NY Jets: Buffalo Bills are new favorites, Stefon Diggs shifts power balance
By Paul A. Esden Jr.
The Buffalo Bills are the new favorites in the AFC East in 2020, not the NY Jets. Here’s how Stefon Diggs shifted the power balance and what lies ahead.
The novel coronavirus has taken over and has forced most of us NY Jets fans to stay home. If that wasn’t odd enough, Tom Brady left in free agency and now the Buffalo Bills are considered the new favorites in the AFC East heading into 2020.
The Bills haven’t won the division since 1995, over 25 years ago. Speaking of history, the Bills haven’t won a playoff game this century. But the narrative has changed thanks to a variety of reasons including trading for a former Pro Bowl wide receiver in Stefon Diggs.
Quite frankly the Bills won 10 games a year ago and came this close to knocking off the New England Patriots, but came up just short. Since that moment, the Bills have lost almost nothing in free agency and have only improved.
To get a better scope of how favored Buffalo should be, where is Josh Allen in his development, and what are the Bills needs and plans heading into the 2020 NFL Draft? We sat down with our FanSided sister network BuffaLowDown to answer all of these questions and some!
Next: Why are Bills favs?
The #Jets Zone w/ @BoyGreen25; @JimNagy_SB, @seniorbowl:– How #coronavirus has affected scouts.– BTS access to chaos of UDFA + possible solutions.– Why "there's not a division in football more wide open than the AFC East in 2020." #NFLDraft #TakeFlighthttps://t.co/HAaR03zQLh
— The Jets Zone (@TheJets_Zone) April 8, 2020
Q: Many experts have said that the Buffalo Bills are the favorites to win the AFC East in 2020, has that sunk in yet? Do you agree?
“It really hasn’t sunken in yet. It is hard to change the mindset after living through the playoff drought and the domination of the New England Patriots for two decades. Whether I agree or not, even though the Patriots lost Tom Brady it is hard to imagine a world where they aren’t competitive. I think in terms of talent on the roster, coaching staff and front office the Buffalo Bills have all the pieces. The Bills should be in contention all the way through the 2020 season but I am not sure we can write off the Patriots just yet.”
Q: One of the reasons folks are so high on the Bills is because of the acquisition of Stefon Diggs, what does he add to the offense and how excited were you guys when you heard the news?
“The Buffalo Bills have been in desperate need of that top wide receiver to really open up that offense. This past offseason they brought in John Brown and Cole Beasley, which was a huge boost for this passing attack, but neither player is one that defensive coordinators need to gameplan for. That is one of the biggest things that Stefon Diggs brings to this offense. He is going to command a great deal of attention which should free up winnable matchups for Brown, Beasley and even Dawson Knox. He may not have the size they need at the position but checks off so many other boxes from good route running, good hands, excellent speed.”
Q: What do you want to see from Josh Allen in year No. 3?
“The one thing that I really want to see from Josh Allen this year is how does he manage expectations? The first couple of years he had some built-in excuses and people could point to the fact that he was very raw coming out of college or that he showed improvements in his second season in key areas like completion percentage but as the quarterback he is the leader of this team.
A team that on paper looks like a playoff-caliber team so how does he manage those expectations. We have seen a number of quarterbacks over the years, like Mitchell Trubisky, struggle to take that next step when the expectations rise or the excuses are taken away. This is not to say that Josh Allen can’t do this, or he will be the next Mitchell Trubisky, but this is the step good quarterbacks have to take to sustain a career in the NFL.”
Next: Biggest needs heading into draft?
Q: What are the Bills’ biggest needs heading into the 2020 NFL Draft?
“The Buffalo Bills don’t really have any need that they have to address. They were pretty aggressive in free agency and have veterans at all the key areas they had to add talent.
There are certain areas they can use upgrades and the top 3 have to be defensive end, running back and cornerback. The Bills didn’t get a ton of production from their defensive ends last year and lost Shaq Lawson but did add Mario Addison. The issue here is certainly that this is an aging position group and the players they have now are likely a one or two year fix.
At running back, the Bills really like what they have in Devin Singletary and he had an excellent season as a rookie. However, they need that complimentary back because right now the depth chart really only consists of T.J. Yeldon. There are some excellent running backs in this draft class and I would be surprised if they didn’t draft one.
Finally, the last position is cornerback even though they did bring in Josh Norman and E.J. Gaines. This is another situation that the team would be fine going into the season with these two but they could use a long term answer at the position opposite Tre’Davious White.”
Next: Top prospects Buffalo is hunting
Q: Are there any prospects that have jumped out to you during this process that you’d love to see join the squad in late April? If so, who are those prospects and why?
“Looking at the three key needs I mentioned I think players that would be perfect fits for this Bills team would be A.J. Epenesa out of Iowa at defensive end, Zack Moss out of Iowa at running back and Trevon Diggs out of Alabama at cornerback.
The idea of Epenesa is a little wishful thinking because he likely will go before the Bills are on the clock at 54 but if he drops even a little bit, I think the Bills need to consider trading up to grab him. He is a blue-collar, type player that has a non-stop motor that would be a perfect fit for this defense. He is very sound against the run but also can get after the quarterback.
If the Bills want a powerful back to compliment Devin Singletary, then a mid-round pick like Zack Moss makes perfect sense. He is a compact, powerful back at 5-foot-9 and 223 pounds that isn’t afraid of contact and usually can run through arm tackles. The Bills could use a running back between the tackles and a player like Moss is a good fit.
The last player is Trevon Diggs out of Alabama, who also is Stefon Diggs brother. The thought is some could consider this a pick just because of the family connection and maybe throwing something out there for their new star receiver. However, Diggs is actually a perfect fit for the defense Sean McDermott likes to run. He is long and does an excellent job in zone coverage. If the Bills selected him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him earn a starting job at some point as a rookie.”