1 - Schein names Bills this year’s 'Cinderella team'
A new annual tradition, NFL.com columnist Adam Schein made his Cinderella pick for the third year in a row in the spirit of March Madness. Unlike this year’s tournament, with no Cinderella team, Schein has picked the Bills to come out and shine every Sunday. The past two seasons Schein has picked the Bears and Jaguars. Each team went from the cellar to division champs after he chose them.
Schein loves the Bills. He loves what General Manager Brandon Beane is building, he loves the toughness and the accountability that head coach Sean McDermott has brought to Buffalo.
It's Josh Allen's time to shine -- or Schein, for the sake of this conversation, as I've always loved the uber-talented, rocket-armed signal-caller. Despite the extreme polarization surrounding the Wyoming product at this time last year, I felt he oozed rare talent. And I wasn't alone. Many savvy NFL executives whispered that he was the top dog in a special quarterback class. Many respected analysts, including my CBS Sports Network teammates Phil Simms and Steve Beuerlein, felt the same way. When Buffalo traded up to draft Allen at No. 7 overall, I lauded the Bills for snagging "their most talented quarterback since Jim Kelly."
Schein is a fan of what Beane has done to help his second-year QB. Mitch Morse is “the kind of battery mate you want to hand a young quarterback,” and Gore is “a leader who will set the right tone.” Other teams made bigger moves, but the Bills made the “right” moves says Schein.
Schein also mentions the defense as the most underrated aspect of the team considering it was barely noticed that the Bills finished with the number two pass defense in the league last season. The whole of the unit is greater than the sum of its parts because “McDermott maximizes the talent he’s given on that side of the ball.”
Don't be shocked if, come December, the Bills are knocking on the door to get back in the playoffs. I think this team has some magic to it.
2 - John Brown will benefit most from relocation
Wide receiver groups changed a lot this offseason. NFL Network analyst and former wide receiver Nate Burleson looked at the recent relocation of notable wide receivers and asked if they will have more or less success with their new team in 2019 than they did with their club in 2018?
For new Bill John Brown, the answer is more.
Old team: Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo is a great fit for this speedster for one reason: Josh Allen's big arm, which is what scouts gushed over when the QB was going through the draft process. Brown's a burner who is capable of beating defenders on intermediate and deep routes. In this offense with a quarterback who's not scared to let it go, Brown will log his second season of 1,000 receiving yards.
2019 prediction: 70 receptions, 1,000 yards, 7 TDs.
Burleson’s prediction would give Brown his most productive season since 2015 when he was in Arizona. Brown finished with 65 receptions, 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season in Baltimore the receiver finished with 42 receptions, 715 yards and five touchdowns.
3 - Kroft looking to make more direct impact
Tyler Kroft was quietly one of the reasons the Bills made the playoffs in 2017. Everyone remembers the play of Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd to let Buffalo into the playoffs, but few look back on Kroft’s performance of six catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Now Kroft can make a more direct impact on the Bills after signing with them this offseason.
“Coming in, obviously the opportunity is there,” Kroft said. “Last season got cut a little short, but I wanted to build off the year prior and continue to grow – basically prove that I can play and start in this league.”
Kroft’s 2018 season was cut short after a broken bone in his foot allowed him to appear in just five games but in 2017 he was proving he could be a starting tight end in the NFL. Kroft had 42 catches for 404 yards and seven touchdowns in a season where he started all 16 games.
“When you look at his game and we looked in particular at the year when he became the starter, when (Tyler) Eifert was down, and how he stepped up and took hold of that opportunity,” coach Sean McDermott said. “What he's able to do in the pass and the run game. In meeting him when he came in, he and his wife, again another good interaction. A guy that's positive.”
Kroft’s role with the Bills isn’t set in stone as Buffalo can still add another tight end during the draft. In Cincinnati, Kroft was primarily a blocker but says it was because that was the role the Bengals wanted him to do more. Kroft is willing to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful and can’t wait to help Josh Allen on underneath routes.