Over the past few weeks, the Buffalo Bills have been in the news a bit too often when it comes to injuries.
Sure, there has been plenty of discussion about Tyrod Taylor’s new contract, LeSean McCoy’s off-field issues and whether Rob Ryan is actually a solid coordinator. However, the one thing that seems to come up in the news the most frequently is the spate of injuries the team is suffering.
That should concern Bills fans more than anything else going on, as those injuries are destroying this season even before it gets going.
It’s especially decimating positions on the defensive side of the ball.
A week ago, we discussed the risky plan to rely on three rookie starters defensively because two of them—Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland—were hurt. It was especially bad as Ragland is likely gone for the season and nobody seems to know for sure when Lawson is returning, though Adam Schefter of ESPN has said between Weeks 6 and 8.
Luckily both Stephon Gilmore and Sammy Watkins are back relatively healthy or things would look really grim, now that IK Enemkpali tore his ACL and is gone for the season.
It’s not that Enemkpali is so indispensable, because he’s an average linebacker at best. It’s not that Lawson or Ragland are Hall of Famers, something we can’t know because they’ve never played in the NFL.
No, it’s that in less than two weeks the team has lost three players who were important in their roles. It’s that the defensive situation was already shaky given the choices the team made and now it has lost depth and what was hoped to be starting talent.
The Bills are not a team that is going to put 28 or 35 points up offensively. That’s not a knock on the offense, where there is some really impressive talent. It’s just not what this offense was built to do, it’s not what it was designed for.
This team was, like many Rex Ryan teams, predicated on the run and a very strong defense. As of now, it doesn’t seem like it has the latter, because it is losing players at an alarming rate.
The hope is, of course, that Marcel Dareus and Gilmore will bounce back from injuries to lead the defense to a better ranking than last season’s No. 24. But with the above injuries, plus a banged up Manny Lawson, this unit is already starting off at a deficit.
That means Ryan’s plan isn’t going to play, not unless they find a way to add some talent into the mix soon. Even adding someone now doesn’t mean they will have a positive impact immediately.
They can sign Calvin Pace, or Anthony Spencer (whose abilities are dubious at this point anyway), but it will take them some time to get acclimated to the scheme. At least with Pace, you know he is familiar with Ryan’s scheme, which can’t be all that dissimilar to what his brother will run.
It takes time to get synced up with the players already in place, though. So having to add a guy now is problematic.
Having to add more than one is hugely so. Having to add any more players because more get injured would be disastrous.