I have the week off so I got free time. This post (again) started as a response to my other fanpost about Dick Jauron’s first year. This is only talking about the roster and not coaching. Let's compare the two teams side by side, position by position. Is the team we had going into 2008 better than the team Jauron inherited from Mike Mularkey in 2006? These are the 2005 Buffalo Bills, mostly assembled by the incomparable Tom Donahoe.
QB position: Holcomb/Losman (8 games apiece) vs. Trent Edwards
RB: Willis McGahee vs. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson
FB: Daimon Shelton vs. Darien Barnes and Corey McIntyre
WR: Lee Evans, Eric Moulds, Josh Reed vs. Lee Evans, James Hardy, Josh Reed
TE: Mark Campbell vs. Robert Royal
Advantage: 2008 (Campbell – 19 catches, 139 yards, 0 TD; Royal – 33 catches, 351 yards, 1 TD)
LT: Mike Gandy vs. Jason Peters
LG: Benny Anderson vs. Derrick Dockery
C: Trey Teague vs. Melvin Fowler
RG: Chris Villarial vs. Brad Butler
RT: Mike Williams/Jason Peters vs. Langston Walker
DT: Sam Adams, Justin Bannan, Tim Anderson vs. Marcus Stroud, Kyle Williams, Spencer Johnson
DE: Schobel, Kelsay, Denney vs. Schobel, Kelsay, Denney
MLB: London Fletcher vs. Paul Posluzny
OLB: Takeo Spikes (ACL injury)/Angelo Crowell, Jeff Posey vs. Angelo Crowell (knee injury)/Keith Ellison, Kawika Mitchell
CB: Nate Celments, Terrence McGee vs. Terrence McGee, Jabari Greer, Ashton Youboty, Leodis McKelvin
FS: Troy Vincent vs. Ko Simpson/Bryan Scott
SS: Lawyer Milloy vs. Donte Whitner
Kickers: Brian Moorman, Rian Lindell vs. Brian Moorman and Rian Lindell
Returners: Terrence McGee and Roscoe Parrish vs. Leodis McKelvin and Roscoe Parrish
2008 position wins: 9
2006 position wins: 6
What spots are clearly better now?
The Bills have improved in the trenches since 2005. They have upgraded every offensive line position except center (Melvin Fowler didn’t work out). They have upgraded the interior of the defensive line and kept a Pro Bowl defensive end and an adequate starter at the other end.
I’d rather have Trent at QB than the now retied Holcomb and Losman. I’d rather have two starting backs in Lynch and Jackson than McGahee and his me-first attitude.
What spots were clearly better in 2005?
One position is wide receiver with Eric Moulds in the down-trend of his career and Lee starting to come into his own. The Bills drafted James Hardy this offseason and he is apparently still figuring out the NFL. They have at the very least attempted to address it.
Another position was middle linebacker. I am not bashing Poz here because I love the guy but London Fletcher was a tackling machine. I don’t think the Bills lost too much in the trade off for Fletcher.
The defensive backfield certainly could be considered worse then it was then. With that being said, there was going to be turnover there anyways. Lawyer Milloy and Troy Vincent, the two starting safeties, aged and are out of football. We replaced them with Ko Simpson and Donte Whitner. Both have been at worst, adequate. The fact remains that Simpson/Scott and Whitner are better than Milloy and Vincent right now.
As for the cornerbacks we lost Nate Clements and added Greer, Youboty, and McKelvin. If you look at depth, we are much better now than then. If you look at the top two guys, Clements was better than the triple-threat we started there this year.
There are a few battles you could argue both ways, but the roster of the 2008 Buffalo Bills is better than the 2005 Buffalo Bills. That year the Bills finished 5-11 under Mike Mularkey. When Ralph Wilson fired Tom Donahoe and brought it Marv Levy to consult, Mularkey thought it was best if he resigned.