Pro Football War Room

2015 NFL Draft - Mock Draft - Buffalo Bills Draft - Rankings

Bills Scouts Attend Garrett Grayson's Pro Day- Schedule Private Workout

Anthony D. Macar@nflwarroom


It's no surprise the Bills are doing there do diligence with all the top prospects in the draft, especially at QB. However, in the past, there is a significant correlation between Bills draft picks who have paid pre-draft visits to One Bills Drive or who have had private workouts. After Coloroda State QB Garrett Grayson had his pro day on Monday, Drew Boyhart reported that the Bills had scheduled a private workout. 


Justin Edmonds/Getty Images


Grayson is widely believed to be battling Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley to be the 3rd QB taken off the board somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd round. With numerous reports the Broncos, Browns, Dolphins and Jets are all expressing interest, it would seem if the Bills want him it will cost them their first pick, a second rounder, to land him. Grayson's stock has been on a steady climb after a solid senior bowl week performance and with a solid pro day. 


Grayson has a good NFL caliber arm capable of making all the throws with accuracy at all levels. He has a bit of a low 3/4 release that isn't the quickest or most sound mechanically. His greatest asset is his pocket presence were he uses his plus athleticism to step up or slide instinctively when feeling pressure. 


The Bills would corner themselves into making some pretty quick major decisions at QB if they were to select one in the 2nd or 3rd round. you would assume a spot on the roster would have to be kept for a high draft pick. With 4 veterans already on the team, that would only leave 2 spots open for newly signed Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and Bills returning QB's EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel. Tuel would be an obvious first causality, but that would still leave a major decision regarding the roster status of Manuel, Cassel and Taylor.  If a pick were to be used on a QB early, that may very well be the clearest indication that EJ Manuel's time in Buffalo is nearing an end. 

5 One year Flier Free Agents for The Bills


Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/25/15

 

We have officially hit the third tier of free agency in the NFL. At this point more teams are focused on the draft than free agents. The type of players left have numerous issues that kept them from signing in the first couple weeks. Some are injuries, some received bad advice and overvalued themselves, or they are just looking for the 1 year deal to up their value for 2016. Here are 5 I like for the Bills. I think bringing in 1 or 2 of these players could help the Bills in depth or possibly even a surprise starter

 

1.S.Brown, FS: Unfortunately for me I have been subject to a lot of Giants games over the years being that I live in NYC, Stevie Brown is always a player that I thought was underrated. Injury concerns are keeping him available right now. When he is healthy though Brown makes a lot of plays. He is a ball hawing CF’er type of safety that would fit nice into Rex’s scheme. The Injuries are without a doubt a concern. If he is healthy though he could be a steal

 

2.B.Spikes, LB: Obviously he wanted to find a team that would lock him into a starters role. At this point that looks bleak at best. Spikes embraced Buffalo as much as Buffalo embraced him. I think he is worth bringing back as he is still very useful if injury occurs and on short yardage early down situations

 

3.B.J. Raji, DT/DE: Was once considered a key cog in the Green Bay defense, a bicep injury took away the 2014 season for him. He must be kicking himself not taking the 8 per average deal he was offered before the season began. I think he could be a fit here and at the absolute worst is worth bringing to camp. Motivation is a problem from him but I think he would for playing under Rex Ryan and rebuilding value

 

4.J.Barksdale, OT: The Bills have a pretty big issue with OT depth right now, in that it’s terrible. Barksdale is by no means a starter but he could get you through a stretch if an injury pops up. He’s a far better run blocker than pass blocker which would feed right into what the Bills are trying to do on offense

 

5.S.Wisniewski, OC/OG: This is the only player on this list I’d consider going more than one year on. He’s likely still available due to recent shoulder surgery and initial asking price. He is at the very least a solid IOL. He could start at two position on the OL and would give the Bills some flexibility

Vikings Need to Reposition Themselves on Peterson

Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/25/15

 

Adrian Peterson and his agent seem to be a little confused. I actually can’t blame them because the Vikings brass has led to the confusion. Peterson and his agent seem to think they are the ones that need to be sold on coming back to the Vikings and it’s their choice. I’m sorry, what? For some reason they seem to think they are in the driver’s seat of this decision.

 

I cannot completely hold them responsible for landing on this delusion. The Vikings decided to go visit Peterson in Texas and allow him to almost hold court with them. They felt the need to sell him on coming back. The Vikings did a terrible job by making this move. They allowed Peterson and his agent to be in the driver’s seat from a public perspective. Now they are fighting to regain the position that has clearly spun out of control

 

The reality is this, and what should be clearly explained to Peterson and his agent, Peterson is under contract to the Vikings. They alone will decide where he plays next year and every year after until they no longer have that contract. At 30 years old and a big contract in tow moving Peterson will not be easy if there were no public displays by his agent. Now with his agent stating that the Vikings and Peterson are no longer a fit the possible return on a value in a trade gets diminished further.

 

The Vikings need to go on the offensive in this. Whether they do it publically or not is up to them. They need to state to Peterson that they alone will decide if they trade him or not. If he doesn’t want to be here then he should be prepared to sit or honor his deal. They could also force his hand by telling him they want his entire 2014 salary and bonuses repaid to them as part of any trade. If Peterson and his agent want to make demands make them back. It’s not an outlandish demand by any means. The Vikings paid Peterson millions of dollars to figure out his personal issues. How many companies out there would even consider this? Answer, not many

 

Everyone should keep in mind here that Peterson is the one who screwed up, not the Vikings. Yet somehow the Vikings have been put in the defensive position of trying to convince Peterson to come back. He has no choice but to come back if that’s what the Vikings want. They need to regain control of the narrative so they can regain trade value if that is the route they want to take. From my point of view they should want to move him. At 30 years old and at his salary it would be wise for the Vikings to move on. To move on though they must get value back. Peterson and his agent are costing him value in a possible trade. The Vikings are allowing this to happen and need to regain control of the situation before it hits rock bottom and the Vikings get only five cents on the dollar. 

Latest Test Case in the Dual Role of Coach/GM, Chip Kelly

Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/24/20015

 

Chip Kelly has been a headline maker since the moment he entered the league. He came from Oregon where he had one of the most explosive and entertaining offenses in the country. So naturally the media gravitated towards him. He gives them an abundance of angles to take when looking for a story. How fast he rocketed up the coaching ranks, his reliance and insistence on controlling the nutrition of his players, his fast paced offense, and now the fact that he wears the GM hat with the Eagles.

 

You can bet there are a lot of NFL owners out there keeping an eye on how this Chip Kelly structured Eagles team works out. The coach wearing the GM hat is nothing new to the NFL. There is a decent history of it. Its most popular time was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s where it almost became mandatory that if you wanted a big name coach you had to give him full control. The issue back then, as it remains today, is that the work load is just too much for one person to handle. Thus you have seen in the last decade the vast majority of teams move away from this model. Now nearly every owner is looking for the dynamic combo.

 

The biggest issue is that the league has become a 365 day a year venture. This rings completely true with the draft. It’s no longer looked at as just some crap shoot teams have to show up for in late April (Obviously there are still some fans and media that still haven’t grasp this yet). To wear both hats of the GM and Coach is a tremendous burden for anyone. You not only have to watch your own team you have to keep an eye on other teams around the league as well as in the college ranks.

 

That brings us to Kelly, make no mistake about it you are either with him or against him and he has complete and utter control. He jettison his best offensive player in L.McCoy for a talented former Oregon LB coming of a major knee injury in Kiko Alonso. Replaced him with not one but two starting caliber RB’s in D.Murray and R.Matthews, one of whom was a very good player for a division rival. He traded a QB in Nick Foles that looked good in his offense for the oft injured but very talented Sam Bradford. He also gave a boat load of money to Seattle’s number 2 CB to be his number 1 CB. Like him or hate him you cannot say the guy does not have a vision for what he wants his team to look like in the NFL. He missed the memo about how rare trades are in this league along with bold moves.

 

The issue here is there is no counterbalance for Kelly, he’s it, he’s the guy. So when he is making these moves there is no one with enough authority to tell him otherwise. This can be both good and bad. The good is there is only one guy to put the blame or the praise on. Chip Kelly owns every move the Eagles make. The bad is, he could set the Eagles back a decade before ownership figures out he is way over his head. At this point you could argue it either way

 

Chip Kelly made his power play and he won. Now the rest of the league watches as it becomes the test case for every future coach that as Bill Parcells once said "They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries. Okay?". Chip Kelly is currently treating this offseason like an episode of Super Market Sweep. Eagles fans are hoping for a fine dining experience while the rest of the league waits to see if it’s a more microwavable dinner.

Handicapping the Bills QB Competition 

by Anthony D. Macari @nflwarroom

After a fast and furious start to the NFL league year for the Bills, the dust has settled on the first phase of team building for the new regime. With a month to go before the draft, the Bills have a dramatically revamped roster, particularly on offense. In addition to adding weapons at WR, RB, FB and TE, Rex Ryan and Doug Whaley have added two QBs to compete with EJ Manuel for the starting position. 


Rex Ryan has promised a wide open competition among the 3 veterans. Rex certainly hopes the old adage that if you have two QBs you really have none, doesn't apply to cases where you have three. Jeff Tuel rounds out the competition but realistically faces an uphill battle just to remain on the roster. The possibility remains that the Bills add a 5th QB to the mix in the draft but without a first round pick, they will have limited options to upgrade the competition. 


Matt Cassel has to be viewed as the slight favorite going into camp. Rex just got out of a situation were a young, highly drafted QB was in direct competition with a more experienced veteran. However, the Jets situation was as dysfunctional as it gets and Rex's hand was forced to go with the younger option.  That didn't turn out well and Rex may be reluctant to repeat history despite some pressure from Whaley to start the younger prospect he spent a first round pick on just two drafts ago. While Cassel has had some success in the league, he has clearly not progressed to the point where he can be considered anything more than a journeyman stop gap option. With the weapons added on offense and the deep talent on defense in the capable hands of Rex Ryan, a journeyman stop gap veteran may be good enough to snap the leagues longest playoff drought. Of the 3 options, he represents the most know quantity. Like Orton a year ago, he brings the experience and leadership needed to quickly bring a young talented roster together. Rex and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman could look to Cassel to manage a game plan heavy on the run game and short horizontal passing game. Alex Smith had success for Roman in San Francisco in a similar role.  However, Cassel will have to dramatically reverse his career trend which has seen him throw and alarming 33 interceptions vs only 30 TD's in his last 4 seasons. Those are not the kind of numbers you want to see from a veteran care tacker. He has also had difficulty staying on the field and actually initially failed his physical with the Bills after being traded from the Vikings. 


While Cassel's experience gives him the edge, there is no doubt the best case scenario at One Bills Drive is that EJ Manuel, in his 3rd year, dramatically matures and emerges as the undisputed starter. While the pro tape for EJ is limited, that tape clearly shows the game at this level is simply too fast for him. I recently re-watched tape of EJ from his sophomore year at Florida State and was shocked to see how much more tentatively his game seems to be now than it was when he was first cutting his teeth for the Seminoles. The reads were simple and he still didn't always make the right decision, but he played with a fearlessness that allowed him to make plays with his legs and arm that he simply has shown no sign of at the pro level. Instead, he was all to quick to check down no matter the situation to avoid making the big mistake. While that may not be the worst thing on a team with a defense as talented as the Bills, nothing disheartens a team's confidence in its QB than open receivers down field not getting the ball. Especially when the ball goes underneath short of the first down marker on 3rd down after 3rd down.  There were also reports from players that EJ was too passive in the huddle. When a QB with as little charisma as Kyle Orton can be seen as a true field general by comparison, something might be wrong. The only hope for EJ, is that reports coming from the Bills front office that EJ's demotion last year was handled by him in a way that was truly beneficial. that he realized by watching a veteran lead an offense what it takes and is truly motivated to develop into the kind of QB the Bills thought he could when they took him in the first round of the 2013 draft. The Bills drafted him highly with the hope he could develop his prototypical size, rocket arm and decent straight-line speed and athleticism into a franchise QB. He has the presence to command a room off the field that you hope will translate into strong leadership on the field. However, sometimes even when you can check all the individual boxes, the sum of the parts still come up short. EJ will have an opportunity to show he is more than what Mike Mayock described him as when he was drafted, a lump of clay waiting to be developed. Potential can be a curse when undeveloped and unless the game significantly slows down for him and he once again plays with the reckless abandon of a young emerging collegiate star, hye may never shake that curse.


The dark horse candidate for the job, is a player who also had to learn from the bench. Like EJ, Tyrod Taylor came into the league as a lump of clay brimming with potential but far from being a pro ready prospect. In fact, most teams asked him to make the switch to Wide Receiver. With 4.5 speed and dynamic play making ability with the ball in his hand, he likely would have been able to make that switch. However, he stuck to his guns and decided to take the more difficult path to his dream of being an NFL starter. As Rex has repeatedly said, Taylor may just be the fastest QB in the league. Along with his blazing speed, he also has that unique athletic ability to extend plays in the pocket and slip tackles in the open field that will bring fans out of their seats and lift teammates off the bench. Taylor also has the flare for the dramatic at Virginia Tech and in limited pre-season action for the Ravens, leading the Hokies and Ravens to several dramatic last minute wins. Rex may see Taylor as a potential read option, change of pace QB, but Taylor himself may be out to prove, after a 4 year apprenticeship in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco, that he is full time starter materiel. Taylor actually has done exactly what the experts say a prospect with his raw ability should do, sit and learn. He's had the opportunity to practice every day against one of the leagues best defenses and obviously showed enough for the Ravens to keep him around as the primary back up since his rookie year. By all accounts, Taylor is also a solid positive presence in the locker room. At the very least, the Bills have themselves a dynamic change of pace option, but don't be surprised if a year from now, we all look back and say despite all the other additions to the team this off-season, the Taylor signing proved to be the most significant. On a team with the kind of speed at the skill positions, adding Taylor to the mix could be simply too much for opposing defenses to defend. While Taylor has a solid arm with a quick release, his lack of accuracy on the intermediate range passes could prove to be his downfall, but he can deliver the big throw down-field with touch and would excel in a horizontal offense given the speed now at WR, RB and TE.


There is also always the chance the Bills add another QB to the roster through the draft if one they like falls to them. Gil Brandt reported Rex Ryan flew out to Texas to workout Bryce Petty. Petty was a successful college QB running the same wide open attack that inflated the pre-draft ranking of RGIII. Petty has all of the intangibles you want in a QB and also brings prototypical size and arm strength. However, short and intermediate range accuracy comes and goes for Petty. Two cracked bones in his spine, similar to the injury Cowboys QB Tony Romo suffered, could be a cause of regression in Petty's mechanics. He likely is not NFL ready and would be a true risk reward pick who's value probably doesn't make sense until the 3rd or 4th round. Yet, some team will likely fall in love with his potential and reach in the 2nd. Brett Hundley is most often named as the #3 QB after Mariota and Winston, but the similarities to Manuel are stark and he is two years behind in development. Like Manuel, Hundley will be drafted more on potential than production. One QB option I do like and wouldn't mind the Bills taking a flier on him in the 3rd round if available is Garrett Grayson. Although undersized, he has some experience under center, has good pocket presence and the arm to make all the throws. His accuracy and arm strenght require a clean pocket where he can step into his throws but he does have some escapability and the ability to throw outside the pocket. 


So if your a betting man, Cassel is the odds on favorite and safest bet to start the season but there may be some pressure to give Manuel one last shot. If you're looking for the big payday and want to play the longshot, Tyrod Taylor just may surprise when all things are said and done. Save your money on prospects in this draft class or with also ran candidate Jeff Tuel.

Clay Day Finally Arrives in Buffalo


 

Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/20/15

 

It took a while to get there but the Bills finally landed the player that sat atop their wish list for Free Agency. Charles Clay signed the Bills offer sheet and a couple days later the Miami Dolphins decided to let him go. Fans of both teams witnessed a chess game back in forth between two teams in the same division. At times it was fun, most of the time it seemed to drag on endlessly. In the end though the Bills landed the player they wanted and the Dolphins prepared for life without Clay

 

For the Bills Clay represents the most talent they have had at the position in a while. While Clay has had some injury issues in the past he has proven to be a productive player on the field. Many will ask why the Bills paid such a high cost for Clay. They gave him similar money to some of the elite TE’s in the NFL.

 

The answer is pretty simple, Roman’s style of offense values a TE he can move around the field. He is asked to be an H-Back, FB, In Line TE, Slot WR, all while being able to be a proficient blocker both in line and on the second and third levels. There are not a whole lot of players walking around with that specific skill set. Clay is one of them and honestly may be the best one of the bunch.

 

You cannot just look at Clay’s reception numbers and come to a conclusion on why the Bills and Roman wanted him. His value is going to show up a lot when the game is being played but will not be fully reflected on the stat sheet. Clay will be a safety valve for the Bills QB’s, whomever that may be. That is something that they have not had in a long time. He is a good route runner who can identify the weak spots in coverage and move towards them. This is important with what the Bills have at the WR position. If they can drag the coverage down field this will allow Clay to work the middle of the field. Chances are he will be lined up with a LB and that is a tough assignment for nearly every LB in the league. That contribution will show up on the stat sheet

 

What won’t show up on the stat sheet for him is when he is on the second level and the pass makes its way to say RB L.McCoy. At this point clay becomes a FB who is good at blocking a moving target. It’s blocks on the second and third level that can turn a 6 yard gain into a 60 yard TD. That will never show up for Clay on his stat sheet but it’s an important feature in the offense the Bills are constructing right now. YAC will be the name of the game in Buffalo. To do that you have to have willing and able blockers on the second and third level. These players are a lot harder to find than some think.

 

From the Miami perspective I can see why they are willing to let him go. Miami’s offense doesn’t really require a lot from the TE. It is more focused on getting the ball to the WR’s. Miami over all would prefer to have a 3 number 2 WR’s than a 1, a 2, and a 3. They focus on spreading the ball and letting the WR’s make plays. Clay numbers dropped in Miami partly due to this. They were far more focused on getting the ball to Wallace and Hartline than Clay. For what they paid J.Cameron and what they have in D.Sims it made no sense to keep Clay at the price the Bills paid for him.

 

One thing I will defend Miami on. I keep seeing “they could have avoided this by just spending the extra 1.3 million to franchise tag him”. Personally I don’t think they wanted to avoid another team negotiating with Clay. I think they wanted it and welcomed it. They don’t value him enough to pay the franchise tag cost on him nor the transition tag. I think they wanted him to hit the open market hoping another team would agree with their valuation and sign him to a deal that they could match. Or at the very least they are only on the hook for one year at appx 7 million that they could have negotiated down on a long term.

 

Signing Clay to the franchise tag made no sense for them. By doing so they are going far over what they want to pay for the position. Second, absolutely no one is going to give first rounder’s for Clay. So that keeps any teams from negotiating with him which again leaves his open market value up to opinion. Plus if Clay and his agent had any clue they would immediately sign the franchise tender locking him into that 8+ million guaranteed and then likely freeing him up next year. That is one thing the Dolphins definitely did not want to happen. Thus they moved on.

 

The Bills have clearly focused on offense this offseason and are giving their current QB’s as many weapons as they can to help them succeed. They definitely have not sat quietly on the sideline with a shoulder shrug going “well we don’t have a QB”. They have been pro-active about finding alternative ways to build and compete while the search for that elusive franchise QB continues. One thing is for certain though, if a franchise QB does become available the Bills have made themselves into a very attractive destination for one looking to win now. This is a point in the media that seems to have gone right over their heads, and it should not be looked over nor diminished. The Bills clearly have a plan and they are executing it aggressively, for Bills fans they welcome this effort with open arms.

Chris Borland Should Have The NFL Concerned

Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/17/15

 

Jake Locker at 26

 

Jason Worilds at 27

 

And now Chris Borland in his sophomore year at age 24

 

All three have abruptly ended their NFL careers with concerns over future injuries impacting each one to varying degrees, and this should have the NFL extremely concerned. It’s a disturbing trend that has been bubbling in the NFL for a while.

 

The most disturbing of the group is Borland. After a fantastic rookie year he was staring down the future of a 10 plus year career and millions of dollars. He has decided to give that up citing head injuries as a major concern. Surprising is the first word that comes to mind

 

Can you really blame him? An increasing number of NFL veterans are not even making it to 60. If you go to any NFL event with former players you will see a lot of them are having a very hard time with multiple physical ailments. Seeing this over and over can have a very big impact on a young player. They are sure to start asking themselves if playing the game they love is worth the lifetime of pain they may have afterword’s. Borland decided it was not for him.

 

This also comes at a time when the NFL is making a lot of medical and safety advancements aimed at player safety and extending careers into players late 30’s and sometimes 40’s. Despite that though football is clearly being impacted by the rash of concussions around the league and its changing the game. It’s a very impactful change that will eventually start working its way down through the channels into college, the high school level, all the way to a parent deciding whether or not they sign the release to allow their child to play the game.  

 

The overreaction to this Borland retirement will be that most will start drafting the eulogy for the demise of the NFL. Don’t be fooled, the NFL is not going anywhere anytime soon. The NFL isn’t the NBA, it’s not a star driven league. It can take a few players deciding to end their careers early. For every Borland that retires there will be another 20 players racing at the chance to replace him.

 

With that said, the NFL still should be concerned. A retirement like Borland’s sends waves through the league and may influence other players to leave whom have been considering it. The NFL has been proactive in advancing player safety but they should be even more active in the prevention and especially in the post career. Not every player walks away from the game with millions of dollars set for life. A good amount of them move on to other careers.

 

The NFL has a problem and it’s shown by the comments I’ve read this morning from 49er fans. I expect to see their blind loyalty outweigh the health of Borland. It’s been the opposite however. Most are applauding Borland and his decision to walk away from the game and millions of dollars. Its shows that fans have now accepted that this game is very harmful to the individuals who decided to play it. So much so that they have started to put their own deep rooted loyalties to the side. At some point this will begin to affect the entry levels of this game with morality of the decisions placed on the parents to decide if they want them to be a part of this game. That’s the problem the NFL faces and the problem they must feverishly addressed to maintain the health of the game, question is, is it too late?


Thoughts on The Harvin, Felton, Taylor Deals

Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/16/15

 

Percy Harvin, ATH/WR: I’m not the biggest Percy Harvin. I feel he has been overrated for a while now, mostly due to that he doesn’t understand what his role on most teams is. He isn’t a classic WR and thus really shouldn’t be used as one. The biggest reason for this is because he’s a pretty horrid route runner and he has issues reading coverage. That doesn’t mean however that he doesn’t have a place in the league. Harvin is as explosive as it gets with the ball in his hands. The Bills have to find a way to do that, and do it in open space. There have been numerous issues with this in the past with countless players and staffs.

 

On a one year deal it’s really hard to dump on the Bills for this move. If he can stay healthy they added a player defenses have to account for and when he is on his game can tilt a defense. It will be interesting to see how Roman deploys him in this offense. Roman does like players that can play multiple roles. Overall it’s not a bad move but I’m also not overly excited because I don’t think nor expect his Viking numbers. I’m also hoping that Harvin has had a bit of a reality check over the past two years. Yes there were other teams interested in him but no one was going to pay him anywhere near what he was making. Harvin has a lot riding on this year. This year will set up his likely last multi-year deal of his career.

 

Jerome Felton, FB: FB is one of those positions some Bills fans seem to want year in and year out even though the position has almost faded completely from the NFL. As far as talent goes Felton is top 5 at the position. The real question however is how McCoy will respond to having Felton blocking for him. Not all RB’s like a FB in front of them. It can sometimes lead to congestion or if they are out of sink a lot of negative or no gains. It will be a little bit of a work in progress but I think it will have a positive effect. The signing represents a clear upgrade

 

Tyrod Taylor, QB: Taylor is an ultra athletic QB that has been planted on the Baltimore bench for awhile. I personally am for any QB move at this point. He has a decent arm and can be a threat with his feat. It’s a long shot at best to expect anything spectacular from him but given the position the Bills QB position is in nearly anybody is worth a shot. The Bills were not the only team interested in Taylor and for good reason, he has a lot of raw athletic ability. A the very least you can be utilized in some sub packages

Hughes Stays Home

Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/10/15

 

For as much grief as some like to heap on Buffalo with the mantra of “who would want to play there”, Buffalo has yet again shown that it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be. Jerry Hughes is the latest example of a player who once he is in Buffalo, often doesn’t want to leave. At first Jerry Hughes shook off the mention of a hometown discount at the end of last season. He’s completely within his right to do so. When you have a rare skill set you should always try and maximize what someone will pay you. Especially if you are making a career out of a sport. You only have a short amount of time to maximize your income. Yet when it came down to a bigger pay check or staying in Buffalo, he chose Buffalo (Admittedly he still made out very well contract wise).

 

Hughes was once thought a bust, and rightfully so. The Colts made him a first round selection and a lot of people likened him a bit to Jason Taylor. An edge rusher who could change games as he did in college at TCU. Once he landed with the Colts it never seemed to come together. He would tease with his talent but would always disappear.

 

The Bills had the same high hopes for Kelvin Sheppard. An ILB thumper who could lead the defense. He like Hughes was disappointing. So the teams decided to swap their perceived draft mistakes. Hughes signs a 45 million dollar deal and Sheppard may be out of the league. So there is no reason to debate who won the trade, the answer is pretty obvious.

 

Heading up to Free Agency Hughes was primed to make a very large contract. After the tag deadline passed he then became arguably the top pass rusher on the open market. In a league heading more towards the passing game it greatly increased his value. Hughes was going to cash in big time from a team flush with cap space looking to upgrade their pass rush.

 

Problem for those teams is the Bills saw the value in bringing him back and didn’t even want to let him out the door. Adding Hughes back into the fold became very important to the Bills. They recognized that keeping arguably the premier front 4 in the NFL together has a lot of value. Rex Ryan now has as much talent in the front 7 as he did since his days with the Ravens as a DC.

 

It’s one thing to build a strength but it’s a whole other to keep it a strength. The Bills realize that with no franchise QB of the sorts on the roster they had to keep their elite unit intact to have a shot at the playoffs this year. Keeping Hughes here with an elite defensive mind like Rex at the helm can take an already very good defense to another level.

 

It’s that type of thinking that I believe kept Hughes in Buffalo. I’m sure he had bigger offers from Jacksonville and maybe the Raiders. What would he really be getting by moving to one of these team for say an extra 5-7 million on top of the deal he could have in Buffalo? Sure it’s a lot of money and it’s tough to turn it away. In Buffalo however he still gets to be a part of a unit that has made a name for itself terrorizing opposing QB’s. In Buffalo he still gets to play in front of a diehard fan base that appreciates hard work and good defenses. In Buffalo he gets to play for a coach that can take his game to an even higher level. Most importantly in Buffalo he gets to play for the franchise that saw something and believed in him enough to put him on the field to make plays, making him the best player he can be

 

Thank You Jerry Hughes, for staying and believing in Buffalo like they believe in you…

Thoughts on The McCoy Alonso Trade

Mike Watkins

@merk256

3/5/15

 

 

My initial reaction to the McCoy for Kiko trade was a strong dislike for it. I could not fathom trading a young promising LB who excelled in the system that Rex will put back in place for a soon to be 27 year old RB on a monster deal. I’ll admit it Kiko was one of my favorite Bills players and I was excited to see him play this season. Now that I’ve had some time to digest the trade it’s become more acceptable and reasonable but still a stunner overall, especially at the speed in which it took place

               

Let’s start off with McCoy. My first initial issues with the trade were McCoy’s age and his price tag. Right now McCoy is heading out of his prime. So the Bills will not be paying him for his best years they will likely be paying for his decline. Now that decline will have some years that will be better than some best years. That’s just the type of talent McCoy is.

               

In general a RB’s prime years are 23-27. This is when they are at their peak ability and the wear and tear of the league has yet to catch up with them. McCoy at 27 likely has 1 really good year left, a couple good years and then we will see a decline. Now how sharp the decline is will be up for debate. McCoy has a running style, Elusive, that tends to have a longer high end shelf life than the other bulldozer style of running. McCoy doesn’t seek out contact he looks to avoid. This will extend his career outwards a long ways especially if he accepts a 3rd down RB roll in his 30’s. This is also why I prefer RB’s McCoy style as opposed to the other bulldozer type.

               

Overall I’m not too worried about the prime years left after thinking about it. The Bills for the most part have to make a run now before some of their key players like Kyle Williams and Mario Williams start to decline as well as the cap catching up with them. So the 2-3 year window makes sense. If it’s not working you will likely see a roster blow up in 2-3 years anyway.

 

That’s brings us to the cap hit. Now the Bills have to be careful how they structure this. I would not add any more than one year to the current deal and would try my best to restructure and move some money around to his benefit within the current years allotted in the deal. The relief can be had without the Bills being too much on the hook for his declining years which is what they should look to avoid. Overall the contract isn’t terrible for the type of talent McCoy is. He’s arguably the best RB in the NFL. The money needs to be moved around however to help the Bills make some other key moves as they obviously are looking to make a playoff push now and not later.

 

 Now on to Kiko Alonso. The issues I had with moving Kiko is that he looked very much like an up and coming talent that was about to be playing in a defense that made him look like an elite talent. He also had a very manageable contract that would allow the Bills a lot of flexibility with both lineups and offseason moves. Some have tried to downplay the second half of his rookie season. What I saw was an excellent player naturally hitting a rookie wall. Make no mistake about Kiko is a gamer and will continue to be one in Philly. The Eagles fans should be excited about the player they received in return for McCoy

 

 While I like Kiko the Bills are very much in a win now mode and in a transition as to how the offensive side of the ball will be run. With this in mind the trade became more reasonable. While I like Kiko Alonso and thought he had and has a very bright future, the Bills will be fine without him as they were last year. Preston Brown exceeded expectations and looks like he will be a very good ILB for the Bills for a long time. The Bills front office has also shown a knack for being able to identify LB talent in the draft. So they must feel confident that if they had to they could pluck another one out of the draft.

 

 Another reason why the trade doesn’t bother me as much is one of the things I used to criticize Rex Ryan for in his days with the Jets. What he would seem to do is sink a lot of assets into that side of the ball to keep it flush with talent and leaving the offense near devoid of talent. It also provided a built in excuse, “My defense works, it the OC and offense that cant get it together”. My reasoning always was that if Rex is such a defensive mastermind shouldn’t he be able to do more with less? I feel like with the moves he has made thus far, and this trade is a prime example, he has learned from that mistake in New York. I think he now realizes that if he pumps up the offense with talent he can make it work on defense and still be a top 5 defense with the talent he has. Kiko at this point was more of a luxury for Rex than a necessity. Due to that he likely felt he could move Kiko and still have his defense running at a peak level with a combination of Brown, Bradham, and maybe David Harris via free agency


 

 With McCoy I understand some of the trepidations Bills fans have with the move. The latest and greatest line being pumped out is “RB’s are a Dime a Dozen”. To a point I agree yes they are. RB’s who can give you 700-1100 yards are a dime a dozen these days. RB’s on McCoy level who can make things very difficult of defenses week in and week out and have the talent to go 1500-1800 yards however are not a dime a dozen. There is a distinct line between good and elite, McCoy sits on the elite side of that line

               

McCoy is a special talent that can make opposing teams pay in a number of ways. He is just as deadly taking the handoff as he is receiving the ball. He is a true 3 down RB. Once the ball is in his hands he can score from anywhere on the field and has some of the best vision in the league. He’s in reality a lot of what the Bills thought they were getting when they drafted CJ Spiller,  obviously Spiller did not end up being that.   

 

I don’t agree with this narrative that the Bills are just going to grind him into the ground the next three years. Yes McCoy will obviously get the bulk of the carries and likely the most touches on offense. I still see the Bills using Fred Jackson to spell him even more than Sproles did with the Eagles. Dixon should still get some touches and B.Brown is a bit of a wild card but if an injury occurs he will be right in the mix as well.    

 

“But they still don’t have a QB” is the quote I’m hearing most often from some media. Some people seem to be confused as to the supply of these types of QB’s and where they are acquired. It’s not like there is a bunch of franchise QB’s out there in free agency or on other teams ready to be traded and the Bills ignored them for McCoy. These are the types of moves you have to make when you cannot get your hands on the franchise QB. You have to find alternative methods. Not all teams or going to have that type of access to a franchise QB. The reality is the Bills do not have any way of acquiring a QB that is head over heels better than what they have. That doesn’t mean they should attempt it but you do so knowing you’re essentially trying to catch lightning in a bottle. So you do what you can. Try and build it up around what you have at QB to lessen the need on the position with an attempt to avoid getting in shootouts with teams who have clearly better QB’s. The Bills have and are trying to do that at the moment. I can’t fault them for this, it’s a far better method of operation than hoping for a QB to pan out from the free agency pile

 

This is one of those rare trades that I believe benefits both teams. In the short term it will ultimately help the Bills more. Long term the Eagles may set up to get the better end of it. Given the rare amount of player for player for trades in the NFL it’s even rarer for it actually benefit both sides. After the initial shock of the trade I’m on board with it and am excited to see McCoy in action next year. One thing is for sure the standard offseason operation for the Bills has drastically changed and hopefully for the better.

Bills Free Agency Preview

Mike Watkins

@merk256

2/22/15


The Hello NFL, I’m Terry F’ing Pegula and I’m gonna make it rain Free Agents


-J.Houston, OLB: Listen I like J.Hughes just as much as the next guy, but the thought of having Houston on one side Mario on the other with Dareus and Williams in the Middle would bring tears all across the board. Tears of Joy for Bills fans, and tears of fear for opposing teams. Sure there is about zero chance this happens for multiple reasons but that’s why it’s on this part of the list


-D.Revis, CB: Rex Ryans other man crush. Revis is everything Rex wants in a CB and Rex defense plays exactly into what Revis does best on the field. With the importance of CB play in Rex defense I imagine he will convince the Bills to go hard after him. Unlike Houston this has a legit chance of happening. I’m personally not scarred off by the years because I think much like Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson I believe Revis will end his career as a very good safety


-J.Thomas, TE: There are few positions the Bills fans have been begging for more over the past decade and half then a play making TE. Thomas represents want and need. Grant it his numbers are inflated by Peyton Manning but even with the inflated numbers accounted for he would be light years ahead of anything the Bills have had in, well, light years


The yea I’ve got deep pockets but I’m not going to Snyder this thing up in my first year Free Agents


-Charles Clay, TE: The guy just makes plays when he is out there. He is coming off a knee injury that kept his numbers down in 2014 which in turn will keep his contract down a little. This would be a signing that would help in 2 ways. One it improves the Bills, and two it weakens the Dolphins. He has a lot of D.Keller to him, which Rex knows all to well


-O.Franklin, OG/OT: The ability to play either LG or RT at a high level will attract a lot of teams and the Bills will be one of them given that they without a doubt have a major problem at one of those positions and a possible problem at the other if a young S.Henderson doesn’t develop


-C.Boling, OG: Everyone is looking and hoping for Iupati but I like Boling better because I think he is the better player and he will also be cheaper than the aforementioned Iupati. I’d rather pay for game then name


-P.McPhee, OLB/DE: Not your household name yet but if Hughes bolts McPhee would be a good substitute. Every Ravens game I watched this kid made plays. He’s equally good against the run and the pass. He’s talented enough where the Ravens may extend him and waive bye bye to Suggs or Dumerville


-J.Odrick, DE/DT: Odrick was made for a system like Rex Ryans and if he and his agent were smart they would find a way to get him to a hybrid scheme like Rex’s. He is a jack of all trades DL who is good in all phases of the game. He’ll never get the awards but he is one of those players that makes everyone around him better


The lets pump the breaks they are about to be overpaid Free Agents


-M.Iupati, OG: Look, I get it, the guy is an absolute monster in the run game and he leaves a little to be desired in pass protection but not much. For what he is going to command on the open market I really don’t think he is worth it. The Bills are obviously in need of this exact position but there will be good players out there at a far less cost


-N.Fairley, DT: I feel like this guy is still living off of his one good college year. Sure he has had some flashes here and there but playing next to the beast that is Suh helped spark that flash


I guess I have to sign a QB Free Agents


-Jake Locker, QB: This is seriously with a gun to my head because there is no QB out there worth signing and expecting anything out of. So it came down to a flip of the coin between Locker and Mallett. As you can see Locker won. I had Locker extremely overhyped coming out of college but he does have some good physical traits when you know, he’s not on IR


The Under the Radar I hope I hit on these because I barely have any draft picks Free Agents


-J.Gresham, TE: He has talent and shows flashes of it from time to time. I personally think this is a change of scenery player who could blossom elsewhere. The Bengals have a lot of offensive options so Gresham tends to get lost. If he was featured a little more he could finally reach his potential


-A.Clayborn, DE: I liked Clayborn coming out of Iowa. He is coming of an injury this past year that cost him 15 games. His biggest issue in my opinion is that he has been playing in a defense that doesn’t really suit him his whole career. I think he would be far better off in a hybrid type system than a straight 4-3


-S.Brown, S: Ask any Colts fan and they will tell you that Brown is better than L.Laundry, and they are right. He played very well for the Colts down the stretch


I’m going to go ahead and pass on them Free Agents


-D.Harris, ILB: Signing this guy would make about zero sense to me. To me he is now an older more expensive version of B.Spikes. At that point the Bills might as well keep Spikes in the fold.


-M.Sanchez, QB: I’m not clueless, I get it, there is actually an extremely good shot of this guy coming to Buffalo. Reality is he is the ultimate tease at QB. He will make some throws and have some games that make you think, yea its finally clicked for him. Then he will revert right back to, I can’t believe this guy has an IQ higher than 50 games and throws. He is what he is at this point in his career. A good back up that can get you through a 4 game stretch at .500 but that’s about it


The Rex Ryan Glue Guy Free Agents


-L.Douzable, DL: I can’t be the only one who noticed that this guy always seem to make a play or two every time the Jets played. He is by no means a starter but is a solid rotation player who knows the system


-D.Landry, S: I don’t think he will start many if any games at all, but he knows Rex’s system and that has value. Given his age and up and down production this should be a cheap signing  and one that is more of an on the field coach more than anything else


The homerun or strike out nothing in between free agents


-A.Cromartie, CB: If the Bills would be getting 2014 Cromartie than it’s a no brainer. If they are getting 2013 Cromartie then absolutely no way you even consider him. At age 31 I believe he is closer to the 2013 version than the 2014 version.


-B.Orakapo, DE/OLB: Orakapo will be one of the most interesting Free Agents to follow this offseason. He is ultra talented when he is healthy. The problem is he is rarely healthy anymore. So giving this guy any type of big money is truly a roll of the dice. Now if Hughes gets away I am completely on board with that roll of the dice. Mainly because while still a decent sized contract I still think he could be a bargain. If he is healthy then the Bills have by far the best front 7 in football and it wont be close



Other Thoughts


-Realistically I expect the Bills to be aggressive in the free agency period. They actually need to be with no first round pick this year. That doesn’t mean I expect them or want them to toss money all around the place. They still have to be smart and calculated about it.


-I expect Offense and former Rex players to be the name of the game in Free Agency. With limited draft picks in a shallow draft they have to set themselves up to be able to pick the BPA in every round

Thoughts On the Richie Incognito Signing

Mike Watkins

@merk256

2/8/15


Obviously the Bills made an interesting signing this week when they brought in offensive guard Richie Incognito. There is no reason to rehash why Incognito is such a controversial player. If you are reading this then you know the story and if you don’t I really don’t know where you have been for the past year and a half.


The need is obvious with the signing. The OG position has been a complete dumpster fire the past two years. Incognito immediately became the most talented OG on the roster once the pen hit the paper. That speaks much more to the complete lack of talent on the Bills roster much more than it does Incognito’s talents. The Bills clearly need help and they did not want to wait until the free agent doors opened.


Overall from a fit standpoint Incognito is exactly what they are looking for at the position. He has always been a poor mans Kevin Gogan. He is an average to sometimes good OG game to game. Better in the run game than in the pass and provides that nasty streak on the field that coaches often look for in the position. So from a pure on the field move it’s a no brainer with what Rex and Roman want to do with this offense.


Now obviously there are plenty that take issue with the signing because of the harassment charges from his Dolphin days. There is no doubt that is a concern and the one year deal represents that concern. The Bills really have no risk other than maybe a week or two of bad press if it goes wrong again.

I for one do not take issue with the signing. I believe that every wrong decision has a penalty and once that penalty is paid its time to move on. I think the year and half Incognito spent away from the game constitutes paying the penalty. I don’t believe that Incognito should just be banished forever and live his life in exile.


Everyone makes mistakes, I’ve made them, you’ve made them, we have all made them. I’ve found in my 30 plus years on this earth that I often change and learn the most after a mistake and more often than not for the better. I do not like this branding of someone when they make a mistake or they do something wrong that the person shall forever be identified and known as that mistake. To me it’s foolish at best.


I also believe that it is unbelievable ignorant to say that Kim Pegula or the Bills franchise and fan base somehow deem it ok and are fine with Incognito for his past discretions simply because he signed here. I’m not, they are not, and none of us will ever be fine with what he did. I’m not here to make excuses for Incognito nor are they and there is no stamp of approval on those past actions. That version of Incognito may not even exist anymore. Personally I don’t know and I bet no one else knows either including Richie himself.


I haven’t always had this mindset. I’ve found that as I get older that forgiveness is more of a virtue and changing is inevitable across the board. For me I’ll be rooting for Incognito to show that change is possible, recognize what he did was wrong, and show that positive change can come from a bad situation. I hope Incognito understands the opportunity that has been given to him by the Bills and that he takes full advantage of it. The better person and player he is will not only benefit him but the Bills team as a whole.

Run Down of The Bills Free Agents

Mike Watkins

@merk256

1/30/15


Main Free Agents


CJ Spiller: I like Spiller and think he can a very explosive back when he is given lanes and space. There are a few issues though. For starters he cannot seem to stay healthy which is a problem with any type of big commitment. The second issue is his age, at 28 the Bills or any team for that matter would be crazy to sink any type of big money into him. He is a nice player to have but only at the right price

 

What to Do: I’d let him test the market and the most I’d offer is just south of what R.Bush got from Detroit. Absolutely nothing over 4 years though

 

Prediction: Spiller leaves town. I think the Bills will be right to move on because sinking any type of real money into a RB at his age with his injury history would be a mistake. My guess is with the Jets or Giants. Jets make sense with the Gailey there and the Giants front office was very high on him coming out of college and tried to move up for him.

 

 

J.Hughes: I wouldn’t say Hughes is an absolute must to bring back but he’s clearly the top FA on this list that the Bills should attempt to lock up. He has proven to be very productive on this team in multiple systems which has a lot of value. Knowing this his agent will want to try and get to the market to land a big deal. The Bills will have to convince him otherwise. They do have some carrots to dangle with a system he produces in and playing alongside ultra-talented players on defense

 

 

What to Do: I’d try not to let him get to market. 5/48/20 the absolute max I would go. The reality is if they don’t bring him back there will be many other pass rushers looking to line up alongside Williams, Williams, and Dareus

 

 

Prediction: I think Hughes exits. While the Bills are trying to lock him up now he is eventually going to start to get some open market numbers from some teams. While Hughes has blossomed in Buffalo I believe he is going to let money determine where he lands. It’s not impossible to bring him back because I’m sure he knows the extreme advantage he has playing around the talent he does here

 

B.Spikes: I’m much more a fan of Spikes then when they signed him. He is still is the one dimensional 2 down LB he was when they signed him. However he brought an attitude and a pride to run defense that the Bills had been searching for, for years now. If the Bills had stayed with Schwartz it would have been nearly impossible to bring him back based on numbers alone. With Rex Ryan in town with his scheme it becomes more plausible for him to return but still unlikely. The Price has to be right along with the years though.

 

What To Do: I think he has taken to Buffalo and would like to stay. A contract in the 3-4 year range between 10-14 million would be about right for a player that is a 2 down player

 

Prediction: This is a tough one but I think the Bills find a way to keep him on the fold. He seems to have really taken to the area and team but will he accept a reduced role is what will determine this

 

 

D.Searcy: I like Searcy I think he is a solid but not spectacular player. He is great depth and a starter you can live with. I think he wants nothing to do with Depth and I also think he will find it too hard to crack the starting lineup with Williams entrenched and Rex likely to bring in one of his own guys

 

What To Do: I wouldn’t even offer him a deal. Searcy has been a solid player but I think it’s time to move on

 

Prediction: I think he will be gone and I imagine may try and follow Schwartz

 

Other UFA


-E.Pears: I think his time has run its course on the team. He was decent under Gailey because he hid him but he has serious issues with speed rushers. Wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up with the Jets now that Gailey is on board

 

-C.Hairston: He’s not a bad utility OL when he can stay healthy. I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing him back but I would let him out on the market first and see if an upgrade can be found

 

-M.Easley: To me it’s a no brainer to bring him back. He is clearly the best ST player on the roster. To let him get away would mean a down grade in that phase and for that alone I would bring him back

 

-L.Smith: I’m 50/50 on him. Decent ST’er and you could do a lot worse for a third string TE.

 

-J.Wynn: Solid depth and a good team player. I don’t really see him being a fit in the new scheme however. I think he will be gone

 

-S.Sylvester: Gone, see no reason to bring him back

 

-L.Dean: Camp Fodder?

Looking at the Top 5 Positions of Need Heading into the Offseason

Mike Watkins

@merk256

1/19/15

 

1.QB: This one is an obvious, the Bills currently have no QB on the roster that is even average let alone one that could be labeled the answer. EJ Manuel has a little bit going for him this offseason in that it looks like the Bills will be mimicking the things Florida State did to hide EJ Manuel. Strong defense, strong running game, and a passing game that limits reads and takes advantage of EJ’s arm down the field from time to time.

 

Realistically the Bills have to bring someone else in. I don’t expect that player to come from the draft unless one they have rated high falls right into their lap. So Free Agency looks to be the route, the obvious connection is Mark Sanchez. He is better than EJ but he cannot ever be considered the long term answer at the position. Whomever they pick is going to come in with clear flaws in their game, that’s the reality with 99% of free agent QB’s. You don’t see teams let good QB’s hit the market on a regular basis. You have to try and find one that has flaws that become workable in your system

 

 

2.OG: Another obvious one. I am firmly on the record stating that you don’t pay big money or spend high draft picks on the position. That said, you cannot just leave the position completely void of talent and expect it not to be a disaster. That’s exactly what it’s been for two years now under Marrone. Now with Kromer and Roman in the fold I expect a focus on upgrading the position. There is some ok talent on the roster that could develop if coached up. Richardson was forced into action to early and I believe he and Kouandjio deserve a look after a year in an NFL weight training system. They however should not be looked upon or counted upon as the answer at this junction.

 

I expect the Bills to be aggressive in trying to plug this hole with both a Free Agent pick up and a draft pick. The obvious one is Iupati but I really like C.Boiling from the Bengals

 

 

3.TE: I am not in the group that seems to love to hate Chandler. I actually think Chandler is average to above average when it comes to starting TE’s. If the Bills could find another player at the position to move Chandler to the number 2 TE then I think his value greatly increases. The Bills really just lack that safety valve TE than can find the soft spots in defenses and exploit it. Chandler is to up and down for that.

 

There happens to be some good free agent options at the moment. A few of them I imagine will get tagged so the list will get much shorter in terms of talent. The draft is average at the position so it will be interesting to see how the Bills tackle upgrading this spot if at all. I believe they will value pass blocking in the position with what Roman is trying to do, so that is something to keep an eye on

 

 

4.FS: Safety is a key position in Rex’s defense. They are set with A.Williams manning one spot but the other is a little more open. Searcy played well and keeping him will be a cost based decision. I don’t expect them to go all out trying to fill this but Rex’s defense works at its highest level when he has a ball hawking centerfielder of a FS.

 

 

This position is very Meh in FA’cy and the draft. I wouldn’t expect them to be really aggressive trying to upgrade here and may just go with trying to coach up the in house players.

 

 

5.DL: This one may come as a little surprise. The Bills have spent a lot of assets and time building up the DL into one of if not the best in the NFL. It has become their identity of sorts. I think the Bills would be wise to keep it that way by keeping the pipeline fresh with talent especially with Williams and Williams on the wrong side of 30. I believe in having a deep talented DL because it can make up for a lot of miscues of the back 7

 

 

I don’t expect this to be that high of a priority but I would specifically look to the draft to keep this unit on top. The new defensive staff specializes in finding DL and coaching them up to elite status. The Bills would be wise to take advantage of that and keep this unit on top

The Dust has settled, My Thoughts on the Rex Ryan Hire


Mike Watkins

@merk256

1/17/15

 

The dust has started to settle a bit on the Rex Ryan hire. Rex wasn’t my first choice but he wasn’t my last choice either. From a personality standpoint he fits Buffalo and the general energy of the city. Fans and media alike will take to him rather quickly. Especially the media as he makes their job far easier because he is a quote machine at the podium.

 

In the media they have been 50/50 and as to critical or liking the hiring. Those whom like the hire state then when he had an elite defense and just average QB play he made it to two AFC title games. He is close to that formula right now. For a team in a very much win now mode, his structure and previous record fits what is trying to be done with the Bills right now.

 

Those whom are more critical of the move point to that Rex is a defensive coach and the Bills defense was fine so why not hire an offensive minded coach. Let me be clear about this, this is far and away the dumbest thing that gets said year in and year out during a coaching search. When looking for a head coach you should be looking for a leader of men and a coach who can identify coaching talent. That is what you are looking for. You should not be looking for a coach that is going to fix the deficiencies on one side of the ball. This is why I feel so many hires go bad in the NFL because of that exact line of thinking

 

I’ve been critical of Rex in the past because I think he was allowed to have too much say in the roster decisions. With the Jets from the moment he got there he began sinking the vast majority of the teams resources in building up that side of the ball. With good reason, it’s the side he knows the best and could fix the fastest. Due to that however it left the offensive side baron of any talent. It also however left him a built in excuse, his defense was performing but his offense was not.

 

In Buffalo however that is not the case, unlike the Jets in his first year the defense is loaded and ready to go. As a bonus it’s the same defense that they ran just two years ago and Schwartz kept most of the verbiage to make the transition to his defense faster. To revert back will move even faster than that. If the Bills bring Hughes back there is very little that has to be done. A possible tweak at the FS spot will likely happen given how critical that position is in Rex Defense. Outside of that, Rex Ryan could not have picked a better spot to run what he wants to do immediately.

 

Now what this affords Rex to do is focus the team’s attention and assets to the offensive side of the ball. This is something that could rarely be done in New York because Rex had to keep the defense stocked. With no first round pick and a coach and a team in a very much win now mode you can expect the Bills to be active in free agency. Rex Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman I’m sure is making a wish list as we speak.

 

Speaking of Roman, I like the hiring for what Rex wants his football team to be. When the rumor started to circulate that Trestman was tied to Rex it didn’t make too much sense to me. Trestman is more of a pass first finesse coach. Whereas Roman is more of the grind it out ball control coach. Roman fits Rex style and that is the first change and adjustment you will see from New York to Buffalo with Rex. You will see coaches that fit his style rather than trying to adjust his style to the OC.

 

With Roman Rex understands you can’t beat Tom Brady by trying to out-Brady him. The last thing you want to do is get into a shootout with him because to put it bluntly your QB is not going to be as good as Brady. So to counter that keep the ball out of his hands by keeping Brady off the field. I fully expect that to be the game plan week in and week out, can’t match your QB play so the Bills will limit your QB’s opportunities.

 

I said in my coach search column that if the Bills were looking to hire a coach with experience that Rex Ryan would be the front runner. That came to fruition, and not because Atlanta stalled, but because the Pegulas and the Front Office could see the match from the coach to the city. It’s a certain style and a temperament I believe was being searched for. That style is what I believe we will see and why the Pegulas felt Rex Ryan fits them, the city, and the team best at this moment. Rex is a blue collar guy in a blue collar city. A city that appreciates toughness and on the football field a tough physical team that can roll over you Sunday after Sunday. That is the vision I believe Rex and the Bills front office and ownership is looking for. Will it work? I think so, Rex is Buffalo as much as Buffalo is Rex

It’s not the QB, it’s that the Bills need a better….

Mike Watkins

@merk256

12/25/14


You can go ahead and fill in whatever you want there at the end of the title. It’s been 15 years and inevitably a faction of Bills fans always find some other part of the franchise to blame other than the obvious issue. It can be from owner right on down to the training staff for injury issues. I’ve heard it all, the owner doesn’t spend, he spends but not on the right guys, the coaches need to go, the GM needs to go, the defense is bad, the OL is bad, the WR are not good enough,….on and on.


Now, the QB problem is one that gets brought up but seems to evaporate to the litany of excuses stated above. This year it’s the OL and the OC. This is the debate I have been having for the past decade and a half, first on message boards and then on Twitter. Fans of the Bills seem to convince themselves that if the OL play or the OC was better that they could get by with an average QB, or that somehow those two things combined would somehow raise the play of the QB. In both cases they are wrong and have been wrong


I’ve heard it all, they often point to Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and now Aaron Rodgers and say they have great OL play. Problem is they fail to realize that none of them have had great OL play over the course of their careers. What they have though is an innate ability to get rid of the ball, be able to read a defense, and then make accurate correct throws. This will make any OL look far better than it actually is. Andrew Luck has arguably one of the worst OL’s in the NFL yet where is his team going, the playoffs.


The Bills can go ahead spend and improve the OL all they want. You can give Orton and or Manuel all the time they need back there. Give the RB’s better blocking up front but it will all be for naught if the QB position is not improved. Opposing defenses can and would much rather adjust to a good OL and running game then a good QB any day of the week and especially on Sundays


The same can be said about the OC. The OC is always only going to be as good as the QB talent he has. Chip Kelly learned that lesson this year. I’ve been saying for years Play calling is one of the most overrated thing in sports while execution is one of the most underrated. You can get any OC you want, if he doesn’t have talent at the QB position with the ability to execute what he’s calling it won’t matter.


So once again we can come up with a million excuses, we can once again reference the Baltimore Ravens Trent Dilfer anomaly of a Super Bowl victory to give us some sense that there is a chance with out the most important position in all of sports left void of talent. The reality is this, the plight of this franchise will not change until the talent level of the QB position is raised. They do not have anything on the roster even resembling a player that could be the solution. The priority this offseason, next offseason and every offseason has to be finding that player at all and any cost. When that is solved you’ll be shocked at how all those other roster and team issues seem to evaporate.