Part of being a Bills fan is understanding that changes will happen, usually on a yearly basis and not always will they be the most popular moves. When they released three quarters of the “Big 4”, Bruce, Andre and Thurman, the moves were wildly unpopular. As it turned out the only one with any real juice left in the tank was Smith, who hung on just long enough to get his 200 sacks.
In this day in age in the NFL every team undergoes changes, be it on the coaching staff, front office and obviously on the field. Hardly will you see on teams core remain the same for more than 3-4 seasons. So with that being said here are a few changes I think the Bills should look at making this offseason.
1. Veteran back-up quarterback- The lack of a veteran back-up signal called almost certainly cost the Bills the Kansas City game as well as the Cleveland game. Jeff Tuel isn’t the answer for the position. Thad Lewis is a nice player and will serve well as the #3 QB on the depth chart. The Bills need to spend money on a proven player who has won games in the league. Can’t afford to spend it on career journeymen who haven’t had the chance to play in must win games in the NFL.
Some names to look at going forward: Josh McCown, Matt Moore, Derek Anderson and Matt Schaub.
If it comes down to a point where you have a 2-3 week injury to your starter these players can step in and hold down the fort, if the injury is any longer you may want to keep an eye on draft positions for the following season
2. Veteran defensive lineman- Not a playmaker who you’re going to rely on to make key plays, but a player who can take the young and extremely talented Marcell Dareus under his wing and keep him under control. Compared to problems other players have on other teams, Dareus’ issues seem minor. But it doesn’t take long for the problem to get bigger/ Alan Branch is a nice player for this but I’d like someone else too.
Players who fit the bill; Jonathan Babineaux, Terrence Cody or Kevin Williams.
3. Sign Jairus Byrd- You may be asking, how is this a change? We’ve signed our own guys in the past, but they we’re never the premiere player at their position at the time of free agency. Open the check book for this guy. You are going to end up spending the money somewhere why not spend it on a guy who is familiar with Buffalo and who the fans like. Byrd is a difference maker and he’s going to get paid that way. Make him and offer he can’t turn down and keep the defense together. I get the feeling that Byrd is one of the big time leaders in the locker room. Guys like Aaron Williams and Da’Norris Searcy look up to him like a big brother. Don’t let the Byrdman fly the coupe.
4. Playmaking Wide Receiver- Doesn’t matter if he’s a rookie or a veteran. Get a guy in here who makes plays. The days of drafting smaller speed guys are done. The Bills need a physical player who can muscle his way up for the ball. We completely lack that player right now. I was high on Alshon Jeffrey coming out 2 years ago and he’s proven to be that player.
There are intriguing players in free agency. At the top of the list is James Jones, a down field threat who can go get the football.
Other players who may also be worth taking a look at as a #2 receiver: Jacoby Jones, Eric Decker and Jeremy Maclin.
I realize Decker is a long shot, he is probably not leaving Denver but if he’ll listen to the Bills, I’d make him a substantial offer.
5. Revamp the Linebacking core- Nigel Bradham is not an NFL player. He’s barely a capable backup. Bryan Scott would have been better off in that role. The linebackers outside of Kiko Alonso are a weak spot. The position can be the difference between a big play and a stop for little gain. When your LBs are always chasing you realize how valuable good ones are. Manny Lawson had a nice season and really lived up to his free agent contract. Arthur Moats is valuable in a special teams role but not as an every down linebacker.
Possible free agents include: Jason Worilds, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Michael Boley are all players I’d take a look at.
Not all of these changes need to happen, but improvements are needed at these positions. If the Bills want to succeed they need to get playmakers in the right spots. Most teams who routinely go deep into the playoff have big guns in the above mentioned positions. Don’t be afraid to crack open the checkbook and bring in guaranteed successes, not a flyer on a guy who might catch lightning in a bottle.