Buffalo Bills set to open camp with high expectations

NFL Dallas

BUFFALO BILLS (10-7)

CAMP SITE: Orchard Park, New York

LAST YEAR: Stout defense led way in overcoming still-developing and inconsistent Josh Allen-led offense in helping Buffalo clinch second playoff berth in three seasons. Bills allowed third-fewest yards in NFL and gave up only 259 points – second fewest behind New England (225). Allen showed signs of development in second season by doubling touchdowns passing to 20 and throwing just nine interceptions – three fewer than rookie year. And yet, Allen finished 32nd in completing 58.8% of attempts (six-point jump from 2018), and oversaw offense that scored 20 or fewer points 11 times, including 22-19 OT loss at Houston in AFC wild-card playoff.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: WR Stefon Diggs, DEs Mario Addison and rookie A.J. Epenesa, DTs Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson, CBs Josh Norman and E.J. Gaines, LBs A.J. Klein and Tyler Matakevich, RBs Taiwan Jones and rookie Zack Moss.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: DT Jordan Phillips, DE Shaq Lawson, RBs Frank Gore and Senorise Perry, LBs Lorenzo Alexander, Julian Stanford and Maurice Alexander, CB Kevin Johnson.

PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: Biggest is having Allen build on-field rapport with Diggs, counted on to become team’s top receiving threat after being acquired in offseason trade with Minnesota. Otherwise, Bills have edge in continuity with offense, defense and coaching staff returning mostly intact.

CAMP NEEDS: Urgency placed on Allen to continue showing signs of development and maturity, and offense to overcome lack of finish after GM Brandon Beane placed offseason emphasis on scoring more points. Coordinator Brian Daboll challenged to find creative ways to utilize Diggs’ dynamic ability and keep him involved on unit that also features established WRs in John Brown and Cole Beasley.

EXPECTATIONS: Sky high. Though questions still focus on Allen’s consistency, Bills have returning talent and depth at most every position to contend for AFC East title – especially with long-time nemesis Tom Brady no longer in division. Leave it to Bills cynics, lamenting only thing that might stop Buffalo from making deep playoff run is season cut short by COVID-19.

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