7-15-14: The big news in Buffalo this offseason is the loss of star linebacker Kiko Alonso, who tore his ACL at the beginning of July and will be lost for the entire 2014 season. A standout performer as a rookie in 2013, Alonso offered enough versatility to kick outside in Buffalo’s defense, while his loss will create a massive hole in the linebacking corps. More problems on defense could rise up with major changes at safety, as Aaron Williams will reportedly slide from strong safety to free safety. The move allows Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Da’Norris Searcy to all focus on competing for the strong safety starting gig. Things are looking a little jammed up on offense, as the Bills suggest they’d like to get C.J. Spiller approximately 20 touches per game, but still have Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon supposedly involved in the running game. The good news, however, is that the depth at running back in Buffalo is looking quite solid.
6-5-14: Robert Woods is expected to take over the slot position in Buffalo’s offense, which was left open after the team traded Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers. Rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who the team just locked up to a long-term deal, is expected to lineup mostly on the outside, with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Williams operating opposite him on the other side. In more serious news, star linebacker Kiko Alonso reportedly underwent surgery on a torn labrum over the offseason, but is still expected to be ready in time for Buffalo’s camp.
5-19-14: The Buffalo Bills weren’t sure what they were going to do as they prepped for the 2014 NFL Draft. All they really knew was they needed to land a true difference-maker. Let’s break down their 2014 draft class and see if they accomplished that:
Round 1. Pick 04 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Round 2. Pick 12 Cyrus Kouandjio, OL, Alabama
Round 3. Pick 09 Preston Brown, LB, Louisville
Round 4. Pick 09 Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
Round 5. Pick 13 Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
Round 7. Pick 06 Randell Johnson, LB, Florida Atlantic
Round 7. Pick 22 Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
Sammy Watkins surely counts as a difference-maker, doesn’t he? The Clemson wide receiver brings amazing athleticism and versatility to the table, and along with some key free agency moves on offense, should help the Bills field a much scarier offense in 2013.
Buffalo also made some key moves to improve in the trenches on offense, as well, as they nabbed sliding stud tackle Cyrus Kouandjio in round two, as well as plummeting guard Cyril Richardson in round give. Both offensive linemen are excellent value picks, and are especially great picks due to the Bills’ need for help on the o-line.
5-9-14: E.J. Manuel has to be a happy camper. One way or another, the Buffalo Bills wanted to help out their raw, second-year passer. Whether they were going to draft a stud offensive tackle or land an elite play-maker, no one could know for sure. It took them trading up to get it done, but the Bills finally decided getting Manuel one more weapon in the passing game was the best way to go. The explosive Sammy Watkins out of Clemson will do the trick, as the Bills add arguably the draft’s most dynamic offensive player to a maturing offense. Suddenly the Bills have enough ammo to give the division-leading Patriots a run for their money.
4-28-14: The Buffalo Bills appeared to make some progress on both sides of the ball in 2013, but how much better they get will clearly hang on the development of raw quarterback E.J. Manuel. To assist him in taking things to the next level, the Bills would probably be wise to make a splash early and draft a stud tight end or wide receiver. Eric Ebron and Mike Evans are just two names that jump off of the paper. Beyond that, Buffalo appears to be pretty solid across the board, and is backed by a rising defense. They could simply take the best player available, which would probably be a stud offensive tackle, or they could keep adding talent to their improving defense. Pass-rusher Anthony Barr is one defensive prospect that could make some sense with their system.
4-18-14: The Buffalo Bills will get a full slate of tests in preseason this year, as they get to take on five NFL teams in the month of August. It all gets started on August 3rd when they take on the New York Giants, followed by two road games in a row against the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Carolina and Pittsburgh both have stout defenses, which should both serve as great tests for the developing E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo offense. Buffalo gets a bit of a break against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the official third week of preseason action before they wrap up their preseason schedule with a game at home against the Detroit Lions.
4-7-14: Buffalo did themselves a favor by signing on inside linebacker Brandon Spikes away from the division rival New England Patriots this offseason, as Spikes is a machine in run support, bot more importantly his presence will allow them to use versatile linebacker Kiko Alonso a little more creatively. They also added solid defensive depth across the board, beefing up their secondary with corner Corey Graham, while also adding a second linebacker in Keith Rivers. Trading for former Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams was their biggest splash, however, as they land a legit number two option, while reuniting Williams with former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. While the Bills have made some solid moves so far this offseason, they still will have to find a way to replace departed safety Jairus Byrd, who fled to the Saints in free agency.
3-21-14: The Buffalo Bills are taking baby steps. They had two rookies start on offense in 2013 and saw their defense get a little bit better. In free agency, their main goal was to simply stay the course. They looked to do that by stealing inside linebacker Brandon Spikes away from the rival Patriots. Spikes gives Buffalo added versatility, specifically in how they use rookie sensation Kiko Alonso going forward. Keith Rivers was also added to a suddenly very stout linebacking corps, while the Bills closed a hole by retaining tight end Scott Chandler. Safety Jairus Byrd is a big loss, however, and one the Bills will absolutely need to address. With all the top safeties long gone, Buffalo will likely aim to select a top safety in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.
12-31-13: C.J. Spiller finished the season strong with 105 rushing yards, but his solid outing wasn’t enough to stop the New England Patriots in a 34-20 road loss. Thaddeus Lewis filled in for injured quarterback E.J. Manuel for the second straight week, throwing for 247 yards and a touchdown.
12-24-13: Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller controlled the clock in week 16, combing for over 180 rushing yards and a touchdown as the Bills beat the Miami Dolphins, 19-0. The Buffalo defense was the hero, though, as they racked up seven sacks and forced two turnovers to help get the win.
12-17-13: E.J. Manuel put two forgettable performances behind him and played like a seasoned vet in week 15, guiding his Bills to a 27-20 road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Manuel threw two touchdowns and ran for another as Buffalo earned their fifth win of the season.
12-10-13: Rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel looked like a first year player against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 14, throwing four costly interceptions in a crushing 27-6 road loss. Manuel’s struggles kept Buffalo buried all day, as they never got their running game going and were eliminated from playoff consideration.
12-3-13: C.J. Spiller finally felt healthy. He proceeded to burn the Atlanta Falcons in week 13, rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries. His efforts would be wasted, though, as Scott Chandler and Stevie Johnson coughed up fumbles down the stretch to help hand a 34-31 overtime win to the Falcons.
11-19-13: E.J. Manuel rebounded from a poor week 10 performance to account for over 260 passing yards and two scores, while taking just one sack and committing zero turnovers. Buffalo struggled mightily to run the ball against a stout Jets’ run defense, but their own defense rescued them throughout the day with four turnovers in a dominant 37-14 home win.
11-12-13: E.J. Manuel made his long awaited return from a sprained knee, but unfortunately it didn’t go nearly as planned. Manuel completed under 57% of his passes and threw a pick as the Bills struggled offensively all day in a 23-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Fred Jackson offered up 55 yards and a decent 4.6 yards per carry on the ground, but it just wasn’t a day for offensive football for Buffalo, as they dropped to 3-7 on the year.
11-5-13: Jeff Tuel was on his way to being a hero. The undrafted quarterback tossed a 59-yard scoring strike to put the Bills up 7-0 early in week nine, and had the Bills inside Kansas City’s five to take a two touchdown lead early in the third quarter. Instead, Tuel threw a pick six that completely changed the makeup of this game. Running back C.J. Spiller saw his 116 rushing yards wasted in this one, as the Bills never recovered from Tuel’s game-changing turnover in a 23-13 home loss.
10-30-13: Thaddeus Lewis kept the Bills in a game they probably shouldn’t have been in for the third, but ultimately just couldn’t keep up with Drew Brees in a 35-17 road loss to the New Orleans Saints. Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson both found the end-zone to help keep the game relatively close, but the Saints were firing on all cylinders throughout in Buffalo’s fifth loss of the year.
10-22-13: Dan Carpenter got his sweet revenge in the end, as he nailed a 31-yard field goal to beat the Miami Dolphins, the team that cut him during the off-season. While Carpenter ended up being the deciding factor ultimately, the game ball in week seven arguably went to defensive end Mario Williams, who racked up two sacks as the Bills put pressure on Ryan Tannehill all day. Buffalo quarterback Thaddeus Lewis stepped up for the second straight week, too, as he played mostly efficient football in the narrow 23-21 road win.
10-15-13: Thad Lewis was almost a hero for the Buffalo Bills in week six. With E.J. Manuel out nursing a knee injury, the former practice squad player stepped up in a big way and almost got the Bills to 3-3 on the year. Lewis took the Cincinnati Bengals by surprise early, hitting a deep pass and then finding the end-zone with his legs to give Buffalo a brief 7-3 lead. The Bengals took over from there, but Lewis wasn’t done yet. In the final 10 minutes, Lewis generate two scoring drives and capped an unlikely comeback with a 40-yard touchdown strike to Marquise Goodwin to help force overtime. Buffalo ran out of gas in the extra period, though, and ended up dropping this one at home, 27-24.
10-1-13: The Buffalo Bills continued to play cardiac arrest football in week four, as they allowed the Baltimore Ravens back into what was once a blowout to finish with a one-score difference in a game for the fourth time in four games in 2013. Luckily for Buffalo, their defense helped give the Bills enough breathing room early thanks to four sacks and five interceptions, and they were able to hold on at home for the win, 23-20. C.J. Spiller once again had a tough go of it running the ball, as he ran for just 77 yards on a whopping 23 attempts. Luckily backup Fred Jackson found some success, though, as he chipped in 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushes. Rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel turned the ball over three times and took two sacks, but was effective enough in this one to help lead two touchdown drives to play a helping hand in getting the Bills to 2-2 through four games.
9-19-13: Cam Newton and the Panthers came to Buffalo with hopes of getting to 1-1 after a weak showing on offense in week one. While the Panthers played a solid game on both sides of the ball in this one, it was rookie QB E.J. Manuel who wound up getting the last laugh. The rookie completed 27 of 39 passes for 296 yards and also drove the Bills down to the goal-line late in the fourth quarter and connected with a wide open Stevie Johnson with just two seconds remaining to steal the win at home, 24-23. Next week, the Bill head to MetLife to take on the Jets.
While the Bills were ousted in their week one match-up with the New England Patriots, falling 23-21, their defense gave Brady fits all day, while rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel showed a lot of promise with two touchdowns. It may not have been the win they were looking for but it’s certainly something to build off of. In week 2 the Bills will host the Carolina Panthers as both teams look to even up their records at 1-1.
9-4-13: Buffalo has named rookie EJ Manuel as their starting quarterback for Sunday's opener against the Patriots. Manuel, the 16th overall pick and the first QB selected in this year's draft, went a combined 26-for-33 passing for 199 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in two preseason games.
8-22-13: The Bills have signed two-time pro bowl safety Jairus Byrd to a one-year, $6.9 million franchise tender.
8-20-13: The Bills improved to 2-0 on the preseason with a 20-16 win over the Vikings, who were once again without Adrian Peterson. Kevin Kolb was solid, completing 13 of 21 passes for 111 yards. He did throw a pick as well. EJ Manuel, who appears close to securing the starting QB job, was even better, completing 10 of 12 passes for 92 yards and a TD. Tashard Choice ran the ball 12 times for 54 yards. The Bills head to Washington next Saturday to play the Redskins.
8-11-13: Buffalo won their preseason opener this weekend, beating the Colts 44-20. Rookie QB Jeff Tuel threw for 212 yards and 2 TDs while completing 19 of 23 of his passes. Top draft pick E.J. Manuel finished 16 of 21 for 107 yards and a TD.
7-10-13: Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick were too mediocre for the Bills’ liking, so they brought in rookie head coach Doug Marrone to right the ship. Marrone quickly found his guy in the draft in E.J. Manuel, while the team also added veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb to the mix. While improving on defense, the Bills could find themselves struggling again in 2013 without a clear upgrade at quarterback and unproven weapons in the passing game.
6-24-13: The Buffalo Bills were expected to take a big step in 2012 with an improved defense, but instead dealt with injuries and an inconsistent offense.
Another so-so season without a playoff appearance lead to the demise of head coach Chan Gailey and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and transitioned the Bills into a new era. Now rookie head coach Doug Marrone is crafting his vision of what the Bills should be, and he could start with his own hand-picked passer in raw rookie E.J. Manuel as soon as 2013. That, or he could go the safer route with veteran signal caller Kevin Kolb, and try to save some face with a few more wins. Either way, Buffalo is more likely than not looking at another season on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
2013 Bills Draft Overview:
Round 1, Pick 16 (from St. Louis): E.J. Manuel, QB Florida State
Round 2, Pick 9: Robert Woods, WR, Southern California
Round 2, Pick 14 (from St. Louis): Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
Round 3, Pick 16 (from St. Louis): Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Round 4, Pick 8: Duke Williams, FS, Nevada
Round 5, Pick 10: Johnathan Meeks, S, Clemson
Round 6, Pick 9: Dustin Hopkins, PK, Florida State
Round 7, Pick 16 (from St. Louis): Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas
12-4-12: Tied for second place in most divisions would be a good thing, but not so much in the AFC East. With a 5-7 record and the NFL’s worst rushing defense the Bills have found it tough to find wins. Coming off a win against Jacksonville, the Bills will look to make it two straight this week against the St. Louis Rams.