“Counterparts to be counted on” is a 32-part series where we the “Front Office” of couchpotatogm.com analyzes both side of the ball on each team and determine which individual or position group MUST have a particularly strong season in 2016 for their respective teams to have a successful 2016 campaign. There were high hopes last year with the ousting of head coach Doug Marrone and the hiring of defensive minded, talk a good game Rex Ryan. Traded for LeSean McCoy and Matt Cassel, signed Charles Clay, Tyrod Taylor, Richie Incognito, and Percy Harvin. Annndd….. Last year the Buffalo Bills and Rex Ryan went 8-8 with a 2 game win streak finishing third in the division.
Looking back to last year their only notable win (playoff team) came against the Houston Texans who finished with a 9-7 record and good enough to win the AFC South division. On the other hand they did beat the New York Jets twice last year who finished with a 10-6 record and just missed the playoffs because of the the Bills; losing to them in the last game of the season where the Bills intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick three times. This year in the off-season Rex added his brother Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator who struggled to say the least as the DC in New Orleans. Going heavy in the in the draft on defense (yet again) with the likes of ILB Reggie Ragland, DT Adolphus Washington, and DE/OLB Shaq Lawson as their first three picks. It looks as though they understand what they needed going into this year and got it from this draft. With the re-signing of Incognito and Taylor, according to Rex Ryan the Bills “won the off-season.” Meanwhile back at the batcave, Ragland is done for the season with an ACL tear, Lawson will miss significant time with the shoulder surgery, Marcell Dareus will be suspended first four games (Bills’ best player) for substance abuse, Karlos Williams, etc…. As I write this it wouldn’t surprse me if something else will keep a player off the field. As a Bills fan you have to be thinking what else can happen? A season of promise now looks to be a season in doubt?
Buffalo Bills “Counterparts to be Counted On” 2016
Tyrod Taylor – Was just paid recently on a 5-year $90 million contract extension. He had a solid 2015 season with 3600 yards 24 touchdowns and 6 interceptions combined passing and rushing while missing two games. This is the counterpart that the Bills must count on. He won the job last year from the guy who they traded for in Matt Cassel. Never starting a game until last year and now paid like a starting quarterback tells you what you as a Bills fan should already know. With Brady suspended for the first four games the Bills have a real opportunity to take advantage with 2 of their first 4 games against divisional opponents and one of those are against the Brady-less Patriots.
With all the mess that is the Bills defense right now a lot more is going to fall on the shoulders of Tyrod. This includes the “star” power ton offense that is a play away from being out. Yes. I am talking about the Sammy Watkins and LeSean Mccoy. Could you imagine this team without either on the field? Who is Tyrod to throw too, Reggie Bush? Charles Clay? Robert Woods? We all know that a quarterback can change the fortunes of your team. But I’m not sure Tyrod is THAT GUY, but he may not have a choice going into this season if the injury bug continues to ravage the Bills’ roster. Nevertheless with him at the helm they have a shot. If the Buffalo Bills make some noise this year it’ll be because of Tyrod Taylor.
Marcell Dareus – Yup!!! He’s suspended for the first four games. And that’s how important he is to this team. He is the best player on the field for them and when you factor in the injuries to their Top 2 draft choices Ragland and Lawson I can only think of one player who can change their fortunes. Now you are probably saying to yourself he went from 10 sacks in 2014 to two in 2015. Well, coaching changes, scheme change, and personal changse will do that. Dareus as you could imagine wasn’t comfortable and in fact was not happy with the scheme last year. But now according to him players seem to be getting it all around him. Guys are communicating, he feels he doesn’t have to tell teammates where to be or what to do. He can do what he is paid to do. Thus making everyone around him play their game. Another year in this defense, which is complex and puts heavy emphasis on the LB play should improve and allow players to react and play rather than watch and think. I’m not sure If Dareus will ever have a double digit sack season again because of the way he is used in the the Rex Ryan front. He plays the nose tackle position covering both sides of the A gap directly over the center. But at times, on passing downs, Dareus is moved over into the three technique where he will shine and may have a chance to put pressure on the quarterback. You gotta remember he’s coming from a Jim Schwartz 4-3 scheme that is front seven friendly and allows the defensive lineman to eat. A return to prominence for Dareus could go a long way in terms of the Bills’ success in 2016.