The Runner Sports

Are The Bills Good? Like Actually Good?

It’s been three days since the Buffalo Bills upset the Atlanta Falcons. So now that I have come down from cloud 9, I can address the elephant in the room and try to answer the real questions. Are the Bills a good team? Can they really win the AFC East? Could this be the season the longest current playoff drought in the NFL ends?

Before I dissect the X’s and O’s, you must first understand the complexity of this scenario. As most people know the Bills have not made the playoffs in 17 years. During those 17 years, they usually finished with a 7-9 or 8-8 record. So it is fair to say there haven’t been too many “exciting” moments over that span. With that being said, I was in awe (not in a good way) of the big debate that went down on Monday on a local radio station. They asked and discussed whether the win over the Falcons was the biggest win during the drought. Let that sink in for a moment….. There was an actual debate on whether a week 4 win over the previous season’s Superbowl runner-up was the biggest win in 17 years. This is how deprived the Bills fan base is for success.

So how did the Bills get to 3-1 and atop the AFC East through the first quarter of the season? Defense, defense , defense. They are allowing just over 13.5 points per game which is #1 in the NFL. The average is 22 points. That near 9 point difference is massive in the NFL. Offensively, they haven’t made many mistakes. They have thrown just 1 interception, haven’t lost a fumble and have a +6 turnover ratio which is tied for 2nd in the league. The Bills defense not allowing the other team to score and their offense not turning the ball over has equated to their 3-1 record. This isn’t the first time during the drought that they have started out hot, so let’s look at how they might be able to sustain this success or how it might fall apart.

Reasons For Staying Hot

  • Team attitude and preparation. I mentioned this is my earlier article this week that the culture appears to be changing in the locker room. You consistently hear the players talk about playing for each other, and focussing on each week one at a time. “This game was won starting back on Monday at practice” is being echoed daily. So far Coach McDermott has instilled the discipline and hard preparatory work ethic that he himself has been known for.
  • The defense is set up to bend but don’t break. The Bills harbor one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Coach McDermott and Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazer have taken the reigns off of them. Their sole purpose is to get into the backfield and they are very good at it. By getting consistent pressure from the front 4, it allows the remaining 7 defenders to stay in their collapsing zone coverage. They keep the ball in front of them and rarely give up big passing plays.
  • Tyrod Taylor doesn’t turn the ball over. It is true that isn’t usually the trait you want your QB to be best known for, but it is huge when you are in close games.

Reasons For Cooling Off

  • Injuries. So far the Bills have been very healthy compared to the rest of the league. That being said, there are a few positions they appear to have very little depth in. RB is a big one, if McCoy gets injured it could be very hard for them to move the ball, let alone score on offense. Their secondary, specifically at safety appears to be shallow as well. Injuries to either of these positions could cripple their success.
  • If the running game continues to falter. Last year Buffalo boasted the #1 rushing attack in the league. This year hasn’t gone as well so far. After the first game, the opposing teams have stacked the box to stop McCoy. I am just not sure how many more games their offense can go without McCoy and the running game establishing more dominance.
  • Discipline. Under Rex Ryan, there was a discipline issue. It seemed like every game they committed selfish and costly penalties. They did this for 2 straight years. I understand a lot of the roster has turned over but the most of the core is still there. As the season progresses can they remain as disciplined as they have thus far?

It is a quarter way through the season and there are a lot of positives going for the Bills. I believe they are building a solid foundation for success. They cannot control who gets injured, but if they continue to focus on what they can control like preparation, discipline and effort, then this might just be the year they end the draught!


John Mion

I've been living in Buffalo for 23 years. I love everything Western New York, especially their sports teams. I am an avid jock who started playing sports within minutes of showing up in this world. I have been a player and coach at many levels, which allows me to bring a unique perspective in my writing. Follow me on Twitter and I look forward to discussing sports with you!

Latest posts by John Mion (see all)