1) Two years and two Big East coaches hired. Greg Schiano's tenure has been a disappointment so far, especially this year, but how has Doug Marrone looked in Buffalo?
Marrone is the coach of a 4-8 football team that is young in all the wrong places, most particularly at quarterback. Fans seem to like his demeanor, some of his coaching hires (Mike Pettine in particular), and others are frustrated with prototypical Bills play (see: last week's Falcons loss) and his other coaching hires. His approval roll at Buffalo Rumblings remains above 80 percent, so he must be doing a lot that fans like, but not much has changed in the win column yet, and that will become the focal point of this discussion after year one. This team has a lot of work to do.
2) A lot of people have said that Mike Glennon has had the best season of all the rookie quarterbacks, but then most people probably haven't watch EJ Manuel play a lot. How has Manuel looked? Do you think the Bills made the right choice drafting him in the first round?
Having now watched three Bucs games this week, I promise you that Manuel has not been as impressive as Glennon has - though he's certainly had his moments. This league isn't too big for Manuel; he has a strong grasp of the offense, and it's looking like he's starting to become a bit of a playmaker. He also has massive issues with consistency and ball placement, his mechanics break down ferociously under pressure, and he's not been making a lot of pro-caliber throws into tight windows. The jury is still very much out on Manuel, and whether or not he'll be able to jump past "highly talented game manager" territory is the question.
3) Kiko Alonso for Defensive Rookie of the Year?
Without having strong opinions about any of the other players in the race, it's tough to argue against Alonso at this point. How many rookies can step into a complicated NFL defense (remember, Pettine is an 11-year understudy of Rex Ryan) and play every single snap? That's exactly what Alonso has done. He's had lapses - actually, he was pretty bad in last week's loss to Atlanta - but he's also shown off top-notch instincts, good athleticism and a flair for the big play en route to a highly productive rookie season. By and large, he's been a breath of fresh air for this organization; they hadn't had a good linebacker in years.
4) Stevie Johnson has traditionally been Darrelle Revis' kryptonite. Revis has been very good this year, but he looked a little less-than-100% with a groin injury last week, and the Bucs tend not to lock him up in man coverage on receivers anyway. So can Johnson beat Revis and co. go off against him and the Bucs this weekend?
As you correctly mention, Johnson has given Revis problems before. He hasn't roasted him, by any means, but Johnson is not the type of receiver that can be completely erased by a defense due to his playing style (though his own offense can certainly remove him from the equation). Buffalo's offense goes as its running game goes; Manuel can't carry the team on his shoulders. If the Bills can establish a running game with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, then they're capable of putting up 20-30 points on just about any defense in the league. The line is average and Manuel has his problems, but the Bills really do have an underrated and super talented group of skill players.
5) The Bills aren't making the playoffs this year, unless something really weird happens, but how far do you think they're removed from making a serious run at things?
That all changes on a yearly basis, so I tend to judge these things by how they stack up in the division. Buffalo played New England to a two-point loss at home in Week 1, and will see them again in Week 17. They lost to the Jets in New York by a touchdown, then crushed them at home. They beat Miami down south, and will play them in Buffalo here in a couple of weeks. The Bills clearly aren't on the level of New England right now, but they can compete with them, and they're right in the same wheelhouse as the Jets and Dolphins. I don't think many teams in this parity-driven league are so moribund that they can't make a post-season run in a given year, and the Bills aren't the exception. There's a good amount of talent on this roster; they just need to get better and learn how to win, which is obviously much easier said than done.