OPEN CAMP: July 27, St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, New York.
LAST YEAR: Coach Rex Ryan failed to deliver on vow to build bully and address high-priced under-performing defense, leaving owner Terry Pegula little choice but to fire him in final week of season. Sean McDermott was hired to replace Ryan, then GM Brandon Beane was hired to replace Doug Whaley, who was fired in April. Lost four of final five games, extending playoff drought to 17 seasons – longest active streak in North America’s four professional sports. Defense allowed 240-plus yards rushing three times; generated combined six turnovers in final nine games; and allowed 29 straight points in final 20 minutes of 38-24 loss to Oakland on Dec. 4. LeSean McCoy-led running attack paced NFL in yards rushing for second consecutive season. QB Tyrod Taylor was inconsistent, while group of receivers were hampered by injuries. That included starter Sammy Watkins, who missed eight games with broken left foot.
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IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Ss Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, rookie CB Tre’Davious White, WRs Andre Holmes and rookie Zay Jones, FBs Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert, OL Vladimir Ducasse, PK Stephen Hauschka, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: CBs Stephon Gilmore and Nickell Robey-Coleman, Ss Corey Graham and Aaron Williams, LB Zach Brown, WRs Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, RB Mike Gillislee, PK Dan Carpenter.
CAMP NEEDS: New coaching staff and 43 offseason additions means it will be challenge for units to jell in time for season. Taylor adjusting to revamped receiving group that returns just one regular, Watkins. With exception of CB Ronald Darby, entire secondary is new, including first-round pick White, while defensive front seven adjusting to switch to 4-3 scheme.
EXPECTATIONS: Too many changes to coaching staff and roster to expect McDermott building immediate contender and ending playoff drought in first year. With so many newcomers and emphasis on building through youth, team needs to show signs of improvement as season progresses. QB Taylor running out of chances to establish himself as long-term starter entering third year, and only after agreeing to pay cut by restructuring contract in March.
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