Buffalo Bills 2021 Team Preview

Buffalo Bills 2021 Team Preview

by August 23, 2021 1 comment

After a 17 year stretch of zero playoff appearances, the Buffalo Bills enter 2021 on a run of three playoff births in four years. Even better, was that they made it to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1993 last season. Despite a tough loss in Kansas City, the Bills showed that they are here to stay at the top of the AFC’s food chain for years to come. Coming off of last year’s 13-3 campaign, this stout Buffalo squad feels poised for a third consecutive 10-plus win season.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Team Previews.

Offseason Recap

Brandon Beene and the Bills front office’s top priority was to get Josh Allen locked down long term this offseason. Earlier this month they did just that, with a six-year $258 million deal, $150 million of that being fully guaranteed. After decades of signal-caller turnover, Buffalo at long last truly have “the guy”. They also made sure to keep some key core players around. Those included Matt Milano, Micah Hyde, Daryl Williams, Levi Wallace, Mitch Morse. Not to mention Aaron Rodgers‘ best friend Jake Kumerow as well. The biggest departure would be receiver John Brown, who had a very good stint with the Bills.

The notable new faces in Orchard Park are first, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Who happened to just torch his former team, the Chicago Bears this weekend in the preseason. Some other new faces included Emmanuel Sanders, Forrest Lamp, and Matt Haack. Key draft pickups included Gregory Rousseau, Carlos Basham Jr., and Spencer Brown.

Offense

Brian Daboll once again is running the show with Allen as his conductor. The veteran receiver Sanders joins a solid unit with Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Cole Beasley, and Isaiah McKenzie. Dawson Knox comes into year three, off a down sophomore season as the top tight end. Buffalo’s running back room added veteran Matt Breida to join the young Zack Moss and Devin Singletary. The big boys up front are led by tackles Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams, and center Morse. Despite Buffalo ranking in the bottom third of the league in rushing last season, they were the No. 2 overall offense. With the roster not much different from last year, expect a similar year once again. Would be a shocker if Buffalo is not a top-five unit.

Defense

This Buffalo defense despite some average stats in 2020, was one of the league’s top units in the takeaway department. It certainly helps when you have superstars in the secondary like Tre’Davious White, Jordan Poyer, Hyde, and Wallace to work with. The immortal Jerry Hughes is still manning the edges up front, along with the likes of Mario Addison, Ed Oliver, and Star Lotulelei. Roaming behind them once again is Milano, along with Tremaine Edmunds.

A sore spot for this unit last year was run defense. Playoffs included, Buffalo gave up 125 yards or more on the ground nine times. All three of the regular season losses the Bills suffered happened in those games. Including a pair of 200-plus yard outings against Kansas City, as well as in Arizona. If they can clean up the trenches, as well as still being ballhawks in the secondary, this unit should be top-notch once again.

Predicting the 53 Man Roster

QB (3) – Josh Allen, Mitchell Trubisky, Jake Fromm

Last year the Bills kept three quarterbacks on the roster, that should likely be the case once again. Trubisky replaces the outgoing Matt Barkley as the backup. While the former Georgia product Fromm entering his sophomore year in the league. Davis Webb currently is also on the roster, and if he does not beat out Fromm, is a more than fine practice squad option.

RB (5) – Zack Moss, Devin Singletary, Matt Breida, Taiwan Jones, Reggie Gilliam

The top trio should be solely responsible for the rushing attack. Brieda serves as a nice veteran presence for Moss and Singletary. Jones is one of the core special teamers of this Bills squad and slots in as a running back. Then there is the big man Gilliam, who is currently the Bills’ lone fullback on the roster. With no threat to his starting job, he is all but a roster lock.

WR (6) – Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Gabriel Davis, Cole Beasley, Isaiah Hodgins, Isaiah McKenzie

Not many teams in the AFC, let alone the NFL, can trot out a better receiving core than Buffalo. Diggs is coming off a career year in 2020 where he led the league in receiving yards. Sanders and Beasley give Buffalo not one but two great slot options. Then there is Davis, who had a very solid rookie year and looks to build on that in 2021. Hodgins, who did not play his rookie year, gives the Bills some size on the outside, and McKenzie gives Buffalo a gadget option.

TE (3) – Dawson Knox, Jacob Hollister, Tommy Sweeney 

A very solid tight end room for the Bills here. Knox, despite a dip in production last year, is still a good top option. Hollister is coming off a pair of solid years in Seattle, picking up six scores in that span. Sweeney, the tight end of Boston College, mans the rear of this unit. After he missed all of 2020, even getting myocarditis when he had Covid, it was unknown if he would even play again. Luckily he got back on the field this June, a fantastic sight for all.

OL (9) – Dion Dawkins, Jon Feliciano, Mitch Morse, Cody Ford, Daryl Williams, Spencer Brown, Tommy Doyle, Forrest Lamp, Ryan Bates

The big story with this unit is Dawkins. Just recently he began practicing months after being hospitalized with Covid. While it did not seem he was up to speed right away, it sounds like he is now making progress, which is great to hear. Buffalo also went out and drafted a pair of tackles, Brown and Doyle. Both are on the mend as of now, but both should be back relatively soon. Lamp moves over from the Los Angeles Chargers as a backup guard option, with Bates serving as a backup center. Outside of that, the quartet of Feliciano, Morse, Ford, and Williams all return from 2020. Ford is another name to watch for, after missing the tail end of the year with a torn meniscus.

DL (4) – Ed Oliver, Star Lotulelei, Vernon Butler, Justin Zimmer

Just four interior guys make the 53 here. Sacks and quarterback hits were down last year for Oliver but enters year three in a good spot. as does Lotulelei, who enters 2021 starting every single possible game dating back to 2016. Butler looks to improve off a zero sack season a year ago, after nabbing six in his final year in Carolina. Finally, there is Zimmer, who is back after making appearances in 12 games for Buffalo a season ago. If Buffalo does go beyond four defensive tackles, keep an eye out for Harrison Phillips, a third-rounder from 2018.

EDGE (5) – Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, A.J. Epenesa, Gregory Rousseau, Carlos Basham Jr. Darryl Johnson

Hughes and Addison are both likely entering their final years with the Bills with expiring contracts. Having the ability to go from them to Epenesa and Rousseau is absurd. Let alone the fact they will have all four this season. This also speaks to Beene as the general manager and Buffalo’s excellent drafting in recent years. Basham joins Rousseau as the two rookies on this unit, with Johnson making the roster due to his experience with the team.

LB (5) – Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, A.J. Klein, Tyler Matakevich, Tyrel Dodson

Edmunds had his fifth-year option picked up earlier this year, and for Bills Mafia’s sake, hopefully, fits into the Bills plans long term. Milano was brought back on a nice four-year $41 million extension. Klein actually started and played in more games than Milano in his first year with the team. Largely due to a pectoral injury to Milano last November. Dodson was solid in the action he saw last season, and Matakevich gives Buffalo special teams ability.

CB (6) – Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, Siran Neal, Rachad Wildgoose, Dane Jackson

White, Wallace and Johnson all return as the starters again. Joining them is Neal, a converted safety from the 2018 draft, who should once again be a special teams contributor. Then there is Wildgoose, the sixth-round rookie out of Wisconsin. He will be presumably battling with Cam Lewis for the backup nickelback role. Jackson, a sixth-rounder from a year ago, should be behind Wallace.

SAF (4) – Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Jaquan Johnson, Damar Hamlin

You would be hard-pressed to find a better starting safety duo in the NFL than Poyer and Hyde. They have been the backbone of the Buffalo defense since the second the first teamed up. That should once again be the case in 2021. Johnson enters his third year with the team and has seen action in 27 games to this point.

Hamlin, the final piece to the puzzle, was selected in round six of the draft this year out of Pitt. He was a more than solid player at Pitt, and that should hopefully carry over to the NFL, albeit in a reserve role. Finally, watch out for Tariq Thompson as a possible practice squad option. The UDFA out of San Diego State racked up 11 picks in four college seasons. Along with five fumbles forced and just shy of two dozen credited passes defended.

ST (3)- Tyler Bass, Matt Haack, Reid Ferguson

Outside of Haack slotting in for the outgoing Bojorquez at punter, Buffalo brings back the same special teams unit. Bass as a rookie hit 96.6 percent of his extra-point attempts (57-59). On top of also being exceptional from 40-plus, hitting all but three attempts from long range.

One Player to Add

The Bills are in a spot where they have no major concerns with their roster as constructed. With that said, some reinforcement at running back would not hurt much. Looking at who is available currently, names that stick out are first, former Bill Frank Gore. Despite his age, he is coming off a nearly 200 carry season with the New York Jets, and also brings valuable experience. If his age is a non-starter, maybe Bryce Love is a possibility. Despite being drafted in 2019, he has yet to take a snap in the NFL regular season. Do not forget that he was one of the top backs in the nation at Stanford. In both cases, money would not be a major issue either which helps.

2021 Outlook & Odds

The Bills enter 2021 with their win total set at 11. It is easy to see why, first with the level of talent at their disposal, and secondly, due to the fact they have the league’s ninth easiest schedule. Being in the AFC East, a division where every team improved at least somewhat, none of the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, or Jets, can match Buffalo in quarterback play. The question should not be if they can win the AFC East, it should be can they win the Super Bowl.

Season Prediction: 12-5, Win AFC East


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