1 - Josh Allen ‘already eager’ to get back
Though Buffalo finished the 2018 season with a lackluster 6-10 record, the team showed promise throughout the campaign, laying a strong foundation on which they hope to build a perennial contender.
Buffalo’s young players were the focus of conversation through the majority of the season. Tremaine Edmunds constructed a stellar rookie campaign in the middle of the defense, totaling a team-high 121 tackles. Taron Johnson and Matt Milano also had breakout years on defense.
Perhaps most notably, rookie quarterback Josh Allen largely lived up to the seemingly insurmountable expectations surrounding him. He proved that he’s worthy of the title of “franchise quarterback,” that he truly is a player that Buffalo can build its roster around.
Though not even 24 hours removed from the conclusion of his rookie season, Allen’s already eager to get back to work.
“I wish we would still be playing right now, Allen said. “I feel like we just started to find our groove as an offense, and that’s where the excitement for the next several months comes from. I’m just super excited. I’m eager to get back already. It’s been one day, and it’s been too long.”
Though Allen showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season, he wasn’t pleased with the final result, a 6-10 season in which Buffalo found itself on the outside of the playoffs. The signal-caller is confident that this experience will only help the team grow.
“There was a lot of hard work that went into this,” Allen said. “Obviously, coming into a new situation, rookie quarterback, new offensive coordinator, everybody’s learning the system. Wasn’t the greatest year, we didn’t envision it going like this. I can say that I’m excited for what the future holds and excited to be a part of this team and a part of this franchise.”
2 - Micah Hyde: Everybody’s excited for what’s to come
Not one player on Buffalo’s roster wanted to be cleaning out their locker on Monday morning. They would have much rather spent that time planning for a playoff game or relaxing before their first-round bye.
Though the 2018 season didn’t play out as anybody had hoped, there’s a palpable optimism for the future. Micah Hyde feels as though the team’s elite defense combined with an emerging offense could result in a breakout 2019 campaign.
“I think that everybody in this building, I even talked to the ladies upstairs in the cafeteria, everybody’s excited for what’s to come,” Hyde said. “That’s every year. Every year you finish up, you always say ‘Next year this, next year that,’ you can always talk the talk. I’ve been in the league long enough, I’ve heard it enough, I understand that you can put our defense on paper going into next season, and we’re going to be talked about as one of the better defenses. But it’s on us to go out there and do that.
“What we went through on offense this year, it’s only going to make our team a lot better, with the quarterback situation going on. Late in the season, they found their identity. They’ve got some pieces that they can work around. I’m excited for them, it’s going to suck going against Josh in training camp next year, I can already believe that. He’s going to be a totally different player, I think that he’s going to be better than what he was finishing the season. From year one to year two, I’m really excited to see what he’s able to do. As a defense, we just have to keep continuing to work, and the coaches, they’re never going to allow us to get complacent.”
3 - 2018 was a ‘successful’ season, says Zo
In a season that was so heavily focused on youth, it was a 12-year veteran who often stole the spotlight.
Lorenzo Alexander finished the season with 76 tackles and 6.5 sacks, his best statistical production since his breakout 2016 campaign. Though the team had hoped to finish with a stronger record, the 2018 season can still be viewed as a successful one, according to the 35-year-old Alexander, as the team’s foundational pieces showed promise throughout the campaign.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s pretty successful as far of the future,” Alexander said. “Obviously we’re not where we want to be as far as being in the playoffs and playing for a championship, so that’s disappointing and sad in a sense.
“Things are looking bright and looking up for the future, I think we have a great young core here from Josh, to Tremaine, to Levi [Wallace], to Matt Milano, Robert Foster, Zay Jones, there’s a lot of young talent here. We’re in a position to do something special next year if guys really take advantage of the opportunity we have this offseason coming up, making sure that when we come back in April, that you’re in shape, ready to go, ready to take that next step forward.”
4 - Jordan Poyer: Young players will propel us forward
Coming off a 2017 campaign in which Buffalo made the playoffs, a 6-10 follow up season could be viewed as a disappointment by some. Veteran safety Jordan Poyer, however, feels as though the team actually took a step forward in the 2018 season, as the team identified a young core that will hopefully lead them to greatness.
“It’s always tough going into the offseason,” Poyer said. “But, with an established guy at quarterback with Josh [Allen], just giving so much energy to this city, to this organization, everything that he’s done. Everything that all of our young guns have done, Tremaine [Edmunds], Taron [Johnson] coming along, he’s going to be back healthy next year. We’ve got a lot of young guys with a lot of talent that bring lots of to this football team, that’s going to bring a lot of energy and continue to propel us forward in the future.”
5 - Taron Johnson: Future is very bright
A few of Buffalo’s young players established themselves as long-term starters in the 2018 season, core pieces who will hopefully play in Western New York for the foreseeable future.
Albeit in a limited sample size, rookie cornerback Taron Johnson made a tremendous impact in 2018, playing in 11 games and making 42 tackles. The nickel defender, who had his season ended prematurely after undergoing shoulder surgery in December, feels as though greatness is on the horizon in Buffalo.
“I’m excited to see what all of us can do,” Johnson said. “Everyone has shown flashes of what can come in the future if [we] continue to build and not get complacent. There’s a lot of work that I have to do, especially getting healthy. Just learning more, the most I can about the defense. Just the fact that we all are so young, I definitely see the future is very bright here in Buffalo.”