In losing today's home opener to the Miami Dolphins, the Bills proved a number of things to be true.
Some of them many of us already knew. Some may have been suspected but not known for certain. Then there are a few things that we may have just learned today.
Let's take a look at the overall current state of the Bills to see what those things are.
We learned or, for some of us, had confirmed to be true that the defensive backfield is the strongest position group on the team, and that it's really not close. Running backs would be second. Beyond that, to be fair, it's pretty much a crapshoot.
Let's look at it realistically. The linebacking unit, especially now if Paul Posluszny misses extended time, is bereft of playmakers and lacks depth. The defensive line is smallish, particularly for the 3-4 front the team now uses, and can be bullied. They also get no penetration and are also lacking playmakers, most noticeably pass rushers.
Regarding the offensive line—well, all I can nicely say is they are offensive. The backs had little to no running room, and Trent Edwards was under duress for a fair part of the game.
As for the quarterbacks—well, I've made no secret of the fact that I am no fan of the aforementioned Edwards, so if this was really an open competition for the starting quarterback position through OTAs and minicamps, the mere fact that he went into training camp with a seeming stranglehold on the starting job tells me a great deal about his backups. If they can't beat Edwards out, it makes a fairly damning statement to me about their talents.
Receivers and tight ends? Other than Lee Evans, do the Bills have any real NFL-caliber guys at those spots? No, I didn't think so either.
So, where do these assertions leave the Bills?
For me, it leaves the team in very much the same position in terms of player personnel as they were at the end of the 2009 season: virtually without playmakers, with few exceptions, and with practically no viable depth. As far as the overall current talent level on the team, I'd have to say it is very poor.
The defensive backfield has an excellent overall talent level, the running backs are very good, and Lee Evans is, I still feel, an exceptional talent at wide receiver. But if you look at the remainder of the Bills talent and ask yourself if there are players who could start on an above average team such as, say, Miami, one would have to conclude the answer is probably not.
So what does this mean?
It means to me that the team has yet to truly bottom out. In other words, they have yet to actually reach a bottom point where they are in a position in the draft to draft the necessary talent to begin to turn things around.
Let me cite an example. The last time the team truly bottomed out, as in having the No. 1 overall pick, was 1985. The result of that was Bruce Smith and the beginning of a series of drafts that turned the franchise around and became what Bills fans fondly remember as "the Glory Days." This is what I feel has to happen for this edition of the Bills to start on the road back to respectability.
Is it going to be enjoyable for us as Bills fans to watch them go through this process? No, not at all. But I've found that against my initial reaction, I trust Buddy Nix to properly evaluate the talent at the college level and bring the right players to Buffalo to turn the team around.
So, let's not go through another 6-10 or 7-9 season and delay the ability to properly rebuild the team any longer. I believe that the sooner the team truly bottoms out, the sooner the Bills become a good team again.
Here's hoping the rebuilding begins in earnest at the April 2011 draft.
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