As we profiled in our feature story on Buffalobills.com today (Saturday) the Bills need to reverse the trend of performance in division games. After winning their first division game last season against New England, they dropped the rest of them. They also went 1-5 in the division in 2010. Here’s a look at how the division matchups shape up as the season unfolds.
The first division test comes quickly as they’re on the road to face the Jets in Week 1. It’s a chance to get a leg up right away on the Jets and the rest of the AFC East. The only issue here is the Bills won’t know exactly what the Jets have up their sleeve with respect to Tim Tebow, but there are two sides to that coin.
Buffalo then gets to host New England in Week 4 before having to face them again in Week 10. Knowing the Patriots will have two weeks to prepare for the second matchup coming off a bye, the Bills have to take the first meeting to help their chances of posting a winning record in the AFC East.
The Bills last three division games are arguably easier in terms of opponent and venue. They get the Dolphins at home, albeit off four days rest from the road game at New England (far from ideal) in a prime time game, and then travel to Miami in Week 16 before hosting the Jets in the season finale. It’ll be real interesting if Buffalo and New York are still fighting for playoff position in Week 17.
Tags: 2012 schedule, AFC East, Bills 2012 season
Posted in Inside the Bills
Let’s get right to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net for the latest edition of Fan Friday.
1 – Chris,
My questions is; What is the latest with Michael Jasper? He was promoted to the 53 man roster last year. What’s his future with the team?
CB: Jasper was working as a second unit guard this week in OTAs. He appears to have put on some weight, which can happen unfortunately when you’re a big man. Still, he appeared to move well even though it’s far from real football for linemen in this no pads setting.
He’s got an uphill battle. With entrenched starters in Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik at the guard spots and Chad Rinehart coming off a strong 2011 season as the swing guard, it’s going to be difficult for him to make the roster. Add in sixth-round pick Mark Asper, who can play guard and center and the task is even tougher. We’ll know better once the pads go on.
2 – Chris,
I understand that the Bills are moving back to a 4-3 base alignment this season, but are they still toying with the idea of the hybrid? I look at Kelsey, Merriman, and Williams along with hybrids like Bryan Scott and I wonder if the Bills may still cling to having the type of people that could run both systems? – without hardly changing personnel on the field!
An example would be disguising a 3-man front with Kelsey-Dareus-K.Williams-M.Williams with Scott-Sheppard-Barnett this would also allow Merriman to replace Kelsey on obvious passing downs for more pass rush.
With the above Kelsey OR Mario could be Ends or OLBs and Scott could be a LB or SS, it would make it quite difficult for opponents to figure out what the Bills plan to run. It would make the pre-snap read harder as well, though movement would give away a bit of it. This flexibility would also lend itself to easing injury problems at either the lineman or linebackers allowing the best seven athletes to be kept on the field from either group.
Lastly I am hoping the Bills take a linebacker in the draft early. I think Luke Keuchly would make a great choice! He’s plug and play!
Holland Patent, NY
CB: I believe we’re looking at predominantly a 4-3 with run and chase linebackers and penetrating D-linemen. If there’s a switch back to the 3-4 it’ll be for a series or two and no more. I can’t see Dave Wannstedt straying from what has worked best for him over the years especially with the influx of pass rush talent.
3 - Hey Chris,
With the Bills playing back-to-back road games on the West Coast (SF, Arizona) do you think they may consider staying on the West coast in between games?
It seemed to work well for SF last year when they did the same thing in between back to back East coast games.
CB: I think it will be a consideration yes. While going east to play is harder than traveling west (where you pick up time instead of lose it), doing a pair of cross country trips in a week’s time does not help the body as far as players go.
You’re right San Francisco posted a pair of victories after they stayed on Eastern time and beat two good teams in Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
Buffalo ironically, has San Francisco and Arizona in back to back weeks in Weeks 5 and 6.
4 - Chris,
What’s the latest on Eric Wood’s rehab and what would you predict our starting OL to consist of for the ’2012 opener against The Jets? It is imperative that the Bills start the season with a healthy OL to get off to fast start. I see Wood as the key to our running game which will free up Fitz for the pass action pass. Just look how we nose dived after Wood’s injury.
To a lesser degree, I wonder if Aaron Williams will be ready to go?
CB: The latest I have heard is that Wood remains on schedule to be ready for training camp. Provided that happens I think the offensive line looks largely the way it did at the start of last season with Levitre at LG, Wood at C, Urbik at RG and Pears at RT. The only question is at left tackle, which appears to be a two-man competition between Chris Hairston and rookie Cordy Glenn. I’d like to see more of Glenn through the spring before making a call on that job.
Aaron Williams looks ready to go. He’s eager to land a starting role and will be pushed the influx of young talent on the roster including Stephon Gilmore, who rotated in and out with Williams at the starting LCB position on Day 1 of OTAs.
5 – Chris,
Thanks for covering the draft and giving insight on the team. I think the number two WR debate is getting a little overblown, since Fitz/Gailey have Stevie, David, Fred, CJ, and Chandler already in the mix. Fred was one of the most targeted players before he got hurt. With only 4-5 penciled in starters (Stevie, Smith, Donald, David, TJ), who do you seen winning the possible remaining spots, since they are in 4-5 sets often? Easley could land on the PS squad. Could Donald play the slot? Or will CJ see more time again at WR?
CB: Your slot suggestion for Donald Jones is very astute. I believe if certain players emerge outside like Easley, who is probably the most physically gifted of the remaining receivers you’re asking about, and Derek Hagan proves capable outside as well it could push Jones inside.
Personally I think Jones could be a more effective receiver inside because he’s a weapon as a blocker in that alignment. He’s a very underrated blocker in my opinion and having a slot guy that could crash down on a linebacker at the second level would help immeasurably in the run game. Plus Jones has the strength to come away passes in tight spaces that are challenged by physical corners.
Aside from the receivers you mentioned above I think Easley and Brad Smith are the next most likely candidates. After that it really is a toss up with special teams abilities potentially the difference maker. Receivers on the roster that have cover teams ability include Ruvell Martin and Kamar Aiken. That could help their cause. Hagan showed a willingness to play special teams too.
Clowney and Roosevelt mostly offer return ability.
Tags: #2 WR, 2012 schedule, 4-3 defense, Aaron Williams, Eric Wood, Fan Friday, Mike Jasper
Posted in Inside the Bills
Former Bills GM and soon-to-be Bills Wall of Famer Bill Polian has chosen a home date this fall for his Wall of Fame induction ceremony.
Polian’s name will be formally unveiled during a halftime ceremony on Oct. 21st when the Bills play host to the Tennessee Titans. He’s the 28th name to be added to the Bills Wall of Fame.
The game date selected makes sense. One of Polian’s sons, Dennis, is an assistant to Titans head coach Mike Munchak.
Tags: 2012 schedule, Bill Polian, Wall of Fame
Posted in Inside the Bills