The 2012 offseason for the Bills has been up and down, but it’s been mostly more ups than downs at this point, and the team is a month away from starting training camp.
Today we take a look at some of the bigger questions for the Bills as they enter 2012, and the possible solutions that lie ahead for the team.
1. How Big of an Impact will Mario Williams Be?
Williams was the teams biggest offseason pickup, and in the new 4-3 scheme, he will be counted on to bring the team on opposing quarterbacks in 2012. The major issue with Williams is that he’s registered double-digit sacks only twice in his six-year NFL career, and that’s the biggest reason the Bills wanted him. If the Bills are counting on Williams just for sacks, they may be let down in the end with what they are going to get. “I think we can be as good as the best defense in the NFL if we do what we’re supposed to do,” LB Nick Barnett said. “I definitely think we have that potential. We’ve got great pass rushers.”
The pass rushers may be good, but if they think Williams is going to come in and put up 15 sacks, it won’t happen, and fans had better get set to that fact for 2012 and beyond.
2. More Balance on Offense in 2012
Last season the Bills started fast, but then once they started playing from behind after the wheels started to come off, it became more of the Jim Kelly run-and-gun offense. Last year, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a career-high 596 passes (and a league-high 23 interceptions) while the Bills rushed the ball just 391 times. They need to rush more in 2012, and with running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, the offense needs to rely more on the ground game.
That also starts with the defense, which needs to keep the team in games instead of allowing other teams to build leads and then having to throw a ton to get back in games.
3. Who Is the #2 WR Opposite Stevie Johnson
It’s great that Johnson is back with the Bills, but one of the biggest camp questions is what WR joins him on the other side as the #2 wide out in the offense?
“We’ll know exactly where we stand and it all works itself out by the time we get to the first ball game,” coach Chan Gailey said. “We’ve got two or three guys that have done a great job. But Donald Jones is probably a little bit ahead of everybody at this point.”
Donald Nelson last season had 61 catches for 665 yards and five TD’s. Jones had 23 grabs for 231 yards with a score last season, and there’s also free agent David Clowney who joined the team this offseason.
Who wins that job will go a long way in how good this offense and passing game will be.
“There are some guys that we’ve added to the mix that we need to find out how much they can give us,” Gailey said. “They have ability or they wouldn’t be here. So what can they do once we get to training camp and once the lights are on in preseason games? All those kinds of things.”