Here are my three thoughts on the Buffalo Bills as they finalize preparations for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins:
1. You can't help but marvel at how far Tyrod Taylor has managed to come in a fairly short time. Once a little-known, career backup seen as more of a runner than a passer, Taylor now stands to earn a payday much greater than the $883,000 he is receiving this season or the $1.13 million he is due to receive next year. That's because, as Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley said this week, he has done well enough in the first 11 starts of his NFL career to be assured of keeping the No. 1 job next season. And it keeps getting better for Taylor. He has only one year left on his contract, because the original third season was automatically voided by the fact that he exceeded 50 percent of the starts. That leaves the Bills with a crucial decision: Do they give him an extension that effectively declares him as their long-term answer at the position or risk letting him play out the deal and see what happens during and after the 2016 season? The Bills could be a bit gun shy, considering the huge mistake they made in giving a six-year, $59-million contract extension to Ryan Fitzpatrick in the middle of the 2011 season. But if I'm Taylor, I'm not signing any sort of preemptive contract unless the money is staggering. I would bet on myself to, one, stay healthy and, two, perform even better than I did this year. That would either put the Bills in a position where they would open the vault wide to prevent Taylor from hitting free agency in 2017 or wave goodbye as he jumps into the open market with both feet and take a huge deal from someone else in a league lacking in legitimate starting quarterbacks. Unless he gets hurt or is an utter flop through the final three games and/or through much of next season, Taylor is sitting firmly in the driver's seat.
2. It's another week and another big, nasty NFC East defensive line is waiting to tangle with the Bills' offensive line. Last Sunday, Fletcher Cox and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles' D-line proved to be a nightmare for Buffalo's blockers. On multiple occasions, Cox simply overpowered the man in front of him. That made for a particularly long day for guards Richie Incognito and John Miller, who, when Cox wasn't blowing past them, were being penalized for holding him. That did plenty to limit the effectiveness of the Bills' offense and cause it to move with an uneven tempo throughout the game. This Sunday, the Bills are going to face a Redskins defensive line, anchored by tackle Terrance Knighton, that is every bit as capable of making life miserable for Incognito, Miller, center Eric Wood, left tackle Cordy Glenn and right tackle Jordan Mills (who is expected to start his third game in place of Seantrel Henderson, who is battling Crohn's Disease).
3. How painful was it to watch Thursday night's game between the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers? I'm not talking about the quality of football that was played. I'm talking about the fact the game could very well be the Rams' last in St. Louis. The team might be heading to its previous home of Los Angeles as early as next season. And I couldn't help but think about that massive cloud that once hung over Bills' fans for so many years when the franchise's future in Western New York was anyone's guess after the passing of Ralph Wilson. Yes, the frustration of a likely 16th consecutive season without a playoff appearance lingers. But it doesn't come remotely close to matching the considerable heartache of knowing your team could very well be leaving town. Until the Pegulas came along, that was a very real possibility for the Bills. It's a very real possibility for the Rams (and the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders, for that matter).