Heading into the 2019 season, analysts had no idea what to expect from the Buffalo Bills. The Bills had a young roster headlined by 2018 first-round pick Josh Allen. There was optimism around the young starter, but there was no clear prediction on exactly where the Bills would end up.
Throughout the 2019 season, the Buffalo Bills fielded a stout defense and an offense that was good enough to get the team close wins. Looking forward into 2020, the franchises’ expectations have to be raised, with an eye on contending for the AFC crown with the likes of the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs.
As we head into the 2020 season, let’s take a look through each unit and see what stacks up as a strength, to-be-seen, and weakness of the team.
At quarterback, there is no secret as to who the starter is: That role belongs to Josh Allen, the strong-armed gunslinger out of Wyoming. While Allen is the no-brainer starter here, this does not come without some areas of improvement.
Allen was much improved from his rookie season. Unsurprisingly, Allen had his share of struggles normal for rookies. Admittedly, there were some real concerning signs throughout that season. Allen was wildly inaccurate at times, something most scouts would tell you is not surprising. Watching from the second deck at the now former New Era Field, Allen missed multiple open throws against the Baltimore Ravens. This is something Allen continues to struggle with. Accuracy begins with footwork. The scouting report on the former Wyoming Cowboy is while he has a rocket for an arm, he has sloppy footwork which often causes his ball to sail. This is less than ideal.
The good news for Bills fans is this is correctable, but the accuracy is a huge concern at the moment. Allen is a tough quarterback with a determination to win games, something you want in your franchise quarterback, so Sean McDermott and his staff will ride with him as long as possible. At some point, however, they need him to be the main reason they win, not win in spite of him.
Group Evaluation: To-Be-Seen
The Running Back room might be the most settled of the offense, in terms of talent. The clear-cut starter in the backfield here is Devin Singletary, who averaged 5.1 yards/carry and produced 775 yards on the ground. With a full season as the teams’ featured back, there is little doubt Singletary will eclipse the 1,000 yard mark, but how big of an impact can he make?
What works against Singletary is his size; at 5’7″ there are concerns about his durability long-term. Mix that in with his high usage at Florida Atlantic, and the pundits run wild with durability concerns. Truly breaking it down, however, Singletary has a lot in the tank and plenty to offer the Bills offense. The former Owl product is tough to take down due to his shiftiness and ability to cut and move up the field. He is also a tough guy to bring down. Even for his size, Singletary presents a toughness while toting the rock and commands multiple defensive players to take him down. With higher usage, his statistics and output should improve.
Adding Zack Moss to the mix only bolsters the Bills’ backfield, with a college phenom that has proven an ability to make the big play. At Utah, Moss eclipsed over 4,000 yards rushing wile racking up 38 touchdowns on the ground. While most backup running backs offer something in the passing game, Moss would not be considered much of a threat in the passing game.
It will be interesting to see the balance the Bills coaching staff strikes between Singletary and Moss, as they are similar running backs. Either way, these are two talented backs that will pose a problem for opposing defenses.
Group Evaluation: Strength
The Wide Receiver corps for the Bills is a group that has gotten significantly better over the last couple of off-seasons, with the additions of Cole Beasley, John Brown, and most recently, star receiver Stefon Diggs. Between those three, teams are looking at a formidable trio that can be a threat in the passing game and help the young Josh Allen continue to progress.
Beyond those three, however, there are questions about who can step up and provide an impact. Rookie Gabriel Davis out of UCF is a high-ceiling play-maker on the outside who should slot in as the number four receiver. Beyond that, the questions begin.
However, as most know, the last couple of wide receiver slots come down to mostly special teams ability, and the two guys most locked in on special teams are Isaiah McKenzie and Andre Roberts. Roberts is likely locked into the roster due to his strong play on the special teams unit, which leaves one spot likely available. This will come down to whether or not the Bills coaching staff values Williams’ frame and ability, or McKenzie’s ability to slot in on the return game.
Overall, the unit is strong, and should provide no excuse for Allen to be sufficient in the passing game.
Group Evaluation: Strength
During the 2019 off-season, the Bills signed Tyler Kroft to a three-year, $18.75 million dollar contract, and did not get the output they hoped for when signing the former Cincinnati Bengal to that contract. in his first season on the roster, catching only six passes for 71 yards and one score in 11 games played.
The returning starter in the group remains Dawson Knox, their third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The former Ole Miss Rebel product struggled at times with drops, as well as getting open to present Josh Allen clear passing windows. The tight end role on this team remains a glaring weakness on the offensive unit, as it puts a lot of pressure on the wide receivers to produce to make up for the lack production from this unit.
Group Evaluation: Weakness
The offensive line unit is the biggest question-mark facing the offense heading into 2020. The offensive line is centered by Mitch Morse, a player who has struggled with staying on the field due to concussions. Around him, he has much of the same line as last season. In most cases that is a good thing for continuity. However, due to the struggles of the offensive line last season, that might not be a good thing.
The Bills paid Left Tackle Dion Dawkins pretty handsomely during the off-season, agreeing to a four-year contract extension worth $60 million with $34 million guaranteed. While Dawkins is a solid tackle, this was a lofty price tag. Dawkins is the least of the offensive line concerns, however, as Quinton Spain is an inconsistent left guard, and Jon Feliciano is less than ideal on the other side. Cody Ford had his struggles as a rookie, which is not unexpected, so the jury is still out.
Overall as a unit, the Bills offensive line gave up 40 sacks, which leaves a lot to be desired with a mobile quarterback. There needs to be massive improvement from this unit moving forward to keep up with the upgrades throughout the rest of this offense.
Group Evaluation: Weakness
Editors Note: Featured Image is from BuffaloBills.com