The Buffalo Bills offseason is here, and I couldn't be happier.
Well, that's not true, watching them in the playoffs would be nice for a change, no?
Anyhow, it's always fun playing GM during the winter and spring months, especially with the Buffalo Bills, a team that's been trying to reconstruct itself for what has seemed like ages.
With what seems to be a more competent front office and head coach in place, this offseason could prove to be more important than any during the 2000s.
The Bills are far from contending, but with changes, some major and some minor, Buffalo can finally deliver a winning team to the WNY faithful.
Without further adieu, here are the areas of the Bills organization and roster that must be changed, altered or tweaked for Buffalo to make strides in the 2010s...
1. Please Hit on an Early Draft Pick (If Not, Front Office Changes Must Be Made)
This is the most obvious of them all, as we know how brutally embarrassing and underwhelming the Bills' top draft picks have been over the last decade.
Buffalo's been great at digging up late-round and undrafted free agents who morph into productive players, (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Steve Johnson, Demetrius Bell, George Wilson, Fred Jackson, Kyle Williams...the list goes on) but with those guys come limitations.
Even if Fitzpatrick outplays where he was drafted, he wasn't picked until the seventh round for a reason.
They need the high-profile, extremely athletic, instinctive college playmakers to translate into legitimate stars.
If this doesn't happen, Tom Modrak needs to go. I know there's a drafting "committee" but his title is "VP of College Scouting" and if you ask me, the Bills scouting has been pretty horrendous for a long time.
Buddy Nix seems like he's got a good plan installed, but Buffalo cannot have anymore John McCargos, Aaron Maybins, James Hardys, or Chris Ellises. And with a top pick in every round of the draft, the selection process can't be that hard, right? Or am I asking for too much?
2. Start Over at LB
The city of Buffalo and Bills fans alike have fallen in love with Paul Posluszny during his career with the team. The 2007 draft pick's jerseys are littered all over Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sundays and it's not easy to find a bar without a few No. 51 uniforms on gameday.
Unfortunately, this love for Poz is conceived from public persona, not impactful play on the football field. I believe he's one of the main culprits in Buffalo's embarrassing run defense because of his limited athletic ability and speed.
The rest of the guys, like Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor, are serviceable but are certainly not playmakers that Buffalo can rely on in the future. Chris Kelsay remarkably played better after he signed his outrageous extension and although Arthur Moats made a few big plays in the latter part of the season, I'm not 100 percent sold on him yet, although there is tons of upside there.
The outside guys, with the aforementioned Kelsay and Moats, along with Shawne Merriman have some talent, but inside, the backers who are positioned to make all the plays in a 3-4, are utterly disappointing with no star power.
3. Stop Playing Favorites
I'm drawing from my last point here. Fan favorites like Paul Posluszny, Donte Whitner and Brian Moorman need to be evaluated as if they have no appeal to the general public.
I've already touched on Posluszny, and Whitner is more of the same. He simply doesn't make the game-altering plays that we see from the playoff teams, and don't let the tackle statistic fool you.
Moorman had a terrible year and just because he's on billboards across WNY (pretty humiliating when your punter is being marketed to the fanbase) doesn't mean he needs to be kept around.
4. Stay with the 3-4
I've heard numerous people gripe about the Bills defense this season and the unit deserves a little bashing. They were awful most of the time. However, the 3-4 defense is 10 times more aggressive and hard to read than a 4-3, but you must be patient.
All experts will tell you that it takes two drafts to start reaping the benefits of a 3-4 alignment. The personnel is just completely different, especially up front and Nix knows that.
If the team struggles mightily again with the scheme in 2011, then a change should be considered.
(it has been said that the Bills will most likely run multiple sets next season)
5. Find and Use a TE
This was a historic year for tight ends in the NFL. As you probably know, it was a historically bad season for Bills tight ends, catching only one touchdown pass all season.
With an emerging, young receiving corps, the tight end position must be addressed this offseason and must be utilized next year.
They open the middle of the field, make it hard to defend the outside receivers, and obviously are great red-zone targets.
I'm not even sure the athletically gifted Shawn Nelson will ever become a quality tight end.
It seems minor, but to make strides offensively the tight end must be a part of the attack.
Any other changes worth noting?