The Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 last season with a 9-7 record. They finished above .500 for the third time in those 18 seasons. However, the jubilation was short-lived after they lost in the wild-card round.
In addition, this season does not look too positive. They traded their starting quarterback and replaced him with raw first round draft pick rookie or veteran with just a few games of starting experience for a non-playoff team.
It will likely get a lot worse before it gets better for the Bills. They have begun the rebuilding process and need to take some steps backward before going forward.
Here is a breakdown of the Bills for the 2018 season.
Sean McDermott is entering his second season as head coach of the Bills. Prior to joining the Bills, he was the defensive coordinator of the Panthers the previous six seasons. Before joining the Panthers, he spent 12 seasons with the Eagles as defensive coordinator (two seasons), linebacker coach (one), secondary coach (one), assistant defensive backs coach (three), defensive quality control (two), assistant to the head coach (one) and scouting coordinator (two). He got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at William & Mary in 1998.
Round 1, Pick 7 – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Allen is an athletic quarterback with a big arm. Question marks about his accuracy and decision making make him a mercurial boom or bust prospect.
Round 1, Pick 16 – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Edmunds is a huge and athletic linebacker. He has every-down, high-impact abilities. He can play the run or the pass but is better playing downhill.
Round 3, Pick 96 – Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford. Phillips is a productive interior defender. He may not have the strength or balance to play the nose or the athleticism to play the three-technique, but he finds ways to make plays.
Round 4, Pick 121 – Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State. Johnson does not have ideal size nor speed but has the first-step quickness and physicality to be a quality cornerback.
Round 5, Pick 154 – Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville State. Neal is a physical, versatile defensive back. He is best around the line of scrimmage in run support or press coverage.
Round 5, Pick 166 – Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech. Teller is a big, strong, mauling offensive lineman. He lacks the athleticism to get out in space but has starter ability in a power-run scheme.
Round 6, Pick 187 – Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson. McCloud is a versatile athlete that didn’t have an ideal 40-yard dash at the combine. He is an offensive weapon without a position.
Round 7, Pick 255 – Austin Proehl, WR, North Carolina. Proehl is an undersized son of a former NFL player. He is a smart receiver with good hands, but nothing else really stands out as an NFL player.
C Russell Bodine (Bengals) – Bodine started every game for the Bengals over the last four seasons. He should be the favorite to replace Eric Wood in the starting lineup.
CB Phillip Gaines (Chiefs) – Gaines is a fast and aggressive depth cornerback. He may be the favorite to start in the slot.
RB Chris Ivory (Jaguars) – Ivory is a big, powerful, between-the-tackles runner. He is the short-yardage complement to LeSean McCoy. Should McCoy miss games this season, Ivory is the likely starter.
DT Star Lotulelei (Panthers) – Lotulelei is a big nose tackle. He is a powerful, run stopper that controls the line of scrimmage. He is not a great pass rusher but will help set up the edge rushers for sack opportunities.
QB A.J. McCarron (Bengals) – McCarron is an accurate pocket passer with very limited experience in four NFL seasons. The Bills signed him to compete for the starting quarterback spot after the initial wave of signings.
LB Trent Murphy (Redskins) – Murphy is a long, tweener type of edge defender. He has pass rush ability and should play more at the line of scrimmage than covering in space.
OL Marshall Newhouse (Raiders) – Newhouse is an experienced and versatile offensive lineman. He has mostly played tackle and has started 34 of his last 38 games. He should beat out someone for a starting spot at either tackle or guard spot.
Quarterback – 17 Josh Allen; Running Back – 25 LeSean McCoy; Fullback – 42 Patrick DiMarco; Wide Receiver – 13 Kelvin Benjamin; Wide Receiver – 11 Zay Jones; Tight End – 85 Charles Clay; Left Tackle – 73 Dion Dawkins; Left Guard – 76 John Miller; Center – 66 Russell Bodine; Right Guard – 62 Vladimir Ducasse; Right Tackle – 79 Jordan Mills
Defensive End – 90 Shaq Lawson; Defensive End – 55 Jerry Hughes; Defensive Tackle – 95 Kyle Williams; Defensive Tackle – 98 Star Lotulelei; Linebacker – 58 Matt Milano; Linebacker – 49 Tremaine Edmunds; Linebacker – 57 Lorenzo Alexander; Cornerback – 27 Tre’Davious White; Cornerback – 22 Vontae Davis; Safety – 23 Micah Hyde; Safety – 21 Jordan Poyer
Kicker – 4 Steven Hauschka; Punter – 6 Colton Schmidt; Long Snapper – 69 Reid Ferguson
Who is the starting quarterback Week 1?
Even before the Bills traded Tyrod Taylor to the Browns, there was a lot of speculation who their starting quarterback would be this season. When they made the trade, the focus came to a short list of free agents and the draft. When they were unable to land one of the big fish, they eventually signed McCarron and traded up a few spots to take Josh Allen. They are in a battle with second-year fifth-round draft pick Nathan Peterman.
To Answer That Question
McCarron has no real equity built in the NFL, Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of his only start last year and Allen was taken seventh overall. It is unlikely Allen will really be NFL ready when the season starts in September, but the Bills may not have a choice. McCarron should get the first opportunity to earn the first-team reps. However, Allen will likely be the starter in Week 1.
The Bills finally broke 18-year playoff drought last season. However, they should be a few years away from making it again. They overachieved last season, but shouldn’t again in 2018. They could start the season 0-8 and be well out of the picture before their Week 11 bye. There is a greater likelihood that the Bills go 0-16 this season than the Browns.