2012 NFL PREVIEW: BUFFALO BILLS
June 14, 2012INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
KELCI BAKER EIHSS SPORTS
Last year: 6-10, 4th in AFC East, missed playoffs
It's been 12 long years since the last time the Bills have been in the playoffs but with new arrivals Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in the offseason, they hope to turn that around. After three years under general manager Buddy Nix and Coach Chan Gailey, the team is finally seeing some results and have drive to be a force in the AFC wild-card picture. The Bills are hoping to transfer the momentum they had during the 5 and 2 start of last season, and stay healthy. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled when injuries took him away from seven starts and that’s a big reason Buffalo lost eight of their last nine games. Putting a unique twist on the offense is coordinator Gailey who also worked with the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. In rankings, the Bills made progress, from 25th to 14th in yards gained and 28th to 14th in points scored. The offense is making leaps in bounds while the defense clearly had more than one weak spot. Yielding 5938 yards and a all-time second-worst 434 points, they were coaxed into firing coordinator George Edwards and promoting Dave Wannstedt.
Gailey isn't the only offensive coordinator for the Bills. Curtis Modkins is also in the mix and the two have decided to use a spread attack. Fitzpatrick has 24 touchdown passes and a league-high 23 interceptions to his name. Stevie Johnson, a free agent wide receiver was used to not only increase momentum but maintain it. Averaging more than 5 yards a carry behind a new and improved line were Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, giving Buffalo more ground game than anything. What's to be determined is left tackle and potentially center if Eric Wood doesn't recover quickly enough from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The left tackle spot will be fought for by second-round pick Cordy Glenn and second-year pro Chris Hairston. Without their best lineman in Wood, the Bills struggled.
Buffalo plays in a 4-3 defensive style under coordinator Wannstedt. The sometimes anemic pass rush gets a boost from Williams and Anderson who also have a combined 88.5 career sacks. As a team, the Bills had 29 as opponents completed 63.3% of their passes for 30 touchdowns. The Bills have high hopes when it comes to their defense because Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams is returning 100% after foot surgery. The No. 3 overall pick in last years’ draft, Marcell Dareus will have to avoid the ever looming sophomore slump in order for the Bills to truly dominate. Stephon Gilmore will also have to work in order to get a starting position.
Consistency is the one word that describes Buffalo’s special teams and are led by Bruce DeHaven. Re-signing after free agency (despite missing eight games with a broken shoulder) is one of the NFL's best kickers in Ryan Lindell. The team will be using John Potter as a kickoff specialist who was a seventh-round pick. Returning for his 12th season is punter Brian Moorman as well as Justin Rogers who is up and coming as a kickoff returner with a 28.7 average.
The hiring of quarterbacks coach David Lee and tight ends coach Pete Metzelaars, a former Bills player, were well accepted for the team. Wannstedt is highly accomplished and will fit well as the defensive coach. Gailey coaches his spread offense with something of an iron fist. Although he is well respected, this being his third year, he needs to make sure he can get this generally young team to strive for greatness.
2012 Draft Recap
The Bills left the 2012 draft with a total of nine picks. Their best came with the departure of Demetress Bell, making way for T Cordy Glenn from Georgia. Even though he's a rookie, Glenn should be expected to start.
CB Stephon Gilmore. South Carolina
First round. 10th pick overall.
Even though he's a rookie, there's a big possibility he'll be able to start. With his speed and ability to cover deep, he's aggressive enough to take on any runner
T Cordy Glenn. Georgia
Second round. 41st pick overall.
WR T.J. Graham. North Carolina State
Third round. 69th pick overall.
Giving up a seventh-round pick, they moved up two spots in order to get him
OLB Nigel Bradham. Florida State
Fourth round. 105th pick overall.
Covering deep with his intense speed and his aggressiveness to take on runners, Bradham will be an asset to this Bills team
CB Ron Brooks. LSU
Fourth round. 124th pick overall.
With this pick, the Bills have added even more speed to cover the deep balls.
T Zebrie Sanders. Florida State
Fifth round. 144th pick overall.
More of a project player than Glenn
ILB Tank Carter. TCU
Fifth round. 147th pick overall.
Carter can play every linebacker position, making him a depth go-to player
G-C Mark Asper. Oregon
Sixth round. 178th pick overall.
While playing with one of the nation's top offenses he was mostly right guard
K John Potter. Western Michigan
Seventh round. 251st pick overall.
His ability during kickoff to get the ball through the end zone is what the Bills like with this pick
2012 BILLS SCHEDULE
After a red-hot start to the 2011 season, the Buffalo Bills fizzled and finished with a 6-10 mark. Despite that and the fact that they haven't qualified for the playoffs since 1999, there is a sense of optimism in Buffalo heading into the 2012 season as there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
The Bills made some big moves this offseason as they re-signed wide receiver Stevie Johnson, signed defensive end Mark Anderson and signed the crown jewel of free agency on the defensive side of the ball, Mario Williams.
With those additions, a strong draft and a fairly easy schedule at first glance, there is a very real chance that the Bills could end the longest active postseason drought in the league.
Week 1 9/9: Buffalo Bills at New York 1:00 ET, CBS
Week 2 9/16 Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills 1:00 ET, CBS
Week 3 9/23: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns 1:00 ET, CBS
Week 4 9/30: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills 1:00 ET, CBS
Week 5 10/07: Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers 4:15 ET CBS
Week 6 10/14: Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals 4:05 ET CBS
Week 7 10/21: Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills 1:00 ET CBS
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: 11/04 Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans 1:00 ET CBS
Week 10: 11/11 Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots 1:00 ET CBS
Week 11: 11/15 (Thurs) Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills 8:20 ET NFL Network
Week 12: 11/25 Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts 1:00 ET CBS
Week 13: 12/02 Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills 1:00 ET CBS
Week 14: 12/09 St. Louis Rams at Buffalo Bills 1:00 ET FOX
Week 15: 12/16 Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills 4:05 ET FOX
Week 16: 12/23 Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins 1:00 ET CBS
Week 17: 12/30 New York Jets at Buffalo Bills 1:00 ET CBS