LAST YEAR: Focus on building through youth and freeing up salary cap space led to predictable struggles, reflected in Buffalo’s 2-7 start one year after sneaking into playoffs to end 17-season drought. Though defense allowed second-fewest yards in NFL, offense endured ups and downs under rookie starting QB Josh Allen, and amid patchwork line and untested group of receivers. Allen went 2-3 before missing four games with sprained right throwing arm, and then displayed progress in closing season 3-3. Running back LeSean McCoy showed signs of aging (he turned 30) by finishing with 514 yards rushing and 752 yards from scrimmage — both career lows.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: C Mitch Morse, WRs Cole Beasley and John Brown, rookie DT Ed Oliver, RBs Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon, TE Tyler Kroft, CBs Kevin Johnson and EJ Gaines, rookie OT Cody Ford, OLs Ty Nsekhe, Jon Feliciano and Spencer Long, WR/return specialist Andre Roberts, and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: DT Kyle Williams, QB Derek Anderson, TE Charles Clay, RB Chris Ivory, OLs Ryan Groy and John Miller.
CAMP NEEDS: Key emphasis on establishing chemistry for what will be mostly retooled offense which could feature as many as eight new starters, including revamped line. Allen needs to continue developing as passer, and build rapport with Beasley, who missed most of spring recovering from core muscle surgery.
EXPECTATIONS: After Bills took developmental step back last year, expectations are rising with GM Brandon Beane using his wealth of salary cap space to address numerous needs. A nine-win finish is not out of question, though much depends on how quickly newcomers jell, and so long as Allen continues showing progress given how much team invested in offensive upgrades.
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