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Back to school with the NFL: Buffalo Bills ABCs

On this Labor Day, take a break with a primer on the 2023 Buffalo Bills!

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Before we know it the collective blood pressure of Bills Mafia will be soaring, with the team’s Week 1 Monday Night Football matchup against the New York Jets. A highly anticipated game awaits us between two division rivals right from the start. In the meantime instead of getting stressed out, let’s have some fun as both the new NFL season and school year begin — with some Buffalo Bills ABCs.

A is for Allen

Quarterback Josh Allen is the stud of the team as everyone knows, and the Bills will go as for as Allen takes them. Allen is entering his sixth season in Buffalo and is already a superstar, but he could use some hardware in his trophy case at home.

B is for Big Baller Beane

General Manager Brandon Beane is loved in Buffalo, but this is a big year for him. With the trade of former second-round pick Boogie Basham for next to nothing, the chatter is increasing about how Beane’s draft picks are usually very hit or miss in the first couple of rounds of the NFL Draft.

C is for Christian

Second-year cornerback Christian Benford is set to make an impact this season and may have won the starting cornerback job opposite Tre’Davious White. The 2022 sixth-round pick has shown the ability to be a quality starter, and some might say he’s overshadowing first-round pick Kaiir Elam from that same draft class.

D is for Depth

Depth is important for any football team because you never know when injuries may occur. Buffalo is deep in certain position groups such as wide receiver, but there are other position groups where the depth could come into question. Behind Josh Allen, the Bills only have Kyle Allen on the roster — who didn’t show enough in the preseason to many make fans feel confident in his ability to come off the bench. The team also continues to have question marks at MIKE linebacker after the departure of Tremaine Edmunds.

E is for Ed

Pretty simple but defensive tackle Ed Oliver needs to have a big year to show that he was worth the investment. The first-round pick just recently signed a four-year $68 million extension that ties him to Buffalo for the forseeable future. Nagging injuries have plagued Oliver’s productivity, but the team really needs him to start being a force in the middle of the trenches.

F is for Ford

A sneaky signing for this football team was the acquisition of defensive tackle Poona Ford. Standing at 5’11” and 310 pounds, Buffalo hopes that Ford can provide major disturbance as a run defender being able to plug gaps so his teammates can more quickly wrap up plays. Ford had a flashy preseason and is one of the players who can eat up double teams on the regular. Let’s not forget his interception return for a touchdown during a practice in training camp.

G is for Gilliam

Now here me out, fullback Reggie Gilliam can seriously be an X-Factor for the offense. He’s an extremely talented blocker in the running game, or even as an outlet receiver in the play-action passing game. Gilliam has hands too, recalling the touchdown reception he had against the Tennessee Titans last season. He had some injuries last season, and oddly enough the offense struggled at times when he was not playing. Just keep an eye out is all I’m saying.

H is for Hyde

Hide your kids and hide your wife, Micah Hyde’s coming back this season looking for revenge. His season was cut short early in 2022 due to a neck injury but he’s ready to go in his 11th season in the league. Hyde is the anchor at safety in the back of the defense and quarterbacks are always weary of throwing deep knowing he’s lurking. Hyde is one of the leaders on defense, but he is 32 years old so we have to hope that father time isn’t about to knock on his door.

I is for Injuries

The regular season hasn’t even begun, but there’s already some injuries to account for with the Buffalo Bills. Defensive end Von Miller will start the season of the PUP list recovering from his ACL, which means he’ll miss the first four games of the season. Baylor Spector was sent to Injured Reserve when he was competing for the starting role at middle linebacker. One of this week’s key goals: Trying to stay healthy in practice.

J is for Jonathan

If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Kingsley Jonathan look it up because it’s worth your time. After being cut last season by the Buffalo Bills, Jonathan returned and was able to make the roster for 2023. This guy has the right mentality for head coach Sean McDermott’s team and gives it his all on every single down. Shoutout to you Kingsley, you deserve it.

K is for Kincaid

There’s a lot of hype heading into the regular season for rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid. Kincaid could be the missing piece on offense the Bills have been looking for, as he can be a nightmare matchup for opposing teams. We saw in the preseason how easily Kincaid can get himself open when lined up against linebackers. Josh Allen already seems to have developed chemistry with him, so it will be exciting to see what the two can do together this season.

L is for Latavius

Running back Latavius Murray may be the oldest back in the league at 33, but he still has a lot left in the tank. He’ll be competing with Damien Harris to back up James Cook but Murray does have a lot to offer. Murray is solid in pass protection and will be a good option in short-yardage situations to pick up the first down.

M is for Milano

If you take Josh Allen out of the equation, All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano could make a case as the best football player on the team. Milano isn’t only talented in pass coverage — often drawing the task of sticking with running backs or tight ends — but he’s also great at rushing the passer. With Tremaine Edmunds no longer in town to work off of, Milano will have to improve his game even further and take another step.

N is for Nickel

The Buffalo Bills love to run their nickel defense, which is successful thanks to the stellar play of cornerback Taron Johnson — one of the best slot cornerbacks in the game. Johnson has been a staple on the defense since the team drafted him in 2018. He provides great scheme diversity in coverage, but he’s also adept filling in gaps to stop the run.

O is for Offensive Line

The Bills may have ranked in the top of the league on offense the last couple of seasons, but a weakness to consider there is the offensive line. We saw at crucial moments last season where the line was unable to give Allen any sort of time to get rid of the football. This caused Allen to get hit way too often in the pocket and even contributed to his UCL injury last year. Another O to watch for is second-round pick O’Cyrus Torrence, who appears to have won a starting job at guard.

P is for Poyer

Safety Jordan Poyer had a great season in 2022, with the team only losing one game that he played in — which was the divisional game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Poyer loves playing football and he showed it last year against the Kansas City Chiefs, where he had to take a van to Arrowhead because he wasn’t cleared to fly due to a rib injury. Most thought that Poyer was going to leave in free agency, but the team was able to get a deal done. Now the trio of Hyde, Poyer, and White can all take the field together in a game for the first time since Thanksgiving Day in 2021.

Q is for Questions

Buffalo fields a talented football team, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some questions needing to be answered before seriously competing for a Super Bowl. The one we keep coming back to is obviously who starts at middle linebacker, but there are other questions. For example: Is everything truly okay with Stefon Diggs? Are issues going to arise if the Bills begin losing football games? What about offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey — can he take the next step as a play caller in the NFL?

R is for Rousseau

Greg Rousseau is entering his third season in the league, and it’s time for him to take the next step in his career. He appeared as if he was about to take that next step but an ankle injury derailed his progress last season. Groot has the capabilities to get double-digit sacks, and standing 6’6” he is a challenge for quarterbacks to throw over when he gets his hands up. One of the struggles for the Bills has been the defensive line generating pressure without blitzing, and Rousseau has to factor in huge if that’s going to change.

S is for Stefon

All the talk of the offseason was about how unhappy receiver Stefon Diggs was in Buffalo. He was excused for one mandatory practice but that was enough for the media to spin the narrative that Diggs didn’t want to be in Buffalo any longer. Enough so that Diggs had to personally say that he wants to remain with the Bills for his career. Since he cam to Orchard Park, NY, Diggs has had 1,000-yards and at least eight touchdowns each season. He’s one of the best receivers in the entire league, so expect him to come back even better and hungrier this season.

T is for Tre’Davious

Cornerback Tre’Davious White has a full offseason under his belt after coming back from his ACL injury during the second half of last season. If the team wants the defense to succeed, then White has to return to his Pro Bowl-caliber form. White will have tough competition right out of the gates lining up against wide receiver Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets. White will also be lining up against the likes of Tyreek Hill, Jamar Chase, and other top-notch receivers in the league.

U is for Underdogs?

It seems weird to say but the Bills have the underdog mentality heading into the season. All the talk has been about Aaron Rodgers and how he’s going to lead the New York Jets back to relevancy with their impressive roster of young players. When it’s not the Jets it’s the Miami Dolphins and how Tua Tagovailoa is healthier than even, and was an MVP favorite before his concussions. Everyone has been discrediting the Bills even though their roster is possibly stronger than it was last season. There’s nothing wrong playing with a chip on your shoulder, and the Bills are out to prove why that’s the case.

V is for Von

The prize signing of the offseason last year was Von Miller signing with the Buffalo Bills and trying to become the first player to win a Super Bowl playing for three different teams. Miller was a force on the edge last season and was a big reason the team was able to close out the game against the Chiefs last year. Then, Miller tore his ACL on Thanksgiving and the line just couldn’t generate the same pressure without him. Buffalo will have to endure the loss of Miller for at least four games to start the season, but expect Miller to make an impact once he returns.

W is for Washington

That is, defensive line/assistant head coach Eric Washington. Sean McDermott will call the defense, but expect Washington to have a lot of input during the week when the team is planning. The defensive line has struggled pretty often in Buffalo and Washington has to get the most out them. If he does, then perhaps he has a defensive coordinator position in his future.

X if for the KnoX-Factor

We’re of course talking about tight end Dawson Knox who had a difficult season emotionally after the tragic passing of his brother. With the attention from defenses going to the likes of Stefon Diggs and Dalton Kincaid, there’s an opportunity for Knox to have a solid season. He had six touchdowns in 2022, but has the ability to approach double-digit touchdowns. Knox is also a reliable asset in run blocking and pass protection.

Y is for TY-rel

Tyrel Dodson appears to be the leading candidate for the MIKE linebacker position, and fans are nervous to say the least. Dodson is set to enter his fourth year in the league but this would be his first season entering Week 1 as the starter. It’s not that Dodson is a subpar player, but sometimes he finds himself in the wrong place that leads to chunk plays by the opposing offense. We saw it in the preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers where Dodson got caught, and it lead to a long touchdown run. Dodson needs to live up to his potential or else teams are going to target him a lot.

Last but not least Z is for Oszvart

Now why are we talking about strength and conditioning assistant Jason Oszvart. Well, he has a Z in his last name that’s why. Overall however, it’s a long and grueling season, especially now that teams play an extra game. It will important for these players to be at their peak when it comes to strength and conditioning to prevent injuries. The Buffalo Bills are in for a difficult season based on their schedule. The entire team will need to play its best week in and week out if it hopes of to make it to Las Vegas in February for the Super Bowl.