Day two of the NFL draft. Right now the Bills hold the 49th and 80th picks. What do they do tonight? Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Hey Chris, who do you expect with be their at pick 49?
CB: I think it’s hard to know what’s going to be left if the Bills stay put at 49 overall. If the value on defense keeps getting pushed down they could go on that side of the ball again. Players like Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland and Jarran Reed all figure to go early tonight in round two. But there’s still good talent after that like Kevin Dodd, A’Shawn Robinson and Kamalei Correa. On offense you’ve got Connor Cook, but he’ll probably go in the top two picks tonight.
I took a look at the best talent that’s on the board that might be a good fit for the Bills.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance bills trade up to select a top remaining linebacker?
CB: I don’t think you can rule anything out with Doug Whaley at the wheel. He’s not afraid to make a deal if it makes sense for the team. Based on the old trade value chart the Bills would have to give up a third-round pick to get up to the top of round two tonight from their current spot at 49.
There’s also going to be competition to move up that high with reports that Dallas wants to get up there, probably to take a shot at Connor Cook. Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland would be great for Buffalo, but the price to go to the top of round two might be too much.
Perhaps they choose to wait to see how the first few picks unfold and if one of their top players is still on the board they make some calls.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance Bills move Manny Lawson to MLB now that Shaq is starting OLB opposite Jerry Hughes?
CB: Since we saw that transpire late last season I think it’s an option. Manny Lawson is a player that is valued by Rex Ryan. He’s stated more than once that he’s one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. He can fill roles at OLB, DE and inside at LB. His versatility gives the Ryans options.
So while I don’t think it’s the most likely scenario, it’s possible. Personally I think Lawson takes on a jack of all trades role because mentally he’s more than capable of playing different roles week to week.
4 – Hey Chris,
Not much is mentioned about Robert Woods and his future with the Bills. I know he is going into his contract year and has some to prove in 2016. Do you think the Bills will want to get him under another contract? I know he had a down year in 2015 due to a groin injury but I think Robert is a very underrated receiver and I would really hate to see him leave the team. Thanks for all your insight. Jillian
CB: It’s pretty clear to everyone that the contract extension priorities on the roster are Tyrod Taylor, Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore. I like Robert Woods and I too believe he’s underrated. To his credit he played hurt last season and almost had a 50-catch season.
Unfortunately with the other players in front of him on the list for extensions it’s probably a wait and see situation for him.
5 – Chris,
With all the talk about Tyrod Taylor as the starting QB for the Bills and talk about the Bills drafting a QB this year, what has been going on with EJ Manuel? I have been a big EJ fan since he came in the league and I would like to know what the Bills staff’s plans are for him and what are the chances he will be with the team after his contract is up next year? What is really preventing him from Starting for the Bills?
CB: Manuel is expected to serve as the backup this season, the final under his rookie contract. What happens beyond that I believe is tied to the other quarterback the Bills acquire, presumably through the draft. If the hypothetical rookie makes a lot of progress and convinces the offensive staff he could handle a backup role in 2017 then Manuel probably is not re-signed. If the progress isn’t happening at a rate the staff feels comfortable with, perhaps EJ is brought back on a short term deal.
As for your last question on what is preventing him from starting for the Bills, it’s Tyrod Taylor. The seventh-highest rated quarterback in the league, a 3.33:1 touchdown to interception ratio and a solid deep passing game.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Manny Lawson, Robert Woods, Shaq Lawson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Are there any areas of concern that we’re overlooking when it comes to the roster? DL and QB are always talked about.
Jordan Hanson @iamthelegenddd
CB: If you’re looking for hidden needs so to speak I think OT, CB and safety are areas that could use some reinforcements. At tackle and safety you don’t know for sure what the future holds for Seantrel Henderson with his health condition and Aaron Williams in his comeback from a neck injury.
Jordan Mills re-signed, but has a one-year contract. So investing at offensive tackle would make sense.
Williams said himself he won’t know for sure if he can continue his playing career until he starts hitting in training camp. Adding a safety even later in the draft would be advisable to cover the organization in a worst case scenario with Williams.
Cornerback might be a position that draws eye rolls from fans, but with the loss of Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks, depth is an issue there even though they signed Corey White in free agency. So there is a good argument to add there as well.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Are the top 3 picks most likely DL, LB, and QB on some order? #FanFriday
NFL Predictor @PredictingNFL
CB: While there is no debate that the Bills want to add to their talent base in the front seven on defense and have made no secret that they need to add a quarterback, to just blindly say those are likely to be their top three picks is foolhardy. The reason why is there’s no way to know what will be sitting on the board when they’re on the clock in any of the first three rounds.
What if there’s an early run on defensive linemen? Do they take one of the top four offensive tackles in round one? They could. What if some cornerback slips to them in round two, who they have with a first round grade? They would take him.
There are simply too many variables to say they’ll address these three positions in the first three rounds. In a perfect world that would be a very logical thought, but as you know that’s not how the draft works.
If the value isn’t right Doug Whaley is not going to force a pick at a need position, plain and simple.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills what would your reaction be to Darron Lee going 19?
CB: I’d be very happy with that pick at 19. Lee is the new wave of linebacker teams need in the NFL. I think as long as your defensive scheme has a way to protect a linebacker like Lee from getting covered up you can maximize his playmaking value. He’d be a very solid pick there at a position that needs an influx of talent. Whether he’s still be on the board will be the big question.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills curious about this so called infatuation the bills have with Kevin Hogan, is there any truth to that and why?
CB: I think people are reading way too much into what Doug Whaley said about Hogan about a month ago. Yes, he stated that he thought Hogan would be one of the most pro ready quarterbacks in the class. That is probably true. He played in a pro-style offense, ran a good number of plays from under center and had progressions that he had to read after the snap. Those three things alone will be completely new to most of this year’s quarterback prospects.
Now does that mean the Bills see him as a fit? Not necessarily.
My personal opinion is Hogan is not a fit for Buffalo. After watching him throw at the NFL combine he doesn’t appear to have the arm strength necessary to play in Greg Roman offense that likes to exploit defenses with over the top throws, usually to the boundary. The weather, most notably the wind in Ralph Wilson Stadium would also present a problem.
5 – Chris,
What Inside LB’s would be a fit for the Bills scheme in the draft. Do they need a more athletic player next to Preston? Cravens from USC looks to be a great fit. What other names should we look for?
CB: Darron Lee is listed as an outside linebacker, but I think he could play the WILL inside. The question is whether he’ll still be on the board at 19. Most mock drafters don’t think so, but I’m hopeful. Cravens is even smaller than Lee, which worries me a bit in terms of being a linebacker fit.
I like Josh Perry a lot, Lee’s teammate at Ohio State, though he probably goes in round 2 or 3. He’s not quite as athletic as Lee, but man is he a reliable, consistent player. West Virginia’s Nick Kwiatkoski is another ILB to consider late on day two or early day three.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Darron Lee, Fan Friday, Kevin Hogan, Su'a Cravens, team needs
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see Tyrod Taylor being our starting quarterback for the next 5 years? If not, how will they go about getting one?
CB: I believe that Tyrod Taylor is Buffalo’s starting quarterback for 2016. Anything after that will be based on how Taylor performs. And though there are media reports touting animosity between the Bills and Taylor’s camp I’m not getting that sense at all. Taylor has a starting job here in Buffalo and if he continues to progress in 2016 he’ll be the starter here for a long time.
The bottom line is GM Doug Whaley has said from the start of the offseason that Taylor earned the right to start this year and if he continues to play well he’ll continue to be the starter and will be rewarded accordingly with a new contract as well. Buffalo has the cap space next year to accommodate an extension. Their cap situation now does not.
At the same time the Bills have to fortify the most important position on the roster with more talent. Whaley said they will add a quarterback knowing that not only Taylor, but EJ Manuel are each in the last year of their current contracts.
Whaley has said he thinks there are a good number of developmental type quarterback prospects in the draft and that with a year or two of grooming there are some that could develop into starting caliber QBs at the NFL level.
So knowing you have a starter now in Tyrod Taylor, why not draft a quarterback that you have time to groom with coaches like Greg Roman and David Lee and see how quickly he can come along.
I think everyone needs to understand that the Bills won’t be drafting a quarterback to compete with Tyrod Taylor this season. They’re drafting a quarterback because they need to add one to their roster that they feel has the potential to grow and learn and eventually compete for a starting role in 2-3 years time.
That’s not only their plan, but aside from Carson Wentz and Jared Goff that’s what this year’s class of quarterbacks has to offer.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Is the need on DL really at NT, since Dareus would be more effective as a 5-tech DE? #Bills
CB: I think the versatility of Marcell Dareus’ game (capable of playing anywhere on the DL) gives Buffalo’s scouting department the flexibility of taking either the best defensive tackle or best defensive end on the board if and when they choose to address their defensive line. I think a true pass rusher probably outweighs the need for an interior defensive lineman, but not much.
Looking at this year’s draft class there are defensive tackles who can provide a pass rush from the interior. Knowing that, I truly think how the Bills address their defensive line will come down to who is still on the board when they pick and if the value matches where they’re picking.
3 – Dear Chris:
Thank you for all the work you put in over the combine and what you do year round is wonderful. My question is with Mario now gone who do you think the bills will draft as his replacement? Also with Kyle Williams on the wrong side of thirty I’m afraid the bills will cut him like they did Fred last year, I really hope we don’t I would hate to see another long tenured veteran leave without seeing a playoff game.
Sincerely: John from Pennsylvania.
CB: First, I’ll say that I absolutely see Kyle Williams on this roster. His play and his leadership were sorely missed last season when he missed the last 10 games of the year. He also restructured his contract this offseason, which I believe only further solidifies his spot on this roster.
As for replacing Mario, I think that player is hopefully acquired in the draft. You typically have to get those players early, but I don’t know if the right value is going to be there at 19 in round one knowing there aren’t a whole lot of elite pass rushers and they go fast.
That’s why, as I mentioned in the prior response, the versatility of Dareus, Kyle and Corbin Bryant gives Buffalo the option of taking the best value at 19 on the defensive line if that’s the part of their defense they want to address. There could be a highly rated linebacker there as well that merits consideration.
All in all I think the front seven will be a major focus early in this draft and their first pick at 19 stands a very good chance of addressing that focus.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Fan Friday question… Have we looked into QB Brandon Doughty? His #’s are amazing & he’s 6’3. Ideal to grab in 4th!
CB: There’s no debate that the Bills have done their homework on Doughty as they do every prospect. My take is while he was tremendously productive (111 career TD passes) there are a lot of drawbacks with the Western Kentucky product. He’s had multiple knee injuries, has average arm strength and is not especially mobile. When he faced better competition he struggled to raise his game accordingly.
I think he projects to the NFL as a backup and a backup only. For me I don’t draft a quarterback unless I think there’s at least some potential to be an NFL starter at some point. Obviously NFL clubs might feel differently, but I think he only fits a west coast system in viewing his arm strength in games.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills would he fit Rex’s scheme?
ProFootballTalk The Patriots didn’t want DL Dominique Easley. Neither did anyone else. https://t.co/QFYRGMP88P
Robin Vs Fred
CB: First, there’s a reason no one picked Dominique Easley up on waivers. There’s a long injury history there, which is of some concern. Second, he’s a three technique penetrator type and if his explosion is compromised by his injury history he might not be an NFL caliber player anymore.
He doesn’t have the physical stature to change his game and be a defensive tackle who stands in there and grinds. Most NFL scouts did not believe he was capable of being a two gap DT due to his short arms and limited strength. I’m no scout, but I don’t get the sense that he would be a fit in Buffalo’s defensive scheme.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Brandon Doughty, Dominique Easley, Fan Friday, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills were busy in free agency this week with a handful of signings and more visitors in today. Let’s get to your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you think that the defense’s transition back into a full 3-4 scheme will make them better this year?
CB: I’ve got to believe it’s going to help. Trying to merge the Bills’ 2014 scheme with Rex’s scheme last year was done in an effort to appease players who were successful in the old scheme. As Ryan himself admitted halfway through last season it didn’t work.
It convinced Rex to go back to what he knows works and that’s his scheme, which is a more traditional 3-4. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to see multiple fronts from one week to the next and from one series to the next. The system is rooted in a traditional 3-4, but what makes Ryan’s scheme so confounding is the variety of fronts that he throws at offenses through the course of a game.
Buy in by the players is critical because his scheme demands complete understanding and mastery of it to execute it properly. Some players didn’t want to commit to that kind of study. One such player is no longer on the roster. Fortunately I think we saw the results of that player buy in over the last two games last season and what it can mean for the defense. Provided that buy in from the players continues and some key adds are made in the draft (couple of starters please?) I think the defense will be better.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills what are the chances bills trade up or down in the first round and why?
CB: I think there is a greater likelihood that the Bills move back in round one than move up. First and foremost the Bills need capable and talented bodies for their roster. They not only need to land a starter or two in this draft (LB, DL), they need reinforcements for depth at a few positions too (CB, S, OL, WR, TE).
The two additional compensatory picks in rounds four and six were huge. It’s my belief that Doug Whaley would like to keep all eight of those picks in a perfect world. He’d have to part with some of those if he wants to move up.
The way that moving back in round one becomes a reality is if the Bills have a limited number of first round grades for this year’s class.
Let’s hypothetically say they have legitimate first round grades on just 16 players in this draft class. Perhaps they only have 16 prospects they deem as truly worthy of a first round draft choice. If the Bills are on the clock at 19 and all 16 of those prospects are already off the board, I think moving back becomes more likely.
Whaley and his staff likely have a few players they like that they believe will be there at 19, but if none of them are available why sit there and reach for a player that doesn’t match the value of your pick? Slide back a few slots add another draft choice somewhere on day two and match a prospect with the appropriate value.
3 – Dear Chris:
My question is on who the Bills will be looking for in this year’s draft. I know the Bills will be looking to re-tool the defense, and I assume they will be transitioning to a 3-4 with Rex. My question will they be looking for an inside linebacker like Reggie Ragland to put next to Preston Brown or a player with a body type like Nigel Bradham say Jaylon Smith?
Also at D-line will they draft a defensive end like DeForest Buckner/Shaq Lawson, or will they draft a defensive tackle like Jarran Reed or Austin Johnson, plus what do you think our top needs are overall?
Sincerely: John from PA.
CB: I think the key ingredient that needs to be added at linebacker in a prospect is speed. With the league in subpackage defense just about two-thirds of the time you need linebackers who can cover ground and handle coverage assignments with backs and athletic tight ends.
I wouldn’t mind Ragland as a prospect, but I’m not convinced he can cover the type of athletic tight ends and backs we see at the pro level every week. With that in mind I’d prefer a more athletic type linebacker like a Darron Lee.
Bradham was Buffalo’s fastest linebacker and he’s in Philadelphia now, so that speed at linebacker has to be replaced as I see it.
As far as defensive line goes I think both end and DT are both on the table. I don’t expect Buckner to be there at 19 and it’s unlikely that Lawson is either. Both are versatile guys you can position up and down a 3-4 front.
Jarran Reed has a chance to be there. His value isn’t as high because he doesn’t offer as much in terms of pass rush. But I wouldn’t have a problem lining him up at nose tackle and flanking him with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams and let them win on the edge.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will go about training camp differently this year? Due to the top players getting injured last yr..
CB: I’m not sure there’s much they can do differently. There are strict guidelines set out in the CBA as to how often players can practice during training camp, days off, etc.
What we witnessed last summer with all five running backs going down I believe was an anomaly. The receivers who went down with injuries late in camp was a domino effect. When you lose two receivers in one day it immediately puts more strain and demand on the bodies of the receivers who are left. It’s more reps for them.
Now to the coaches’ and athletic trainers’ credit they backed things off on the healthy players still practicing, and signed more players to help fill the void.
Training camp is a grind, and the Bills do everything in their power to keep players on the field and healthy. There is also a responsibility on the part of the players to do right by their body day in and day out so they can perform at their best. Their body is their livelihood.
Buffalo does make use of GPS technology to track the workload of players each day at camp, so they’re all closely monitored as a means of being proactive and backing players off when the analytics dictate it’s warranted to prevent injuries before they happen. But nothing is perfect.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills You think there’s a player in this year’s draft that could become Buffalo’s next QB in the event that they can’t keep Tyrod?
CB: I think that’s difficult for anyone to predict, even those with the trained eye, like NFL scouts, player personnel executives and general managers. I think what you need to keep in mind is Buffalo has every intention of keeping Tyrod Taylor for the long term provided he continues on his current trajectory of performance.
And there’s no reason to think that he won’t. People are wondering why a contract extension hasn’t happened yet for Tyrod. I personally think it benefits both parties to wait for a few reasons.
First, Buffalo’s cap situation for 2016 is not conducive to working out a long term extension for Taylor. The market value at his position alone makes such an undertaking difficult for year one of an extension, which would be in 2016.
Second, the Bills, understandably so, want to see more from Taylor before they make a sizable commitment to Taylor. There’s recent Buffalo history where they jumped the gun in handing out a long term deal to a QB (see: Ryan Fitzpatrick).
I think the Bills want to believe in Taylor as their starting quarterback, but one year of solid production isn’t enough to go on when you’re talking about the multi-million dollar commitment a quarterback contract demands.
Third, Taylor stands to get a much more lucrative contract from Buffalo if he can back up last year’s production with even more production and wins in 2016.
So while it’s true that Taylor’s agent can stand on the table and argue that his client is underpaid this year at $3-plus million for 2016, even he knows that waiting and letting his client perform and build more of a starting QB resume this fall will only benefit his negotiating duties in getting Taylor a lucrative long term contract.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Bills defense, Bills training camp, DeForest Buckner, Fan Friday, Rex Ryan, Shaq Lawson, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
Do you see the Bills improving on Defense this year? They lost a couple guys but I don’t think they could fall any further.
CB: I think a lot will hinge on what the Bills are able to add to the roster defensively via the draft. I believe they have to come away with at least two plug and play starters on defense. Buffalo has eight picks and they’ve done a good job of late of finding instant contributors beyond the first round (Darby, Woods, Alonso, Brown, Karlos, Miller). If that continues in this year’s draft I’m optimistic they can rebound from last season’s disappointing results.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills what moves will be made next year in order to pay Tyrod and Gilmore?
CB: Contrary to popular thinking the Bills cap situation for 2017 is quite healthy. Last I checked Buffalo was projected to be about $50M under the cap next offseason, which should afford them more than enough space to handle sizable long term extensions for both Gilmore and Taylor.
CB: I think among the quarterbacks you mentioned the only one that gives me pause is Kevin Hogan. While GM Doug Whaley is right about Hogan’s pro readiness having worked in a pro-style system and his vast game experience at Stanford, I just can’t see his throwing arm allowing Buffalo to do all the things they do with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.
I watched Hogan throw at the NFL Combine with my own eyes and while I respect his game, I can’t get past his lack of arm strength. He’s a strict West Coast system, horizontal passing game QB. That’s not what the Bills do. They drive the ball down the field a good deal with Sammy Watkins. That element of Buffalo’s passing game is critical to their success.
That’s why I can’t see them drafting a quarterback that isn’t capable of executing those kinds of plays. Cardale Jones certainly has the arm strength to do that. Hackenberg’s arm strength is good enough, though he probably needs some refining of his mechanics, and Cook has demonstrated enough examples in the Michigan State offense that pushed the ball downfield to convince me he could handle that as well.
So I’d say those other QBs you listed would all be on the table for Buffalo.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills in your opinion what’s more important need in draft LB’er or true NT, true 3-4 DE for Rex system?
CB: I think we need to take into account not only Rex’s system, but the offensive trends in the league and where the depth on Buffalo’s roster lies. Right now there is not only no depth at linebacker, but limited options for starters.
I think the most pressing need position is LB, but there is a need for an additional pass rusher and those players go early. So although LB is the bigger need, the value in drafts typically dictate that you get your pass rusher first and second level players later.
Of course if the right value at LB falls into their lap at 19 (e.g. Ragland, Lee) you can make a very good argument to take them in round one.
As for nose tackle, it’s a deep defensive tackle draft, so if there is a position where Buffalo can afford to wait it’s there as the talent goes into the fourth round this year.
5 – Hey Chris,
I am curious about Jaylon Smith with this most recent news he will miss at least the whole 2016 season and maybe more, he was easily my favourite player entering the draft before all of this happened, how far in the draft do you think he could fall and do you think the Bills would have any interest should they have a chance at selecting him? Also should a receiver like Laquon Treadwell still be available at the Bills selection do you think they would go that direction over an offensive tackle or a defensive player ? Thank you.
CB: I think a lot will depend upon the medical re-check that takes place on April 14-15th in Indianapolis where doctors will perform a full examination on his surgically repaired knee again after taking an initial look in late February.
Doctors will be assessing his progress over those six weeks between exams and put together a prognosis for his future playing career. Teams will have their own physicians formulate their best opinion on what kind of career Smith can expect to have and develop an appropriate draft grade off of that.
The first installment of our On the Clock series focused on the medical component of the pre-draft process last month and highlighted Jaylon Smith’s situation and how it was not all that different from Willis McGahee.
Whether he’ll be a first round pick will hinge on how team doctors believe Smith can recover. He told NFL Network’s Mike Mayock at the Notre Dame pro day this week that he’s leg pressing 600 pounds and squatting 400 pounds. But it will all come down to the medical.
I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think Laquon Treadwell will be a day one pick. So I don’t see the Bills or anyone else taking him in the first 31 selections.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Bills defense, Cardale Jones, Christian Hackenberg, Connor Cook, Fan Friday, Jaylon Smith, Kevin Hogan, Laquon Treadwell, Salary cap, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Will Greg Salas see himself inserted into the Hogan role in the offense, or will the Bills look to the draft/FA?
CB: As we covered on Buffalobills.com this week Salas is certainly a bona fide candidate to assume the role previously held by Chris Hogan. He has a familiarity with receivers coach Sanjay Lal and he’s a very clever receiver with size and strong hands.
There are other wideouts on the roster (Greg Little, Jarret Boykin) who figure to be part of that competition as well, but Salas has experience in that kind of role albeit limited experience.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris what’s the plan with little salary cap they have left? They are in need of lot position LE MLB ROLB WR RT.
CB: I think a lot depends on what’s still out there and whether they deem it a fit in their defense. I don’t see right tackle being addressed with good news recently about Seantrel Henderson’s undisclosed illness. Indications are he’s managing well and should be good to resume his career after his 2015 season was cut short. The Bills have also tendered RFA OT Jordan Mills, so odds are he’s back in the fold as well.
Buffalo had their first defensive free agent visit in safety Robert Blanton, who would provide good depth at the position at an affordable price. I would also anticipate a heavy defensive draft for Buffalo and now that they have two extra compensatory picks in the fourth and sixth rounds they’ll be able to address some more holes.
And before you dismiss mid to late round picks remember that Nigel Bradham was a fourth-round pick, Karlos Williams was a fifth-round pick and Seantrel Henderson was a seventh-round selection.
But I think the Bills will look for affordable options in free agency knowing there’s not much cap room to play with having to commit a bit over $5M to their rookie pool.
CB: I think with Rob Ryan expected to oversee more of the defensive formulation week to week during the season you can anticipate more frequent blitzing. That’s been his M.O. Now that doesn’t mean they won’t turn to other means of generating a pass rush, but I feel most comfortable in anticipating a higher percentage of blitzes knowing Buffalo only blitzed about 20 percent of the time last season.
4 – Chris, you da man!
Your coverage and insight keep me and other bills fans going during the offseason.
I’m wondering if you think it makes sense to take treadwell at 19 if he falls? I keep hearing about how deep the draft is at D-line so we still may be able to get value with some later picks. I think treadwell and Watkins are perfect compliments to each other and giving a young QB as many weapons as possible is never a bad move in my eyes. If he’s there, do you think it’s a real possibility? Thanks!
CB: Thanks for the kind words and your readership. In a draft where the receiver talent is not good (Arizona HC Bruce Arians called it the worst WR draft he’s seen in 20 years) it’ll be interesting to see if Treadwell’s value gets inflated due to a lack of supply.
If he lasts to 19 overall where the Bills sit I don’t see Buffalo taking even the best wideout in the draft. I just believe there will be plenty of value at positions of more dire need on defense for the Bills to choose from. I’m not saying that need will trump value, I just think there will be players of comparable value to Treadwell at 19 that will lead Buffalo in a different direction there, presumably defense.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is trading McCoy an option?
CB: It’s not a realistic option at this point because moving him off your roster would leave more than $15M in dead cap money on Buffalo’s books. McCoy’s 2016 base salary was also guaranteed effective March 9th. So while some might be disenchanted with what transpired off the field and in a knee jerk fashion want to release the running back, I think we need to let the legal process take its course before anyone passes judgment of any kind.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Fan Friday, Greg Salas, LeSean McCoy, pass rush
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills hey Chris how does cap for bills look next year ??
CB: Right now the 2017 cap for the Bills looks very healthy. If we conservatively estimate that the cap goes up $10M next year to $165M then Buffalo currently has more than $50M in cap space ($112M plus in cap commitments). Now a good portion of that figures to be gobbled up by long term contracts (hopefully) for Cordy Glenn, Stephon Gilmore and Tyrod Taylor, but they will still be in a better position next year than they are right now.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills What will the Bills do at WR, especially after losing Hogan to that big deal to the Patriots?
CB: Buffalo currently has nine receivers on the roster. They added size and physical play, something they needed, with the additions of Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little and Greg Salas, who all stand 6-2. Salas is a player that I believe can capably fill the role Hogan held in Buffalo and perhaps offer more production.
Salas has a feel for the game that I don’t know if Hogan has yet just based on the fact that he played only one year of college football. Yes, Boykin and Little have bounced around a bit in their NFL careers, but both are big physical receivers that can box out defenders in the red zone. That’s an area where Buffalo had to add more muscle to improve their scoring efficiency. We’ll see how they fare in training camp.
As for adding there, this year’s draft class is not very strong. It lacks the explosiveness and pure speed that the past few draft classes have offered at receiver.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills upcoming contracts for Glenn, Gilmore, Taylor. Will Bills look at drafting OT or CB high in case they can’t re-sign one?
CB: It’s my belief that aside from quarterback, the only other offensive position the Bills figure to address in the draft is offensive line. I just don’t think it’s predicated on what may or may not happen in the way of a long term contract for Cordy Glenn.
I think adding a cornerback or two is a strong likelihood in the draft because the depth behind the top three (Gilmore, Darby and Robey) is largely unproven. Fortunately for the Bills it’s a great cornerback class this year.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills how much cap room does Buffalo have to create/need just to sign rookies in the draft?
CB: Essentially it’s the money they have under the cap right now (about $5M) with a little left over. If they do not match the offer sheet for Chris Hogan (and they’re not expected to) it would provide a little more space. The thing to remember is that only the top 51 salaries count toward the cap. So for the lower draft choices the only part of their salary that counts toward the cap would be their pro-rated signing bonus, which would be minimal in the tens of thousands of dollars.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills :Bradham, Brooks, McKelvin gone to the Eagles hole in the defense are starting to become more apparent. Who fills the holes?
CB: I would say there’s a good chance a couple of draft choices fill a couple of holes and then some younger players on the roster fill a couple of others. I liked Max Valles’ pass rush ability coming out of Virginia and think he’d be a nice fit in a 3-4 at OLB. Is he a starter or a situational guy? That’s to be determined in training camp.
Brooks was largely a special teams player and McKelvin was a reserve corner behind the starters. Those are depth roles that the Bills personnel department has shown an ability to fill before (See: Nickell Robey, Seantrel Henderson, Karlos Williams etc.).
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Chris Hogan, Cordy Glenn, Fan Friday, NFL free agency, Salary cap, Stephon Gilmore
Posted in Inside the Bills
Sitting on the cusp of free agency the Bills are not expected to be early big money players at all. It will be interesting to see which of their RFAs they tender by Wednesday. Here are your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills hey Chris being that were fully going back to Ryan’s style of D who is gonna be the QB of this D? AW?
CB: Rex Ryan told us at the NFL Combine that he wants Preston Brown to step up run the defense. Brown surprisingly had some missteps in running the scheme last season to the point where Manny Lawson had to take over late in the season. But here’s what Ryan said about Brown last week in Indy.
“I think if everything stays the same and we have all our players back then Preston has to be more vocal and there has to be more ownership that way,” Ryan said. “It’s not good enough to just know your job. You’ve got to bark it out and be the quarterback back there. And he can do it. He’s a smart enough kid and his dad is a football coach. So he’s got to come out of his shell. David Harris was a quiet guy, but on the football field he ran the whole thing. He’s got to grow into it. It doesn’t happen overnight. I think when you come into a new system it’s tougher to play, but yeah I expect Preston to be able to take that step and he needs to.”
2 – @ChrisBrownBills If Incognito is lost in FA’cy, do you think they slide Miller to LG and try and fill RG with draft or veteran FA?
CB: I don’t know if they flip Miller to the other side. I think their preference is to let him progress at right guard. As for replacements if negotiations go nowhere with Incognito, I would expect a veteran free agent to be signed.
3- @ChrisBrownBills How likely is it Whaley would take a chance at Nkemdiche at 19? Some teams apparently think he’s undraftable
CB: I would be very surprised if they took a chance on Nkemdiche. Here’s why. Buffalo just got rid of a player who was a headache in terms of work ethic and effort on the game field in Mario Williams. You want to replace him with the same type of player? Nkemdiche has oodles of talent, but even he admitted that he took plays off and was lazy.
I wouldn’t be surprised if his lousy effort on the field hurt him more than his still – it all doesn’t add up – night at his Atlanta hotel room where he was charged with drug possession, admitted to being drunk, fell out his hotel room window and according to police reports was paranoid when police arrived on the scene.
When teams make an investment in a player in the form of a draft pick, they want to know what they’re going to get from the player on every snap, every Sunday. If there’s doubt as to what they’ll get on the field nothing will hurt a player’s draft stock more, short of a failed physical. Can’t physically play might be the only thing worse than no passion to play.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills I read that a NFL GM felt Bills cap management had been criminal. Do you see that they have mismanaged their cap? I don’t.
CB: It is a little disappointing to see some of the reports that were out there concerning the Bills cap situation. Yes, they were tight against the cap here in 2016, but they had some pretty straightforward ways to maneuver things and create some necessary space.
All the talk about them being in cap jail for 2017 is also off the mark too. If the cap goes up $10M as it has the last couple of years to $165M, Buffalo will be about $50M under the cap. Obviously that will be subject to change if Cordy Glen signs a long term deal, as well as Incognito, Gilmore and Tyrod Taylor. But to say right now they’re in bad shape for 2017 is just inaccurate.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills the going rate for a starting qb $16-18M per year is @TyrodTaylor really worth that & worth the risk?
CB: I think that’s why the Bills want to see him play more in 2016 before deciding if he is worth that kind of money. As we covered on Buffalobills.com Thursday an extension for Taylor is no easy call because effectively pegging his true market value after playing just 14 games is beyond difficult. There are certainly a lot of encouraging signs, but it’s simply not enough of a body of work.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Fan Friday, NFL free agency, Preston Brown, Richie Incognito, Robert Nkemdiche, Salary cap, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Our NFL Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts continues today from Indianapolis both on Buffalobills.com and on the John Murphy Show. For now here are your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Dear Chris,
First off, I’d like to say I appreciate everything you do to keep us Bills die hards informed during the off season.
My question is with a lot of needs to be addressed and not too much cap room to use in free agency do you see the bills trading down in the draft to acquire more draft picks? You keep hearing how deep the draft class is so I feel trading down will help us address a lot of our needs.
Thank you again for everything you do,
Dave G from Niagara Falls
CB: It’s interesting that you bring this up because I just asked GM Doug Whaley about that very possibility in our 1-on-1 interview on Buffalobills.com, which I made a note of in our Bills Daily Dish this morning out here at the NFL Combine.
Whaley said he’s open to adding picks if the opportunity presents itself. You’re right that with a tight cap Buffalo has to make the most of their draft picks, but right now they have just six (no seventh). So while I think they’d like to stay in the first round I don’t think they’d be opposed to moving back a few spots if it meant adding to their lot of selections.
Their cap situation is going to be pretty restrictive so adding picks to add players in what is considered a draft deep in value rather than elite talent behooves the Bills to look for deals that can land them more draft choices. And we all know Doug Whaley isn’t afraid to make a deal.
2 – Chris
I need your keen insight. This seems to be a good year for drafting a QB, I’m concerned if we pass at 19, when we get a chance at 51, the good ones will be gone ?? If many of the top ones don’t go in first 18, Dallas, Cleveland , San Diego, Rams, Saints etc. will grab one. My biggest fear is the Jets and Patriots draft one after us. A lot of top QB’s are aging out.
Could we sign Tyrod to a 4 year contract, if we hit on one, we will be primed to continue to win ??
CB: I think you might be getting a little carried away. Doug Whaley has stated more than once that while there isn’t a lot of top end, elite QB talent in this draft there is very good depth at the position for talent that he feels offers enough to develop some prospects into eventual starters. That’s a perfect scenario knowing it’s very likely that Tyrod Taylor gets an extension from the Bills after a promising first season in 2015.
That’s why I expect the Bills to wait until the middle rounds to draft a quarterback. There will be good talent in rounds three to five that can be brought along behind Taylor. I don’t get the sense that Buffalo will strike early at QB unless someone falls into their lap that they weren’t expecting.
Rounds 3-5 look like the window where picking a QB is most likely to occur based on how their draft board shakes out.
3 – Hi Chris,
Thank you for constantly keeping us informed over the off season.
My question is about Lesean McCoy’s contract, but also all contracts in general when it comes to the league’s personal conduct policies. If you are in violation of something and face suspension, or do something that hurts the team’s image, can that player be released without any salary or can penalty to the team? And to be more direct, can the Bills release LeSean McCoy over this incident if he is found to be at fault?
CB: To my knowledge a team would not be off the hook in terms of the salary cap hit that cutting or releasing a player like LeSean McCoy would leave behind. As I understand it a player must have a morality clause in their contract that specifically states what kind of behavior would render their contract with an NFL club null and void.
As the team has stated though we should let the investigation play itself out because there are an awful lot of conflicting reports being circulated out there as to what really happened.
4 – Hey Chris’
I read an article that the Bills even with the estimated increase of the cap for the next league year expected to jump to $155 mill that the Bills are still over with the contracts they have, & the article outlines how they can free up about $27 mill of cap space by cutting some other players & or redoing their contracts.
Another way that could free up some cap space is if the Bills were to try & re-work Kyle Williams current contract. Do you think that Kyle might be willing to do so given the fact that he is coming off an injury & he is in the later stages of his career.
Many teams good at keeping a team good would probably cut someone like Kyle say if it were the Pats just to continue building for the future. So I would think it would be a good thing for both if Kyle could finish his career here in Buffalo but maybe do it at a home town discounted price. That could quite possibly put the Bills into the $30 mill + range of cap space enough to sign Glenn, Incognito, Gilmore, & Bradham to long term contracts …
Thanks for your insight !
Mr. T formally from Fort Myers now in Nashville
CB: While I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills approached Kyle about renegotiating again (they tacked another year on his deal last offseason) they’re limited in what they can do to get his cap figure down short of having him take an outright pay cut. He’s 32-years old and has a cap figure of $8M. He’s still a productive player, but injuries have been catching up with him. At the same time his leadership is valuable as evidenced by what happened to the defense after he left the lineup in Week 6.
It’ll be a tricky situation, but hopefully with as good as the Bills have been to him over the years he might be willing to reduce his salary a bit to help the cause. We’ll see if it’s a road the Bills choose to travel.
The good news is they’ve already made some salary cap headway by getting Charles Clay restructured, which we reported last night, and moved their unused cap space from 2015 in the amount of $4.4M to 2016.
5 – Chris,
There is lots of discussion about acquiring a possible #2 WR to play opposite Sammy Watkins, but no mention of using Dez Lewis in that role. He has the height (6′ 4″) and plenty of speed. Was the coaching staff still very unsure about him at the end of the 2015 season, or is he a real possibility for the #2 spot, especially if he builds up his strength during the offseason?
CB: While I think Lewis will get a good look from the staff this offseason and in training camp, he’s really got to come on and play more consistently to make a jump that far up the depth chart. I know a lot of people weren’t overly impressed with Robert Woods season last year, but you need to remember the guy played hurt with a torn groin for almost the final three quarters of the season. His separation ability was greatly hindered by that injury. I’m interested to see how he comes back from that injury in 2016 before we start actively looking for other options there.
And at this point there are some other options now on the roster like Greg Little and Jarrett Boykin that will bear watching.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Dezmin Lewis, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, Kyle Williams, LeSean McCoy, Robert Woods, Salary cap, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Our NFL Combine coverage presented by NAPA begins on Tuesday and will continue through the week from Indianapolis both on Buffalobills.com and on the John Murphy Show. For now here are your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Chris,
Thank you for all of your fantastic insight throughout the season. I have a question about the Bills defensive line moving into next season. When we line up in a 3-4, where do you suspect Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams will be located? Also, connected to that, it seems like a lot of websites suspect we will require another 3-4 defensive end in the draft but I was wondering if you thought players such as Wynn, Carrington (if re-signed), Corbin Bryant, Worthy or Edwards could fit that bill so we could focus our draft on other needs.
CB: I think the good thing about Dareus or Kyle is their versatility and athleticism allow you to play them as a five technique end or at nose tackle. The main reason many draftniks predict the Bills will need another defensive end is they also suspect push coming to shove with Mario Williams cost prohibitive contract.
But you do make a good point. Jarius Wynn is coming back from ACL surgery that cost him the 2015 season. I expect Corbin Bryant to be extended a qualifying offer by the Bills as a restricted free agent. Signing a difference maker at defensive end is unrealistic based on the team’s cap situation, so the draft is the most likely path for the Bills to acquire one.
2 – Hey Chris,
First off I thank you for answering our questions and keeping hope alive to those of us who reacted harshly after playoff elimination. (Ugh.. 16 years…)
My question is about where Buckner and Bosa likely stand on the draft board? Are there any other sizable DEs that are valued as a round one selection? In your opinion where should the Bills focus with their number one? Is there a drop off in depth enough that it becomes likely to pursue a LB instead of the D-Line? (Is that already likely given uncertainty with Bradham?) Finally do you foresee finding our true #2 WR in this draft class?
-Already hoping in OR
CB: I don’t expect Buckner or Bosa to still be on the board when the Bills pick 19th. With respect to their top pick in round one, I think the safe assumption is they address the defensive side of the ball. I think picking a position however, is unrealistic.
I think we can all agree that the deepest defensive position in the draft is probably defensive line, so that’s a good thing for the Bills, who will likely need to add there with Mario Williams uncertain future and Kyle Williams now on the back end of his career. But to say they’ll pick a defensive lineman isn’t something anyone can accurately predict now or even in mid-April.
We have to see what decisions are made with players on the roster now, who is added and where in free agency in March and what Bills free agents are re-signed. All those variables can change the draft picture considerably before we get to late April.
As for finding a true No. 2 WR in this class, I think it’s possible, but not likely based on some of the other positional needs particularly on defense that appear to be more pressing at this point. May have to stop gap that role in 2016 and address it more effectively in 2017. Can’t do everything in one offseason.
If we cut Mario, sign Glenn/Richie…what’s realistic for rest of FA? Eric Weddle or Damon Harrison possible?
CB: If those things happen the Bills are going to have to be bargain shoppers even if they make a few other cuts to the roster to save money against the cap. That means Weddle is not expected to be an option. Damon Harrison is possible provided there isn’t a heavy market interest in him.
That’s why GM Doug Whaley said they’re looking for ‘dust settle’ guys. Guys who they can sign without getting into a bidding war. For reference I would look at the kind of players they signed in the 2014 offseason. Players like Corey Graham, Brandon Spikes, Boobie Dixon. Affordable, budget-conscious free agents that can come in and fill a role and improve the depth of the club without messing up the team’s cap situation in the current season and the season or two that follows.
4 – Chris,
Do you think Nick O’Leary will get more looks at Tight End in the upcoming season? Also it seemed that Seantrel Henderson was getting praised for his play his rookie year, but was much maligned this past season. Has he regressed that much or is it the system change that troubled him?
Chris G. from Nashville
CB: I think seeing Nick O’Leary called up to the active roster late in the season was an encouraging sign for the kind of look he’ll get this offseason and in training camp. I don’t think it’s any secret that no one really seized the No. 2 TE role behind Charles Clay last season. O’Leary was stuck on the practice squad, MarQueis Gray suffered a forearm injury that required surgery and wound up on injured reserve and Chris Gragg only flashed at times with limited opportunities to make a true impact.
Seantrel Henderson regressed because he was dealing with an undisclosed medical condition that kept him out of the last five games of the season. Whether he’ll be able to get his condition under control so he can effectively continue his career is something we’ll all be waiting to see this spring.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
CB: The Bills have said it’s their preference to get Nigel Bradham back in the fold for the foreseeable future. At the same time they know that with a tight cap situation and depending on the size of the contracts for Glenn and Incognito, being able to offer Bradham a contract commensurate with fair market value might be easier said than done.
If Bradham reaches the market because the Bills can’t offer quite the money he might be looking for due to their cap situation then it might prove difficult to get him re-signed.
Tags: defensive scheme, Fan Friday, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams, NFL free agency, Nick O'Leary, Nigel Bradham, Seantrel Henderson
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
CB: I believe the Bills will make every effort to return both of them to Buffalo’s offensive line. But as we know it takes two to get a deal consummated. Initial talks have begun, but things typically don’t get down to brass tacks until the week of the NFL Combine. That’s when Jim Overdorf and Doug Whaley can meet face to face with agents who are in Indianapolis for the week. It’s then that concrete parameters are usually set and more intense negotiations ensue.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
If McCoy is suspended, however long it is, how well could the Bills run the ball without him with Williams and Gillislee?
CB: I understand the concern about Buffalo’s run game, and if there is a real possibility that there will be time where they will be without the services of McCoy in 2016, then the team will probably have to address the void in some way, shape or form. And they’d have to do it by acquiring a versatile back.
The Bills could survive a couple of games with Williams and Gillislee, but truly contending could prove difficult if a McCoy absence lasts longer than that. That being said the Bills were 3-1 with McCoy out of the lineup last season.
3 – Chris,
Hypothetical of course. Just what if, with all the defensive needs and offensive tackle needs, Laquon Treadwell and/or Connor Cook were available at pick 19? How are we going to fill our need at receiver? Not in free agency as per Whaley’s statement and later in the draft will not fill that need either.
CB: I think it’s too early to determine right now how filling receiver would be addressed. Doug Whaley made it clear that he believes they have sufficient talent on the roster now to fill the No. 2 WR role with a collection of players, Robert Woods chief among them. What that statement says to me is – while in an ideal world the Bills would love to have a legit No. 2 WR to line up opposite Sammy Watkins, it’s just not a top priority.
You can’t fill every hole in one offseason and right now Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, defensive line and linebacker are all clearly ahead of No. 2 receiver on the team’s offseason priority list. With a measure of uncertainty at safety one might even put that position ahead of No. 2
So where the Bills are is if the higher priority needs can be effectively addressed between now and the draft and the right opportunity presents itself, then perhaps drafting a WR capable of filling that role could happen. I just wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.
4 – Chris,
With The Rams moving to LA, do you think there’s a possibility that the AFC division’s might change? If so, do you think they’ll move the Bills out of the AFC East. Maybe to the AFC North (which might make more sense)?
CB: I would not anticipate realignment at all. The Rams play in the NFC West, so their current division location makes even more sense geographically with Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle all in their division.
5 – CB,
If the team moves on from Bradham, Demario Davis is a player that has been linked to the Bills. Can the team afford Davis, who knows Rex’s scheme well and be the ‘field general’ in the front seven. He won’t be a huge player on the market but maybe more worth it to the Bills than other teams. Would he bit a fit next to Preston Brown?
CB: I think he would be a consideration, but as Doug Whaley has said they won’t be early spenders in free agency. They’re looking for dust settle guys. If Demario Davis is pursued by other clubs early Buffalo will not get into a bidding war, especially for a linebacker that many NFL talent evaluators see as a two-down player.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Cordy Glenn, DeMario Davis, Fan Friday, LeSean McCoy, NFL free agency, Richie Incognito
Posted in Inside the Bills
Senior Bowl on Saturday and Pro Bowl on Sunday with three Bills participating. As for today let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills for this week’s edition.
CB: Yes, I did see that. According to the reports the Jets intend to re-sign Erin Henderson instead of Davis. To me they’re not all that different. Henderson is just two years older and will likely come cheaper. Most NFL scouts see Davis as a two-down linebacker. As you mentioned he had a down year and struggled when put in coverage situations. Personally I think Nigel Bradham is a more versatile linebacker.
As Doug Whaley said, they’re looking for dust settle guys. If Davis goes untouched through the initial wave of free agency, which is certainly possible, and his price isn’t exorbitant then he could be an option.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills is there still a working group studying long-term stadium options for the Bills? What’s the latest?
CB: To my knowledge the New Stadium Working Group still exists, but I will reiterate what Bills President Russ Brandon shared at the Prospectus Premiere event Thursday night about the prospects for a new stadium.
He essentially said at this time there are no planning meetings, no land grabs and no feasibility studies taking place. The Bills have a lease that runs until 2022 and the state and county just invested a sizable amount of money into renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
If you remember the New Stadium Working Group was quickly assembled in the wake of Mr. Wilson’s passing because the future of the franchise in Buffalo was uncertain. The NSWG would need to have answers in the event that a new owner sought to relocate the team during the one year opt out portion of the lease in 2020 to help convince the new owner to keep the team in Buffalo.
Once the Pegulas successfully purchased the Bills that threat went away. Terry and Kim Pegula are committed to the city and keeping the team here. So the urgency to map out a future home for the Bills just isn’t there at this time.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills do you think the hiring of Rob Ryan will benefit the Bills or just lead to another rebuild?
CB: Here’s why I see the addition of Rob Ryan as a benefit. Rex implicitly trusts his brother in every facet of football. With Rob as Assistant head coach/Defense, Rex will be able to focus more on the big picture responsibilities of being a head coach. Rex can hand the reins of the defense to his brother and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman during the course of the week and on Sunday Rex can still call the plays.
I also believe Rob will serve as an added motivator for Rex. Both of them are very disappointed with how their 2015 seasons went with respect to defensive performance. Putting the two of them together will only inspire them more to redeem themselves in 2016 with Buffalo’s defensive unit.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills What’s the better option? WR in free agency or the draft?
CB: Here are the things you need to consider when assessing whether the Bills sign a receiver in free agency or acquire one in the draft. First, where is receiver on their positional priority list?
Sure Doug Whaley would like to add a bona fide No. 2 receiver to work opposite Sammy Watkins, but that comes at a price when dealing with free agents. I think the steps we’ve seen the Bills take already at receiver signing Greg Salas, Jarrett Boykin and Greg Little is similar to that of their approach at quarterback last year.
Create a competitive environment and hope you can strike gold with a player stepping up and filling a role at a very affordable price. All three of those players bring size to the equation, which is another element that Buffalo is looking to add to their receiving corps.
The free agent class at receiver is limited at best. Free agents, who are likely to still be available when the dust settles are players like Rishard Matthews, Brandon Gibson and Darrius Heyward-Bey. They are not going to be names that excite you. So Buffalo took the proactive approach and signed a few reserve/future free agents in Salas, Boykin and Little in the hopes that one emerges.
Now one of those guys might not be the true No. 2. Heck, I think Robert Woods is probably better than all of them. But if Woods can work primarily in the slot opposite Charles Clay and one of the three aforementioned wideouts can prove they deserve the job outside opposite Sammy Watkins you could be in business.
Is that a big ‘if’? It most certainly is, but with a tight cap situation, two starting offensive linemen to re-sign and some holes to fill on defense that might be the only realistic course to take.
I know this is a long way of saying it, but if the Bills are going to add any more talent at receiver it’s probably coming via the draft.
5 – Chris,
My question is about the future of Stephon Gilmore. I understand he is under contract until the end of next year, but after that do you think they’ll extend him?
He is going to want top 3-5 CB money.
If we can sign Glenn and need a huge contract for Taylor, where is this money coming from to sign a top 3 CB?
Not to mention there is no way to sign Gilmore and Darby if he continues to play at this level.
The way I see it, is the writing is on the wall with Gilmore. He plays out next year, wants top 3 money and there will be a team willing to give it to him. With his replacement on the team. I see this as his last year with Bills!! Thoughts?
Dave from Buffalo
CB: I wouldn’t throw in the towel on Gilmore being gone after 2016 just yet. By picking up the fifth-year option on Gilmore they’ve given themselves time to address his contract long term. The average salary of the top cornerback contracts is just over $11M per season.
I don’t debate that it will be a sizable investment to keep him long term. You’re right Tyrod Taylor will be the other big contract. The thing with Taylor’s contract and Gilmore’s is you can spread the money out over a six or seven-year period, which lessens the blow to the team’s cap.
Also helping is the fact that the salary cap is going up at a rate of close to $10M per season with the revenue continually pouring in. Add in the fact that the only other notable contracts that will be up in 2017 are Robert Woods and Manny Lawson, who will be 32-years old at that time, and it’s reasonable to think you can get Gilmore and Taylor done.
Darby is a player you don’t have to worry about until 2019.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, DeMario Davis, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, new stadium, NFL free agency, Rob Ryan, Russ Brandon, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills What’s the biggest lesson learned between Wk1 and Wk16 defensively with this team?
CB: I think the biggest lesson learned by the players was that if there was more accountability player to player on defense, there would’ve been unanimous buy in and the defense would’ve performed more consistently and been more effective in Ryan’s scheme. That didn’t happen until after the embarrassing defensive performance at Washington when the players that did buy in called out the players who didn’t. We saw improved collective play from the defensive unit after that.
I believe the biggest lesson learned by Rex and the coaches is just how multi-faceted a lot of their defensive talent is particularly some of their defensive linemen like Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes specifically. Dareus and Williams are athletic enough to play end in a 3-4 look and Hughes can be an end in a 4-3 look or an OLB in a 3-4. He’s that versatile.
There are other examples at LB and in the secondary, but Rex has expressed that a year with those players has provided him with a better grasp of everything that players like that can do, not just their primary strengths.
2 – Hey Chris,
Here is my concern. It seems to make more sense for a coach to change their scheme to fit the players than change the roster to fit the scheme. Why has Rex Ryan, the great defensive mastermind who was figured out and canned in NY, been reluctant to implement a scheme where our star defensive line can pass rush like they have proven they are good at doing and rely upon a better cover based defense? We consistently get beat while trying to change in and out of “complex” blitz packages that always seem to come up short while letting the QB find a quick under or hot route. What should we expect for the future I’m so desperately trying to not give up on? Suddenly find myself hoping for a Sean Payton and Jim Schwartz led team and I can’t stand the coaching turnovers.. But I have to admit Ryan’s defensive scheme is old news…
-Losing faith in OR
CB: Rex took steps to try and mold his defensive scheme to the talent of the personnel. As mentioned above Ryan admitted that he is in a much better position to coach to some of the players’ versatile strengths now that he knows the depth of their talents having worked with them for a year. I know that’s small consolation in light of how the defense underachieved, but I don’t think it’s something that should be taken lightly.
Rex referenced Jerry Hughes specifically saying he now realizes that Hughes is so much more than a hand in the dirt type, rush the passer player. That he can do a number of different things well. He also said the big difference he noticed at the end of the season was that players were finally giving him answers when he asked for their opinion.
It was his contention that his offer to the players from the very beginning of the season to give him feedback fell on deaf ears until the last two games. Rex in making in-game adjustments would ask for the opinion of the players. Until the Dallas game he said those appeals were not met with answers and he couldn’t understand why.
Once he got some more input from players we saw the difference. Buffalo’s last two games were their best back-to-back defensive performances of the season in terms of points allowed (6 and 17). And that was without a handful of defensive starters (Darby, Gilmore, A. Williams, K. Williams, Bradham). So Ryan is encouraged that the proper give and take now exists between the players and himself and the value of that should not be discounted.
3 – Happy New Year Chris:
Do you think the Bills organization will make a play for Miami Dolphins Olivier Vernon?
Thanks from a true Bills fan in NewportNews, Va.
CB: I would be surprised if the Bills pursued Olivier Vernon only because he’s going to command a sizable price tag and GM Doug Whaley has made it clear that they’re going to be pursuing “dust settle” type free agents. The focus this offseason will be for the Bills to re-sign their own, chiefly Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn.
Buffalo’s cap situation needs some restructuring this offseason before we reach free agency and Bills Senior VP of Football Administration, Jim Overdorf will be tasked with that as he has in the past. But knowing the priorities that Incognito and Glenn are combined with their cap situation I wouldn’t expect to see a top tier free agent like Vernon to be on the Bills radar.
4 – Chris,
Hypothetical of course. Just what if, with all the defensive needs and offensive tackle needs, Laquon Treadwell and/or Connor Cook were available at pick 19? How are we going to fill our need at receiver? Not in free agency as per Whaley’s statement and later in the draft will not fill that need either.
CB: I do believe the Bills will make efforts to land a true No. 2 receiver that can draw attention away from Sammy Watkins. Robert Woods played more than half the season with a severe groin injury and might be best suited for the slot. Percy Harvin is a player the Bills would like to return to the fold, but has to get healthy first and is not a lock to return.
I know the Bills would like to add size to the position as evidenced by the reserve/future signings of Greg Little and Jarrett Boykin. But I don’t think they’re putting all their stock in those two wideouts.
Unfortunately this year’s receiver class doesn’t offer a lot of quality size. There are 6-1 and 6-2 guys aplenty, but the 6-4 and 6-5 targets of quality just don’t exist in this year’s class. I suppose there could be a prospect or two that could possess a ‘big receiver’ game because they play bigger than their listed size. I’ve still got homework to do on the 2016 draft class, but Treadwell would be a tempting option.
Personally I don’t think Connor Cook is worthy of a first-round pick. In a draft without a lot of elite QB talent I suppose it’s possible he’ll be moved up a lot of draft boards as the draft draws closer due to supply and demand, but Treadwell is a more worthy first-round pick to me than Cook. That being said I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills found better value at another position in round one.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills What are the fates of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes? Are they staying or leaving?
CB: I feel good about the playing futures of Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes in Buffalo. I’ll actually have more on Kyle Williams in a story on Buffalobills.com slated for Monday. Hughes is a cornerstone piece for this defense moving forward, which is why he was signed to the long term contract extension last offseason.
Mario Williams situation is a lot more precarious, chiefly due to his cost-prohibitive contract. I think it would be difficult for any defensive player to live up to a contract that has a cap figure of almost $20M for 2016 ($19.9M). With Buffalo’s cap situation in a restrictive position right now, addressing Mario’s contract will probably be pretty high on Jim Overdorf’s to-do list.
There are a few paths they can take with it as we all know. What kind of steps Mario and his agent are willing to take is the big question.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Bills defense, Connor Cook, Fan Friday, Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, Laquon Treadwell, Mario Williams, NFL free agency, Olivier Vernon, Rex Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, can u see the Bills being interested in D.Harrison or H.Ngata if available in FA? Both r NTs that know Rex system
CB: While there’s no debating that Harrison and Ngata know Ryan’s defense, I think interest in Ngata and Harrison depends solely on price. I don’t see the Bills investing heavily in their defensive line with so much money tied up there already. Even if Mario Williams isn’t on the roster next year they still have some fat contracts with Dareus, Hughes and Kyle.
So the play there is to go for the affordable options and use draft choices. That probably means Damon Harrison is a more likely option than Haloti Ngata, who even at age 31 would probably command a higher price tag than Harrison, who is a role player.
CB: Here’s how I see the Rob Ryan hiring playing out. After both of them had a down season in terms of defensive ranking there is great motivation by both to redeem themselves and their family name as it pertains to putting together great defensive units.
Rex trusts his brother to do right by the principles of the defense and I think Rob will probably have a heavy hand in the defensive planning. That will allow Rex to take on more of a big picture role as a head coach where he can focus more on the all-encompassing duties that job demands.
I’m not sure Rex will relinquish play calling duties on game day to Rob or anybody else for that matter, but with his title being Assistant head coach/Defense, it’s safe to say Rob Ryan will play a major role in getting this defense back to a level more typically associated with the Ryan name.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Will the Ryan brothers realize that Mario Williams was right?
CB: I think this is what you need to consider before you blindly accept Mario Williams comments as truth. When there is a scheme change via a new coaching staff coming in there has to be 100 percent buy in from the players. If there is not 100 percent commitment, especially in a scheme as intricate as Rex Ryan’s it simply does not work.
Did Mario Williams buy into Rex Ryan’s scheme 100 percent at any point this season? When his role in this defensive scheme wasn’t to his liking did he still play to the best of his ability every snap, every week?
I will let Preston Brown answer that question for you with some comments he made with just two games left in the season after the team was eliminated from playoff contention.
“Guys have got to buy into the system, especially on the defensive side,” said Brown. “We don’t really know how good we could’ve been because everybody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do on each play. We can’t say it was the scheme. Mentally everybody wasn’t there.
“It’s something that we have to handle. We have to understand that everybody has to be working as one and we haven’t done that this year. Everybody has been kind of doing their own agenda on our side of the ball. So it’s something that we need to get covered and handle these last couple of games and years down the road.
“Everybody keeps saying last year we were a top four defense and everybody was still thinking about last year. We’ve got to get over that. It’s not last year and guys were still thinking, ‘Oh we did this last year.’ Well we’re not doing that this year. So we’ve got to understand that we’re doing a different scheme and a different system and it works if everybody does it the right way.”
As a side note I applaud Preston Brown for revealing just what the problems were this season. There were a couple of players that compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the scheme for the sake of their own self-interest. Fortunately a couple of young players stepped forward to lead this team and called out those players so a promising season doesn’t get submarined again.
CB: What we do know is Mario Williams contract is cost prohibitive. His $19.9M cap figure is something that has to be re-worked through restructuring or eliminated by some other means. Buffalo has free agent priorities in Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito. Those contracts simply cannot get done without a giant contract like Williams’ being adjusted or taken care of in some other fashion.
I think most know that Mario Williams’ performance didn’t live up to his salary, and we know all too well why he feels he wasn’t effective in Rex Ryan’s scheme.
No matter which way you slice it his contract has to be addressed. I’m sure the Bills will exhaust every option to have it settled by the time they need to get Glenn and Incognito back under contract. Whether that means he’s here or not is another story.
5- @ChrisBrownBills Do you expect to see Buffalo run a more traditional 3-4 base defense this year, like we’ve seen from Rex in the past?
CB: I don’t think it’s any secret that Rex Ryan wants to run a purer version of what has traditionally been successful for him defensively than what he ran in Buffalo this past season. He himself admitted that trying to blend some of the concepts from the 2014 Bills defense just didn’t work and had to scrap it midseason.
How far he goes in running a more traditional 3-4 will hinge on the talent turnover defensively from now until next spring. If the proper pieces are in place then it’s probably full steam ahead. If not, it might have more of a hybrid look to it like we saw in 2013 under Mike Pettine.
Tags: 3-4 defense, Damon Harrison, Fan Friday, Haloti Ngata, Mario Williams, NFL free agency, Rob Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Why did it take Rex so long to compromise his own defensive philosophy to fit the players?
CB: In fairness to Rex Ryan, he recognized how married some of the players were to the previous scheme and tried to incorporate some of those concepts from last year into his scheme. By midseason he realized that wasn’t working and scrapped it to have the players focus only on his scheme.
Unfortunately there were players who refused to buy in, and Ryan’s scheme, or any other for that matter, doesn’t work unless all 11 players execute their assignments. Preston Brown addressed that when I asked him a few questions about it after the Washington game.
“Guys have got to buy into the system, especially on the defensive side,” said Brown. “We don’t really know how good we could’ve been because everybody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do on each play. We can’t say it was the scheme or everybody is not playing with effort. Mentally everybody wasn’t there.
“We have to understand that everybody has to be working as one and we haven’t done that this year. Everybody has been kind of doing their own agenda on our side of the ball. So it’s something that we need to get covered and handle these last couple of games and years down the road.”
When I asked Preston why the defense had players being selfish and doing their own thing this was his response.
“I’m not sure. Everybody keeps saying last year we were a top four defense and everybody was still thinking about last year. We’ve got to get over that,” said Brown. “It’s not last year and guys were still thinking, ‘Oh we did this last year.’ Well we’re not doing that this year. So we’ve got to understand that we’re doing a different scheme and a different system and it works if everybody does it the right way.”
Complete buy in by the defensive players didn’t happen until the last two weeks of the season according to the players I spoke with and we saw good results over the final two games. So when the players tell me and media members that Rex is not at fault with what happened to the defense and that it’s on the players, I take them at their word.
For the record Rex tried to appeal to the players in different ways to get full buy-in knowing it wasn’t there. I wrote about that this week. But the bottom line, as Sammy Watkins said, is it’s on the players to take control of how players prepare, practice and play on game days. And if someone is being selfish or slacking they need to be called out by teammates.
That’s why Watkins and Brown stepped forward as leaders late this season. They don’t want to see what happened to their defense because of a couple of selfish players happen again.
2 – Chris,
I’m still trying to make sense of this season, as results have been significantly below expectations. There have been too many games where the team has been unprepared, undisciplined, and let games get away from them that they should have won.
Why move up in the draft and give up so much in 1st round draft picks to select Sammy Watkins and not find a way to incorporate him more into the offense. Other WRs Calvin Johnson, Beckham, Antonio Brown defenses focus on, and yet their Offense still get them the ball. Why do they mainly use Sammy for only deep passes or screens that never seem to work. How about running Sammy across the field like Andre Reed always did or the way the Patriots utilize Edelman and just have the QB lead him on a pass as he runs a short crossing route and then takes off?
CB: The main reason why Watkins wasn’t made more of a focal point of the offense was two-fold. First, Buffalo was committed to being a run-first attack. Second, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has said they wanted to bring Tyrod Taylor along steadily to see how much he could capably handle on a week to week basis. They were trying to help him progress while limiting setbacks and gradually gave him more rope as the season wore on.
Once they felt comfortable that Taylor could handle more you saw the deep passing game flourish. Since the bye week only two other receivers had more yardage than Watkins 900 in the last nine games. They were Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. For a first-year offense with a first-year quarterback you have to walk before you can run, and rely on the run before you rely more on the pass
Under Roman’s guidance the Bills did that. It probably would’ve been effective enough to reach the postseason had the defense not taken a step back. I think moving forward Watkins will continue to be a dominant weapon as the rapport between him and Taylor continues to develop.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills how long of contract terms are Glenn and Richie looking at receiving and possibly getting?
CB: Glenn is the one who will be cashing in with a long-term deal. At age 26 he’s entering the prime of his career, so a long term deal would make sense and he plays at a position that commands more pay in terms of average salary. Incognito is 32-years old, so I’d be surprised to see anything more than a three-year contract. Probably a two-year deal with a team option for a third.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Given that releasing EJ Manuel would save no money & leave the team with dead money, can you see any upside to releasing him?
CB: The question here with EJ Manuel is can you do better at backup quarterback than EJ? If the front office feels the answer is yes, Manuel’s dead money on the cap of a little over $2.8M is not crippling with the cap likely to be up around $153M for 2016.
So when money doesn’t impact the decision GM Doug Whaley largely lets the performance on the field determine make the call.
It’s my belief that the Bills will add a backup quarterback prospect from the draft. Someone they feel they can develop behind Tyrod Taylor. Is it likely such a prospect would be more NFL ready than Manuel? No.
So it’s possible they keep Manuel on the roster until they see more of whatever quarterback they draft or add looks in their offense. But it wouldn’t shock me if the organization decides to turn the page.
CB: Taking a more in depth look at things with some help from the front office as to who qualifies as a free agent addition and a free agent loss (the rules are endless) the Bills may be entitled to one compensatory pick this year.
The Bills added – Alex Carrington, Jerome Felton and Tyrod Taylor (Charles Clay – transition player???)
The Bills lost – Erik Pears, Da’Norris Searcy, Lee Smith and C.J. Spiller
Harvin and Incognito were not unrestricted free agents because they had contracts that were terminated. And Clay will be argued by the Bills as someone who should not count because he was a transition player. We’ll see if the league disagrees because there is precedent with transition players counting toward the free agent add count, but if not the Bills should get one compensatory pick this year.
Tags: compensatory picks, Cordy Glenn, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, Rex Ryan, Richie Incognito, Sammy Watkins
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills who has a legitimate chance of making a case for a starting job Sunday?
CB: I don’t know if this one game is enough to vault a reserve player into starter status for 2016. I think there have been some players that have done a good job of performing when given the opportunity here at the end of the season.
Corbin Bryant, Mike Gillislee and AJ Tarpley are a few players that come to mind. I think Mario Butler has had his moments as well. Jonathan Meeks is expected to get an extended opportunity Sunday. We’ll see if he can make himself part of the offseason conversation as well.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, fans near & far see dysfunction again, which is very frustrating. Is there anything you understand that we may not?
CB: I think the one thing that I have learned in the last 16 years with this club is that change sets the timeline to success back. Every time you make a change in this league, whether it’s to your front office, coaching staff, offensive or defensive scheme or wholesale changes with your personnel you lengthen the timeline toward reaching success.
Sometimes change is necessary, but when such changes are made immediate success is rare. So despite the fact that most of us were convinced that the Bills were destined for the playoffs we lost sight of the fact that the team was going to have a new offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, new coaches on the whole and a new quarterback who was new to all the players around him.
The history of the league has taught us that such widespread change usually does not result in a won-loss record good enough to reach the postseason.
In fairness to the Bills a lot of that change was thrust upon new owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Their head coach quit and their starting quarterback retired. So change had to happen. That change unfortunately set back the clock to playoff success.
I realize fans are impatient. We’ve been waiting a long time to reach the postseason, but time and again the league more often rewards clubs that stay the course than they reward the clubs that constantly vote for change.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills if Mario leaves who fills that void? Clearly our pass rush stunk this year so where do we go from here?
CB: I think if that proves to be a move that the Bills decide to make they’ll need to look for a pass rusher high in the draft. They’re already heavily invested in Jerry Hughes over the long haul, as well as Marcell Dareus. That’s why a high draft choice makes the most fiscal sense. Team a young, promising pass rusher with Hughes on the other end and it doesn’t impact your cap as much as a high-price free agent.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills how could Rex Ryan best defend his coaching this year in light of the team’s underachievement? Injuries, schedule, other?
CB: I think injuries were certainly a big part of the problem. Losing Aaron Williams and Kyle Williams turned into a big problem from both an execution and a leadership perspective. Aaron ran the secondary and had a firm grasp of the defensive system. You didn’t have for the last 14 games of the season. Kyle missed the last 10 games. Those two losses were the most damaging.
As we all know there were a host of others that kept the offense from progressing as it wanted to as well, which is why they didn’t really take off until the second half of the season.
Rex did admit that he wasn’t sure there was full buy-in from all the players on defense. It was something he had never experienced before and it may have caught him off guard as to how to best handle it. Players at this level are supposed to be pros, which means coaches coach and players play. You can argue that perhaps Rex should’ve enacted strict consequences for those kind of actions, but a player owes it to his teammates and coaches and ownership to execute his assignments within the scope of the scheme to the best of his ability on every play and do what’s necessary during the week to ensure that.
That ultimately led to underachievement on defense this season.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Do the Bills plan to keep Gillislee into next year along with Karlos and Shady?
CB: I think that’s a safe assumption. Rex Ryan all but said that Gillislee has earned the right to be here next year. There is a question as to whether he’ll be an exclusive right free agent or restricted free agent based on his accrued season time. Either way I anticipate the Bills will get him under contract this offseason.
Tags: Bills defense, Fan Friday, Mario Williams, Mike Gillislee, playoff drought
Posted in Inside the Bills
Merry Christmas Bills fans! We know the players and coaches would’ve liked to leave a bit more under the tree for you this season. It might be hard to see it now, but there are a lot of encouraging signs for the 2016 season. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
How does Karlos look for this week? Starting? Or gillislee taking reps with the ones?
CB: Barring any setbacks with his shoulder I’d expect Karlos Williams to start in place of LeSean McCoy. Mike Gillislee will have a role however on Sunday serving as a complement to Williams.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
Isn’t there value in continuity? The most successful organizations have it, right?
CB: Yes, most of the most NFL franchises have some clear measure of continuity. In many cases it’s aided by having a franchise quarterback. Buffalo has found a promising QB in Tyrod Taylor. There are a lot of encouraging elements to Taylor’s game that should only improve heading into next season with another year in Greg Roman’s system. That being said the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise caliber signal caller.
I’m guessing your question stems from concern about the state of the Bills front office and coaching staff amid a flurry of media reports this week. I will say that things did not go according to plan with this team this season. There is no debate about that. I don’t think making wholesale changes are the way to go or in the offing.
Doug Whaley has proven himself as a talent evaluator in his short time as GM of the Bills. Anyone who can flip Matt Cassel for a fifth-round pick and get a Pro Bowl running back for a linebacker that has had a pair of ACL knee injuries is doing something right. And all the criticism for the draft day trade of Sammy Watkins looks like it has missed the mark.
Rex Ryan despite a disappointing defensive season has been a top 10 defensive coach in this league for all but two of the seasons in which he has been either a coordinator or head coach. He’s a proven innovator in this league and it’s my contention that he’ll be doing some more innovating this offseason to gain the upper hand again on opposing offenses next year.
I know it again sounds like empty promises. Believe me I get it. I’ve been here to witness each of the last 16 seasons. As I’ve said many times, frequent change hasn’t brought much in the way of improvement for this team. I doubt such sweeping change will make this team better in 2016.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
Thoughts on Tyrod as long term answer for Bills?
CB: I think Tyrod has certainly made himself the best candidate for that role right now. As I said above Taylor still has some more evidence to provide that he can be that guy, which means making progress in some areas of his game.
The thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the criticism he’s received for not making enough plays in the fourth quarter, leading his team from behind to a victory, etc. The positive things he has done for that position in a brand new offense for every player on that side of the ball should be applauded.
To have the numbers he has, which include an astounding 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio (20 to 5) and a passer rating that is on pace to be the best in team history (yes, better than HOF’er Jim Kelly) and has been over 100 almost all season, is remarkable.
What goes by the board for most fans because they’re not around him every day is the leadership he has demonstrated for this team in his role as QB. I have covered this team since Kelly’s last two seasons with the Bills and having seen all the quarterbacks since then, the only one who led as effectively as Taylor was Ryan Fitzpatrick. The only one who did better was Drew Bledsoe.
But Bledsoe came in the door with a proven resume that included Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance. So stepping in and leading was easy.
Taylor came in as part of a three-man QB competition, no time on the field in the league and in less than a season not only won over the locker room, but produced on the field and then did all the right things off it in terms of vocal leadership, running extra offensive meetings by himself with teammates and counseling younger players on the practice squad (e.g. Dez Lewis, Walt Powell).
In my opinion, Taylor has earned the right to be this team’s starting quarterback next season. If the Bills happen to acquire a quarterback who is superior in every way this offseason then things are different, but until that time this is a quarterback fans should get behind.
4 – Chris,
Do you think the Bills will utilize Bill Polian as a team Consultant? I totally agree with Mr. Polian’s recent comments, Improve the Offensive Line with talent (a need for past 15 years that has not been properly addressed), add a WR to compliment Sammy on the other side, and add a true quality back-up QB to Tyrod Taylor, while also drafting a young QB to develop for the future.
In addition, my thought is use a defensive scheme that matches the strengths of the Bills personnel.
CB: I’m not going to pretend to know what Terry and Kim Pegula are thinking with respect to hiring a consultant. What I can tell you is Bill Polian’s job at ESPN is in direct conflict with him having any kind of NFL consultant job with an NFL club. He recently said on Sirius NFL Radio that he would not want to give up his ESPN job to do that.
All due respect to Bill Polian, who is a Hall of Fame executive, but the offensive line is not old and slow. Of the seven offensive linemen who have seen the most time on the field this season, their average age is 26.5-years old. Two of the oldest, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood are Pro Bowl alternates and the team leads the league in rushing.
For you to say the offensive line hasn’t been addressed is also incorrect. They drafted four in the last two drafts. Cordy Glenn, who the team has said is a priority to re-sign, is entering the prime of his career (also a draft choice – 2012).
And I wouldn’t be surprised if they invest in the offensive line again this offseason in the draft. Adding a quarterback I think is also on the to-do list.
Doug Whaley in two short years as GM has done a solid job of fortifying this roster with quality talent. What’s more he’s retained the most important talent on this roster instead of letting it escape to play for other clubs. So I’m having a hard time understanding the criticism for the team’s personnel boss.
5 – Hi Chris,
I really think Doug Whaley does a tremendous job identifying talent…but I think he needs some help (as well as Rex) building a TEAM. As Talley said, and I totally agree, we have a collection of all-stars but no team unity. Fred Jackson was the glue on this team and Whaley showed me he doesn’t understand the “team” concept this offseason (was Bryce Brown really that talented?? Did anyone not think Goodwin would be hurt in his first game?? With Shady being hurt..cut someone else). When KW and AW went down that was a huge blow and now young men are trying to become leaders and that will take time. More so than talent this offseason, I’m really looking for the Bills to become a team and look like the enjoy playing together. Your thoughts?
CB: I agree that losing Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams for the season were costly losses. They were the primary leaders on defense. I think it would’ve been harder for Fred to lead here in a vastly reduced role that might have found him inactive in certain weeks.
As the season is winding down it is encouraging to see a couple of 2014 draft choices step forward in Preston Brown and Sammy Watkins and take on more of a leadership role in the final weeks. Hopefully they continue to serve this team in that capacity going into next year.
If the productive players on the field are the ones leading off of it everybody follows. It’s unfortunate that a pair of 22-years old have to fill that kind of void, but when veterans choose not to a team has no choice.
As Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once said:
“Blame nobody – expect nothing – do something. Losers sit around in small groups, b**ching about the coach, the system and other players. Winners come together as a team.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Fan Friday, Karlos Williams, LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Preston Brown, Rex Ryan, Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – Chris,
How are the Bills not able to get Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Charles Clay more involved in their offensive attack? Also, why is FB – Felton on the roster, although he can be an outstanding blocker, the Bills rarely have him on the field? It seems this Coaching staff is NOT effectively using their Offensive or Defensive players. Any insight as to why? The Bills should be getting 3x the production out of their defense than they actual are.
RC from DC
CB: First and foremost the Bills have been getting Sammy Watkins more involved in passing attack. In the first three games he was healthy for this season Watkins was targeted a little over four times a game. In the last five games he’s been targeted seven times a game.
Clay has been targeted an average of six times in the last four games. Woods has been targeted 7.5 times per game over the last four. I think what you’re seeing is a steady maturation of an offense that was brand new to everyone on offense except Boobie Dixon, who ran it in San Francisco.
There were a lot of new pieces that had to blend together in a new system. Even the starting QB was new to it. Getting it all humming together simply takes time. I believe we’re now starting to see it approach critical mass with Taylor playing some of his best football this season right now.
Felton is a role player in the offense. It’s not as big as perhaps some expected, but I will say that the Bills make use of 21 and 22 personnel more than most clubs.
The defense is a bigger enigma. We’ve explained before how Rex admitted he erred in trying to blend some concepts from last year’s system in with his. He’s since scrapped the old system and gone exclusively with his own. I know the fans have criticized him for not taking advantage of what his defensive linemen do best, which is rush the passer. It’s a valid point, but let’s see how the season plays out and make our assessments at that point.
2 – Chris,
Why not make Easley a 2nd wide receiver on the opposite side of the field from Watkins to extend the field. He is a tall, fast, and excellent receiver. Remember the long touchdown pass he caught earlier in the year.
CB: I think the main reason Easley is not used more on offense is because they see Sammy Watkins as the player who stretches the field for them. Most offenses don’t have two receivers serving the same purpose. Quarterbacks need outlets to throw the ball to on shorter, quicker routes. This is where Robert Woods and Chris Hogan work best. They’re good at gaining separation quickly and serve the offense more effectively for that purpose.
Easley is fast, but he has build-up speed, not sudden burst speed. So filling a role on shorter, intermediate routes is not his greatest strength. He doesn’t get separation as quickly as Woods or Hogan.
3 – Hi Chris,
Thank you for all the Bills coverage throughout the year. I have two questions for you. Before Marcus Easley against the Texans who was the last Bills offensive player to have an interception? Also, which Bills players deserve Pro Bowl consideration? I think Darby, Gilmore, Graham, Wood, Incognito, McCoy, Taylor, Schmidt and Easley all deserve to be considered. Which of those deserve to make it, and am I’m forgetting anyone else that should be considered?
CB: Easley is the first Bills player whose primary position is on offense to post an interception. As for Pro Bowl consideration I think Richie Incognito should be on that list. With the drop-off in play that Nick Mangold has had I’d like to think that opens the door for Eric Wood. I like the season that Stephon Gilmore has put together. Corey Graham might get some support, but I don’t know if there will be enough to put him through. Darby has played great, but rookies rarely get the votes, especially at DB unless they have nine or 10 INTs, like Jairus Byrd did back in 2009. LeSean McCoy is definitely in the mix. I think Colton Schmidt is in a tough spot because only one punter goes.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills If something happens to Darby or Leodis, who is back up CB? Graham with D. Williams in at safety? Butler?
CB: It would be Mario Butler who steps in on the boundary if Darby or Leodis are injured. If there’s a second injury I could see your scenario potentially happening with Graham out to corner and then a sub at safety.
When McKelvin was still on the Non-Football Injury list, Butler served as the first corner off the bench behind Darby and Gilmore. So I would anticipate that to be his role again now with Gilmore down this week.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is Rob Ryan just visiting as a family member or is he providing any type of insight into our NFC opponents?
CB: Rex Ryan’s brother Rob was here for a visit, something he and his brother don’t get to do very often during football season. The two share a birthday on Sunday, so they’ve presumably had a pre-celebration together. Rex said his brother is heading out of town Saturday before Rex and the Bills leave for Philadelphia.
As for preparing for NFC opponents, I’m sure if Rex asked about Philadelphia this week or Washington and Dallas in the coming weeks he had no problem offering up some details. I remember Rex as coach of the Jets admitting to me on a conference call that he called his brother Rob to give him the update on the Bills when Buffalo played the Saints in 2013.
So that kind of talk between brothers is very plausible.
Tags: Bills offense, Fan Friday, Marcus Easley, Mario Butler, Pro Bowl, Rob Ryan
Posted in Inside the Bills
We’re getting pretty close to do or die time and the Chiefs game at Arrowhead on Sunday is step one. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think Tyrod is “the guy” or should the bills draft a qb in the first round until they find him?
CB: I would still like to see him play more before passing judgment. Perfect example is last Monday’s game his accuracy was off for the first time this season. Was that an aberration or is there more to it? We don’t know because we haven’t seen enough of Tyrod.
I do believe the greatest concern with Taylor is his ability to stay healthy and in the lineup. We’ve already seen two injuries with him this season. One cost him a pair of starts in Week 6 & 7. The other is the one he’s currently dealing with.
Make no mistakes about it. Taylor is as tough as they come. The question is can his physical frame withstand the punishment that quarterbacks typically take over the course of a 16-game season?
That’s to be determined. Even if Taylor finishes the season strong, I’m a proponent of drafting a quarterback every year. It’s the most important position in football so why wouldn’t you try to ensure you’re strong at that position by drafting one there every year?
I’m not saying round one necessarily, but just like everyone says you can never have enough cornerbacks, I think the same applies to QB.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills what possibility of re-signing the gilly lock to an extension and is Mario a fit for Rex’s scheme may need cap room and waive
CB: The Bills did buy some time with Stephon Gilmore by picking up his fifth-year option, so he’s not a free agent until 2017, but it’s my belief that Gilmore is priority number one when it comes to locking up players long term. Whether that happens this offseason or just prior to the 2016 season remains to be seen.
As for Mario Williams he has the skill set to play in any defensive scheme. Your cap room query however, is valid. His cap figure is very high and there is substantial savings that could be had if he is waived or if he agrees to restructure. More on that in the answer below.
3 – Chris,
How do you think the future free agents on the team are doing? Cordy Glenn is having a very good year. What are the odds they can keep him? How much is he a priority over someone like Bradham is having a down year? I know they probably can’t keep everyone but keeping a good tackle long term seems like a good option given they haven’t been too stable on either side on the line in years. What would it cost? Do you expect a ‘hometown discount’ for Incognito too? Given that some teams may not want him still. How much flexibility do they have to do so?
CB: Their flexibility is likely to be rooted in what they decide to do with some cost prohibitive contracts on the roster. Chief among them Mario Williams. His cap figure next season is $19.9M. That will need to be addressed before the team reaches free agency. Both linebacker and offensive tackle are thin positions in terms of experienced depth, so it will be interesting to see how they choose to prioritize Bradham and Glenn.
The team is also going to have to re-sign Richie Incognito, who will be a priority for the offensive line, and no I would not expect Incognito to be willing to take a hometown discount, especially since it’s likely to be his last NFL contract.
4 – Hi Chris,
First off thanks for the Fan Fridays! I enjoys reading other fans questions and your insight to them.
My questions is about the health and return of Aaron Williams. I haven’t seen anything reported about him other than he was up in a box cheering on his teammates during the jets game. Has he recovered from his neck injury? With the activation of McKelvin can he still return to playing this season? (although with Rambo and Cory playing well we are not falling apart without him)
Recently Displaced Bills fan now in DC,
CB: Williams has attended each of the Bills last two road games. He was placed on short term I-R. He’ll be eligible to return for the Eagles game in Week 14 at the earliest. Whether he does or does not is solely up to the team’s medical staff.
5 – Chris;
Bud Grant had a saying, too many “fan in the stands penalties” and plays. He could bring in any fan from the stands to line up off sides etc. When u get down to it, off sides, holding , dropped passes, punts, over and under thrown passes etc., any fan can make those plays.
Am I being too critical ??
Too many miscues keep us from winning. What are ur thoughts ??
Jim in Florida
CB: I think there were too many miscues last week. Unfortunately it doesn’t take much when facing the Patriots, one of the most consistent teams in the league when it comes to execution. Their defense had just one or two poor plays, but played well enough to win. The offense and special teams units could not say the same in that game.
What’s interesting is the prevailing theme in the locker room this week was just executing the game plan more effectively. We’ll see if it can happen Sunday in KC.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Cordy Glenn, Fan Friday, Mario Williams, Nigel Bradham, penalties, Richie Incognito, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
The Bills are trying to pull off an impressive trifecta in their gauntlet run through the division, and the hardest hurdle to clear is next with the Patriots in Foxboro Monday night. They’re 2-0 so far. We’ll see what Monday night holds. Here are your latest edition of questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – @ChrisBrownBills
any chance they let robert woods do something besides block this week?
CB: I know Woods hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities to make plays in the passing game lately. Part of the reason is the reduction in pass attempts the last few weeks. Tyrod Taylor has averaged just over 18 pass attempts a game in his last three appearances. It’s not like they haven’t made an effort to get Woods the ball. His eight targets in the last two games are second only to Sammy Watkins. Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy are the only other players who have been passing targets the last two games.
So while Woods hasn’t been able to make a giant impact in the passing game, when the Bills do go to the air he is a part of the plan. The passing game has just taken a back seat to the run game of late.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills
biggest matchup advantage the Bills have this week?
CB: I really like Charles Clay in this game. Patrick Chung is a box safety and Devin McCourty is average at best in coverage. I believe Clay could have a day against the Patriots in the passing game and serve as a valuable underneath and seam target for Tyrod Taylor.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills
the last few games, Bills have put a healthy DT on the inactive list, do you expect that to change against Blount?
CB: I don’t know that LeGarrette Blount’s presence on the opponent’s roster necessarily demands that another defensive tackle be active Monday night. The Jets’ Chris Ivory runs every bit as tough as Blount, and in my opinion runs with more power and Buffalo had a DT inactive last Thursday night.
The inactive list is put together with a lot of factors in mind. Injuries, game plan, matchups, etc. So I understand why you might expect with a big back that more DTs would be active, but knowing that Carrington and Mario can play end or tackle you have enough versatility in your defensive linemen that all of them do not need to be active on game day provided everyone is healthy.
4 – Chris;
I would be interested on your thoughts for handling Gronk ?
My thoughts are assigning someone to shadow him every play, a player who is big enough and tough enough to match him physically . My thoughts, Hughes or Lawson on D, maybe Gregg or Gray who know TE plays ??
We need to think outside the box on him.
Jim in Florida
CB: I had a new idea about how to handle Gronk that came to me this week. Unfortunately with Leodis McKelvin’s status up in the air I’m not sure it will work. In any case, with Julian Edelman out of the lineup Buffalo can afford to deploy their defensive backs differently.
Let’s assume for now that Leodis McKelvin is available to play. If that’s the case I would put McKelvin outside opposite Ronald Darby, leave Nickell Robey in the slot and put Stephon Gilmore on Rob Gronkowski.
He’s the most physical defensive back on the team. He can clearly run with Gronk and has the physical skill set and size to defend passes against him. Without game-breaking threats elsewhere you can afford to put your top corner on Gronk in my opinion. You’ve got nothing to lose as I see it.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills
Will EJ be the backup QB on Monday or not dress? #Bills
CB: Rex Ryan said that EJ Manuel is his backup for the rest of the season and that last Thursday night was a special circumstance in making Josh Johnson the backup QB and making Manuel one of the team’s seven inactive players.
Tags: Bills-Patriots, EJ Manuel, Fan Friday, inactive list, Rob Gronkowski, Robert Woods
Posted in Inside the Bills