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Who needs to step in for the Buffalo Bills to reach their potential?  – Buffalo Bills Blog


BUFFALO, NY — Six years ago, coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane were paired up to rebuild the Buffalo Bills, a team that was largely stuck in the bottom half of the division with just two seasons left. winners since 2000.

The Bills had the sixth-worst winning percentage from 2000 to 2016 (41.2%), but in McDermott and Beane’s first season, the team went 9-7 and surprisingly made the playoffs. Three more winning seasons in the next four followed, including two consecutive division titles. However, the foundation was laid in that 2017 season with new additions including the signing of freelance safety guards Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde and the drafting of rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White in the first round.

This year, it’s hard to find a leaderboard or roster that doesn’t have the team as the Super Bowl favorite — but it’s on paper. And while the core is in place following the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Bills will need multiple players to achieve their goals. Here are some players to watch.

Davis captured national attention last season after his four touchdown performance in the playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He has the opportunity to lock down the No. 2 receiver role behind Stefon Diggs and should be a popular fantasy option. The Bills didn’t get Davis on the court early enough last season. How will he handle the increased playing time, the pressure and a vital role against Diggs? Can he have his first season with 600+ receiving yards and/or 7+ touchdowns? Beane is a big believer.

“The thing about Gabe is, every time his number is called, and I’m talking about his rookie year, every time his number is called, he answers the bell,” Beane said. “He worked hard. He came here, I think every day. …Nothing seems too big for Gabe every time you give him more.

Protecting quarterback Josh Allen is the No. 1 priority for the Bills offense. The quarterback was hit on 92 plays during the 2021 regular season, seventh among quarterbacks. Part of that is down to the amount of football he’s been running — third among quarterbacks last year. The Bills found their offensive line optimal in the final quarter of last season, and Allen went four straight games without being fired at the end of the season (including the playoff win over the New England Patriots) , which marked the longest streak of his career. .

Here’s where Brown comes in: Although he didn’t initially start in his rookie year, he started 10 games. Consistency was a problem, however. In his first four starts, he had a 91.1% pass block win rate (PBWR), but after missing two games on the COVID-19 roster, he finished the season with a PBWR of 84. .3%, the lowest among the Bills’ tackles during that span. .

Brown, who did not participate in the offseason program due to injury, will need to be more reliable for the offense to reach its full potential under new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

The Bills did not trade to select Elam in the first round so he would not compete for a starting job. As White continues to recover from a torn left ACL, Elam and 2020 seventh-round pick Dane Jackson will start camp as starters at the outside corner.

For Elam, joining last year’s No.1 defense will come with significant responsibility and early pressure. He’ll be competing with Jackson for that starting job once White returns, and expectations will be high.

“Obviously you spend a lot of time watching the No. 1 pick. Always take a look and see how he progresses and watch him myself and then talk to the coaches. But he definitely stands out,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said when asked which new players he was focusing on. “…I can’t say a single guy other than we need Kaiir to step in and play well for us early.”

Beane, who was hired in 2017 after the draft, hadn’t invested a high pick at cornerback before taking on Elam this year, thanks to stellar play from White, Poyer and Hyde. But the unknowns surrounding White’s return make Elam’s development all the more important.

Edmunds is entering a contract year. The team has chosen his fifth-year option, but he is expected to become a free agent in 2023. In ESPN senior writer Jeremy Fowler’s recent survey of 50 league managers, coaches, scouts and players, Edmunds was ranked seventh. -best off-ball linebacker.

“An elite physical talent who took a few years to become a signalman and nerve center of defense,” said an NFC scout. “His skill set has always felt more natural as a [weakside linebacker]but he improved in his quick reaction, angles and ability to defeat blocks to become a solid [middle linebacker].”

His numbers don’t always flash, but the Bills consider him an asset. Perhaps the biggest area Edmunds needs to work on is making more splatter plays, with Frazier noting that would help “take us to another level as a defense.” Edmunds has four career interceptions, tied for 12th among linebackers since 2018, and two forced fumbles, tied for 78th in his position group.

McKenzie has re-signed with the Bills to a two-year, $4.4 million deal, and he’ll get the chance to compete with veteran Jamison Crowder for the slot receiver role Cole Beasley had all season. last.

While McKenzie’s speed has always been impressive, new coordinator Ken Dorsey’s offense will require him to be a more complete receiver and road runner. The battle between McKenzie and Crowder will be one to watch during camp, and McKenzie’s history with the team should help.

“I want that chemistry [Allen and Beasley] had, even though they had been together for about three years,” McKenzie said. They’ve built great chemistry, and that’s what I want with Josh. When camp comes around I want to keep communicating with him and keep learning from him and just helping the team win the best I can.

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