During the Bills’ Super Bowl seasons from 1990 through 1993 they ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 7th respectively in the NFL in points scored. In the 1990 season they scored 428 points and followed that up in 1991 with 458 points. Since their last Superbowl appearance they have averaged 321 points per season which comes out to 20 points per game over the last 26 seasons. In today’s NFL that’s less than mediocre and a team and its fans can’t expect Superbowl runs with that production.
Last season the Bills made some strides, made the playoffs and have given their fans something to look forward to, yet they struggled offensively, scoring less than 20 points per game. Their defense is one of the best in the league, keeping the offense in and bailing them out of games.
On the dawn of the season opener against their division foe the New York Jets something feels different. Yes, Bills fans have had this feeling before. Maybe at the start of every season since those Super Bowl runs. But this one really feels different.
The most glaring reason is Stefon Diggs. The offseason trade for a true elite wide receiver caught the attention of the whole NFL. His catch radius is outstanding, ranking 2nd last season in contested catch percentage with 64%. Only Tyreek Hill fared better. John Brown hauled in the most yards of his career with 1,060 and Cole Beasley was just 55 yards shy of his career best with 778 and had his most yards per catch with 11.6. Add the impeccable route running and go get it range of Diggs and you have the potential for one of the top wide receiver trios in the league. Diggs will get every team’s best cornerback which he’s proven he can win against, leaving Brown with an easier assignment than he had last year as Buffalo’s number one wideout.
Josh Allen is entering what’s considered the NFL quarterback measuring stick and most scrutinized third season. After 2 seasons of below average completion percentage of 52.8 percent and 58.8 percent, although shows improvement, there can be no excuse with the aforementioned receiving corps to not unleash his powerful arm and improve on that dramatically. Back in early June Allen was with his receivers in Miami on their own time, including Diggs, working out and going over routes. Trying to get into that quarterback to wide receiver mind meld sync that is coveted by both. Just as important he and Diggs became closer off the field. Even admitting that they would link up nightly playing Call of Duty. Allen now has a taste of what making the playoffs feels like and what playing poorly and getting bounced in the Wildcard round stings like.
Devin Singletary & Zack Moss
The Bills ran the ball by committee last season as rookie Devin Singletary sustained a hamstring injury in week 2 against the Giants and was brought back slowly. With one of the NFL’s true ironmen Frank Gore splitting handoffs, Singletary only had 151 carries for the season to Gore’s 166. On those limited carries, the man nicknamed Motor had an impressive 5.1 yards per carry. This season he goes in as the unquestioned primary running back with second round draft pick rookie Zack Moss out of Utah seemingly primed to handle bulldozer duty and bring in fresh legs when Singletary needs a rest. Bills camp reporters have marveled at the size of Moss’ quads and his angry, run them over attitude former Bill Marshawn Lynch called Beast Mode. The combination of Singletary with his 23.8 percent broken tackles which placed him at the 93rd percentile of NFL backs last season according to Rotowire advanced statistics and Zack Moss’ 5-foot 9-inch frame packing in 223 lbs. charging at defenders like, well like a buffalo and you have the makings of a dangerous running back duo.
The biggest question mark for production going into the season is at the tight end position. Remember last season when Bills rookie tight end Dawson Knox trucked over the Bengals defensive backfield in week 3?
Yeah, that was awesome! Yet the knock on Knox was his dropped passes and he admits that he was fighting to keep his head above water his rookie outing. In the offseason Knox also met up with Josh Allen on his own time to catch balls and wore out the Jugs machine to eliminate the stigma of being known for drops. One other thing that Knox did to improve this offseason was work out with San Francisco 49ers superstar tight end George Kittle. Getting some practice time and picking the brain of the best in the game today can’t hurt. Tyler Kroft is also back and supposedly healthy again from his ankle/foot injury last season but that mirrors his status at the start of last season. The Bills are hoping that he can stay healthy for the full season and get back to his 2016 self when he caught his best 42 receptions and had 7 touchdowns.
1990’s Buffalo Bills Offense
In 1990 future hall of famer Jim Kelly had his best QB rating of his career of 101.2. He was handing the ball off to future hall of famer Thurman Thomas who ran for almost 1300 yards and a career high 11 touchdowns while chipping in over 500 yards receiving and 2 scores. The wide receiving corps consisted of 13 year veteran and future hall of famer James Lofton who had over 20 yards per catch and future hall of famer Andre Reed who added almost 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns. Rounding out the offensive skill players was Keith McKeller. McKeller never made the hall of fame. That season he had a respectable 34 catches for over 450 yards and 5 touchdowns. But Keith McKeller was the “K” in the Bills “K-Gun” offensive scheme and the hall of famers all agree that he was the crucial piece that made that offense the juggernaut it was.
Maybe not the 90’s Bills, but excitement is abound
Do the Bills have 4 future hall of famers at the skill positions this season? Who knows? Should the fans be excited to see the offense that coach McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have assembled in their third year together? Yes. They should be really excited.