Originally Published: September 2, 2010
Rafael Suanes/US Presswire JOHN CLAYTON QB RANKING (31): After losing his job during the 2009 season, Trent Edwards has re-emerged as the Bills' starter and will try to thrive behind a suspect offensive line.

Expert Picks (Consensus: 4th)

Intelligence Report

Five things you need to know about the Bills:

1. New regime not ducking reality: If the Bills lose more games this season than last, that doesn't necessarily mean they're failing to improve. The Bills are in an honest rebuilding phase for the first time since their last playoff appearance a decade ago. It's almost as though the organization was in denial, spinning its wheels from losing season to losing season. The Bills' lone winning record in that span was 9-7 in 2004. But with new general manager Buddy Nix laying a draft-based foundation and new coach Chan Gailey trying to establish a new culture, they finally seem to have a vision worth waiting out.

2. The offensive line remains a serious concern: The Bills declined to tinker much with a front five that led the NFL with 48 penalties (league average was 29.4) and gave up 46 sacks, more than all but three teams. The Bills signed free-agent right tackle Cornell Green for their immediate needs and drafted Ed Wang in the fifth round to groom him for the future. They're sticking with penalty-prone left tackle Demetrius Bell, who looked overwhelmed before a knee injury ended his 2009 season early. The Bills do have a steady interior, with veteran center Geoff Hangartner between second-year guards Eric Wood (coming off a gruesome broken leg) and Andy Levitre. But the entire unit doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

3. QB corps is vulnerable: Because of the Bills' offensive line, three quarterbacks might start for Buffalo again this season. Gailey's supposed open competition at quarterback has been anything but. He named Trent Edwards the top quarterback at the start of training camp but said the job was up for grabs. With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm splitting second- and third-team reps (and sitting out full preseason games), Edwards has pulled away on participation alone. However, the real competition might be staying one step ahead of injuries. Edwards has problems with staying healthy. Fitzpatrick absorbed enough contact to get knocked off the field last season, too. With no significant changes on the O-line, why should we expect a different medical outlook for Buffalo's quarterbacks?

4. Buffalo has one of the NFL's best defensive backfields: There's a reason the Bills will play all their games at 1 p.m. ET Sunday. They simply don't generate any interest outside of their own fan base after so many years of losing. As a result, some of the team's strengths go unappreciated by the masses. The Bills finished with the second-rated pass defense last season, allowing 184.2 yards a game. You might counter by mentioning the Bills ranked 30th against the run, giving opponents little reason to throw. But the Bills did finish second in interceptions with 28. They have envious depth at cornerback and safety. For real.

5. Tight end looks like a lost position again: The Bills have had problems getting their tight ends involved in the offense for ages. They've gotten 40 receptions out of a tight end only once since Lonnie Johnson in 1997. Gailey is an offensive-minded coach, but he doesn't seem to have the personnel to turn tight end into an impact position this season. Shawn Nelson started 12 games in 2009 as a fourth-round pick, but he had a disappointing camp and has been suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Derek Schouman is expected to miss six weeks with a knee injury. Michael Matthews was waived after injuring his ankle. As of now, Jonathan Stupar is the starter. He's a third-year pro with six career catches for 40 yards.

-- Tim Graham, ESPN.com

Scouts Inc.'s Fabulous Five


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