1 – Rob Ryan, Ed Reed = more aggressive, opportunistic defenseWhile it will take results before Bills fans believe the defense under Rex Ryan's staff can excel, the hiring of Ryan's brother Rob improves the chances of positive results.
NFL Network analyst and former Patriots DE Willie McGinest played under Rob Ryan and believes the veteran defensive coordinator will increase the aggressiveness on that side of the ball.
"I played for Rob in New England so Rob will look at these guys up front and in the secondary and be very happy with what he has," said McGinest. "Rob will come in and he's very, very educated at using LBs and DEs in certain schemes and mixing and matching."
Buffalo only blitzed 20 percent of the time last season. McGinest expects that to change with Rob Ryan overseeing the defense.
"Rob Ryan's middle name is pressure," McGinest said. "He says, 'Hit it like you live, hard and fast. Make sure you get there and if you don't I'll take the blame for it.' But I think everything will come together. This group is a talented group. They can be productive. They'll look at what they did last year and be upset about it and they're going to come out and be a lot better."
With more blitzing anticipated it should afford Buffalo's secondary more opportunities to make plays on the ball. No one knew how to match film study with taking chances in defending the pass better than Ed Reed, Buffalo's assistant secondary coach. His expertise should help boost the Bills takeaway numbers this fall.
2 – Size mattersBuffalo added a dose of physical play to their receiving corps and their offensive backfield with the future signings of wide receivers Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little and running back James Wilder Jr.
Boykin and Little both go 6-2 and are 215 and 220 pounds respectively and play a physical style in the passing game. Wilder meanwhile is 6-3 and 232 pounds and a pile pusher with more elusiveness than one might anticipate.
Adding players that can bang to Buffalo's offensive arsenal figures to prove beneficial in short yardage situations or down near the end zone where space is hard to come by unless you're strong enough to box out a defender.
Buffalo converted just over 38 percent of the time in the passing game when they were 3rd-and-3 or less last season.
3 – Late arrivals with opportunityThe Bills signed a few players late last season who could prove to be in line for more notable roles in 2016. RB Mike Gillislee needs no introduction. He did that himself late in the 2015 campaign. With Karlos Williams and LeSean McCoy each in and out of the lineup with injuries, Gillislee picked up the slack and rolled up three touchdowns in the last five games earning the nickname 'Touchdown Mike.' Gillislee has put himself in position to be a complementary element to Buffalo's top ranked rushing attack.
WR Greg Salas has bounced around the league, but he has worked with Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal before and made an impact in the Week 17 win over the Jets contributing three catches for 41 yards. At 6-2 Salas offers size on the outside and could be in line for the fourth receiver role if Buffalo can't come to terms with restricted free agent Chris Hogan.
OLB Max Valles was a December add to the roster late last season when he was signed off Oakland's practice squad. A good fit at outside linebacker in what is expected to be more of a traditional 3-4 defense this season, Valles could be a player Buffalo makes use of more than outside observers expect, especially if Manny Lawson plays more on the line of scrimmage.