I'm amazed. Having observed all our off-season discusions thus far, I began to get this unsettling feeling of deja vu reading everybody's comment. Finally, I decided to see if this deja vu had any basis in reality. Sure enough, I dug up Brian's priorized off-season needs list from last off-season and sadly, the only difference between the lists from last off-season and this off-season appears to be the order of urgency. With a few exceptions, a look at last year's list seems to demonstrate that our front office did very little to address concerns in 2008.
Below is Brian's lists for offensive and defensive needs from last off-season:
1. Wide Receiver - Thanks to some strong support in the polling, wideout has leapfrogged tight end as Buffalo's top offensive need.
1A. Tight End - Still gets the "1A" rating due to strong support in the comments.
3. Guard/Center - Depth needed behind Dockery/Fowler/Butler.
4. Fullback - Marshawn needs a gritty lead blocker.
5. Tackle - Upgrade needed over top reserve Kirk Chambers, if possible.
6. Wide Receiver - One receiver isn't going to get the job done. We need depth there too.
7. Quarterback - If J.P. Losman isn't traded, this position gets low priority.
1. Defensive Tackle - Strong arguments on both D-Line positions, but DT has a hair more support.
1A. Defensive End - Giants, anyone? The Bills need a pass rush if they're ever to surpass the Pats as the Beasts of the East.
3. Outside Linebacker - Upgrade over Keith Ellison needed, as well as a possible replacement for '09 UFA Angelo Crowell.
4. Cornerback - Jabari Greer can start, but the team may be better off if he's a nickel back.
5. Linebacker - More depth is needed at this position; outside or inside, depending on where John DiGiorgio ends up (most likely he'll be inside).
6. Strong Safety - With Bryan Scott a free agent, there's a serious lack of depth behind Donte Whitner. Scott may be the best option here.
The same list with a few observations from this season leaves much to be desired:
1. Wide Receiver - Hardy did show promise as a redzone threat but 9 catches and a serious injury have somewhat dampened expectations and left concerns that the young receiver may not be up to full speed at all for 2009. Fortunately, Stevie Johnson has many optimistic after making some important catches (though only 10) and reeling in 2 TDs in limited time. All in all, much like last off-season, there are hopes that Buffalo will find itself a veteran wide receiver to take pressure off Evans. ADDRESSED IN 2008? - NO
1A. Tight End - Buffalo's move to address this need wound up being Derek Fine. Yea....I know, not what we were expecting. Still, Buffalo deserves credit for making a serious push to trade for Tony Gonzalez before the deadline this season but were denied by Gonzalez himself, who would not play in Buffalo. All in all, much like last off-season, there are hopes that Buffalo will find itself a pass catching tight end to help our young quarterback develop. ADDRESSED IN 2008? - NO
3. Guard/Center - The inability to address the need at center came back to bite us in the arse far more than we could have imagined as our running game and passing game suffered as first Fowler then Preston got blown off the line over and over. Lucky for the Bills, Marshawn Lynch is one tough sucker to bring down. ADDRESSED IN 2008? - NO
4. Fullback - After Damien failed to do anything, Corey failed just as hard. Sometimes I wondered if the lack of a FB on the field at all had more to do with the fact that Turk didn't have one rather than that his scheme didn't incorporate one. Either way, again, we are lucky Lynch is a tough sucker to bring down. ADDRESSED IN 2008? - NO
5. Tackle - Last season, fans wanted an upgrade over Chambers. However, I think he exceeded expectations after Peters' holdout and Bell looks like he's developing into a great reserve. I'd say depth was addressed here. ADDRESSED IN 2008 - YES
6. Wide Receiver - This area seems to be taken care of with the emergence of Steve Johnson and the rise of Josh Reed into a reliable third down target. ADDRESSED IN 2008 - YES
7. Quarterback - J.P. Losman was so wretched in relief of Edwards that it was hardly believable to watch. Now, with his departure, QB depth is more urgent than last year. ADDRESSED IN 2008 - NO
1. Defensive Tackle - By bringing in Marcus Stroud through a fancy little trade, the front office took care of a serious problem for Buffalo. Marcus came in immediately and had an impact, making big plays and giving our interior line a push. The emergence of Kyle Williams playing next to him was a great suprise as was McCargo's inability to do anything. The Stroud trade was a great move. ADDRESSED IN 2008 - YES
1A. Defensive End - Not a thing was done here and nobody new was brought in...oh...wait....what was his name? Oh right, Chris Ellis. Buffalo's only move to address this problem was a third rounder who couldn't get on the field. Karma seemed to mock the Bills by taking Schobel away for the entire year. ADDRESSED IN 2008? - NO
3. Outside Linebacker - In a sad twist, this need was initially proposed to replace Ellison on the weak side and provide Crowell and Poz a compliment. This off-season, this need is being proposed to replace Ellison on the strong side and provide Mitchell and Poz a compliment. This situation defines our progress over the last 2 seasons. Clog one leak in the ship and another pops out, clog that second one and the first one pops back open. Sigh. ADDRESSED IN 2008 - NO
4. Cornerback - YES! A true bright spot on this list! Jabari Greer emerged as a true starter and arguably our best and most reliable corner. Not only that, Youboty has finally begun to show some serious growth and it looks like we have a potential star in rookie Leodis McKelvin. Amazingly, our CB question this off-season seems to be which of many good players we want to let go. ADDRESSED IN 2008 - YES
5. Linebacker - See number 3. Depth is still much needed. ADDRESSED IN 2008 - NO
6. Strong Safety - Amazingly, the initial concern last season was that we needed depth behind back up Bryan Scott. This year it may turn out we need depth behind starter Bryan Scott or potentially a replacement for starter Bryan Scott. Ko Simpson's failures have had a ripple effect on safety depth. ADDRESSED IN 2008? - NO
So there you have it. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disheartened by the lack of progress. Stevie Johnson seems to have been a lucky find to address receiver depth and I suppose we all should expect corner to have been addressed with Jauron's history of drafting them by the dozen. The Stroud trade was great but the loss of Crowell also set us back. All in all, this list does not reflect well on our front office.