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Game On / Good news for Bills fans

Smart moves behind the scenes

Allen’s athletic ability and cannon arm are nearly unmatched in the NFL.

photo courtesy of the buffalo bills


What a weird offseason that was, huh?


Not the dashing face masks we’re all sporting, not people in the streets protesting the police and systemic racism, not even that bizarre draft where we got to see just how badly Bill Belichick’s dining room needs a renovation.


I’m talking about the Buffalo Bills upgrading a good roster into a great one and setting us up for the most promising season of football we’ve had since at least the late nineties.


In case you aren’t a crazy sports junkie, and missed it with all of the real-life drama going on, the Bills had themselves an offseason. It started with some promising upgrades along the defensive front. They added guys like Mario Addison and Quinton Jefferson to an already formidable group.


In the back end, they brought back E. J. Gaines and added Josh Norman to try to shore up the second cornerback slot, which was a bit of a black hole at times last year. The defense was already a very good unit, and, with the upgrades, it can get even better. The schedule is perhaps tougher this year, but the team isn’t facing most of the top tier quarterbacks in the league; as a result, this defense could put up historic numbers.


Then came the huge trade for Stefon Diggs from Minnesota. Brandon Beane paid a high price, sending away four draft picks, but the potential return is worth the risk. Josh Allen showed a remarkable improvement from year one to year two, and at least part of that has to be attributed to the arrival of Cole Beasley and John Brown. Given targets that can get open and make a play, Allen looks like a better quarterback. In Diggs, the Bills got one of the best route runners in the league. He’s an upgrade over either Brown or Beasley, and now opposing defenses are going to have to account for all three guys on nearly every play.


Beane followed up that masterstroke of a trade with one of the best drafts the Bills have had in my lifetime. Nearly every pick was praised by evaluators all over the league. Gone are the days when Mel Kiper would scramble to explain why the Bills had made another boneheaded selection. This time it was impact player after impact player at positions of need.


A.J. Epenesa enhances the upgraded front line, which should hold up better against the run this season. The second selection, Zack Moss, is a bruising running back who should make a lethal tandem with Devin Singletary. The rest of the picks are solid guys who can all make positive contributions.


This Bills team goes into the season with a chance to have a historically good defense. They were a top-five unit last season; with the additions, they could go from good to great.


On offense, the Bills have more weapons than they’ve had since the days of Jim Kelly. They are deep at the skill positions; the offensive line returns intact from last year. The only thing that could hold them back from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender is Josh Allen.


In two years of watching him play, I can’t pin him down. In nearly every game, he makes great plays that only he can make. His athletic ability and cannon arm are nearly unmatched in the NFL.


But he also makes plenty of bad plays that only he can make. From terrible interceptions to his tendency to overthrow every deep ball to whatever that weird lateral thing was in the playoff game against the Texans, Allen is not without issues.


He made a huge jump from year one to year two. His stats improved in nearly every meaningful way, and he was still the least accurate starting quarterback in the NFL. He’s led eight game-winning drives in twenty-seven NFL starts, an impressive number. But if he was a little more consistent at making plays earlier in games, he probably wouldn’t need to do that as much—see the Bengals game from last season.


Allen is a big part of the reason the Bills were up sixteen points in the third quarter of their playoff game last year. He’s also a big part of the reason they lost that game.


If the Bills do let us down this year, it will be at the feet of Josh Allen. If they win their first AFC East title since 1995, it will be because Allen figured it out and excelled with the new bevy of weapons around him.


I want to see him take the reins. I’m just not convinced yet. This is the year where we find out. Is he the man who leads this team to the promised land, or will the Bills be looking for a new quarterback sooner rather than later?


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