Fans and national media members alike have hinted and screamed one word in regards to the 2017 Buffalo Bills recently: Tank. The opinion that the Bills are tanking in order to get a top-tier draft pick in 2018 is a valid opinion, one that has merit on the surface. However, I don’t think this is a standard tank job.
Most of the conversation around the potential tank started when the Bills traded Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in return for cornerback EJ Gaines. Watkins is viewed as one of the top young receivers in the league today. However, Watkins has had only one season north of 1,000 yards in his career and has been susceptible to injuries. In a related trade the Bills received veteran wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Although Matthews has never had over 1,000 yards, he consistently puts up respectable numbers and has played in nearly every game since he has been in the league. He has also averaged more yards pet season than Watkins (891/820) primarily because he can stay on the field and out of the training room.
Right before the trade heard ‘round the world, the Bills signed future hall of fame wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who later retired due to personal reasons. The Bills can’t control Boldin’s life choices, but they made a conscious effort to go in and get a proven play maker in the league. It didn’t work out, but the idea behind it shows they are trying to win games now. They retained Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander, too, reaffirming the same thing.
If it was a tank, keeping their most valuable asset in running back LeSean McCoy. If the new regime was really doing a complete overhaul then they would try and get draft picks (which they could then trade in a package to move into the first round for a third time in 2018) for the electric running back.
The final reason I don’t see this season as a tank is the quarterback position. We know current starter Tyrod Taylor isn’t the franchise guy, but he will do enough for a team to win a game or two against a bad opponent. If the team was aiming for the top 2018 pick, they should start rookie Nathan Peterman. I don’t believe for a second people can actually believe Peterman would lead an NFL team to more wins in his first season than Tyrod. The rookie played well in the preseason, where defenses rarely gameplan for their opponent. I don’t think he would fare 1/10th as well if he stepped into a regular season NFL game yet.
I’m not saying the Bills are competing for a Super Bowl this season, I’m just saying they’re not tanking.
Oh, P.S. look at the defense...... it’s really good.