Hope everybody had a good 4th of July celebration. My favorite holiday of the year and there’s still a whole weekend to go! On to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - Chris,
Thanks for your great coverage of the Bills this offseason.
First, is Fitzpatrick considering wearing a rib protector this season like those made by Evoshield? I heard RG III on an interview with Jim Rome recently and he is a spokesperson for the molded, rib-protecting equipment. Has Fitz worn something like this before or will last season’s injury make the team and trainers look into something like this?
Second, how many D-linemen do you see the Bills carrying into the season? We easily have 4 DEs in Super Mario, Anderson, Lights Out and Kelsay. And we have Dareus and Kyle Williams etched in as DT starters. Those are the only players that seem like a lock. Is it possible that they keep 8 or even 9 D-linemen on the roster through the season? I’d hate to lose either a veteran talent like Spencer Johnson or some younger talent with upside like Troup or Carrington.
Nate in Rochester
CB: If I’m not mistaken I believe Fitz does wear a measure of rib protection around the back and sides of his rib cage. When London Fletcher hit him last year it was with the crown of his helmet right into Fitzpatrick’s sternum. A rib protector isn’t helping up that high.
The defensive lineman count is going to be one of the more interesting decisions the coaching staff makes when it’s time to whittle down the roster. Going to a 4-3 defensive front the defensive staff can keep a couple of more defensive linemen, but I can’t see the number going higher than 10. Personally I think nine is the more likely number.
Under Chan Gailey with a 3-4 defense the Bills kept just seven defensive linemen each of the past two seasons. I could see that number increasing by two this fall, which will leave some capable talent off the roster this season.
2 – Hey, Chris.
In the current Bills’ “Lead the Charge” spot, Stevie Johnson says something like, “…when you hear 73,000 fans going ‘Buffalo, Buffalo, let’s go Buffalo’…”. I have been to Rich/Ralph Wilson stadium more times than I can count, and I don’t recall ever hearing that chant. (they do chant “Let’s go Buffalo, Let’s go Buffalo” at Sabres games, but that does not apply). Am I losing my mind, or can you confirm the writers of the spot just exercised some poetic license with the facts (to what end, I do not know)? Other than “Shout!”, do the fans really have any regular chant?
CB: I believe Stevie is referring to the portion of the ‘Shout’ song when the guy sings, ‘Let’s go Buf-a-lo!’ And the crowd responds ‘Let’s go Buf-a-lo!’ They sing that two times in a row every time the ‘Shout’ song plays. It’s right at the end.
I’m afraid you might need a refresher course on the ‘Shout’ song my friend. Please listen and read the lyrics as well.
3 - Chris,
All talk has been focused around the D-line, and with good reason, I am loving our D-line also. I would like to hear your thoughts on our secondary. How likely is it that we will see Aaron Williams and Stephon Gilmore as the starting corners, and Ron Brooks in the slot? Again, with good reason, all talk has been about Mario, Kyle and Shawne’s return. Not much is being said about Aaron, Stephon or Ron. I think this could be a great secondary, especially covering NE’s TE’s, if you add in Shepp and Barnett at the Mike and Will LB positions, respectively. This could become a feared group to pass against, and given the BIG boys up front, this could be a hard D to pass against.
Thanks for your coverage,
CB: The secondary has added some big time talent no question. I think knowing how physical Dave Wannstedt wants his cornerbacks to be there’s a very good chance that Aaron Williams and Stephon Gilmore wind up being the starters on the outside come kickoff weekend.
As for the slot I think it’s much more up in the air. As we profiled on Buffalobills.com as part of our Top 25 questions until training camp series, there are four worthy candidates for the nickel corner job.
In my personal opinion I think Justin Rogers lands the job in the end, but you’re right there’s a good mix of youth and vets and two safeties that work well together in Byrd and Wilson.
4 - Hi Chris
A quick question I hope you can answer. If Shawne Merriman displays he is healthy
& 1 of the best defensive players on the team, why not start him @ the outside
Linebacker spot they have reserved for Kirk Morrison?
CB: I think this is a very valid question, and I’d be interested in asking it of Wannstedt. I believe the reason we haven’t seen Merriman in that role to this point is the coaching staff did not know what they were going to get from the veteran pass rusher. With that kind of uncertainty placing him in a starting role in the spring might be a bit of putting the cart before the horse.
Coaches don’t like to depend on players that aren’t exactly locks health-wise. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the staff decided to just let Merriman rush the passer in the spring workout setting and see what they get. But if Merriman continues on his current path he’ll be able to handle a full time role instead of a part time one.
Then and only then might an expanded role as a strong side linebacker even be considered, but it’s certainly a role he could handle when fully healthy.
5 – Chris…
It would seem to me that the best evidence of whether or not the investment in the Bills defense has paid off would be made by Fitz and the Offense…they practiced against the ones every week last year and are watching them amp up this year…I also think if the defense you practice against is significantly better, year over year, then the offense stands to get better as well…just because they need to play at a higher level….you’ve watched the Bill’s for a long while…do you see any of that…do the guy’s on offense talk about how much better the defense is….do you think the offense is playing or trying to play at a higher level just to keep up….or is it just too soon to tell?
thanks for all you do to keep us current….and it’s great that Murph is now really part of your team….
CB: Yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the most outspoken about the defense making their life difficult. He’s stated to me more than once that there have been days where they just can’t execute a lot of the same plays they were able to in practice last year because of the additional talent on that side of the ball.
Furthermore, Fitz believes it’s making them better as an offense. So the signs are encouraging, but we’ll know more when they all put on the pads at camp.
And yes we’re glad we’ve been able to add Murph to the fold full time. We’re looking forward to expanding our coverage of the team with Murph on board.
Tags: Bills secondary, defensive line, Fan Friday, John Murphy, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shawne Merriman, Shout song
Posted in Inside the Bills
With the most recent addition of Mark Anderson to Buffalo’s defensive line the contingent listed at that position has become exhorbitant.
Going off of Buffalo’s offseason roster on Buffalobills.com, there are 17 players listed as defensive linemen. There are some young players that will be making some position switches like Robert Eddins and Danny Batten, who were OLBs in last season’s 3-4 defensive scheme. There are also some veteran making the switch back to DE (e.g. Chris Kelsay) and moving to DE in a 4-3 for the first time in the NFL (e.g. Shawne Merriman).
Either way there are an awful lot of bodies. Knowing most 4-3 defenses rarely carry more than nine defensive linemen on a roster one wonders how the numbers, which include a lot of veteran players plays out. Here was Buddy Nix’s take on it when asked if salary cap figures become a factor in the high number of defensive linemen currently on the roster.
“It just means they’ve got competition,” said Nix. ”That’s what we’re trying to do at every position. Chan’s philosophy and ours is put as many good players as we can at each position and let the best ones start and play.”
Of the 17 defensive linemen listed on the roster, eight of them are defensive ends.
Tags: Buddy Nix, defensive line, NFL free agency, team roster
Posted in Inside the Bills