2010 - Close, But No Cigar
4-12 record, 4 of 4 in AFC East, 15-T of 16 in AFC, 30-T of 32 in NFL
Beginning the season with a new GM in Buddy Nix and a new head coach in Chan Gailey, expectations for the Buffalo Bills were admittedly low. In free agency, the team added DE Dwan Edwards and ILB Andra Davis as they switched from a Cover 2 to a 3-4 defense, and Cornell Green was added to the offense to shore up the right tackle spot. Receiver Josh Reed left the team, along with one year rental Terrell Owens. Defensively, Aaron Schobel retired after a protracted offseason, and Ryan Denney also left the team via free agency.
Despite needs at several positions, the Bills selected Clemson RB C.J. Spiller ninth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, adding him to the backfield combination of Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. Continuing the defensive transition, the BIlls added NT Torell Troup and DE Alex Carrington in the next two rounds, along with OLB Arthur Moats in the sixth. The Bills also signed three undrafted free agent wide receivers that would play roles in 2010: David Nelson, Donald Jones, and Naaman Roosevelt.
With a new coach, new defense, and Trent Edwards at the helm, the Bills lost their first two games of the regular season, getting crushed by the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers 34-7 in Week 2. Edwards lost his starting job after that, and was released a week later in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Another major roster move was made following a closer-than-it-looked Week 3 loss to the New England Patriots when the team traded Lynch for a fourth-round pick in 2011, along with a conditional pick in 2012.
The Jets ran all over the Bills before a loss to Jacksonville put Buffalo at 0-5 for their bye week. After that, the Bills continued to show resiliency, taking two playoff teams to overtime before ultimately losing to the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs on field goals. The Bills added OLB Shawne Merriman following the loss, but Merriman re-aggravated an injury in practice and never played for the team in 2010. The Bills Toronto Series was also a close game but one that, again, the Bills wound up on the losing end. After a Rian Lindell extra point was blocked for the first time in his career, the Chicago Bears were able to secure a 22-19 win in Canada, and the Bills fell to 0-8.
Finally, mercifully, the Bills welcomed the Detroit Lions and their three-season road winless streak to Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo made sure that streak continued, defeating Detroit 14-12 for their first win of the year. After a thorough beatdown of the Cincinnati Bengals the following week, Buffalo was on a hot streak and welcomed the Pittsburgh Steelers to Buffalo. They took it to overtime, where Stevie Johnson had the game-winning touchdown pass in his hands, but dropped it. The Steelers drove and scored the winning field goal and Buffalo fell to 2-9.
Week 13 saw a little history, as Moats hit Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre and injured the quarterback, ending his NFL-record consecutive starts streak. The Vikings won the game, though, dropping Buffalo to 2-10 and equaling their loss total from a season ago. The Bills didn't give in and won their next two games over the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins before getting trounced by the New England Patriots and Jets to end the year. With Fitzpatrick out, Brian Brohm earned his second NFL start in Week 17, throwing three interceptions.
The Bills' offense was slightly improved over their 2009 counterparts, but ranked in the bottom half of the league in every significant statistic except yards per rushing attempt, where they ranked 13th. They were 28th in points, 25th in yards, 24th in passing yards, 18th in rushing yards, and 31st in turnovers. On defense, the transition to the 3-4 didn't go so well, and Buffalo surrendered the most rushing yards in the league. They finished 28th in points allowed, 24th in yards allowed, and 28th in first downs. While they were third against the pass, it's not because of some great pass defense, but because teams ran the ball so much, as the Bills were still 19th in yards allowed per pass attempt.
The year's two breakout stars were Fitzpatrick and Johnson. Fitzpatrick became the first Bills QB to top 3,000 passing yards since J.P. Losman did in 2006. Johnson went from 12 career receptions and riding the bench behind Owens to 82 catches for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jackson fell 73 yards short of 1,000 on the year in his 13 starts, but averaged 4.2 yards per carry, while the rookie Spiller managed just 283 yards on 74 attempts, barely out-gaining Fitzpatrick. The Bills used a host of starting offensive linemen and line combinations in 2010, as Green's run at RT was short.
Defensively, Kyle Williams led the team with 5.5 sacks and chipped in 76 tackles (16 for a loss) to earn second team All-Pro honors and become Buffalo's lone Pro Bowl representative. Paul Posluszny led the team with 151 tackles, followed by Donte Whitner and his 138.
In 2010, the Bills added another name to their Wall of Fame when AFL-era DB Booker Edgerson was placed on the stadium wall.