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New York Times previews the Buffalo Bills

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Between sports radio and a billion different blog sites, we’ve scoured through quite a few Buffalo Bills season previews recently. Some have been conservative, suggesting that the Bills are still a solid quarterback away from reaching the postseason, while others are fantasizing wildly about the Super Bowl.

The New York Times’ Fifth Down blogger Andy Benoit offers the most thorough preview we’ve seen yet, however, describing the value of over 30 players, judging the team’s schemes both offensively and defensively, and providing an accurate dissection of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s strengths and limitations.

Typically, national coverage of the Bills is often inferior compared to local coverage—the far-off writers don’t have the advantage of watching training camp day-to-day or sitting in a press box for a Bills game 16 times per season, and often small details are either incorrect or far-fetched. Not so in Benoit’s preview, as the research is exhaustive.

Here are three of his most poignant thoughts:

The [Bills] have missed the postseason 12 straight years because they’ve lacked talent. Nothing more. They seemed to survive their “small market” just fine when they were reaching Super Bowls in the 1990s. Some say that the market and the weather haven’t made Buffalo a “natural landing spot” for free agents, but if there were such a thing as natural landing spots, then wouldn’t Seattle, Green Bay, Minnesota, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Oakland all have problems?

Most likely, Fitzpatrick did not get content after his big deal – he just got figured out and exposed. Call it the Tommy Maddox syndrome. Often, mid-level quarterbacks who find themselves in the right scheme will flourish early on. Teams will study them more closely and eventually solve the scheme. No coach in the history of football has ever concocted a scheme that befuddled an entire league for years and years.

For the most part, last year’s No. 3 overall pick, Marcell Dareus, has lived up to the hype. Dareus can create congestion as a nose tackle or get penetration as a three-technique. He has uncommon body control and fluidity for a man of his size and should only get better with experience. That’s frightening for opponents, considering that the veteran next to him, Kyle Williams, offers a similarly diverse tableau of skills.

Although it would have been nice to know Benoit’s playoff predictions—he projects that Buffalo will finish second in the AFC East, but that doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot—it’s encouraging to find that the Bills are viewed as better than the drama-ridden Jets from a national perspective.

TAGGED: andy benoit, buffalo bills, chan gailey, new york times, nfl football, ryan fitzpatrick, stevie johnson

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