There's no better time to make bold predictions than right before the return of Buffalo Bills football. I'm laying it all on the line here with three bold predictions as Bills training camp begins. Let's dive right in.
No. 3: Anthony Dixon will be released
The man we call Boobie is coming off a career high in carries (105), rushing yards (432), and yards per carry (4.1) in his first season with Buffalo. He was also a special teams standout, with two blocked punts highlighting his efforts. He had a similar track record in San Francisco, earning his keep as a special teams ace while splitting time between running back and full back in a minimal offensive role.
Dixon grew frustrated with his role in San Francisco, going on a Twitter rant late in the 2013 season that drew headlines. Unfortunately for Dixon, he finds himself in another low-opportunity situation, buried in a crowded backfield and playing for an offensive coordinator that didn’t utilize him in the run game while both men were in San Fran. If you’re Dixon, I don’t see how you look at the current situation and not think that your days in Buffalo might be numbered.
LeSean McCoy is expected to get the bulk of the carries for the Bills this season. In the event of injury, the Bills will need a solid backup plan, but Dixon hasn't shown that he can be a featured back in the NFL - and with his limitations as a runner, the Bills might think that they can get that level of production from rookie running back Karlos Williams, who is expected to contribute on special teams, as well.
No. 2: Aaron Kromer will keep his job
When the story broke that offensive line coach Aaron Kromer was arrested and charged with battery for allegedly assaulting a minor, the immediate reaction was that he should and would lose his job. Several reports since then indicate that the Bills are likely to part ways with Kromer.
This shouldn't be a surprise. NFL players and coaches are often considered guilty until proven innocent, and are often released or fired before the legal process is finished. They are labeled and branded before all of the facts are released. The Bills decided to place Kromer on indefinite paid leave, giving the team ample time to gather information regarding the alleged incident. They could have succumbed to public pressure and fired Kromer, but have not yet done so.
This move is contrary to what we have seen as of late. It proves to me that the Bills see Kromer as a very valuable asset, and will let time pass to soften the public relations hit, allowing Kromer to stay on if he is not convicted in court. For a team that's on the cusp of the playoffs and has an offensive line that is in flux, the Bills are in desperate need of an offensive line coach that can fix a unit that struggled mightily last season.
No. 1: EJ Manuel will start in Week 1
Manuel is looking to revitalize his career after being benched and subsequently losing his starting job after four games last season. For the first time in his career, Manuel is in a battle for a roster spot, with competitors Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor, and Matt Simms all offering something unique to the position. Each player is flawed, however, leaving the door wide open for Manuel to win the job.
Seemingly on a shorter leash than the other quarterbacks on the roster, Manuel has at least one advantage over his counterparts: he is familiar with the majority of the players on offense, having worked with both the starters and the reserves, as he ran scout team for 12 games last season. Manuel also spent part of last offseason working out with Colin Kaepernick, a player that Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman is familiar with, and to whom Manuel has been favorably compared in the past.
Taylor lacks experience, and Cassel lacks the mobility that Kaepernick made a hallmark of Roman's offense. Manuel has more experience than Taylor, and more mobility than Cassel. To an extent, he bridges the gap between the two players.
None of the Bills' three quarterbacks has redeeming qualities that separates one from the other, which plays into Manuel's hands. If Manuel can stay the course, and doesn't completely bomb during training camp, he can win this job by default.
What are your bold predictions for training camp, Bills fans?