By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on June 17, 2014
The Buffalo Bills enter the 2014 season with more optimism and expectations than they’ve had in quite some time. Some believe they are capable of ending the longest active playoff drought in the NFL. But like all teams, the Bills have their fair share of red flags that they must address. Here are five such concerns.
Scott Chandler is coming off of a solid 2013 season, and at 6-foot-7, he remains a dangerous threat in the red zone. However, he is also coming off of knee surgery, a worrisome sign given that he was never the quickest tight end in the league to begin with. If he is hurt or ineffective, the Bills don’t have many viable options as far as backups go.
Under former coordinator Mike Pettine, the Bills quietly had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season. With Pettine now the head coach in Cleveland, however, there could be some regression. New coordinator Jim Schwartz is a respected defensive coach, but it remains to be seen how the changes he implements will affect players like Jerry Hughes and Leodis McKelvin, who thrived under Pettine.
To say that star defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has had a busy offseason would be quite the understatement. Dareus was arrested in Alabama on drug possession charges, then followed that up by participating in a drag race with a fellow teammate. Dareus is one of the most talented players on Buffalo’s roster, but you have to wonder how long the Bills are willing to put up with his off-the-field antics.
Eric Wood has quietly emerged as one of the best centers in the NFL, and former second-round pick Cordy Glenn has cemented himself as a solid left tackle. Apart from those two, the Bills have serious questions along their offensive line. Cyrus Kouandjio looks ready to start at right tackle, but he is a rookie with a history of injuries. The two guard spots are up for grabs, and none of the candidates have done much to stand out.
While the Bills have talent all over their roster, the team will live and die by the right arm of E.J. Manuel. Last year’s first-round pick had his ups and downs as a rookie, and should be able to improve. However, Manuel and the rest of the team find themselves at a turning point. Manuel has numerous weapons around him as well as a stout defense. Even in just his second season, Manuel will be under enormous pressure from Day 1.
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