So, I live in Cleveland now, and I am a Buffalo transplant. I l always tell people that the difference between the Browns and Bills is that when the Browns lose a huge game on a big stage, nobody cares, and if they do care, it goes away quickly. But that's not how we roll in Buffalo, when we lose, we lose in style. Nobody loses big huge games like the Buffalo Bills, and it stays with you for a life time.
One of the most amazing things about the Buffalo Bills organization is how the hell they manage to lose huge games like this type of fashion.
One thing about me is that I skip the first four stages of grief and go straight to acceptance. Even before the game started, I truthfully didn't even want to watch because I knew deep down inside how it would end. This generation got a Music City Miracle.
But it's not all bad. In fact, on the contrary.
The 1999 Buffalo Bills had the second best defense in the league that year, but a lot of those guys were on their last hurrah with the Bills, players such as, Bruce Smith, Phil Hansen, Henry Jones, and Ted Washington, and on the offensive side of the Ball, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, and John Fina. Many guys on defense especially where either approaching or on the wrong side of 30.
The biggest thing was the quarterback situation: Rob Johnson vs Doug Flutie. If only Eric Moulds had a quarterback for most of his career, he probably would have had a hall of fame career. I never thought i'd see his 1998 playoff performance nearly matched, but Gabriel Davis put on a show, and I hope that doesn't get forgotten, but I digress.
This Bills team has a lot of youth at key positions, and you'd be hard pressed to find key starter over 28 on this team, let alone 30. But there are some areas of the team that are older than others such as safety (Hyde and Poyer), and defensive end (Hughes and Addison), and for Jerry Hughes, I think he close to done, and i'm not sure how much Addiison has left in the tank, he is 35, and inconsistent.
But this team unlike the 1999 Bills, is still trending upwards, and they have a top three quarterback in all of football. If there is anything last night's game proved, Josh Allen is a top three quarterback in the game, an Gabriel Davis is a legitimate number two wideout. And while post-1999 would lead to Gregg Williams Tom Donahoe, and the start of Tom Brady who was the literal quarterback cheat code for years, we never had an answer for Brady. And for years, we would even struggle to win against other top ten quarterbacks in the league.
We now have one of these guys, and Mahomes and Allen will be the new Brady and Manning.
So how do we get over the hump? What does the offseason look like?
Needs (CB, DT, OG, speed)
After the Texans loss, we knew Allen was good but needed a number one WR (Diggs). After the Chiefs, we tried to improved the pass rush, went after J.J Watt, but ended up with young ends in Rousseau and Basham, whom are both going to take a couple years to get to their potential. We improved slightly to 2.3 to 2.5 sacks per game, 11th in the league. We did get pressure on Mahomes often last night, but these guys are very tough to sack, and that's what makes them so great. But, needless to say, it was not a main problem last night, but I do think there is room for more improvement on the D-Line
I think most of it will need to come from Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau, and Carlos Basham getting better internally by development, and I think they have to evaluate Hughes and Addison. I think Hughes is done for sure, but Addison, maybe he has another year, but i'm guarded there? They will have to look at replacing them if both guys are gone.
Defensive Tackle however, is a much bigger concern for me. While the interior line played much better down the stretch with Harrison Phillips seeing more snaps this year, he is a UFA, and there is not much in terms of reliable depth. Star Lotulelei is fine in a reduced role, but the problem is, we are not paying him 50 million dollars to be a depth guy. Vernon Butler is another guy who can be shown the door.
In free agency, I would push hard for a guy like Linval Joseph, who can serve as a physical presence in the middle of the D-Line, and command double teams. If the team were to address this need in the draft, I am a big fan of 6'6 340 pound man-child Jordan Davis out of Georgia, but he could be gone before the Bills pick.
The Bills managed to make superstars out of several running backs last year, and got destroyed on the ground several times against quaility rushing attacks such as New England and Indianapolis, and in bad weather games in Buffalo, stopping the run is going to be especially important, and those games likely cost the team home-field advantage this year.
But another part of that is Tremaine Edmunds. Is he the right guy to man the middle of the defense, and does he have the mind for such a role. The Mike position is a very important role for the defense, and is quite literally the center of it all. You're often tasked with stopping the run, and being matched up against running backs and tight ends in man to man. You're the vocal leader and key communicator of the defense, and like quarterback, it is a position of tremendous responsibility. To be quite honest, I am not convinced that Edmunds is right for the role. Tremaine Edmunds is quite honestly the Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Bills, and a guy who leaves you with headaches. But, while I am not convinced he is right for the "Mike" spot, and is probably a better fit as a 3-4 inside linebacker, or a 4-3 outside linebacker. Would be be able to handle a Lorenzo Alexander type role?
The Bills should look at re-purposing Edmunds next season, but I doubt they will.
Most days, the only way to beat the Chiefs to outscore them, and to do that consistently, you have to make the offense even greater. Another Isaiah McKenzie type player is also needed, as the team was 30th in the league in YAC, and another explosive weapon on offense would add another element, and long term, the Bills do have Cole Beasley in his 30's, and Stefon Diggs under contract for two more years. Another WR could be justifiable.
The Interior line needs to be reinforced. The run game has been criticized for the past couple years, pointing to many wanting to acquire another running back, but the running blocking for this team still leaves a lot to be desired for. The Bills could look to add another more high impact RB and boost their interior line and become more physical up front. I'm expecting the Bills to draft another offensive lineman within the first three rounds. While we are a passing team first, it would be nice to have the ability to be physical up front and run the ball more effectively to compliment this passing game and make the offense more complete.
They will need to add another corner for sure, especially since we don't know when or how Tre' White will come back, and I expect them to draft a corner high in the first two rounds. It would have been very difficult to mask the loss of Tre' White against a team like the Rams. I expect cornerback to be the number one need for the Bills heading into the offseason,
I am also expecting Brian Daboll to be gone, and will not shocked to see Ken Dorsey ascend to offensive coordinator, and if we don't give it to him, another team certainly will.
As for Leslie Frazier, I don't know who's decision it was to not cover Travis Kelce and leave everything so wide open. I do actually understand what they were trying not to let anything get behind them, which is the focal point of a Leslie Frazier defense. But unfortunately that doesn't work when you have an offense with a hall of fame tight end, and Tyreek Hill, along plenty of other speed options such as Mecole Hardman, and the Chiefs are great at yards after the catch, and making plays in stride. That's one area the Bills need to improve on. What the Bills did at the end of the game would have been fine if the Chiefs had no timeouts, but unfortunately they had three. Coaching did cost them this game, and I pray someone takes Leslie Frazier off our hands as a head coach.
This is not like 1999. The circumstances of these teams are much different. We have a top three quarterback, and may have made another star in Gabriel Davis who f'n killed the Chiefs for 200 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The 1999 team was clearly trending downward, but the Bills are here to stay, and last night game showed that. Josh Allen is unreal. The New England Patriots on the rise? Ha, we are light years ahead of them. While Mahomes and Allen could be the new Brady-Manning, we know how many times Manning fell in the playoffs with the Colts. Winning a Super Bowl is not easy. Manning lost an AFC Championship to Brady, then lost again in the divisional round to Brady. He then lost another divisional round to the Steelers before finally trumping the Bears when he was with the Colts. It took the Manning-led Colts nine years. Quite honestly, Mahomes may best us often in the playoffs, but it will only take one Super Bowl win to make us all truly happy. I think we will get there. This should be an offseason of tweaks, and not major home improvements. We will most certainly get there, but we need to make the right tweaks.
But, If we can't get it done against the Chiefs next year, then that likely means the Bills will have to bring in the only many who can stop the Chiefs offense all by himself, and that man is Dale Brown (google it).