Shawn Merriman's value to the Buffalo Bills this year cannot be overstated. With a healthy Merriman the sky is the limit for our D this year. He is, without a doubt, one of the top 5 defensive players overall in the NFL if he is healthy. With him, our other top players Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams become that much more effective because running backs will choose to chip Merriman instead of watching the interior at times and Merriman will force QBs to step-up into Dareus/Williams country. In return, Marcel and Kyle will make Merriman's job that much easier. Something happens to a defense when you become excellent in two areas; defensive coordinators become head coaches and star quarterbacks start to look human.
Our defense needs a leader, someone to show them how it is done. Someone who will demand accountability on the field ala Ray Lewis in Baltimore. Only Merriman can command that much respect from other NFL players. Merriam will get our D to believe it can play with and beat anyone. Merriman will get everybody on the D throwing their body around and working hard as they can to be not a good defense, but a great one.
I will go on to say that with a healthy Merriman, our young offense would improve as well. In the NFL, if you make a mistake, there is a good chance that it is going to snowball. With a stout defense, our young receivers and backs will get more second chances to gain that all-important confidence that you need to succeed in the big league. Our quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a bonafide starter for the first time entering a season in his NFL career. He too could benefit from having more chances to establish himself. I have seen a lot of players over the years that I think would have succeeded had they more opportunity. I cannot stress this enough.
You never know what twist and turns a NFL team will encounter throughout a full season. Football prognosticators are horribly mistaken each and every year about several teams. There are great things and not so good things that happen every year that were unforeseen by everybody. Shawn Merriman is a force of nature; he hedges our chances greatly that good things are going to happen to us. I hope he can get back to 100% and lead us into the playoffs.