To say the Buffalo Bills have had a lot of turnover on offense is an understatement. New quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen have rotated through at a deafening pace since the Super Bowl era. You can thank free agency for some of it, upgrades for others, but the Bills haven't fielded the same offense in back-to-back seasons in 20 years.
According to BuffaloBills.com, the 2016 season marks the first time since 1996 that the Bills will return their entire starting offensive line from the previous season. Glenn Parker, Jerry Ostroski, Kent Hull, Ruben Brown, and John Fina held down the fort back then. This year, the duo of Seantrel Henderson and Jordan Mills will join John Miller, Eric Wood, Richie Incognito, and Cordy Glenn as likely starters heading into the season as they did a year ago.
It goes beyond the offensive line, too. Since Jim Kelly retired at the end of the 1996 season, only four quarterbacks have led the team in passing in consecutive seasons; Doug Flutie, Drew Bledsoe, Trent Edwards, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tyrod Taylor hopes to add his name to the list in 2016. At the running back position, there has been more continuity as Antowain Smith, Travis Henry, Willis McGahee, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and C.J. Spiller all had consecutive seasons leading the team on the ground. Wide receivers have been much steadier with Eric Moulds holding the top spot for eight straight seasons before relinquishing the mantle to Lee Evans for three years. Stevie Johnson also had three consecutive seasons leading the team in receiving and Sammy Watkins has done it each of the past two years.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman told the team's website that Tyrod's return, as well as the other starters', will allow the group to skip the normal breaking-in period and move on to more productive pursuits.
"I think this year with Tyrod coming as a starter it's going to give us an opportunity to build that kind of cohesion throughout the spring," said Roman. "We'll get more time on task."
"I expect just a more focused offense," Incognito added. "We came in last year and we were all new. We had a ton of new pieces. We got to OTAs and we didn't have a starting quarterback. We had a new running back. We had a new offensive line."
"We got to OTAs and I started at right guard and then moved to left guard," Incognito continued. "We were all trying to fit as pieces of the puzzle. At that point you're just trying to learn G-Ro's system. It's huge and so complex the run game, so you're in learning mode and just trying to survive and get to the next day."
"Hopefully we'll be able to build a lot this spring instead of installing and learning new plays we're building on what we already have," said Wood. "We can be more of a complete offense."
With Taylor, Watkins, LeSean McCoy, and the offensive line intact including tight end Charles Clay, the Bills hope continuity will do for them what it did for the 1996 team: lead to a playoff berth.