Looking at how the Bills closed out their season it might be hard to go into the offseason feeling good, but at this point you pretty much throw those games out the window. As a coaching staff you look at individuals in terms of where you're headed for 2011. You examine what players have made progress through the season and evaluate each player and what they've done. As a whole coaching staff Chan Gailey and his assistants will take a look at the positives and the negatives.
On offense even when starters weren't in there they were able to move the ball at times. That was a plus. Defensively they have to take a look at what they feel they have and don't have because I believe they're a little further away on that side of the ball than the offense.
From a coaching and scouting perspective they'll have to assess where their needs are position-wise and determine whether they can be addressed in free agency or the draft.
The coaching staff will be looking at the whole body of work over the entire 16-game season. They know more about the logistics and what they need and what has to be fixed. You never want a season to end the way that this one did, but going into the offseason they get a chance to wipe the slate clean.
One issue that was really magnified in the second half of the season, and particularly the last two games was turnovers. It takes players to focus on it and work on it. I know the coaches emphasize it in practice, but they can only do that so much. Players have to know that when they put those fumbles on film that opponents are going to be swiping at the ball all the more. It's up to the players to protect the ball because they're the ones handling it, and that didn't happen.
The Bills had 13 turnovers in their last two games. That's something that can't continue next season and the players know that, but even they admitted they lost focus in that area down the stretch.
Ball security is a must to give your team the best chance to win games. Sometimes protecting it can be hard for a quarterback, but much like they have to be aware of how much time they have so they don't take a sack, they have to use that same internal clock to avoid getting a ball slapped out of their hand.
Stopping the run on defense has to be at the top of their agenda this offseason. The main issue there is they have to simply get players that are better. You can't win with schemes. You win with players. Schemes can make a unit effective, but players make a unit better to ultimately get the job done.
Drafting high in every round this spring should help the Bills add some quality talent. The organization needs to really to put together a solid draft class of players that are here for the long haul and not somewhere else in two or three years. That happened too much over the past decade and it left the Bills with a smaller collection of talent than most other NFL teams.
They really need to make their draft picks count, and the top picks have to be impact players. With that third overall pick, they don't need to spend it on a quarterback. I think Ryan Fitzpatrick gives them enough to be a capable offense.
Maybe if there's a quarterback prospect that's available in the second or third round that they're high on they take one there, but that top pick has to be an impact player. Drafting that high it has to be a franchise type player that can be put on the field from day one.
Whether it's an offensive tackle, a pass rusher, a linebacker, it's got to be somebody that makes a difference right away on offense or defense.
I know Chan Gailey said he was very committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starter at quarterback next season and I agree with him. I think going into the season with Fitz would be a good thing. It's something where you want to see him progress and continue to get better. And part of that requires putting better players around him.
When you have the third pick in the draft you have to look at what your needs are. That's why last year I was surprised by C.J. Spiller. Now I think Spiller will pan out to be a difference making player for this team, but they need to get players with their first few picks that they don't have to wait on. They have to be impact players right now.