Here's the Bills news of note for June 21st.
**1 - Bills 2004 defense ranks 4th in last 30 years
In this edition of Alumni Rewind, we take a look at the nine-year career of former Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel.
**The 2004 Buffalo Bills finished second in the league that year in total defense, first in takeaways (39), second against the pass (164 yds/gm), third in touchdowns allowed (29), sixth against the run (100.2 yds/gm) and sixth in points allowed (17.8/gm). On Football Outsiders advanced metric scale the Bills 2004 defense, which featured players like Sam Adams, Pat Williams, Aaron Schobel, London Fletcher, Takeo Spikes, Nate Clements and Lawyer Milloy, was the fourth-best defensive unit in the NFL in the last 30 years.
Here's their explanation for the lofty ranking for the 2004 unit.
*4. 2004 Buffalo Bills
The 2004 Bills were the best team of this century to miss the playoffs, ranking No. 1 in DVOA for both defense and special teams. They had one of the greatest defenses that almost nobody remembers. The Bills led the league with 39 takeaways and allowed a league-low 4.32 yards per play. They tied for third with 45 sacks even though Aaron Schobel (8.0) was the only player with more than five. *
*In one absurd December game, they allowed Cleveland a grand total of 26 yards in a 37-7 victory. The Bills did this with a lineup that probably included no Hall of Famers, unless London Fletcher or Pat Williams sneaks in some day. *
The Bills would have entered the playoffs red-hot as long as they beat Pittsburgh in Week 17. The game was in Buffalo and the 14-1 Steelers were resting starters. The defense held Tommy Maddox to 120 passing yards but somehow let the Steelers hold onto the ball for nearly nine minutes with a 26-17 lead in the fourth quarter. The Steelers won 29-24, and the Bills missed their best chance at the postseason since the Music City Miracle.
The Bills rating of -28.5 percent means their defense that year was 28.5 percent better than the average NFL defense.
Buffalo's 2004 defense was only bested by two Super Bowl winners (2000 Ravens, 2002 Buccaneers) and the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles, another team that failed to make the playoffs after losing starting QB Randall Cunningham to a torn ACL in Week 1.
2 - Bills offseason earns 'B' gradeYou won't hear Bills head coach Sean McDermott talk about how well the team did in the offseason. He's squarely focused on winning in the fall. But prognosticators can't help but to evaluate Buffalo's rebuilding effort through the winter and spring.
Bleacher Report put together their take on the Bills offseason of decision making and handed them a 'B' grade. Here is part of their evaluation.
THE GOOD NEWS
It's rebuild time in Buffalo. And that rebuild was long overdue.
For the past several years, the Bills were a mediocre team doing everything they could to be just good enough to sneak into the postseason and end the NFL's longest playoff drought. It seems as though they've finally figured out that isn't working, so they're starting over under new head coach Sean McDermott and new general manager Brandon Beane.
*In at least one regard, the Bills wisely chose to go with the devil they know. Tyrod Taylor isn't a world-beater at quarterback, but he's a capable starter. Bringing him back after renegotiating his deal made more sense than starting over
3 - Jackson, Dixon to play in Spring League ShowcaseFormer Bills RB Fred Jackson and FB Boobie Dixon will be among the players participating in the upcoming Spring League Showcase game in California on July 15th.
Napa Memorial Stadium will be the site of the game featuring Spring League California against Spring League East.
Former college coach Terry Shea will oversee the California team, while former Bills position coach Donnie Henderson will run the East team.
The Spring League got up and running earlier this year when four teams played a total of six games in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
"The Spring League Showcase will provide the NFL with additional opportunities to evaluate players just before the start of training camps," said Spring League CEO Brian Woods.