We are now less than a week away from the Buffalo Bills’ 2018 Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. The roster is settled, official game preparation has begun, and all of the questions that have been asked for months on end this offseason will start to be answered on Sunday in Maryland.
These are, in my opinion, the three biggest questions facing the Bills’ offense heading into the 2018 regular season.
Can anyone take pressure off of Shady?
LeSean McCoy is Plan A for the Bills offensively, without question. There’s a lot riding on the star tailback, once again, this season.
Plan B is top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who, when healthy, is a high-volume target that can put up big numbers, but has not yet ascended to true No. 1 wideout status. Charles Clay has been a consistent starting tight end in his time in Buffalo, but expecting a big statistical leap forward from his current level is probably unrealistic.
Buffalo badly needs a big-play threat to emerge in this offense, so that teams can’t constantly key on their only big-play threat out of the backfield. Whether or not that player is on the roster - receiver Zay Jones and backup running back Marcus Murphy are, arguably, the best candidates on the team today - remains to be seen.
Will the offensive line gel?
Things were bad for the Bills’ offensive line in preseason action. That’s really not that surprising, given that there were multiple positional battles going on amongst the starting five, given that their starting left tackle missed some time due to a (minor) injury, and considering that they’re attempting to replace departed starters at left tackle, left guard, and center.
The Bills don’t have a lot of star power in their projected starting offensive line, but they don’t need to field five Pro Bowlers. They just need Dion Dawkins, Vladimir Ducasse, Ryan Groy, John Miller, and Jordan Mills to play as a cohesive unit that communicates well and performs consistently.
After the way the group played in the second and (especially) third preseason games, that seems like a big ask. But a climb to average up front may be all the team needs to start really figuring some things out offensively.
When will Allen Time arrive?
Sean McDermott had not officially named his Week 1 starting quarterback at the time that this article was published, but presumed starter Nathan Peterman earned the right to do so by out-playing both AJ McCarron and Josh Allen in preseason action.
Still, we know that this is Allen’s job; it’s a matter of when, not if, he’ll ascend to the starting lineup. It will probably happen at some point this season. Peterman’s strong offseason has afforded the Bills time to continue acclimating Allen to the NFL before he has to play, but eventually, he has to play.
There will be a lot of factors that go into the timing of this, with Allen’s own progress, the play of Peterman, and the team’s overall performance on the field and in the standings foremost among them. The Bills will obviously still compete to win while their star pupil is on the sidelines, but finding the right time to make the switch is something that McDermott does not have a strong track record with. He’ll need to stick the landing this time around.