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Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 1-15

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2010 – 2:30 pm

We’re entering week 3 of the coaching search, but as owner Ralph Wilson stated they’re going to be methodical in their approach. I’d rather wait if it ensures getting the right guy. Here is this week’s edition. To submit question email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net.

1. Hi Chris,
 I think that with the seasoning they got this year that the opening day offensive line combination of Bell/Levitre/Hangartner/Wood/Butler is going to be a great offensive line combination.  I think that the combination of inexperience and injuries this year is the only thing that held them back.  The experience should be there next year, provided that Wood can return healthy.
 
Yet I’ve noticed you’ve been commenting a lot about offensive tackle help early in the draft – which of the five spots on the offensive line do you think the Bills may be looking at the most with regards to an upgrade?  Do you agree that the opening day group from this year will be sufficient for next year?
 
Thanks!
Rick Shields

CB: I agree that there is a lot of promise with the group up front, but I think the tackles need more competition. Competition pushes everyone and makes them better. That did not exist for Bell or Butler last year once Walker was jettisoned.

I believe if you can get a left tackle prospect in the draft that is more NFL ready coming out of college than Bell or Butler, like a Michael Oher type, then I would strongly consider drafting him. To take my point a step further, I’d be all for re-signing Richie Incognito as well to provide competition for Andy Levitre and Eric Wood. He would push both of them for a starting guard spot and is capable of backing up at center.

And if for some reason Wood isn’t ready for the season, Incognito is an insurance plan you feel about.

I do believe that the five that started last season will be improved, but sufficient as you put it is not what I’m interested in. I want a dominant offensive line and if that means acquiring upgrades or solid depth to push these guys then that’s what I’m doing.

2. Hey Chris,
My question to u is do u believe that the Bills front office will look into resigning TO or do u believe that they will just let him go like they do with everyone else? Because personally and I have said this since they signed him that the contract should have been 2 years with the team option on the second b/c of the uncapped season that is about to approach.

CB: I would be very surprised to see Owens back in a Bills uniform next season. Primarily because he wants to play just two more years. I can’t imagine he wants to be part of a rebuilding project here in Buffalo, which will be the case under a new head coach. The front office is committed to rebuilding this team the right way through the draft, not with quick fix free agents.

I believe they want to give the young receivers (e.g. Hardy, Johnson) an opportunity to develop and produce, and Owens would get in the way of that.

Furthermore I think Owens wants to go somewhere where he can contend for a Super Bowl title, something he does not have on his resume to this point. After this season he wants to go to a team with a proven QB.

The only way I see him back here is if he gets absolutely no offers elsewhere and even then I’m not sure he returns.

3. Chris,
Boy, the Bills need a lot of help. What direction do you anticipate they will go?  I still feel they need defense because the offense will take years.  They need to get bigger and maintain the speed.  Play physical like Miami in the run game unless they find a QB.  It is a throw happy league.  Hopefully these offensive lineman will stay healthy next year otherwise it’s another long year.  I was hoping to get more out of Maybin.  Let me know your thoughts.
 
Tim (Chicago)

CB: Well I don’t know that there’s a surefire QB at the top of the draft (even Clausen or Bradford) who everybody has at the top of the board. Bradford’s throwing shoulder injuries concern me and Clausen as a leader is a question mark. When you’re investing that kind of money you better be sure.

The kind of pick that might make the most sense for them at 9 in my mind is an OT, a DT or an impact LB like a Brian Cushing. Buffalo may very well have to trade for a QB this offseason.

It’s hard to say what will be done with Maybin with a new coaching staff yet to arrive. We should have a better idea come the spring camps.

4. Hey Chris,
Avid Bills fan here. I was interested in knowing what you thought about some changes the Bills maybe could look at moving forward next season. I’m not sure how you have assessed Richie Incognito’s play, but he appears to be a mauler in the run game. If he keeps his head on straight I believe he will be a nice addition to our team.

With that being said, what if the Bills move Levitre to left tackle, pencil Incognito and Wood at the guard spots, with Hangartner and Brad Butler at center and right tackle respectively. I know this is assuming Wood and Butler return 100% from their injuries. This would eliminate the Bills from having to draft a left tackle with their first overall pick in the draft and focus it on their other needs.

Thanks for your time.
Mike, Syracuse NY
CB: I think your point is a valid one. There was some thinking among the previous coaching staff that Levitre might be capable of handling left tackle down the line. He fared well in the Tennessee game when he was forced to go out there and that was with virtually no practice reps. He has college experience out there.

Ideally though I’d prefer to get a top flight OT in the draft or sign a veteran RFA like San Diego’s Marcus McNeill. I just believe if you move Levitre to tackle you lose some of the chemistry you took your lumps this past season to build. I’d leave him next to Hangartner and look to add tackle talent.

I’d also re-sign Incognito (an RFA) so there is depth of talent along the interior. There is currently no viable backup center on the roster behind Hangartner. Incognito could be that guy and a guard that could push for a starting role. As I said earlier competition makes your team better.

5. Chris,
I had high hopes for Steve Johnson, when he is able to play I like his production. He just seems injury prone and a wasted roster spot. I just don’t understand how other teams draft pick make it to the field and produce and the Bills picks end up on the injury report. The team has Hardy, Johnson and Jenkins that never seem to make it on the field. I don’t accept the “well we have TO and Evans” line. Other teams and QB’s are able to play a laundry list of receivers and they all make catches. So is Johnson a Bust?

Pat and Charlene

CB: No, Steve Johnson is not a bust and neither is Hardy. Don’t know how that description can be given to guys who barely got playing time this season. Personally I think the two young wideouts have a lot of potential and just need time on the field. I think there’s a good chance that with this Bills rebuilding effort that they will be given every opportunity to play in 2010. Johnson is not injury prone. He had one minor injury at the end of the season.

With this team starting over, now is the time to put the young guys on the field and see what they can do.


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