Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Buffalo Bills. [full archive here].
Season Recap – The Buffalo Bills began the 2010 season 0-8, and there were many people who believed they would end up winless. Right around mid-season is when the Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick began to look the part for the Bills and Chan Gailey’s new look offense. Although Buffalo finished the season 4-12, Fitzpatrick, along with 1,000 yard wide out Steve Johnson, showed no signs of quit and stayed competitive in many games: especially the OT thrillers with Pittsburgh and Baltimore. With a year of experience under Gailey look for Buffalo to improve in 2011.
1. Right Tackle – In Gailey’s offense, which consists of multiple shotgun formations using four and five receiver sets and a zone blocking scheme on running plays, offensive lineman are very important. Seventh round LT Demetrius Bell performed well, but Buffalo had no answer across from him. Cornell Green, Erik Pears, and Mansfield Wrotto all took their shots at RT, yet none performed worthy enough for a spot next season. Upgrading the position would pay huge dividends for the entire offensive unit.
2. Quarterback – Fitzpatrick, when inserted into the starting lineup in week 2, performed above expectations, but he is not the long term answer at the most important position in all of sports. Buffalo can select a young prospect atop the draft, have him sit under Fitzpatrick for 2 seasons, and then, hopefully, be set for the next 10 years.
3. Defensive Tackle – I say “defensive tackle”, because there is some flexibility in what Buffalo could do. The Bills spent two early round selections in 2010 on NT Torell Troup and DE Alex Carrington, and believe they both have potential (shown through the release of Marcus Stroud). Pro-bowl defensive lineman Kyle Williams is capable of playing either DE or NT, but his position probably won’t be established until after the offseason moves are complete. Buffalo also has a good mix of veterans along the front with Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson. Adding either a stud DE or NT will help solidify the front 3.
4. Inside Linebacker – ILB’s, who do most of the tackling inside, are placed at a premium in the 3-4 defense Buffalo runs. Paul Posluszny and Akin Ayodele are set to become free agents and Andra Davis won’t have much left at 32. Adding an ILB will help improve Buffalo and their 24th ranked defense.
5. Tight End – Buffalo needs to grab a legit starting tight end this offseason. Shawn Nelson was supposed to be the guy, but has since disappointed (a failed drug test doesn’t help). A chain-mover opposite Steve Johnson would be nice and with a strong free agent class, Buffalo might be able to get their guy.