We are officially in the endgame of the off-season. Thursday July 25th, less than two weeks from now, the Buffalo Bills will be in training camp. All of the draft picks, free agent signings, and attempted trades have lead to this moment. All of the off-season preparation, work, and effort will be on display. Hope has never been higher for a recent Bills season than it is for this one. With that being said, let’s take a look at what the 2019 Buffalo Bills offense will be bringing to the table.
Looking at the 2019 Buffalo Bills Offense
Part of the reason for the hope fans have for this year’s Bills team, is the mix of established veteran talent and rising young playmakers. On both sides of the ball, the Bills have levels of depth and talent in a variety of positions. The front office did well this off-season in addressing areas of need on offense via free agency and the draft. Those moves coupled with anticipated jumps in play from some players already on the team, have the city of Buffalo excited. This year fans are looking to swap their previously broken hearts of seasons past, for broken tables.
The Offense Overall
When looking at the Buffalo Bills offense as a whole, there are multiple reasons to be optimistic. To begin with, the wide receivers and tight ends received a major upgrade. Secondly, the Bills offensive line is no longer a dumpster fire and actually resembles an NFL offensive line. While the running back timeshare is somewhat of a question mark, at the very least there is no shortage of options. Lastly, there is quarterback Josh Allen whom everything hinges on.
Despite not having a true number one receiver on the team (thanks, Antonio Brown) the Bills are far from poor at this position. Second-year wide receiver Robert Foster has stud-level potential and is poised to have a breakout year. Furthermore, the signings of John Brown and Cole Beasley add dimensions and versatility to the offensive scheme.
Brown’s ability to separate and take the top off the defense along with Foster means opposing defenses will have to honor the deep ball. Having to honor the deep ball means more room for Beasley to work with underneath. And if Zay Jones can be some semblance of what the Bills drafted him to be, you’re looking at a well-rounded receiving corps.
The Bills also have underlying pieces who could add value as well. Isaiah McKenzie provided some pop at times last year, and receiver D’haquille ‘Duke’ Williams crushed the CFL in 2018. Also, rookie receiver David Sills is an extremely intriguing player to watch and is someone to keep an eye on.
The tight end position received some focus this off-season. The signing of Tyler Kroft may not have made all the headlines, but he’s a legitimate receiving option and touchdown threat when healthy. He’s also injury prone and is currently out with a broken foot suffered during OTAs. Hooray.
The Kroft injury opens the door for a training camp battle between the other tight ends. Lee Smith is a blocking tight end so his role will most likely stay the same. This leaves the starting tight end duties to either incumbent tight end Jason Croom or rookie Dawson Knox.
Croom put together a decent enough season last year, but the signing of Kroft and the drafting of Knox shows the front office felt tight end was still a glaring need. Knox is known as more of a receiving threat but his blocking is better than advertised. Plus, he can stake his claim to the position right away due to the opportunity that exists. Once Kroft comes back, the playing rotation will surely change. How much it changes depends on the productivity in Kroft’s absence.
Here is a look back at the Bills offensive line from 2018. There is literally almost nowhere to go but up for this position in 2019 with the major overhaul it received. The signing of center Mitch Morse stabilizes the line and was one of the best additions this off-season. Morse is also the only player on the line who we really know is set in stone as a starter.
Tackle Ty Nsekhe, center/guard Spencer Long, guard Jon Feliciano, guard Quinton Spain, and tackle LaAdrian Waddle were all signed during free agency. That’s a lot of additions for one positional grouping. That’s also an indicator of how much work the front offense felt was needed here. Then in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft, the Bills drafted guard/tackle Cody Ford.
The Bills o-line is now versatile and has a level of depth. It may not be star-level depth, but it’s depth nonetheless. Dion Dawkins had a great 2017 and was the starting left tackle in 2018. To put it lightly, his performance regressed. Bringing in Nsekhe gives the Bills insurance in case Dawkins continues to underperform. On the other side, the Bills will look to position rookie Cody Ford at right tackle. Ford possesses a tremendous physicality to his game but lacks some polish and technique. The lack of polish and technique is why some scouts viewed him more as a guard in the NFL than as a tackle. Nsekhe also provides insurance here.
Ford and Dawkins should come out of camp as starters with Spain, Long, Nsekhe, and sophomore guard Wyatt Teller competing for the other starting spots. Expect Spain to nail a starting guard spot. Leaving the Bills to think short-term with Ford at guard, or long-term with him at tackle.
Some really handsome writer did a piece on the Bills running backs situation. It’s a great piece and again, he’s really handsome.
Heading into camp the Bills have LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon, and rookie Devin Singletary all vying for playing time. Expect the Bills to ride the hot hand and use a committee/rotational based system here with McCoy getting the largest share. The Bills running back timeshare could very much look like New England’s from years past. Playing the right man in the right situation and using multiple players in a variety of formations and looks. All with the idea of keeping the defense guessing and preventing them from keying in on one player or pre-snap read.
This position is not titled “quarterback” here because there is no need for that. For the Bills, this position, much like this offense, lives and dies with Josh Allen. The direction the front office took this off-season was to support Josh Allen.
Josh Allen was pressured on 43% of his dropbacks last season, second highest in the NFL. He was bereft of talent to throw to and his touted running ability was as much a survival mechanism as it was a talent. So the front office went out and got him big strong guys for protection and shiny new toys to throw to. Now we get to see what he can do with that.
Allen can throw the ball a mile and the Bills offense will look to take advantage of this with the moves they made and plays they can now design. The idea for this year is receivers and tight ends will get down the field, the line will be able to maintain protection for longer, and Allen will complete large chunk plays to move the ball. Or, the defense is spread out trying to cover and Allen can then make plays with his legs. Having Beasley and the new running backs will also allow Allen to have short easy completions to make underneath, and screens to keep the defense honest.
Last year Allen averaged 20-plus yard throws 22% of the time. The NFL average was 13%. The Bills are going to push the ball down the field in 2019 even more now that they have better pieces to fit their philosophies. Allen will be the triggerman of those philosophies.
The Best Buffalo Bills Offense in Years?
As the 2019 season inches ever closer, fans in Buffalo grow ever more anxious and excited. The Buffalo Bills offense underwent surgery this off-season and came out looking great, but has yet to actually play. They now possess pieces that could be household names by the end of the season if all goes according to plan. Buffalo has a direction and a vision they’re trying to bring to life. This year, we find out if that direction and vision yields results.
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