Training Camp is finally here! The long and mostly boring offseason is over and real football is just a little bit closer. The Bills began their actual practices today and with it comes some very big storylines that will continue through all of camp. Here are a few that will get the most attention and have the biggest impact on the Bills overall.
The Elephant in the Room
Since January, the big thing the media has said millions of times is the Bills lack a QB. Everyone knows it and at this point even people from Easter Island know about it. The Bills at this point don’t have an established QB, instead having a QB competition since Rex Ryan loves QB competitions. The three guys battling it out are Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel.
After OTA’s and Mini Camps, Cassel has fallen far behind the other two. He struggled with easy throws and was wildly inaccurate. Right now he is the insurance policy and will only start if the other two are worse than him, which hopefully never happens. Both Tyrod are dual threat QBs which Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman has had success with recently. Those two will be the guys to watch and it will be interesting how much they get with the first team. I expect one of them gets the start week three of preseason and eventually become the guy. Cassel can just be the veteran guy.
Who is the Right Tackle?
Four of the five spots on the offensive line are locked up with the right tackle position being a battle of two 2014 draft picks. Seantrel Henderson won the starting job in 2014 and started all 16 games. However last years’ 2nd round pick Cyrus the Virus has been working hard this offseason and has progressed dramatically and so far seized the job with Henderson in the doghouse. It won’t get all the attention due to the QB position but it is just as important as the offensive line needs to open up holes in the running game which will be the backbone of the offense. I expect Cyrus to end up winning this and Seantrel be the swing tackle.
The eleven starting spots on defense have been locked up and the only battles are for backups who will see a lot of snaps in nickle and dime sets.
The biggest of these battles is the nickle CB job between Ronald Darby and Nickell Robey. Robey is the established vet and in this defense he had lots of success in 2013 due to his instincts. Darby is the 2nd round pick and heir apparent to the 2nd CB position. He has blazing speed and does a good job being glued to his guy but struggles tracking the ball and can’t catch the football. Both will end up playing a lot this year regardless but this will determine who ends up being a de facto starter (Rex and most defenses use primarily nickel sets). I expect Robey to win this job as he is built for the nickel CB role in the Rex defense but Darby will be used a lot as well, especially with McKelvin having injury issues.
The other battle is for the guy to replace Dareus week one. It is a three way battle between Alex Carrington, Stephan Charles, and Corbin Bryant. Charles and Bryant filled in for Dareus in week 16 and week 17 last year but Carrington is the most talented of the three. However since Dareus is primarily a NT in this defense, Carrington isn’t the ideal size for this role and is a better fit for the DE spot. I expect Carrington to win the job but a rotation will more likely occur. The winner of this battle will also be the #1 reserve for both Kyle and Dareus so that is another thing to watch.
Overall the QB job is the #1 thing in preseason. The Bills are set at defense and the Bills have young and solid talent at WR, RB and TE. The offensive line and QB will be the key battles as those two positions/units have really held back the team the past few years. Also see the difference between this year and last year when Doug Marrone ran the show.
The best news is…Football is Back!