Over at ESPN.com, John Clayton wrote a piece on five teams who he believes will regress in 2016. Coming in at number five was the Buffalo Bills. The ESPN Senior Writer believes that this year's squad is less talented than the 2015 unit and that their schedule is more difficult. Here's what Clayton said about the Bills:
The Bills, Jets and Miami Dolphins all invested heavily in free agency and trades last year to try to catch the New England Patriots. The Bills looked great on paper. They brought in Percy Harvin, Charles Clay, Richie Incognito and LeSean McCoy on offense. The hiring of Rex Ryan was supposed to be a boost to the defense. Coming off a great defensive season in 2014, the Bills had the look of a wild-card playoff team. I thought they had 10-win talent playing out an easy schedule that included the AFC South and the NFC East.
But the defense underachieved greatly, and the Bills disappointed, finishing 8-8. This year's Bills team isn't as talented, and the schedule is tougher. Harvin retired. Mario Williams was cut. Linebacker Nigel Bradham left in free agency. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin was cut. Because of last year's spending, the Bills didn't sign a player worth more than $1.25 million. Most of the signings were minimum-salary deals.
Ryan now must do more with less. The plan is to start the team's top three draft choices -- linebackers Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland, and defensive lineman Adolphus Washington. The pressure is on Ryan to get this team to the playoffs. With less talent, the job will be tougher.
The Jets were also on the list at number four. It's difficult to argue with Clayton on his schedule argument, but there may be an argument to be had about the talent of Buffalo's roster heading into 2016.
Later today, Buffalo Football Report will look specifically at the players that Clayton brought up and discuss how the Bills replaced those players in free agency or the draft.