BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott, with a smile on his face, said his bye week plans were to remain in Buffalo.
“I live a boring life,” McDermott said.
The Bills are anything but boring. The team sits in a good spot after a 5-1 start to the season despite dealing with a variety of injuries from the jump. The early week off comes after a statement 24-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on the road.
“We've got a long way to go,” McDermott said. “But it is nice to get a win, any win, going into the bye. ... My family will appreciate this win in more ways than one, so they don't have to put up with a miserable dad at home.”
The Bills arguably have the toughest stretch of their schedule behind them. Four of the team’s first six games were on the road, and the Bills have played the ninth-hardest strength of schedule through Week 6, per ESPN’s Football Power Index.
But five of their six divisional games are still to come, and the team can always get better. With the NFL trade deadline of Nov. 1 coming up, what might the Bills do next?
What could they need in a trade?
The Bills were mentioned as a possible destination for Christian McCaffrey before the running back was dealt to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night. McCaffrey has the highest average receiving yards per game (42.17) among running backs since 2017. Do the Bills need a back with that type of skill set?
In the offseason, general manager Brandon Beane almost signed J.D. McKissic, who had 80 receptions in his last full season in 2020, to a two-year deal until the running back decided to re-sign with the Washington Commanders. Instead, the Bills drafted running back James Cook in the second round to fill that role, and he is still developing.
“[Cook’s] going about his business and doing things the right way, continuing to dive into the playbook,” offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey said. “When his number is going to be called, he’ll be ready for it.”
The run game has struggled at times, but that’s due to many factors. Finding another back is not a must and only would seem worth doing for a reasonable price if a player with that specific receiver-like skill set comes available. Cam Akers, a 2020 second-round pick, has asked for a trade from the Los Angeles Rams, but he has only 16 receptions in 19 career games.
Adding to the offensive line could be worthwhile for the Bills, especially with Beane saying this offseason to never be surprised if he adds players up front.
But the Bills are in a position of luxury and don't have to make any moves based on the talent of the roster.
While not tied to the deadline, pass-rusher Von Miller has been banging the drum for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to come to the Bills. Bringing in Beckham would have to make sense within the WR room and for a team tight on cap space (eighth lowest). Beckham, currently still rehabbing a torn left ACL, would join a wide receiver group that has shown early it's more than up to the task -- the Bills' 1,478 receiving yards by wide receivers leads the NFL.
What’s next for the Bills after the bye?
The Bills are 5-0 coming off the bye week under McDermott, and a big prime-time game awaits with the Green Bay Packers traveling to Orchard Park, New York, for Sunday Night Football on Oct. 30.
The Bills' secondary is the area that has been hit hardest by injuries. But now the team will have an interesting decision to make on which of the three young cornerbacks should start opposite cornerback Tre’Davious White. He remains on the reserve/PUP list but has his 21-day practice window open through Nov. 2.
In White's absence, 2020 seventh-round pick Dane Jackson (who was the top corner after White to start the season) and rookies Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam have played well when healthy. Elam, their 2022 first-round pick, has had interceptions in each of the past two games.
“I'm really happy that [Elam’s] been able to get some exposure, get some work that we can coach off from a coaching standpoint, getting some tape that we can look at, see where we need to grow at, especially this time of year in October,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said.
The Bills could still use a rotation between Elam and Benford at the second corner spot.
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Josh Allen has had an MVP-like start to the season. His 19 total touchdowns were more than all but three teams had scored going into Week 7. “We're confident in [ourselves],” left tackle Dion Dawkins said. “We want the ball in our hand. We don't wanna put it in anyone else's hand, and the ball is best in [No.] 17's hand.”
Looking ahead, the Bills have the 22nd-hardest strength of schedule left, and home-field advantage in the playoffs is in their own control, something the team missed having last season.
“This is my 12th year in the league, there's a lot that can happen between now and then,” Miller said. “... We will debrief and see some of the things that we did good this season, some of the things that we did that we didn't do so good and get ready for a really good Green Bay team after the bye.”