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Writer Report: Buffalo Bills

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Chris Trapasso of Bleacher Report talks about Mario Williams, CJ Spiller, and more as we preview the Bills.

Writer Report: Buffalo Bills

In this article…

With the training camp and preseason games well underway, CHARGED.fm is getting ready for the NFL season. As part of that, we reached out to writers/bloggers for all 32 teams to get their takes on the upcoming season. Here is Chris Trapasso of BleacherReport.com with some insight on the Bills.

Last season, the Buffalo Bills got off to a Cinderella start but then quickly reverted into the proverbial pumpkin.  They finished the season 6-10 after starting 5-2, and they did so in typical Buffalo fashion: a mixture of blowouts and some heart-wrenching close losses thrown in for good measure.  But the Bills look like they are trying to build off the momentum from last season's successes.  They signed Mario Williams, drafted Stephen Gilmore, locked up Fred Jackson, and seem like a team that is ready to legitimately contend.

To get a better idea of Buffalo's chances this season, we spoke with Chris Trapasso.  He covers the Bills for Bleacher Report, and here's what he had to say about some of the hot topics in Buffalo.

1. How much better is the Bills defense with the addition of Mario Williams to the front seven?

The Bills defense totaled only 29 sacks in 2011, which tied for 27th fewest in the NFL. With more emphasis on passing the football than ever before, elite pass-rushers are needed for teams to be successful. Williams will attract plenty of attention from his 4-3 defensive end spot and has the potential to create a massive ripple effect that reaches the entire Bills defense. Instantly, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, two of the best defensive tackles in the AFC, will see more one-on-ones. The same goes for role players like Mark Anderson, Chris Kelsay and Spencer Johnson. Secondary members will be able to be more aggressive jumping routes. Williams' addition is huge for Buffalo, so much so, that they have the chance to field a Top 15 defensive unit.

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick started the season on fire, got paid, and then fell back to Earth. Which Fitzpatrick can the Bills expect this season?

The Bills can expect a similar Fitzpatrick, but a guy that'll play a different role in 2012. At 29 years old, he's an NFL veteran, so expecting any drastic improvement in his game at this point is somewhat foolish. After witnessing C.J. Spiller break away from the bust label at the end of last year, and with starter Fred Jackson back from injury, the team must run the ball more frequently and morph Fitzpatrick into more of a game-manager. He threw the ball 569 times in 2011— far too many. If he does stay between 480-500 passes, he can be an effective leader of this Bills team.

3. This is CJ Spiller’s third season with Buffalo, and although he has shown flashes, he hasn’t really lived up to the hype. With Fred Jackson re-signed, how do you see him performing in his role this season and how important is Spiller to Buffalo’s success?

Spiller should excel in his role as a complementary back to Jackson and a receiver out of the backfield. His speed, acceleration and lateral agility can't be questioned, but his vision and patience weren't up to NFL standards until last year. He's extremely important to the Bills offense. If he and Jackson can wear down defenses with their differing running styles, it'll alleviate pressure from Fitzpatrick and keep Buffalo in many more contests late in the year.

4. It seemed like defenses figured out Chan Gailey’s offense midway through last season. In the Bills’ final 8 losses, they averaged just 17.5 PPG. What changes do the Bills need to make in order to find more consistency scoring the ball?

As I've alluded to, a stronger emphasis on running the football is a must due to the talent of Jackson and Spiller. Also, occasionally stretching opposing secondaries with a variety of deep throws is vital. Down the stretch in 2011, teams played close to the line of scrimmage and anticipated many of the Bills' short throws from the spread offense.

5. Who is one player to watch this season that is going to surprise people for the Bills?

T.J. Graham. To some, he was a surprising pick by the Bills in the third round, but his track speed and YAC ability will be a welcomed addition to the offense. In Chan Gailey's first two seasons in Buffalo, he successfully tapped into the potential of Roscoe Parrish, a guy with a similar skill-set to that of Graham's. Parrish is probably slightly more agile, but Graham too is elusive and has much better downfield speed. Gailey will call plays to allow Graham to utilize his natural abilities, so look for a variation of bubble screens and go-routes down the sideline.

6. What’s your prediction for the Bills this season?

It's difficult to predict the win-loss record of team before the preseason is complete and the final 53-man roster is set. However, I'll go on the record now to say the Bills finish 10-6. Leaving it at that.

Chris Trapasso is a featured columnist who covers the Bills for Bleacher Report.  You can find his work here, and you can follow him on Twitter @ChrisTrapasso.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the Buffalo Bills this season.

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