By Chris Losey
Though the Bills have started the season with two wins and one loss after knocking off the undefeated Broncos on Sunday, the offense is in need of a major overhaul.
While it was expected that Buffalo would not pose a threat through the air in 2017 due to their quarterback and wide receiver situations, the running game too has flatlined.
Coming off of a year where they rushed for a league-best 2,630 yards and 29 touchdowns, the Bills now sit at twelfth in yardage, even with the third-most rushing attempts so far.
The blame for their anemic rushing attack can be placed in multiple areas, but none more deserving than the passing woes the Bills have had weekly.
Because the Bills are not a threat to beat teams throwing the football, defenses key in on running back LeSean McCoy, who has had no room to run, especially in these past two games against tough defenses.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has not looked nearly as poor as he did in the preseason, but he will not win football games with his arm alone. The one-dimensional approach will sooner rather than later come back to bite the Bills.
Fans and experts alike will want to credit the Buffalo offense for playing mistake-free football, but their amazing defensive efforts are the real catalyst for their 2-1 mark in 2017.
So, what can be done to fix the offense in the future? I’m no expert, but certain things are clear in the modern NFL, and that is teams cannot really rely on an outdated form of the West Coast offense to win football games.
Buffalo’s offensive weapons need a major overhaul as well. One could look at the Miami Dolphins, who are of similar clout as the Bills, but boast much better offensive weapons and schemes. Receivers DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Still all have key roles, as well as rising star running back Jay Ajayi.
Parker is slowly developing into a star receiver in his third year with the Dolphins, reminding some of a young Dez Bryant, while Landry and Stills have niches as a high volume possession man and a deep threat, respectively.
The Bills have none of that in their receiving corps to go along with the lack of a franchise quarterback. They traded Sammy Watkins during the preseason, and I’m sure they had their reasons for it, but it’s becoming quite clear that current wideouts Jordan Matthews and rookie Zay Jones aren’t exploding with big play potential.
Jones will have a very nice career as a possession receiver, sporting very nice hands and good size. He’s not been able to show off much because the Bills do not toss the rock around frequently in offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s offense.
Still, Jones probably isn’t cut from the same cloth as game-changing receivers like Odell Beckham, Jr., Julio Jones, or Dez Bryant three years ago.
Even with Taylor under center, the Bills would keep defenses honest if they had a big-play pass-catcher. When they select their franchise quarterback early in next year’s draft, they MUST pair him with one of these guys.
One prospect they could potentially target is James Washington out of Oklahoma State, who incidentally catches passes from one of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, Mason Rudolph.
Washington isn’t huge, standing at six feet tall and weighing 205 pounds, but has the ability to be a game-breaker. The senior standout already has 19 catches for 520 yards and four scores in only four games this year.
He also finished his junior season with 71 receptions for 1,380 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Bills will also need to address the running back position in April. Though LeSean McCoy is still capable at playing at an extremely high level, he’s found no room to run outside of week one, and has been taking punishment every week so far.
Because of his age (29-years old) and slighter frame than most feature backs, one could only speculate how much battering the five-time Pro Bowler can take with a full workload this season. It would only make sense if the Bills brought in a rookie with more well-rounded abilities than the backs they’ve drafted in recent years, if only to make the transition from McCoy to fresh legs in the future.
While it will be interesting to see how the Bills season plays out in 2017, one thing is for sure, the offense will look very different next fall, hopefully for the better.