1. Best performance of the season so far ...
John Murphy: The performance of the 2018 season so far, the one that will resonate with fans the most, is Matt Barkley's out-of-nowhere game against the Jets last week. Twelve days after signing on the roster, with less than two weeks of practice, Barkley threw a 47-yard strike to Robert Foster in his first NFL pass in two years. He was efficient and focused and Buffalo's 41-10 victory, when most observers expected he and the Bills to flounder. Barkley's numbers were not spectacular, but his poise and composure was. A game that will be long remembered in Bills history.
Steve Tasker: The best performance of the season so far has to be the Bills defense. Ranked number one at the halfway mark of the season after facing the sixth most offensive plays may be one of the most impressive seasons ever for a defense in franchise history.
"The success of the Bills 'youth movement' in last week’s win against the Jets is the biggest reason for optimism. And not just for the remaining six games, but for next year and beyond." John Murphy
2. Reason for optimism after the bye week ...
Murph: The success of the Bills 'youth movement' in last week's win against the Jets is the biggest reason for optimism. And not just for the remaining six games, but for next year and beyond. Guard Wyatt Teller, wide receiver Robert Foster, wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and others played major roles in last week's victory. There may be others who get significant snaps down the stretch and can provide some hope for a better season.
Tasker: The biggest reason for optimism after the bye is that Josh Allen will be back in the lineup, if he's healthy, and we will be able to see what progress he has made and watch together as he matures.
3. NFL ranking that you expected at this point in the season ...
Murph: I expected the Bills would have a much better overall defensive ranking from last season, but I never expected they'd be the top ranked defense in the league. Buffalo put significant free agent and draft resources on the defensive side of the ball, and the second year in Sean McDermott/Leslie Frazier's defense was bound to provide dividends. I just didn't think they'd be this good.
Tasker: I expected the defense to be top 10 but to be number one is outstanding!
"The key to the season at this point is getting the most out of every rep for the development of Josh Allen." Steve Tasker
4. NFL ranking that has surprised you the most ...
Murph: I am surprised that the offense is ranked so low - in points and yards. The loss of key offensive linemen during the offseason and the usual break-in issues for a rookie quarterback hit the Bills harder than I thought those issues would.
Tasker: The ranking that has surprised me the most is the offense and its inability to score points. We expected growing pains from the quarterback to begin the season but obviously the unexpected departures of Eric Wood and Richie Incognito were too much to overcome.
5. Area where the team needs to improve the most ...
Murph: Offensive line. The Bills have their quarterback in place for a long run in the future. They can squeeze more production out of running back LeSean McCoy the rest of this year and maybe another season. But neither the quarterback or the running back will have much of a chance if the offensive line does not improve this season and into next.
Tasker: I think the spot the team needs to improve the most is on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line showed some signs of life vs. the Jets and the speed that the Bills added to the lineup really helped. But the key to the season at this point is getting the most out of every rep for the development of Josh Allen.