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Bills Roundtable: 4 opinions on the top individual seasons in team history

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Eric Moulds (80) runs to the end zone on a 53-yard touchdown reception with Miami Dolphins safety Brock Marion, left, and cornerback Sam Madison, right, during the  third quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium, in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 14, 1999. The Bills won 23-3. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Wide receiver Eric Moulds runs for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in 1999.

1. Best individual season you personally covered

Chris Brown: It would have to be the 1998 season. I was a young reporter covering the team for WGR Sportsradio 550, and the expectations were high for the Bills after their 6-10 season the year before, the last for Marv Levy as head coach. They had a new quarterback in Rob Johnson and a promising defense, but the season started 0-3 and it looked like the Bills would go back-to-back seasons without a postseason berth for the first time since 1986-87.

Who knew Doug Flutie would help to rescue the season and make the Pro Bowl. The Bills would finish the season 10-6 and qualify as a Wild Card. Even though they lost a heartbreaker in Miami, seeing the Bills become just the third team in league history to start the season 0-3 and still make the playoffs was a fun season to cover. Not to mention the budding quarterback controversy always provided something to report on from One Bills Drive.

John Murphy: I wish I had a chance to cover O.J.’s remarkable 1973 season—I was 16 years old and a huge Bills fan. But I have no problem “settling” for Thurman Thomas’ amazing 1991 season. The Bills were coming off their first Super Bowl appearance and they had fully implemented the no-huddle K-gun offense in 1991. Thurman was the perfect component of a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional yet simple offensive attack. With 1,400 yards on the ground and another 600 through the air, he was the obvious choice for NFL MVP that year. Thurman was the key piece of Buffalo’s second Super Bowl team.

2. Most underrated individual season in team history

CB: I’m going to go right back to 1998 and say Eric Moulds’ individual season that year is still overlooked. Part of it is due to the fact that the Bills only made the playoffs in three of his 10 seasons with the club, and those were three of his first four years. But think about this. In the midst of a quarterback controversy, Moulds put together a breakout season. No one could cover him one-on-one that year. Come season’s end, Moulds had almost 1,400 yards receiving on just 67 receptions. He averaged over 20 yards per catch for the season. He also led the team with nine receiving touchdowns.

Twenty-two of his 67 catches went for 20 yards-or-more. So about a third of his receptions went for 20 yards or more that season. Eight of them went for 40 yards or more and four of those were touchdowns of 65 yards or more. Then in the playoff game at Miami, he rolls up a record 240 yards on nine receptions along with a touchdown. He averages almost 27 yards-a-catch in the game. I know he had a 100-catch season in 2002 to set the franchise mark, but no season of his or maybe any other receiver in team history, save for Elbert Dubenion (1964), was as dominant as Moulds’ season was in ’98.

Murph: Eric Moulds third season with the Bills was his breakout season, He finished with 67 catches and averaged more than 20 yards-per-catch. He had nine touchdowns during the regular season and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Moulds season was overshadowed, however, by the emergence of Doug Flutie as the Bills unlikely starting quarterback that year. Moulds and Flutie developed some chemistry with offseason pick-up basketball workouts, and they helped carry the Bills to the playoffs that year. Moulds outstanding season continued in the postseason. In a 24-17 loss at Miami, Moulds caught nine passes for an NFL record 240 yards.

3. Best individual season performance by a player on the active roster

CB: I’m going to roll with LeSean McCoy’s 2016 season. Anyone who is able to put up more than 1,600 total yards of offense (1,257 rush, 356 receiving) when you’re the focal point of every defense you face is impressive.

In addition, he led the league in yards per carry average (5.4 per rush) for running backs with 200 carries or more. McCoy also tallied 14 touchdowns that season, which is only trumped by his 2011 season when he scored 20 total touchdowns with the Eagles. Enough said.

Murph: Kyle Williams has had some great seasons, and Tre’Davious White made a great first impression with his rookie year. But it’s hard to top LeSean McCoy’s 2013 season with the Eagles. Shady led the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards that year. He had nine rushing touchdowns and two through the air. His 1,607 rushing yards shattered an Eagles team record that had stood for 34 years. The 2013 season began with McCoy running for 184 yards on Monday Night Football against Washington. Later that year, in December, he ran over Detroit in a snowstorm, finishing with 217 yards and two touchdowns. McCoy had huge seasons in Philly in 2011 and 2014, but 2013 was probably his best season.

4. Who has the potential to post an all-time great season in 2018

CB: Tre’Davious White is a player that I think is poised to explode onto the NFL scene even more than he did last season. It was only the spring practices, but he was making plays much the way the aforementioned Eric Moulds did in the training camp before his 1998 season. White just looks ready to dominate in 2018, so I’ll bank on him.

Murph: I’ll take a flyer here and go with second year cornerback Tre’Davious White. He was overlooked by some around the league in his rookie campaign, but White was a major contributor on the Bills defense with his four interceptions and all around solid play. The addition of Vontae Davis at the other corner should mean White will see more passes coming his way this year. And the new faces up front on defense (Lotulelei, Murphy, etc) should mean more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and more opportunities for big plays on the back end by Tre-Day. I see a Pro Bowl season on the horizon this year for White and recognition of his status as one of the best young corners in the game.

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