Buffalo Bills: 5 Most Improved Players Of 2013
Buffalo Bills: 5 Most Improved Of 2013
The Buffalo Bills stand at 4-7 after 11 games in 2013. It may not be much of an improvement over last year in the win/loss column, but they have improved on both sides of the ball. With a favorable schedule down the stretch. the Bills think they can better their 2012 record of 6-10.
Last year, the Bills had the No. 19 offense in the NFL. Through 11 games this season they rank at No. 17 and that's with four games starting a backup QB. They have arguably done more with less on offense this season as they have worked with three different QBs and been without Stevie Johnson, C.J. Spiller and Robert Woods at numerous times this season. They also lost their best offensive lineman, Andy Levitre, to free agency and have yet to adequately replace him. As E.J. Manuel has settled in, so has the Bills' offense. It has yet to reach it's full potential, but the arrow is pointed upward.
After a rocky start to the season the defense has made significant gains. Last year they were the 22nd ranked unit in the league, 23rd against the pass and 31st against the run. They were tied for 18th in the league in sacks with 36 and 20th in INTs with 12. This season they have moved up to 17th in the league in total defense, 11th against the pass and 24th vs. the run. They are ranked first in sacks with 37, one more than they had all of last year, and are tied for first for most INTs so far with 16, four more than all of last season.
While there are still improvements to be made there are a number of players who have stepped up this year for the Bills. Here is the look at the five most improved players on the roster so far in 2013.
#5 LT Cordy Glenn
Glenn is one of the most unsung players on the Bills. The only reason that he isn't higher on this list is because, honestly, he was very good last year also. He's built on a solid rookie season with a stellar second year protecting Manuel and company's blind sides. He would be in the discussion for the Pro Bowl if he was on any other team. What's most impressive about his performance this year is that he hasn't missed a beat after losing Levitre on his right side. He's a keeper for the Bills.
#4 DE Jerry Hughes
Hughes came over from Indianapolis in a trade during the offseason. He was considered a former first round bust over there, but he has blossomed into an integral player on Buffalo's defense. He's got 36 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles on the year. He is on pace to set career highs in all statistical categories and he's already more than doubled his career sack total so far this season. It's tough to find a quality edge rusher on both sides of the defensive line, but the Bills may have stumbled upon a fine complement to Mario Williams when they acquired Hughes.
#3 CB Leodis McKelvin
With former first round pick Stephon Gilmore struggling in his return to the lineup from injury, it might be hard to notice how well McKelvin is actually playing on the other side. He's proving that the Bills made a wise decision when they re-signed him to a new contract in the offseason. He has 11 passes defensed on the season which is already tied for his career high. He's also added 40 tackles. McKelvin is a guy who's always struggled on an island; with so much extra pressure coming from the Bills' front line, McKelvin is in better position to cover the WRs and is a much better player because of it.
#2 SS Aaron Williams
Williams seemed like a lost cause after his second season with the Bills. He struggled to keep up with WRs and was injury prone, missing 12 games in his 1st two seasons. He was moved to safety before this season and has been reborn at his new position. He's got 69 tackles on the year so far, five more than his career total coming into the season. He's made three INTs so far on the year and broken up nine passes, both career highs already. The most pleasant surprise about his game is the physicality he brings to the position. He has become a hard-hitter in the defensive backfield. He plays a lot like his fellow safety Jairus Byrd who has been a good mentor for him to have.
#1 DT Marcell Dareus
Williams is only bested on this list by the one guy that the Bills drafted ahead of him in the 2011 draft. Dareus has broken out in a big way in his third season. He's set a career high with 50 tackles and has five sacks so far on the season. More importantly he has finally become a player that can take over a game on his own. It's what you expect out of the No. 3 pick in the whole draft and something we didn't see out of him until this year. His versatility is a rarity at his position and he's headed for All-Pro status if he can maintain his level of play moving forward.