Another set of questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net to answer as the draft and free agency become more and more the focus with each passing week. Let’s get started.
1 - Hey Chris,
I have heard several rumors that Dwayne Bowe would like to be reunited with Chan Gailey. Any thoughts on Buffalo being so far under the cap trying to sign Bowe and/ or Stevie or even going defense and making a run a pass rusher that we desperately need like Mario Williams
CB: Just rumor at this point. It’s only natural to see Bowe or San Diego’s Vincent Jackson linked to the Bills as potential free agent targets. NFL personnel men just like anyone else in any other line of work prefer to go with what they know, and Chan Gailey knows Bowe from being his offensive coordinator in Kansas City. Similarly Buddy Nix knows Vincent Jackson from his time in San Diego’s front office.
All that being said both of those players fit the description that Nix gave at his season wrap-up press conference. Both are the kind of receivers that are “open even when they’re not open.” They’re both big wideouts and their timed speed is almost identical (Jackson-4.51 to Bowe-4.52), which ironically is right where Eric Moulds timed out during his career.
Would I be shocked if Buffalo made a play on one of them in free agency? No.
I would be shocked however, if both of them made it to free agency. The absence of both players in their respective offenses would be crippling to their quarterbacks. As much as GMs A.J. Smith and Scott Pioli may not want to get into the stratosphere with respect to a long term contract for their top receiver, the way the league is headed they’ll need to bite the bullet.
It’s a passing league, and if your offense lacks a go-to guy you’re sunk.
As for Mario Williams, he’ll probably be available after the production that Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed provided Houston in the absence of Williams after his season-ending pectoral muscle tear. The two combined for 17.5 sacks.
Williams injury history the past two seasons is a bit of a concern so investing heavily could give some teams pause, but it’s not likely. It’s hard to argue with his ability and with the likelihood of the Bills moving to a 4-3, I think he’s a better fit for that system than Houston’s 3-4. I just see a bidding war for Williams and that’s something the Bills typically aren’t a part of.
I think the Bills may add a free agent veteran pass rusher, but I don’t see it being Williams. The highest ticket pass rusher I could see the Bills possibly, and I stress possibly, pursuing is someone more like Cliff Avril if he somehow makes it to the market. In the end, I think the Bills address their pass rush in the draft, and early.
2 – Hey Chris,
This new GM for the Raiders, Reggie McKenzie, I only know one “football” Reggie McKenzie—the Bills O-lineman from the 1970’s. Is this the same guy???
Matthew S. Kerr
CB: No, it’s not former Buffalo offensive lineman Reggie McKenzie. He was a former 10th round pick out of Tennessee by the Raiders and played for seven seasons in the NFL as a linebacker. He played for the Raiders (85-88), Cardinals (89-90) and 49ers (92).
3 - Chris,
You have had two years now to watch Buddy Nix and his approach to the draft. While it is always a fluid process during the actual draft because you never know who the teams ahead of you are going to select, do you have a sense that the 1st round selection this year will be a “pass rusher” as opposed to say an offensive tackle or wide receiver?
And do you see Buddy’s first “pass rusher” pick to be a defensive end vs an outsider linebacker?
Bills’ fans all seem to have their favorite pick whether it is Nick Perry, Whitney Mercilus, Melvin Ingram, etc. Do you have a player you like as a defensive end “pass rusher” for the Bills?
Thanks for all you do Chris. Hope you are enjoying the ‘off-season’.
CB: If the right pass rusher is there at 10 the Bills will draft a pass rusher, provided they do not land a high ticket one in free agency beforehand. If the pass rusher is taken 10th overall it will be one that can play defensive end in a 4-3 in my opinion.
I prefer Courtney Upshaw at 10 myself. I do like Ingram, but I’m not certain he can be a 4-3 defensive end and that uncertainty, if the Bills brass shares it, doesn’t make him a proper value at 10. Mercilus is a one-year wonder so there’s a boom or bust risk there that I don’t see the Bills taking at 10. Perry is a 4-3 defensive end, but I think he has to have a really good workout at the NFL Combine to have a chance to move past Upshaw on the board.
Coples is clearly the best of the bunch in terms of pure talent, but he’ll go no later than 7.
4 – Hi Chris,
With Wannstedt now running the defense, I wanted to ask about the front seven situation. Assuming the Bills decide to predominantly go with a 4-man front, as most people think they’ll do, I was wondering about what that would mean for our linebacking corps. Do you think we’d have to add a couple of typical 4-3 linebackers to adjust to that system (namely on the strong and weak side)? Do you think we have enough linebackers presently on the roster that could easily fit those new roles? Or would they prefer to go with just 2 linebackers and play nickel most of the time?
CB: I’m anticipating that they’ll add a 4-3 SLB in free agency to start on that side. I think it’s hard to say what Wannstedt’s preferences would be with respect to guys like Sheppard and Barnett in terms of who mans the MLB spot. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Barnett, because of his athleticism and cover ability, is the best fit for the weak side LB position, which should put Sheppard in the middle. Moats, Batten and Chris White will battle for reserve roles in all likelihood. Shep and Barnett would also be the nickel backers as I see it, unless Bryan Scott is re-signed to serve in one of those roles as he did last season.
With your background and knowledge as a former Bills Beat Reporter for radio and now working as Lead Journalist for Buffalobills.Com, what can you tell the fans to help us stay optimistic that the 2012-2013 Bills will actually challenge for a playoff spot next year? What is the organization (top to bottom) doing differently from past Bills Administrations that indicate the team is actually going in the right direction, because with each passing year of losing records and missed playoffs it becomes more and more difficult to accept what we are told by Bills Management.
CB: If I had to pick one specific thing that the Bills current management is doing differently than they have in the past it’s investing in the lines. Previous front offices either did not invest in the lines enough or missed badly on their investments (e.g. Mike Williams, Derrick Dockery, etc.) with the exception of Eric Wood and Andy Levitre in 2009 draft.
The investments made under Buddy Nix have been good ones and most of them haven’t broken the bank (e.g. Dwan Edwards, Kraig Urbik, Erik Pears, Chad Rinehart). And how refreshing was it to see them draft Marcell Dareus third overall last season?
I think the Bills stand a good chance of investing in the defensive line again this year in the form of a pass rushing defensive end. So although the wins have not been there to this point I think we can all agree that the lines on both sides of the ball are noticeably better.
Not ideal yet, but significantly better and likely to see more improvements this offseason (offensive tackle, defensive end). It’s that approach that encourages me that the winning is on its way because it all starts up front.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Courtney Upshaw, Dave Wannstedt, Dwayne Bowe, Fan Friday, Mario Williams, NFL free agency, Quinton Coples, Reggie McKenzie, Vincent Jackson
Posted in Inside the Bills