ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills open 2021 NFL training camp Wednesday at One Bills Drive. Here's a closer look at a few storylines:
How does quarterback Josh Allen take another step forward after his MVP runner-up season in 2020?
Buffalo's quarterback set franchise records in passing yards (4,544) and touchdowns (37) and finishing second in the MVP voting to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. With all but one of his wide receivers returning, along with his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the pieces are in place for more progress in 2021.
He said he wants to improve his decision-making and accuracy on in-breaking routes and throws to his left -- where eight of his 10 interceptions occurred last season. Though he is dynamic as a runner, Allen can also work on his ball security this offseason, as his 23 fumbles over the past two seasons rank third behind Daniel Jones (New York Giants) and Carson Wentz (Indianapolis Colts) for the most in the NFL over that span.
Did the Bills do enough this offseason to surpass the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC?
It was the most popular phrase uttered by Buffalo players and coaches following their loss in the AFC Championship Game last season -- they were determined to "run it back." Buffalo's decision-makers clearly agreed the roster was talented enough to win a championship with a few minor tweaks, because continuity was the offseason focus.
General manager Brandon Beane re-signed linebacker Matt Milano and offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Daryl Williams -- all pending free agents -- to long-term contracts. He then used the Bills' first two picks in the 2021 NFL draft on defensive ends Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham, and kept the coaching staff intact with coach Sean McDermott and coordinators Leslie Frazier (defense) and Brian Daboll (offense) preparing for their fourth straight season together. If the Bills remain healthy, they are among the top threats to win the AFC.
Can Buffalo's defense return to form?
The Bills ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the NFL in yards allowed per game in 2018 and 2019, respectively, but dropped to 14th last season as some of the new defensive players struggled to build on-field chemistry after an abbreviated offseason. But Buffalo showed promise toward the end of the season, particularly during a six-game win streak that started in Week 12 -- a stretch that saw the Bills produce the best point differential in the NFL.
The defense was a key reason why, ranking fifth in points allowed per game during that span while forcing the fifth-most turnovers. Every starter returns for Buffalo in 2021, as does defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who opted out of the 2020 season. There's little excuse for the Bills not to return to form defensively.
Beyond Stefon Diggs, what can we expect from the rest of the Bills' wide receivers?
Diggs' 2020 season earned him a first-team All-Pro nod for the first time in his career. Behind him, Cole Beasley quietly set career-highs with 82 catches and 967 receiving yards; his two-year totals in Buffalo mark the best two-year span of his career in every category and he's been a reliable second option for Allen.
Rookie Gabriel Davis showed promise with seven touchdown receptions and veteran Emmanuel Sanders, signed this offseason, adds to a deep list of players who can thrive if an opposing defense commits to slowing down Diggs. Buffalo owned the league's third-most prolific passing offense last season (288.8 yards per game), so don't be surprised if it finishes this season with two 1,000-yard receivers for the first time since 2002.