An ongoing narrative this off-season in the NFL has been a love affair with the Buffalo Bills, who have been crowned by many as New England’s biggest threat in the AFC East and a sleeper Super Bowl contender. The consensus seems to be that the New York Jets window has closed and the Bills are ready to overtake them in the divisional standings. Where does the logic of this thinking come from?
Apparently Buffalo is going to have an elite defense this year despite finishing 26th in team defense last season. The reason? They signed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to boost their defensive line and drafted corner Stephon Gilmore in the first round.
The problem is that Williams received the largest contract in NFL history for a defensive player despite having his tackles, sacks and forced fumbles decline every single year since 2008, while his missed games increased simultaneously.
- 2008 – 53 tackles, 12 sacks, 4 forced fumbles (missed 0 games)
- 2009 – 43 tackles, 9 sacks, 2 forced fumbles (missed 0 games)
- 2010 – 28 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble (missed 3 games due to injury)
- 2011 – 11 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble (missed 11 games due to injury)
Mark Anderson had 10 sacks last season for the New England Patriots but the red flag is that in the five seasons before he totaled 13.5 sacks. Kind of sounds like a one year Belichick wonder, no? Gilmore is a rookie and even Darrelle Revis, the best corner in the NFL didn’t have an enormous impact in his rookie season…certainly not enough to carry a defensive unit from 26th to the top five.
You can excuse my hesitance in crowning the Bills as an elite defense, especially when comparing them to the Jets. In case you were under some other misconception, the Jets finished 5th in the NFL in total defense last season and they added Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, Quinton Coples in the first round and Demario Davis in the third round. They are also coached by Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine who have a bit more of an impressive defensive pedigree in the NFL than Dave Wannstedt, the Bills current defensive coordinator.
Logic says the Jets will have a better defense than the Buffalo Bills. So the Bills must have a clear advantage on offense, right? Funny enough, everybody talks about the questions the Jets have at quarterback while ignoring the glaring question mark Buffalo has. Here are two sets of stats -
- 2009 – 8 starts, 4-4 record, 1,422 yards, 9 TDs, 10 INTs
- 2010 – 13 starts, 4-9 record, 3,000 yards, 23 TDs, 15 INTs
- 2011 – 16 starts, 6-10 record, 3,832 yards, 24 TDs, 23 INTs
- 2009 – 15 starts, 8-7 record, 2,444 yards, 12 TDs, 20 INTs – 2 road playoff wins
- 2010 – 16 starts, 11-5 record, 3,291 yards, 17 TDs, 13 INTs – 2 road playoff wins
- 2011 – 16 starts, 8-8 record, 3,474 yards, 26 TDs, 18 INTs
Shouldn’t there be more questions about quarterback 1 than quarterback 2? Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career highlights are playing 3 good games in September last season and he is considered a sure thing at quarterback? I’ll take Mark Sanchez, who didn’t just out-perform Fitzpatrick statistically last season but beat him twice head to head and has four road playoff wins to boot.
Surrounding Fitzpatrick, Buffalo has an average group of receivers, and an offensive line that doesn’t have anybody near Nick Mangold or D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s caliber of talent, and a very good duo of running backs in Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller who have durability issues.
On the whole, everybody is falling in love with a team who lost 8 of their last 9 games last season, hasn’t had a winning record since 2004, went 1-5 against the AFC East last season and is led by a Head Coach who has never won a playoff game. Buffalo is 2-10 over the past two years in the division and they are supposed to pressure New England this season?
If you remove the anti-Sanchez/I hate Rex Ryan because he talks too much bias, there is no logical reason to pick Buffalo to finish ahead of the Jets this season. The Jets project to have a better defense, a better quarterback, a better offensive line, a better group of receivers and to play better in the division.