5 Areas The Buffalo Bills Must Improve Upon During Training Camp

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5 Areas The Buffalo Bills Must Improve Upon During Training Camp

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Mark Konezny-USA Today Sports

The Buffalo Bills are far from the perfect team. Now there's an understatement. I felt a little ridiculous even typing that, so let's try again. The Buffalo Bills are about as far from being the perfect team as Lindsay Lohan is from being the perfect person. That's better.

Such is bound to be the case when you are the decade-old punchline of professional sports and face an entirely new coaching staff plus a largely overhauled roster. There are plenty of question marks surrounding the Bills as they head into the first season of the Doug Marrone/EJ Manuel era, and along with those questions come plenty of obvious areas of improvement. The deck, as it perpetually seems to be, is stacked against Buffalo. Yet, there is still some reason for optimism.

As I've written previously, the Bills new head coach Doug Marrone and franchise quarterback EJ Manuel bring with them a winning pedigree and more importantly a winning culture. The Bills are more than solid at running back between CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson and possess some dynamic talent on defense. If Mike Pettine's aggressive, attacking defensive scheme can gel, there's no reason the Bills shouldn't be a top-ten defense. Other than the fact that they're the Bills, of course.

The team clearly has some good things going for them, but then again, so does Lindsay Lohan. If the Bills hope to break .500 this upcoming season (a conservative, but in my opinion, realistic goal) then there are some areas in which the team must improve before the start of the regular season.

Here are five areas in which the Buffalo Bills absolutely must improve during training camp.

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Quarterback Play

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Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

As much as I love the man they call the Amish Rifle, it shouldn't be too hard to eclipse the sub-standard play of former Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. That being said, when your choices are Kevin Kolb or an unproven rookie, suddenly Fitzmagic doesn't sound so bad. So far throughout camp, EJ Manuel has shown flashes of the potential that caused the Bills to draft him 16th overall, but he has been inconsistent all the same. It's looking more and more as if Manuel will be the immediate starter for the Bills, so purely on an individual basis, the rookie QB must improve his play if the Bills hope to be winning games this fall.

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Pass Defense

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Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

Although pass defense was hardly the biggest problem for the Bills last season, it was definitely a contributing factor when it came to the team ranking 26th overall in points allowed per game. The Bills' safeties were mostly adequate last season, but for a unit as loaded with talent as Buffalo's, adequate just doesn't cut it. With Jairus Byrd returning to the team under the franchise tag and Stephon Gilmore hopefully taking a leap forward in his development, the Bills should be in for a much better year against the pass.

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Run Defense

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Timothy T. Ludwig-USA Today Sports

As bad as the Bills were against the pass last year, they were much, much worse against the run. This development wasn't just frustrating, it was completely inexplicable. Buffalo had just spent their entire offseason (and over $100 million) shoring up their defensive line, yet the team finished dead last in terms of yards allowed per rush. Much of the blame here should be placed on Dave Wannstedt's impotent scheme, although Mario Williams keeping his wrist injury a secret for much of the season certainly didn't help. Regardless, the Bills' formidable front four of Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Mario Williams, and Alex Carrington should flourish under Mike Pettine in 2013, assuming they can put in the work this offseason.

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Team Chemistry

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Mark Konezny-USA Today Sports

This is a new, inexperienced club, top to bottom. 2013 will be Doug Marrone's first season as an NFL head coach, Nathaniel Hackett's first year as an NFL offensive coordinator, EJ Manuel's first year as an NFL starting quarterback, and the first year as NFL receivers for Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Da'Rick Rogers, among others. Building chemistry between the players and coaches is of utmost importance if the Bills hope to have any sort of success moving forward. Thankfully, it appears as though Manuel and his young receivers have already gotten a jump start on that in camp.

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Consistency

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Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

If the Buffalo Bills somehow manage to put all these pieces together and find a winning formula, then they absolutely must be able to do it consistently. This can be fostered in training camp via consistent play-making, consistency in attitude, and a consistent will to win. Hopefully these things will translate to the regular season. No more 5-2 starts followed by epic second-half meltdowns. If the Bills are finally going to become a winning franchise again, then consistency is key, and it should start in camp.


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