Throughout the offseason, I will be running through a series of Q&As with our fellow SB Nation blogs across the AFC, checking up on the state of affairs for the Jets’ conference rivals.
We continue with a team in Western New York that just posted its first season with double-digit wins in the 21st century — the Buffalo Bills. Corey Giacovelli of Buffalo Rumblings was able to answer a few questions regarding Buffalo’s 2019 campaign.
1. Josh Allen took a nice step forward in his second season. Where would you rank his performance among starting quarterbacks in 2019? In what areas can he improve going forward, and ultimately, what do you think his peak will be?
I would put Allen’s second season in the middle of the pack for quarterbacks because there was a lot of good but at times a lot of bad during the season. He had a lot of issues with ball security this year when he would become a runner outside of the pocket which would put the team in a bad position. However, his accuracy this year on his short and intermediate throws were much better than in his rookie year. Allen showed some nerves in the fourth quarter against the Texans in the Wild Card game but he did drive his team down the field to force overtime. He also had a big third down conversion in overtime but a penalty later in the drive took them out of field goal range.
As for his peak, I truly believe he can be a top 10 quarterback in the league due to his running abilities and his strong arm. To do so, he must become stronger with the football and we would also like to see more accuracy on his deep balls where he ranked in the bottom half of the league.
2. The Jets took Quinnen Williams at No. 3 in the 2019 Draft. Six picks later, the Bills made Ed Oliver the second defensive tackle to come off the board. What was the initial reaction to the selection among fans, and how would you summarize Oliver’s rookie season?
Oliver got off to a slow start but his rookie season can be deemed as a success. Buffalo does a lot of rotating with their defensive tackles so Oliver was not on the field as often as one would expect. At one point in the season, he was benched of his starting role but that ended up being a blessing for him. After that, he played with new emotion and you could tell how hard he was working on every play. Ed was getting to the quarterback for sacks but also making plays in the run game. It is going to be exciting to see the jump that he makes going into his sophomore campaign.
3. Buffalo’s defense is stacked with talent and has had the success to match, ranking second in defensive DVOA in 2018 and sixth in 2019. The Bills are one of just two teams, along with the Ravens, to rank top-six in defensive DVOA in each of the past two seasons. Who do you think are the primary driving forces behind the elite success? Are there any areas where this unit can continue to improve?
The Bills have playmakers at all three levels of their defense that sets the tone. Up front this year is was former first round pick Shaq Lawson who really stepped up his game rushing off the edge this year getting to opposing quarterbacks for some big sacks. He also played extremely well keeping Lamar Jackson and Desaun Watson in check when it came to their scrambling abilities. In the middle is the general of the defense in linebacker Tremaine Edmunds who is going to the pro bowl in his second season. Edmunds can do it all and he is only 21 years old. He can rush, drop in coverage, and more importantly make open field tackles preventing big gains. Lastly, we have our shut down cornerback in Tre’Davious White who is set for a massive payday as he has developed into one of the best in the league. This defense is one of the best so I can not be picky but some more consistency stopping the running game would be nice.
4. Brandon Beane went out and grabbed Cole Beasley and John Brown in an effort to improve the supporting cast around Josh Allen, and both receivers set career highs in targets. How much of a positive impact did each player make? In what ways can the Bills continue to improve the skill position group around Allen?
Brown and Beasley were key figures in the development of Allen and it worked the other way as well. Brown set a career high in receiving yards and Beasley was under 60 yards from doing the same but he did not play in week 17 due to rest. Brown was the down the field target for Allen while Cole was the dependable slot guy that would always seem to get open. The one thing this team needs to help Allen though is a true number one receiver. He does not have a guy that he can can just throw the ball up to and trust them to win a 1v1 battle. The receivers on the team rely on their speed and route running to get open instead of their height and size.
5. The Bills overhauled their offensive line heading into 2019, adding three free agents on the interior and taking Cody Ford in the second round. How well did the unit perform in 2019, and do you anticipate any changes being made to the starting lineup entering 2020?
The unit performed extremely better than the unit the previous years. Allen had a lot more time in the pocket to diagnose defenses and to go through his reads. Even in the running game the unit did an excellent job blocking and even pulling to seal the edge. The one thing a lot of fans want to see is for Cody Ford to move inside to his natural position on the line. Ford did not play awful this year at right tackle but he is much more comfortable and it would benefit the team more if he moved over to guard.
6. If you could add one offensive and one defensive player from any point in Jets history to the current iteration of the Bills, who would you choose?
On defense give me Darrelle Revis in his first stint with the team. Buffalo already has one shutdown corner in White and if you give them another one with Revis in his prime on the other side of the field, it would be impossible for quarterbacks to throw the football. On offense give me Hall of Famer John Riggins. I’ll admit, I’m only 24 so I did some research for this question but having a hall of fame running back to add to the team with Devin Singletary would only benefit Josh Allen. Rushing for over 11 thousand yards in his career, Riggins would keep the offense on the field and move the chains keeping the defense fresh.