The Buzz:Despite finishing with a .500 record in 2015, the Bills have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and remain a dangerous foe. Former Jets head coach Rex Ryan is entering his second year in Western New York and he led the Bills to a 4-2 mark inside the AFC East last season. The injury bug bit the Bills throughout summer, but they have a nucleus of young players that held significant roles on last year's team.
The Staples: **Entering training camp in 2015, the Bills were in the thick of a quarterback competition. Former sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor eventually earned the starting nod and never looked back. In his first season as an NFL starter, the Virginia Tech product threw for 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. In fact, his 99.4 QBR was ranked seventh in the NFL. Additionally, the dual threat rushed for 568 yards, scoring four touchdowns on the ground.
Taylor's numbers are reminiscent of a seasoned vet, which is in large part due to his surrounding cast. Third-year WR Sammy Watkins is the Bills' top weapon through the air as he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time last season. The Clemson product performs extremely well at home, registering 58% of his receiving yards at New Era Field. But Watkins is dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired foot after sitting out the majority of the offseason.
The backfield is manned by LeSean "Shady" McCoy and as his nickname suggests, he is elusive. McCoy's rookie year was the lone time he failed to register 1,000 yards from scrimmage and last season was only the third time in his seven-year career that McCoy did not rush for more than 1,000 yards.
Week 1 Review:The Bills offense never quite got off the ground as they fell to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium by a final score of 13-7. Taylor totaled 122 yards through the air and on the ground, while McCoy added 70 total yards as well. Watkins hauled in four receptions for 43 yards and TE Charles Clay was right behind him, racking up 40 yards on two catches.
The Anchors: **The secondary is the bread and butter of this defensive unit. Led by fifth-year CB Stephon Gilmore, the Bills held the Jets to under 200 passing yards in both matchups last season. Gilmore totaled 18 PDs along with three picks in 2015 while second-year CB Ronald Darby, who starts opposite Gilmore, registered 21 PDs and two interceptions. The Florida State product was tested early and often in a scheme that relies on man-to-man coverage and Darby rose to the occasion. Speed rusher Jerry Hughes collected two sacks of Joe Flacco in Week 1.
Plugging the Hole:The Bills secondary mirrors last year, but the front seven underwent a makeover in the offseason. A healthy Kyle Williams returned to action against the Ravens as the Bills were stout against the run. With Marcell Dareus serving a four-game suspension, Williams' new neighbor is fourth-round pick Adolphus Washington, a former Ohio State Buckeye. The linebackers consist of two newcomers — Lorenzo Alexander and Zach Brown, who spent last season with the Raiders and Titans respectively.
Three of the Bills' draft picks from this year have yet to see game action. First-round pick OLB Shaq Lawson missed all of training camp and was placed on the PUP list while recovering from shoulder surgery. Second-round LB Reggie Ragland hurt his knee early in training camp, partially tearing his ACL while sixth-round pick WR Kolby Listenbee was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list after suffering a double sports hernia his senior year at TCU. Veteran LT Cordy Glenn left Sunday's game against the Ravens and was replaced in the lineup by Cyrus Kouandjio.**