with the Green Bay Packers on October 19, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin. The Packers won 34-14.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Playoffs or bust:  That’s the expectations for the Bills this year.  I sat down and watched some highlight tapes from the ’91 and ’93 seasons this weekend and thought to myself, "This was a loaded roster, and what would it take to get the Bills back to that?"

Well, the ironic answer is that the ‘90s team is the blue-print and the Bills front office of now is trying to replicate the glory days.  Can you blame them?

Would it take Bill Pollian returning as the GM or can Russ Brandon master Pollian's craft?

It starts with the head coach. Marv Levy wasn’t a winner when he came to Buffalo in 1986, in fact he was right on par with Dick Jauron, the coach brought in to do the job in 2006.

Levy eventually brought the team to greatness, but the overall talent on that roster was deep.  Two players that weren’t even Levy's selections made the biggest impact for the team in Bruce Smith and Jim Kelly.

Jauron wasn’t as lucky inheriting J.P. Losman and the Aaron Schobel/Chris Kelsay combination. The best player Jauron got was Lee Evans.  Not saying you don’t need a WR, but you need a QB who can play ball with the best of them and Losman couldn’t do that.

The question that is really on most Bills fan's minds is "IsTrent Edwards going to be able to take the Bills anywhere like Jim Kelly was able to?"

There is no denying that Kelly sits atop the throne as the best QB to ever play for the Buffalo Bills, but there is also no denying that the only ring he owns says 'AFC Champion.'

Can Trent Edwards bring home the Lombardi Trophy for Buffalo?  The coaching staff seems to think he has it, so here in year three, he’s got to start showing it.  Maybe the Lombardi is too lofty right now, but playoffs should be in the picture.

Another striking similarity is the RB tandem.  The Bills had a solid tandem in Thurman Thomas and Kenneth Davis is the '90s. Thomas was the do everything RB who had versatility to his game and Davis was the change of pace home run hitter.

Present day Marshawn Lynch is the do everything back and Fred Jackson is the home run hitter.  While both these young men have a long way to go in proving that they are an equally talented tandem, there is no reason not to get excited with the skills they possess.

On the receiving end of things, the Bills had the greatest slot receiver to ever play the game in Andre Reed. He was simply outstanding in that role. Catching balls over the middle of the field is no easy task and he made it look easy.

Josh Reed should be able to dominate in that role now that T.O. has been brought on board.  Fans can say what they want about Reed, but he is clutch when the offense needed to convert a third down.

The Bills actually have two other receivers that could effectively play the slot role in Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish.  They both are speed demons and could destroy teams in space.

The T.O. move is very reminiscent of when the Bills signed James Lofton; aging veteran, pro-bowl caliber, critics think there isn’t much left in the tank, but Lofton went on to accomplish another Pro-Bowl appearance.  He was still running deep routes for Buffalo in his mid thirties.

Buffalo is hoping that T.O can do the same thing Lofton did then, now.

The last element to the offensive attack was the TE. The '90s no huddle offense was named after Keith McKeller.  Right now the Bills don’t have a sure thing at TE, but they brought in the extremely athletic Shawn Nelson in hopes that he could become a solid target for Edwards.

With all the weapons that the Bills now have, the team is only going to go as far as Edwards and Jauron can take them. 

If the Bills don’t make the playoffs this year, don’t be surprised if Sam Bradford and John Gruden are high on Buffalo’s wish list.