1- Eric Wood, Pro Bowl TE endorse Bills’ new OL coach
The Bills announced an addition to their coaching staff on Tuesday afternoon, bringing former Colts’ assistant Bobby Johnson on as their offensive line coach.
A 24-year coaching veteran, Johnson’s first professional gig came with the Bills, as he served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach from 2010-11. It was during this stint that Johnson had the opportunity to work with Eric Wood, a highly-touted prospect whom Buffalo selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.
During Johnson’s first year on the Bills’ staff, Wood made his transition from guard to center, the position that he would shine at until he was forced to retire in the 2017 offseason. The former Pro Bowl center feels as though Buffalo made an excellent decision in hiring Johnson, giving the veteran coach his seal of approval on Twitter.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is also a fan of the Bills’ hire, echoing Wood’s praise on his own Twitter account.
2 - B/R: Josh Allen is Bills’ best reason for hope
Throughout the 2018 season, Buffalo fans watched their franchise quarterback grow before their own eyes.
The strides that Josh Allen made throughout the course of the campaign were considerable. Though he didn’t necessarily struggle early in the campaign, he made a few rookie mistakes, exiting his first stretch of starts with a 55.6 completion percentage and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of two-to-five. Allen went down with an elbow injury in Week 6, an ailment that kept him sidelined until Week 11.
Allen looked like a completely different quarterback once he returned from injury. His decision-making had improved, his passes were seemingly crisper, and he displayed a new eagerness to use his legs to pick up yardage. Allen accounted for 1,718 yards of total offense over his final six starts, cementing himself as a franchise-caliber player.
It was the progress that Allen made in the second half of the season that makes Buffalo’s future so hopeful, according to Bleacher Report writer Brent Sobleski. In a recent article highlighting each NFL team’s best reason for hope, Sobleski identified Allen as Western New York’s beacon of optimism.
“As the Bills leaned on one of the league's best defenses (second overall in yards allowed per game), Allen grew as a player and earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after the regular season's final weekend,” Sobleski wrote.
Sobleski feels as though Buffalo must surround Allen with more offensive weapons this offseason.
“Allen, 22, proved to be a true dual-threat over the last six games with 1,259 passing yards, 476 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns,” Sobleski wrote. “If the Bills add more talent to the skill positions, the young quarterback can maximize his talent.
3 - These PFF stats prove Jerry Hughes’ dominance
Improved production was something that Buffalo wanted to see out of its defensive line in the 2018 season. After finishing the 2017 campaign with just 27 team sacks, the fourth-lowest total in the league, consistently getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks was a major goal for the Bills entering the new year.
Offseason improvements made to the defensive line allowed the unit to improve in the 2018 season, as Buffalo finished the campaign with 36 total sacks. Jerry Hughes led the way statistically, finishing the season with seven total sacks, his highest total since his 10-sack 2014 outing.
Though Hughes finished the 2018 season with solid statistics, his advanced analytics paint a better picture of just how dominant he was. According to Pro Football Focus, Hughes was an elite pass rusher this season, finishing the campaign with an overall grade of 90.4. Only one edge defender finished the season with a higher overall grade.
Hughes created pressure on 19.7 percent of his pass-rushing snaps, per PFF. No edge defender got to the quarterback on a higher percentage of snaps. The 30-year-old also cleanly beat opposing offensive linemen on 23.9 percent of his pass rushes, the highest win rate among all edge defenders.
Dominance is something that Buffalo fans have come to expect from Hughes. He’s led the team in sacks in three out of the last four seasons.