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Pre-season conventional wisdoms, the Bills '20-'21 season in review


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I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the conventional wisdom that was in effect at the start of the '20-'21 season and see how it all played out.  I was in full agreement with all 5 of these conventional wisdoms at the start of the season. 

 

1.  The Bills would probably be a better squad than the '19-'20 Bills, but still finish with a worse record than the 10-6 record the '19-'20 team had.    The Bills started the season winning.... and they just kept on winning.  It was the most enjoyable season of BIlls football in 20 years.  The Bills shined in Prime TIme and finished the season with a fantastic record of 13-3.  You have to go all the way back to the '91 season to find 13 regular season wins for this franchise.

 

2.  The Bills would fight the Pats for the division title, with the advantage to the Bills.   After the Pats picked up Cam Newton in the off season and they started the season strong at 2-1, only losing in a close road game against the Seahawks 35-30, that sure looked like the case.  While the Bills did end up winning the AFCE, it turned out to be those upstart Dolphins who chased the Bills all season long, getting to within a game of the Bills late in the season.  The underdog Phins continued to grind out wins with strong defense, solid special teams, and a whole lot of FitzMagic.  We won the AFCE for the first time since 1995 but I never imagined it would be the Phins, not the Pats, who would push us.

 

3.  The offense needs to take a step forward this season, our defense is still elite.  The Bills brought back much of the defensive roster, scheme, and coaching staff last year.  The conventional wisdom was that the defense should still be stout, and if the Bills could get just a little bit more offense each week, the Bills would be a dangerous team going forward.  I don't think anyone expected the defense to struggle as much as they did for most of the year.  It was the complete opposite of last year, the offense was saving the defense every week.  While the defense finally started to get healthy and hit its stride at the end of the season, the offense not the defense, was this team's strength this year.  I didn't see that coming.  Neither did anyone else.

 

4.  For this season to be successful, the BIlls would have to get the playoff-win monkey off their back.  Just making the playoffs wouldn't be enough anymore, not with this roster.  Mission accomplished.  The Bills showed their grit against a tough Indianapolis team winning a hard fought Wild Card game and then put the rest of the NFL on notice when they handled Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to win in the Divisional Round as well.  They made it to the AFC Championship game before being hammered by the Chiefs.  As much as the Chiefs game was hard to swallow, making it to the AFC Championship game clearly met and exceeded the pre-season hopes of a playoff win.  I believed the Bills would win a playoff game this year, but if I'm being totally honest here, I wouldn't have bet $2 that the Bills would make it all the way to the Conference Championship game.

 

5.   The last of the conventional wisdoms before the start of the season all had to do with Josh Allen.   (a) This season was going to be all about JA17.  (b) Could he take another step this year?  (c) The Bills would only go as far as Allen could take them.  (d) This was year three for the Josh Allen Experiment and he needed to show the team that he had the ability to become an NFL franchise QB.   The conventional wisdom here was right.  This season was all about Josh Allen, but heading into this season I never dreamed of the kind of season that Josh Allen would put together.  He dominated all season.  He improved in every facet of his game.  He found touch on his passes.  He stopped playing Hero Ball.  He was deadly accurate.  He dissected defenses.  The guy was legitimately in the MVP hunt.  Josh Allen became a superstar this year.  I hoped and expected he'd take another step, but sweet mother of pearl... I didn't see this coming.  The biggest question for the entire franchise was answered definitively this year, Josh Allen is for real.

 

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52 minutes ago, Inigo Montoya said:

1.  The Bills would probably be a better squad than the '19-'20 Bills, but still finish with a worse record than the 10-6 record the '19-'20 team had.    The Bills started the season winning.... and they just kept on winning.  It was the most enjoyable season of BIlls football in 20 years.  The Bills shined in Prime TIme and finished the season with a fantastic record of 13-3.  You have to go all the way back to the '91 season to find 13 regular season wins for this franchise.

 

 

This was my biggest concern going into the season.  Our SoS was one of the toughest in the league and we didn't have a good track record for beating the good teams.  Other than two bad weeks, we handled business no matter the teams record (excluding the Hail Murray).  We performed at an extremely high level against some of the best defense's in the league.  When we won against the Rams and the Seahawks, I knew these weren't the Bills of old.  Teams that we would normally fold to were bested and the Bills showed the fans and the rest of the league that they could play with the best of the best.

 

 

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I’m in the process of rewatching the season on NFL game pass. I’m pretty much in awe of josh Allen. I was too much in my emotions watching live during the season to really objectively grasp the games. He’s a freak. 

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1 hour ago, RunJoshRun said:

I'm not totally sold on #5.  Too many shaky moments especially against tough teams with a good defense. Next year will tell now that he has a reputation! 

As compared to which quarterbacks. Tennessee we didn't even know if we would be playing them and the first KC game was in a downpour and the Baltimore game was in severe wind.  Specifically which great defenses did he not show up for? Can he regress? Certainly. Should that be our expectation? No. He is too much of a competitor to let this stuff go to his head .. just ask LeSean McCoy

 

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2 hours ago, YoloinOhio said:

I’m in the process of rewatching the season on NFL game pass. I’m pretty much in awe of josh Allen. I was too much in my emotions watching live during the season to really objectively grasp the games. He’s a freak. 

 His pocket presence and body adjustments are unteachable and he seemed to get better each year.  Thats what stands out to me on the rewatch, you can see him frustrating the crap out of the pass rushers.

 

Some qb's like Mayfield have basically the same move every time, drop back check your first read, if it's not there roll out to your right and buy time for your targets to free up.  Throw on the run near the sideline.  Repeat.

 

Josh is flat out unpredictable, he goes anywhere the pressure dictates and has an insane ability to sense pressure.  If he had a mediocre arm he'd still be a good qb simply based on that ability alone.

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I don't think the conventional wisdom was that they "The Bills would probably be a better squad than the '19-'20 Bills, but still finish with a worse record than the 10-6 record the '19-'20 team had."

 

To find the conventional wisdom at that time, you have to switch your "would" for the far more common - at the time - "could". The general idea was that the schedule was much tougher. Most people predicted 9-7 or 10-6. It wasn't by any means the consensus that they wouldn't win 10.

 

11-6:  https://www.sportsnet.ca/nfl/article/afc-east-2020-nfl-preview-year-bills-overtake-patriots/

 

9/11 Vegas over/under is 9, he predicts 10-7 (I know, WTH? Maybe a typo.):  https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-nfl-ny-state-wire-buffalo-bills-football-572431fcd07f8e04535f34b72e5a5de6

 

9-7:  https://www.si.com/nfl/bills/news/buffalo-bills-season-preview-2020

 

9-7:  https://www.si.com/nfl/bills/news/buffalo-bills-season-preview-2020

 

Skurski 10-6:  https://buffalonews.com/sports/bills/2020-season-outlook-how-will-bills-fare-as-hunted-vs-hunter/article_9b6a90ac-f148-11ea-bd3d-b31d540e8e05.html

 

Gaughan 10-6, Jason Wolf 11-5, Rachel Lenzi 10-6, Milt Northrop 9-7:  https://buffalonews.com/sports/bills/news-sports-writers-project-the-buffalo-bills-record/article_f0d61204-ee24-11ea-a88d-636d6541ace5.html

 

John Murphy 11 or 12 wins, "maybe that's more hope than prediction":  https://buffalonews.com/sports/bills/john-murphy-views-highly-anticipated-bills-season-as-a-challenge-due-to-covid-19-impact/article_46ceadf0-f03d-11ea-9559-43bcd343b145.html

 

(A Maddy Glab article compiling many predictions) USA Today 10-6, Bleacher Report 10-6, Howard Simon 12-4, Sporting News Vinnie Iyer 11-5, CBS 9-7, Pro Football Network 10-6, Marcel Louis-Jacques 12-4, Touchdown Wire 11-5, Fox Sports' Nick Wright 8-8:   https://www.buffalobills.com/news/what-they-re-saying-8-record-predictions-for-buffalo-s-2020-regular-season

 

 

I got that from cruising the TBD archive and finding every article I could find with a prediction in the last couple of days before the season, then doing a google search as well and putting the first three I could find, and stopping with the Maddy Glab compilation article.

 

We did hear that sentence you used a lot in the offseason, but people weren't saying they would get 9 wins, just that with the much tougher schedule it was possible for the Bills to significantly improve and yet only manage nine wins despite that improvement.

 

If you average these all out they're predicting fractionally above 10 wins.

 

Edited by Thurman#1
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Inigo, “spot on with the conventional wisdom”.  This was exactly the mood around here.  My recollections were we would continue to have a top 5 defense, we would finish 10-11 wins, and win a playoff game.  I also thought we would have success if Allen could improve to 63-65% completion rate.  Well he and they blew all of these predictions out of the water, and took time, but the defense came around halfway through the season.  I felt the change took place starting with the Seahawks game.  I didn’t think we would win that game and was so happily excited to be wrong.  That was the time I started raising my expectations for the year.

 

What a great year for other worldly matters such a hard year.  This team made 2020 more palatable for my affect.  Sounds crazy, but they were one of the shining distractions.  I can’t wait for 2021.  For the person who thinks Allen has to do something more, that is the definition of glass half empty, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

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Think I broadly agreed with 1,3,4 & 5. I didn't think the Pats could win the division. I thought they were a 6-10 team. 

 

On 1 my view was it was possible the Bills could be better and win fewer. I actually had them winning 11 but there was a world in which the Bills could have gone 9-7 in 2020 and I'd have still been able to argue they were getting better. 

 

Hopefully 2019 was the start of something and we are on that run now for a decade. I think we will be. But even if we are not the last two seasons have been really fun.

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26 minutes ago, GunnerBill said:

Think I broadly agreed with 1,3,4 & 5. I didn't think the Pats could win the division. I thought they were a 6-10 team. 

 

On 1 my view was it was possible the Bills could be better and win fewer. I actually had them winning 11 but there was a world in which the Bills could have gone 9-7 in 2020 and I'd have still been able to argue they were getting better. 

 

Hopefully 2019 was the start of something and we are on that run now for a decade. I think we will be. But even if we are not the last two seasons have been really fun.


Amen GB.  This is the first time since I was in HS, I have felt we were going to have a decade long run of success.  If you were a fan at that time, we were in the playoffs 10 of 12 years from 88-99.  It became an expectation.  IMO, we are on our way to another run.  The good news, with all respect to our founder of the foolish 8 (or at least a part of it), Ralph kept the Bills here and was an advocate for small market NFL teams, but he had his flaws.  The Pegulas have run this team very well minus the Wrex hire.  This will support having a proper organization from the top down, and as a result success.  We just had the GM of the year, and IMO, the real Coach of the Year.  Everything else falls from there.

 

Go Bills!

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11 hours ago, RunJoshRun said:

I'm not totally sold on #5.  Too many shaky moments especially against tough teams with a good defense. Next year will tell now that he has a reputation! 

I'm not sold on Matt Barkley either.But that #17 proved to be an elite, franchise QB!

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13 hours ago, RunJoshRun said:

I'm not totally sold on #5.  Too many shaky moments especially against tough teams with a good defense. Next year will tell now that he has a reputation! 

 

Not sold on Matt Barkley #5?  He's a free agent.  Unclear we bring him back.

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14 hours ago, Da webster guy said:

Josh is flat out unpredictable, he goes anywhere the pressure dictates and has an insane ability to sense pressure.  If he had a mediocre arm he'd be Fitz.

 

🙂 Fixed it.

 

I agree with you about Josh. And he really does remind me of Fitz, but with a bigger arm.

 

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1 hour ago, WhoTom said:

 

I agree with you about Josh. And he really does remind me of Fitz, but with a bigger arm.

 

 

Absolutely.  Will never give up, wants to be treated as NFL player not a QB and inspires the team by his leading.

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40 minutes ago, Limeaid said:

 

Absolutely.  Will never give up, wants to be treated as NFL player not a QB and inspires the team by his leading.

I think sometimes QBs place themselves on a pedestal as if they are above the rest of the team (ie some of the Russell Wilson stories). That is just not in Allen’s dna. He tends to accept all blame and deflect all credit. He believes he is a 1/11th. He knows he is the most important player on the field but he sees that only from an accountability lens. That’s just how I observe him. 

Edited by YoloinOhio
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