The Buffalo Bills entered their bye week in Week 12 after a dominating performance over the New York Jets and a favorable schedule after the break. The Bills responded to the potential playoff talk with a heart-breaking loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto in Week 13 before laying an egg in Tampa on Sunday afternoon.
Within two weeks, a season full of promise and intrigue has fallen into the same category of so many Bills' seasons of recent years. Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers ensured that the Bills would finish with a losing record for the ninth straight season and a playoff-less season for the 14th year in a row.
Different players. Different coaches. Same results.
Expectations were not incredibly high in year one of the Doug Marrone era in Buffalo, but it was not as if the Bills had not enough talent to compete. They boast one of the best one-two running back combos in the league and an equally impressive pass rush to boot. The team took the persona of their fiery head coach early on—barely losing to the AFC elite New England, Kansas City and Cincinnati—but the results all had the same look in the standings on Monday morning.
Buffalo has had plenty of close losses, but not nearly enough gutty wins. Hence the never-ending cloud of losing that tends to hang over the heads of Bills players at the end of every season for the last decade and a half.
Despite all of their faults, the Buffalo coaching staff and front office cashed in on one of the best offseasons in recent memory earlier in the year. Kiko Alonso might be a Pro Bowl player in his first season as a pro and the team's offensive picks in the draft have shown enough promise to have hope for improvement in the near future. Add in the additions of Manny Lawson and the trade for Jerry Hughes--Buffalo had an offseason that might begin to change the culture of losing.
The additions in Marrone's first year have been good, but the recent streak of inconsistent play has revealed a few of the Bills biggest flaws. Talent on the roster abounds, but they are clearly still a few pieces away from making a real run at their first playoff appearance since 1999.
Over the next few slides, we will take a look at a few players the Bills would be wise to take a look at to shore up the biggest holes on the roster for the 2014 season and beyond.