1 - Sean McDermott: Bills poised to take step forward
If there was one emotion that you would not expect a fanbase to feel following a 6-10 season, it would be optimism.
There is, however, an overall feeling of hope in Buffalo following the Bills’ 6-10 2018 campaign, a confidence that success is on the horizon.
Though Buffalo lost 10 games last season, quarterback Josh Allen looked like a franchise-caliber player. Tremaine Edmunds effectively led the defense at just 20 years of age. Though the results weren’t there for the Bills last season, the signs of a perennial contender were.
Head coach Sean McDermott feels as though the team is well on its way toward becoming a legitimate threat in the AFC. During a recent appearance on The Mike Tirico Podcast, McDermott talked about the strides that his team made throughout the 2018 campaign, something that left him with confidence entering the offseason.
“You look back at our season and you say we won six games, and why weren’t we better?” McDermott said. “It’s a weird feeling, because you feel like we were better than winning six games, yet at the same time, you feel like, ‘Gosh, we’ve got this young football team that is developing,’ and the signs of growth, the signs of development that we’ve seen just through the course of this season is significant.”
Buffalo’s brass has positioned itself in a favorable position entering the 2019 offseason, as the team is set to have a reported $80 million in cap space in addition to its 10 selections in the 2019 draft. McDermott feels as though the upcoming offseason could be a crucial one in shaping the team’s future.
“I think we’re poised, if we add the right pieces and have the right offseason, to continue to move this thing in the direction that it needs to go,” McDermott said. “The moves that Brandon [Beane] is going to make, and our personnel and scouting departments have things that they’ve been working on all fall, should pay off for us this offseason.
“We’re just trying, Brandon and myself, Terry and Kim [Pegula], trying to get this thing turned in the direction where we can then sustain it for a number of years.”
2 - PFF: Foster, Wallace ‘exceeded expectations’
They weren’t highly touted coming out of Alabama. Instead, they arrived at One Bills Drive with shiny National Championship rings and chips on their shoulders.
Neither Robert Foster nor Levi Wallace heard their names called in the 2018 NFL draft, this despite coming off a National Championship-winning campaign with the Crimson Tide. Eligible to sign with any team of their choosing, both Foster and Wallace decided to ink deals with the Bills, becoming teammates yet again.
Despite little being expected of them, both Foster and Wallace shined in their rookie campaigns. Foster reeled in 25 passes for 511 yards over the final seven games of the season, nearly usurping Zay Jones as the team’s leading receiver. Wallace started seven games at cornerback opposite Tre’Davious White, tallying 37 tackles and three pass deflections.
Foster and Wallace “exceeded expectations” in their rookie seasons, according to Pro Football Focus writer Ben Linsey. The analyst highlighted the impact that the two rookies made in a recent article, suggesting that the duo could be around for the foreseeable future.
“Rookie cornerback Levi Wallace led all Bills rookie defenders in overall grade at 83.5, while first-year wide receiver Robert Foster led all rookie offensive players on the team in overall grade at 72.1,” Linsey wrote. “It wasn’t just team-wide that they ranked well, though; Foster ranked second among all rookie wide receivers in overall grade behind just D.J. Moore, and Wallace’s 83.5 grade led all qualifying rookie cornerbacks.
According to Wiley, Foster was one of the league’s most reliable deep threats over the final seven weeks of the season, as 304 of his 511 receiving yards came off passes 20 or more yards down the field. Wallace was just as dominant on the other side of the ball, per Wiley, allowing just 0.45 receiving yards per coverage snap. He topped the league in that stat.
3 - Nickell Robey-Coleman: ‘I’ve got Buffalo blood’
He’s now a household name around the country; but just a few years ago, only the most passionate of Buffalo fans knew who he was.
Los Angeles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman became the focus of a national discussion last week after officials failed to call an apparent pass interference penalty on the defender in the dying moments of the Rams’ NFC Championship win over the Saints. Now off to the Super Bowl for the first time of his career, Robey-Coleman is set to face a familiar opponent - the New England Patriots.
Robey-Coleman, who signed with Buffalo after going undrafted in the 2013 draft, played against New England on eight occasions throughout his four-year stint with the Bills, totaling 18 tackles and one pass deflection in those contests. Though he hasn’t played against New England since signing with the Rams in 2017, his hatred for the Patriots remains, as he came to despise the team throughout his time with the Bills.
"I've got Buffalo blood running through my veins, so you know I hate these guys," Robey-Coleman told Bleacher Report’s Ty Dunne. "I naturally hate them. I never liked New England.”
Robey-Coleman added that the Patriots often “antagonize” and “look down upon” other teams, something that only further fuels his hatred.
Though Robey-Coleman hasn’t worn a Buffalo uniform in over two years, his animosity toward his former team’s rival has only strengthened. An emotional player, Robey-Coleman will undoubtedly leave his “Buffalo blood,” sweat, and tears on the field this Sunday as his Rams attempt to upset the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.