Here's a mind-boggling revelation for you, dear Buffalo Bills fan: if your favorite team is going to improve drastically upon its 4-12 record from a year ago, they're going to need to do a much better job slowing down opposing quarterbacks.
In 2010, opposing throwers put up a 92.6 quarterback rating throughout the Bills' 16-game schedule. That was the fifth-worst rating allowed in the league, and - surprise! - none of the four teams ranked behind Buffalo made the playoffs. (The team directly ahead of the Bills, Indianapolis, did, but they have Peyton Manning on their team. The Bills don't.)
The best way to improve that stat is to generate a more consistent pass rush. (It may be necessary to improve the run defense first; we'll get to that soon.) While media types are putting a lot of pressure on Shawne Merriman to get that done, it doesn't necessarily need to be Merriman - a break-out campaign from Arthur Moats would achieve the same result. No matter how it happens, however, it should be obvious that the Bills need to do more to make quarterbacks sweat this defense.
Previous keys to 2011: Fitzpatrick to Evans, Spiller's ball security, Diversifying at tight end