Plugging the holes: AFC East

Most pressing offseason needs for the Bills, Dolphins, Patriots and Jets

Updated: February 20, 2014, 10:45 AM ET
By Scott Kacsmar | Football Outsiders

EJ ManuelKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsBills quarterback EJ Manuel showed some promise as a rookie, but needs better protection.

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NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

Welcome to the 2014 version of Plugging the Holes, an eight-part examination from Football Outsiders of the biggest needs for every NFL team, division by division, going into the offseason.

The series begins Monday, with Outsiders' look at the AFC East.


Buffalo Bills: Offensive tackle

For a team coming off its ninth consecutive losing season, the Bills actually have a decent roster in place with no glaring holes. Key acquisitions on defense in the past few years have solidified that unit, which ranked No. 4 in DVOA at Football Outsiders. This leaves Buffalo in the familiar position of trying to replace Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Florida State's EJ Manuel was a first-round pick last year, but injuries really took away from his opportunity to impress in his initial campaign. Adding talent around the quarterback should be the top priority this offseason, but that does not have to be a big-name receiver. In the past two years, the Bills have drafted Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham in the first three rounds. With young receivers and a very good running back duo (C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson), the Bills would be better served to improve the trenches.

Coach Doug Marrone has specialized in the offensive line during his career, so he should have a good grasp on what went wrong in his rookie year on the Bills' sideline. No one ran the ball more in 2013 than Buffalo, with 546 runs, but the offense ranked only 14th in yards per carry (4.2) and 17th in DVOA. Run blocking was not a strength of the offensive line, especially to the outside, and right tackle Erik Pears in particular could be the player replaced in the draft by a top prospect like Greg Robinson (Auburn) or Jake Matthews (Texas A&M). Left tackle Cordy Glenn was a second-round pick in 2012, and his starting job should be safe, but he must play better. Buffalo had such little success when rushing outside last season that a league-high 71 percent of runs came up the middle or behind a guard.

Scott Kacsmar

Football Outsiders
Scott Kacsmar is an Assistant Editor at Football Outsiders.