2012 was supposed to a good year for the Buffalo Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick was going to prove that he was worth his contract extension. The new Williams Wall was going to be the terror of the AFC East while the team rode their friendly schedule to a playoff run that would introduce C.J. Spiller into the spotlight and see Chan Gailey solidify his position as head coach. Some idiot named Rich Gapinski thought they would make the playoffs.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
First of all, the Ryan Fitzpatrick extension seems to be somewhere around the 5th worst quarterback decision by a team in the league during the last few years. I would think that the Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb, Blaine Gabbert and Mark Sanchez situations still rate at least as bad as the Buffalo scenario. While Fitzpatrick did throw for 3,400 yards with 24 touchdowns, he still was in the bottom quarter of the league in interceptions thrown.
Other than shaky quarterback play, the only problem with the Bills this season was that the season started. After the season began, key injuries and ineffective play became the signature of the team.
Mario Williams was supposed to be a great story in Buffalo. Unfortunately, the great story ended up being about how the limitations of Williams were painfully on display while the rest of the defensive line also under-performed. His difficulty in the run game was obvious. He finished the season with 10.5 sacks, but 6 of those came during a four game stretch after the team was already 3-6 on the season. Kyle Williams seem mostly ineffective during most of the season and seemed to age five years in one. With a pass rush that finished 18th in the league in sacks, the defense was forced to rely on the secondary.
Unfortunately, the injury to Terrance McGee put pressure on a secondary that either wasn't ready for the roles they were given or should not have been playing in certain positions in the first place. This was most apparent with Aaron Williams. With no pass rush and no ability to defend the pass as effectively as before and two younger players at linebacker, the Bills were a complete disappointment in terms of points allowed. They finished 26th in the league in that category. They recorded just 12 interceptions on defense.
On offense, things were not that much better. Besides the problems that Fitzpatrick had, the team saw injuries to Fred Jackson and David Nelson that took away some weapons that the Bills expected to have. The name Brad Smith was uttered too often. Stevie Johnson battled leg injuries all season as well.
The bright spot of the whole offense had to be the contributions of C.J. Spiller. Questions about his durability remained until the end of this season. Getting more work than normal against the hapless Jets in week 17 allowed Spiller to become just the 7th running back in history to average 6 yards or more per carry with a minimum of 200 carries. He is the second Bill to do it; joining O.J. Simpson. His 1,703 yards from scrimmage was the most since Travis Henry in 2002. Let's just hope Spiller doesn't read Henry's guide to relationships.
WHAT CAN BE DONE:
Well, Gailey was fired and Doug Marrone has been hired. Marrone may be able to help try and solve the quarterback issue by selecting his own quarterback from Syracuse; his former job. Ryan Nassib has to be better than Tavaris Jackson, anyway.
Marrone has some unique experience with being involved with tough situations needing something positive to happen. He was the line coach and offensive coordinator that came to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Though just 25-25 at Syracuse, the team went from three wins to 8 in just two seasons. The 25 wins by Marrone is a 15 win improvement over the previous four seasons before he was there.
Marrone will have to hire a good defensive mind after the 2012 season proved that Dave Wannstedt's time in the league had passed. The team will have to address holes on the defensive line at tackle and end to helped compliment situational rusher Mark Anderson. Work needs to be done in the secondary as well.
One thing is sure, though. Their situation is not as bad as the other New York AFC East franchise.