1978 - Time for Changes
5-11 record, fourth-tie of five in AFC East, 11 of 14 in AFC, 23 of 28 in NFL
The Bills changed the face of the organization prior to 1978. After injury ended his 1977 season the thirty-year-old O.J. Simpson was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a second round pick. Simpson was never really the same after the injury and didn't top 600 yards in either of his final two seasons by the bay. The Bills didn't hit with a superstar in the 1978 draft but had a solid draft adding several key contributors. Running back Terry Miller was drafted to replace Simpson in the first round and gained over a thousand yards in his rookie year before falling off a cliff. Defensive end Dee Hardinson was drafted in the second round, linebacker Lucius Sanford in the fourth, center Will Grant in the tenth, and linebacker Jerry Blanton in the eleventh. The Bills also parted ways head coach Jim Ringo and signed away Chuck Knox from the St. Louis Rams. Knox had been named coach of the year and taken the Rams to the playoffs four straight years before disagreements with ownership led him to Buffalo.
The offense immediately improved under Knox. The Bills would be held under 10 points only once - a 5-0 win over the Bengals in Week 8. The Bills made it back to eleventh in scoring after finishing dead last the year before. Without Simpson the Bills rushing attack barely missed a beat with Miller's 1060 yards supplemented by fullback Curtis Brown rushing for 591 and running back Roland Hicks contributing 358. The defense was still dreadful giving up the fourth-most yards and points in the league. The rushing defense was awfully bad, finishing dead last in yards allowed and yards per attempt allowed.
The Bills could see improvement immediately. Seven of their eleven losses were within one score. A few lucky bounces and the Bills are 12-4 instead of 5-11. Joe DeLamielleure was the Bills' lone Pro Bowl representative.