PFT preseason power rankings No. 23: Buffalo Bills

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With Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley out as coach and General Manager, respectively, there’s no question that this is a transitional year in Buffalo.

What is a question is how big that transition will wind up being. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor got a new contract this offseason, but the Bills can back out of it after this season if coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane decide he’s not the right guy for the job over the long haul.

Taylor’s two years as a starter have featured many positives, but he’ll likely need to be even better and more consistent this year to secure his place in Buffalo. The same is true of wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who didn’t have his 2018 option exercised and could head elsewhere if things don’t break the right way in the coming months.

Those decisions will provide a big sign about the direction the Bills will take under McDermott and Beane and let us know if this year is a building block or a prelude to a bigger rebuilding effort.

Biggest positive change: There was a lot of excitement when Ryan got to Buffalo, but it didn’t take long for trouble signs to emerge. The biggest were on defense where Ryan scrapped a successful 4-3 scheme in favor of the 3-4 base defense he’s run all over the league. Players found it too complex and weren’t shy about sharing those feelings as the team struggled on the field, leaving a dark cloud over the team that appears to be clearing now that McDermott has moved things back in the other direction.

Biggest negative change: The Bills would miss cornerback Stephon Gilmore and running back Mike Gillislee regardless of where they wound up signing as free agents. The fact that both players moved to the Patriots makes things even worse because their success will make it even harder for the team to make headway in the AFC East.

Coaching thermometer: Any feeling that McDermott might be in for a tenure as short as Ryan’s dropped considerably when the Bills fired Whaley and hired Beane, who worked with McDermott in Carolina. The hunger for a playoff return isn’t going to go away, but McDermott should have ample time to try to put it together.

We’d like to crack a beer with … Jerry Hughes. Hughes has gone from a first-round disappointment with the Colts to getting 20 sacks in his first two years in Buffalo to a less successful stint in Ryan’s defense. That’s given him a lot of experiences to draw on as he embarks on his eighth NFL season and, we imagine, a lot of insight into how talent, scheme fit and coaching styles combine to shape a career.

How they can prove us wrong: Having running back LeSean McCoy and Watkins healthy for an entire season is a must because they are lacking other proven talent at skill positions without them. If they get that, a step forward from Taylor and a resurgent performance on defense, the Bills could find themselves in the playoff hunt in the AFC.

27 responses to “PFT preseason power rankings No. 23: Buffalo Bills

  1. The Bills D can only get better with Rex gone.

    Watch the offense sputter though. Just because they can’t fire on all cylinders?

    Go Bills.

  2. Are they the best team in the NFL? Far from it.

    Should they be competing for a 5th-6th playoff spot? Absolutely.

    I like the roster, and this year should be a step up from the Ryan administration.

  3. tokyosandblaster says:
    Jul 14, 2017 3:03 PM
    This is around where the Vikings should be.

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    You run your mouth a ton, but if you truly believe this just put your email up there I’d be happy to make a friendly wager that Vikings finish higher than 23rd this year.

  4. Not sure if my Bills make the playoffs this year but I do expect am improvement from the Wrecks catastrophe…

  5. You could make a case that they are on par if not better than Minn, Miami, San Diego, Tenn and Cinncinatti and Arizona. They crushed Arizona and beat Cincy last season. Miami’s 3 pt victories last season aren’t scaring anyone in Buffalo either. Ranking seems fair though until proven otherwise.

  6. tokyosandblaster says:
    Jul 14, 2017 3:03 PM
    This is around where the Vikings should be.
    _______________

    And they probably will be, along with the Bungles, Eagles and Ravens. Carolina should be in this bunch too but they probably fear Gantt would throw a hissy fit

  7. Should folks who obsessively answer their own questions be checked out for serious medial conditions? Without a doubt.

    Drunk Uncle says:
    Are they the best team in the NFL? Far from it.

    Should they be competing for a 5th-6th playoff spot? Absolutely.

  8. Since the playoffs aren’t decided by ranking but rather division, it would be more accurate to just rank in division…

    best playoff potential:

    Patriots/Dolphins Steelers/Ravens
    Bills Bengals
    Jets Browns

    Titans/Texans Raiders/Chiefs
    Jaguars Broncos
    Colts Chargers

    Falcons/Saints Cowboys/Eagles
    Panthers Giants
    Buccaneers Redskins

    Packers/Vikings Cardinals/Seahawks
    Lions Rams
    Bears 49ers

  9. flankerright says:
    Jul 14, 2017 3:19 PM

    how is this squad better than the Redskins, please explain this Josh…
    —————————————————-
    Wow!! Some teams fan base is in need of a boat load of Preparation H. Get over it Redskin fans, its one mans opinion. Plus, your team is really not that great. Should they be ranked this low? Maybe not, but they’re not a world beater by any means.

  10. bills72284 says:
    Jul 14, 2017 4:03 PM
    Realignment should have the Bills in a division with Cleveland Cincinnati and Pittsburgh AFC North…Baltimore in AFC East

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    I don’t blame you for wanting to be in a different division than New England.

  11. Not a Bills fan ..But follow a lot of football here in Pitt….Bills are better than Cinn,Cleve Miami,KC….Probablly Houston..Deff Inndy…should be a Play-off team !!! very underated by nfl fans…Pitt Vs Bills in AFC Wildcard…

  12. grogansheroes says:
    Jul 14, 2017 4:14 PM
    bills72284 says:
    Jul 14, 2017 4:03 PM
    Realignment should have the Bills in a division with Cleveland Cincinnati and Pittsburgh AFC North…Baltimore in AFC East……………..Grogan use to get his A$$kicked in AFC As I remember !!!

  13. cardiovascularendurance says:
    Jul 14, 2017 3:29 PM
    Should folks who obsessively answer their own questions be checked out for serious medial conditions? Without a doubt.

    ______________

    Should someone who’s name is cardiovascularendurance know how to spell “medical?” Probably, unless you intended to say my medial collateral ligament needs to be checked out.

    Should someone who is going to be critical of a Q&A format know what a rhetorical question is? You can answer this one. Maybe.

  14. bills72284 says:
    Jul 14, 2017 4:03 PM
    Realignment should have the Bills in a division with Cleveland Cincinnati and Pittsburgh AFC North…Baltimore in AFC East
    __________________

    The Bills are where they belong. Traditional rivalries should be left intact. The NY Titans/Jets, Bills, Patriots and Dolphins have been knocking helmets for 50+ years going back to the AFL. If Baltimore were to go anywhere it should be the AFC South and Indy should be moved to the AFC North. Irsay wouldn’t go for it though, he sold what was left of his soul to get into an easy division during the last realignment.

  15. billsbackto81 says:
    Jul 14, 2017 3:58 PM
    flankerright says:
    Jul 14, 2017 3:19 PM

    how is this squad better than the Redskins, please explain this Josh…
    —————————————————-
    Wow!! Some teams fan base is in need of a boat load of Preparation H. Get over it Redskin fans, its one mans opinion. Plus, your team is really not that great. Should they be ranked this low? Maybe not, but they’re not a world beater by any means.

    Whatever dude your team hasn’t been relevant since daddy bush was in office. Bunch of cold clowns are Buffalo Bills

  16. Whatever dude your team hasn’t been relevant since daddy bush was in office. Bunch of cold clowns are Buffalo Bills

    ————–

    Boohoo!! My teams better than yours! It’s not fair! Dude, chill and crack a cold one. That’s if your old enough of course.

  17. McDermott has surely brought the excitement back to Buffalo… not in the loud and media driven way, but a quiet and confident one. He has the respect of the Owners, front office and most importantly the players. Most have come forward and stated that this team has missed the strong structure of being held accountable for your own actions. He has been awesome with the fans, showing us how much he cares about bringing that winning tradition back to the City of Buffalo. We look forward to seeing what he can bring to the table for this Franchise and City! #BillsMafia #BuffaLove

  18. This team will have to be very lucky to win 4 games this year, they could finish last overall.

    But hey, they won the offseason again.

  19. joetoronto says:
    Jul 15, 2017 5:18 AM

    This team will have to be very lucky to win 4 games this year, they could finish last overall.

    But hey, they won the offseason again
    ———————————————
    Look who’s late to the party.

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