I'm generally a Bills optimist. I have the team making the playoffs each year, albeit at a wild card position. So that got me thinking, why don't I feel the Bills can compete with New England in the East or with the other AFC teams for a Super Bowl berth? What reasons are there? New England seems like they own the division, but in the end they are just a football team like us, made up of players and position coaches just like us. I have to believe that it is not all poor playcalling and coaching which holds us back. So for the purposes of this FanPost, I'm throwing that out.
Now, if there are personnel weaknesses on our team (and there are), where are they? That's when the realization hit me about the weak points of our team. We are good at the fast, skill positions, on both sides of the ball. And our lines on both sides of the ball are suspect. and our question marks are the offensive line's ability to produce and our defensive line's ability to create pressure. On offense, running back is a stacked position. Nothing more need be said there. At wide receiver, despite our injuries at the position in camp, Buffalo maintains one of the deepest corps in the NFL. QB is a question mark, with a solid Edwards not entirely set in statuesque form yet in Buffalo, and Fitzpatrick as our potentially inconsistent backup. But so is the offensive line. We have Langston Walker at left tackle. He's capable but would be better at right tackle where he can face power rushers, not speed rushers. Our two rookies at guard are going to receive some lessons on the job this year from defenders, and even Kent Hull would have a tough time dealing with Kris Jenkins and Wilfork. Hang is decent, but no Hull.
On defense, our secondary seems to be the strength of the team. Donte Whitner's questionable playmaking ability being the only real chink in our armor. Our linebackers would be fine if we only had to play 2 on the field at a time (Poz and Kawika) -- and thankfully, any time the Bills go to a nickel, dime, or quarter defense, that's what we'll get. The trick is getting the defensive line to establish a talented, attacking presence.
Let me make this clear: I'm not advocating the replacement of a single Buffalo Bill. I'm also not calling the lines bad and the rest of the team good. My key argument here is that our front office seems to have ignored the basic football principle of building a team from the lines. It's true that busts and underachievers have been part of this. But the team's brass has to this point failed to plan for that contingency. It might be time for Russ Brandon to draw the line. Implement a line-based offseason strategy and focus on making our lines healthier.
I guess what I am trying to say is that efforts have been made. But should we desire to compete for the NFL title year in year out, we should look at the yearly contenders. The contending teams almost always have a Top 5-10 caliber offensive and defensive line. Therefore, we should not stop working until we, too, have such. Simple logic.
P.S. Thank you Bills FO for getting Wood and Levitre!