Hall of Fame selection weekend. Best of luck to Andre Reed. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 – Chris,
it seems that going to an 18-game schedule is a foregone conclusion, unfortunately. But I haven’t seen anywhere where those two extra games will come from.
In the Bills’ case, would it be two extra games against NFC teams, or two non-divisional AFC opponents? I’m assuming we wouldn’t play a third game against two divisional rivals, but I guess I shouldn’t rule that out. Has the NFL announced how it would work?
Thanks, and Go Bills!
Tom in Austin
CB: I don’t know if I’d call an 18-game regular season schedule a lock, despite what Bill Polian has gone on record saying regarding it being a “done deal.” To my knowledge determining the two extra opponents for each of the 32 teams would also prove to be no easy task for a couple of reasons. Two added games would obviously not be enough to play your division opponents a third time through.
My guess is they’d take a similar approach to what they do now with the last two games in which you play the teams in the two intra-conference divisions that you don’t face in the rotational schedule format that finished in the same place as you did the previous season.
So much like the Bills will face the last place finishers in the AFC South (Tennessee) and AFC North (Cincinnati), I would think the league would have teams square off against interconference division teams that also finished in the same place in their division.
For example, for Buffalo they play the NFC East next season, so to add two more regular season games my guess is they would add a pair of NFC opponents from two of the other three NFC divisions that also finished in last place in 2010 (Arizona, Carolina, Minnesota).
Even by adding two more interconference opponents, 12 of their 18 games would still be against the AFC (two-thirds).
I have read that if the 18-game schedule goes through in a new CBA that it would not take effect until the 2012 season.
2 – Hi Chris,
My question is why do you think the Bills had such a hard time rushing this season? I know Fred did pretty good for not starting the season, but there were a lot of games that the average up the middle runs went for one or two yards. Fred had a monster season the year before and the line hadn’t changed that dramatically. Ironically their pass protection improved greatly, but I was under the impression run blocking was easier and more enjoyable for an offensive line.
CB: Believe it or not the Bills rushing offense was not that bad up the middle as they averaged just over four yards per carry on 153 rushes (4.03 yards). As a team their average yards per carry ranked a respectable 13th in the league (4.3).
Blocking on the edges is where things proved difficult, though the averages wouldn’t suggest it. Part of that problem was due to Demetrius Bell’s compromised state of readiness for the season coming off of major offseason knee surgery. He also told me personally that one area of his game that needs the most improvement is his run blocking. Also the state of flux at right tackle throughout the season with a handful of players starting there in 2010.
The main reason the pass protection was better was due mainly to Fitzpatrick’s ability to get the ball out quickly or adjust the protection to fit the blitz or rush scheme coming at him. Chan Gailey’s play calling also helped. You likely saw the difference when Fitz was not in the lineup in the season finale.
3 – Chris,
I have a couple predictions for the Bills offseason moves. I see them letting Donte Whitner and Drayton Florence go if reasonable deals can’t get done. For that reason, I see Patrick Peterson being our pick at #3. I hope Buffalo goes after front 7 help, buy if Fairley is off the board, I think Peterson is the next best talent. (also, Buffalo has history of neglecting front seven help with their top pick)
I also felt the Bills were strong contenders to draft Tim Tebow last year. Now that Denver has had changes in the front office and their coaching staff, how likely do u see Tebow being traded to Buffalo??
I get the impression Brohm/Brown aren’t the long term fix. It makes sense to me (assuming Elway and Fox aren’t sold on Tebow). Any thoughts?
CB: If Whitner and Florence are not in the fold come draft weekend, I think Peterson is a distinct possibility. With Terrence McGee 30-years old and Leodis McKelvin still trying to find consistency with his game and Ashton Youboty also a free agent it’s not unrealistic to see that happen. I do believe that Denver with the 2nd pick is also going to take a long look at Peterson themselves with Champ Bailey not expected back in 2011.
Even though there is talk straight from Team President John Elway that Kyle Orton could still start next year at QB for the Broncos, I do not see Denver moving Tim Tebow, so to me he’s not an option.
GM Buddy Nix mentioned at the Senior Bowl that they do intend to add a quarterback, but I’m not certain it will be in the draft. If there is some kind of free agent period prior to the draft because a new labor agreement is in place, then I think Miami free agent Tyler Thigpen is a possibility knowing his history with Chan Gailey in Kansas City.
I believe the Bills would prefer to go with a signal caller with some NFL experience rather than another young player knowing they already have that in Levi Brown.
4 – Chris,
1. I heard that the Ravens DL Haloti Ngata, who was the guy the Bills should have picked when Levy took Donte Whitner in the 1st round, that he is a free agent this year. Do you think that the Bills could sign him? If so, that and if Buffalo could draft Nick Fairley this year, and with a healthy Lights Out Merriman playing LB, would improve the Bills defense 100%. They would get well in a hurry.
2. If the Bills cant pick Fairley or Bowers with the 3rd pick in this years draft, what do you think they should do? Draft A J Green? Trade down and try to get extra picks? Or draft the best QB or offensive lineman available?
3. C J Spiller was a disappointment this year. Both as a runner and as a kick returner. Made too many fair catches. It looks like the Bills made the wrong pick in the 1st round once again. Do you think Spiller could be a wide receiver? He seems to have good hands and speed.
CB: Ngata is expected to be given the franchise tag by the Ravens between Feb. 10th and the 24th when it can be used, so he won’t be available, unless the NFLPA’s argument that the tags can’t be used are upheld. Even if they can’t use the tags we’ve heard Buddy Nix say that going after high-priced free agents in not part of their plan to build this team back into a contender.
I’m not anticipating Nick Fairley to be available either. I think he’ll go first or second to Carolina or Denver. If he is there at three I’d take him in a second.
I’m not crazy about Bowers for Buffalo’s defense, but if he and Fairley are both gone, I’d entertain Patrick Peterson as a pick. There’s talk he could be the next Charles Woodson and Woodson went fourth overall. I’d also be inclined to take DL Marcel Dareus there too. There are no offensive linemen worthy of the number three pick and in my opinion I don’t believe there’s a QB worthy either.
As for C.J. I think you’re giving up on him way too early. Take a look at Jamaal Charles’ numbers his first NFL season. They’re very similar to C.J.’s and they have a similar skill set. Charles was second in the league in rushing this season, his third in the NFL. I think in due time Spiller will be the impact player the Bills believe he can be.
5 – Chris,
With the number of guard possibilities that we now have, has there been any thought to trying Andy Levitre at RT. He played some tackle in college.
CB: While I don’t dismiss Andy’s ability to kick out to tackle in a pinch, I believe the Bills feel they have at least a short term solution at right tackle in Erik Pears, who was signed late in the season. Pears is a former two-year starter for the Denver Broncos and showed well in the time he got down the stretch in 2010. In my mind he’s the odds on favorite to start at right tackle in 2011, not only because of his steady play, but because he adds a valuable veteran presence to the line.
Tags: 18 game schedule, Andy Levitre, Buddy Nix, C.J. Spiller, Da'Quan Bowers, Donte Whitner, Drayton Florence, Erik Pears, Fan Friday, Haloti Ngata, Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson
Posted in Inside the Bills
Well there’s one dominant defensive tackle that was due to hit the free agent market, but it’s clear there’s no way the Baltimore Ravens are letting their defensive MVP reach free agency with or without a league labor agreement.
NFL.com’s Jason LaCanfora reports that the Ravens will use their franchise tag on Haloti Ngata to keep the dominant DT in the fold.
Tags: Haloti Ngata
Posted in Inside the Bills
Baltimore Pro Bowl DL Haloti Ngata is already being touted as an MVP candidate for the Ravens this season. The dominant defensive lineman was asked in a conference call with the Buffalo media if he ever wondered about being drafted by the Bills back in 2006.
“When the Bills passed up on me, I was like ‘OK, hopefully I’ll just get drafted,’” Ngata recalled. “I thought the Bills would draft me and they didn’t, so I just kind of looked down the line to see who else wanted me and fortunately Baltimore came and picked me up.”
Buffalo had the eighth pick in the 2006 draft and chose Donte Whitner. The Ravens scooped up Ngata with the 12th pick. Ngata admitted that he wanted to prove those that passed on him wrong and had the opportunity to do so against the Bills in the season finale of his rookie campaign in 2006. Ngata finished the game with a quarterback hit when he flushed J.P. Losman from the pocket and pursued him to the near sideline forcing him to throw the ball away.
“The first time we played them in my rookie year, that was more on my mind,” said Ngata. “When I was getting drafted people were saying there were a bunch of things wrong with me. I don’t hustle to the ball, I’m not a pass rusher. I kind of wanted to prove those guys wrong. Ever since I’ve been in the league, I wanted to show that I can run to the ball, I can make plays. Every year I felt like I’ve been able to improve and I want to keep improving.”
Tags: Donte Whitner, Haloti Ngata
Posted in Inside the Bills
The draft is only about a month away, but there are still some free agent questions out there from you the fan. In addition to answering some of the more popular questions here, I’ve also been responding (as much as possible) personally to your emails as well. I’m a bit behind on them, but plowing through them as best I can.
Remember you can always email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net on anything Bills. Here we go.
1. Hello Mr.Brown,
I would like to know what you think about the Julius Peppers situation in Carolina! Do you think the Bills would be bold enough to sign him, if he is available? Also I was watching NFL network and Mayock said that the TE’s in this draft class are mostly good receiving TE’s not so much blocking classic TE’s, wouldn’t it be more advantageous to pick the best available Offensive Lineman? To help the run and also keeping Trent upright. Since Fine and Schouman, I feel performed okay when given the chance.
CB: First, the Julius Peppers situation. I don’t see the Bills as a serious player because Peppers is likely to get upwards of $13-14 million dollars a year in a new contract. That’s too steep for a lot of teams including Buffalo.
I believe the Bills will address their pass rush in the draft.
As for the tight end position in the draft, Mayock is right, there are a lot more pass catchers than blockers at the tight end position. I think that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Bills, who have rarely if ever had a dynamic pass catching threat at the position.
I think Schouman and Fine are both good all-around tight ends, but I think the team would like to add a game breaking threat in the passing game there. Of course the staff considered Royal their best blocking tight end last year, which is why he retained the starting role in 2008. So even if they take a pass catching threat at the position, they will likely still be looking for a true in-line blocking TE too.
I think that’s why so many mock drafters have Pettigrew going to the Bills because he fills both of those roles better than anyone else in the draft for Buffalo. But if Buffalo stays at 11, I’m not sure the value is right to take him there.
My question to you is: What if the Bills are on the clock at 11 and Maybin, Brown and Orakpo along with Defensive Tackle B.J.Raji are gone and one of the top Left Tackles, Jason Smith out of Baylor for example, is available; could you see the Bills drafting him and trading Jason Peters for a 1st round draft pick to a team that may need one like Detroit (20th) and Philadelphia (21st or 28th)? There is no doubt that Peters is a gifted athlete but with another off season of potential hold outs by him and his agent, do you think it would be beneficial to the team to stop these distractions and get down to business?
CB: That’s a tricky scenario. Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe won’t be there, but I understand your point. Michael Oher and Andre Smith should be there at 11, and with the way things are going regarding an extension for Jason Peters, what you’re proposing is more realistic than some might think.
If the Jason Peters situation is still unresolved come draft weekend, I can see the team moving him for a first and middle round pick, maybe more, maybe less. Acquiring an additional first round pick should give the Bills the luxury of taking one of the top four offensive tackles in the draft at 11.
I’d prefer Michael Oher to Smith because Oher is arguably the most athletic tackle in the draft. His instincts still need to be developed, but his athleticism makes up for a lot of those shortcomings that should get better in time. Oher could play on the left side, Smith cannot at this level as I see it.
Now keep in mind that they could address another position at 11 like linebacker in this scenario and get one of the bet of the bunch, whoever they determine that to be and if they’re down in the early 20’s with their other first round pick as you suggest, they could grab Arizona State OT Eben Britton, but he is more of a right tackle at the NFL level according to most scouts.
Things could certainly get very interesting for the Bills on draft weekend.
3. Hey Chris,
I have seen all your blogs and answers to Fan Friday Questions on Brown, Orakpo and Maybin. Just wondering what your thoughts were on 3 other pretty good prospects: Michael Johnson, Paul Kruger and Tyson Jackson. Are they all stretches at #11, or is it conceivable that one of them may still be available in Rd 2?
If they were, it is possible to go after Raji at #11, a DE in Rd2 and maybe trade up to get one of the top 3 TE’s, Coffman maybe? Talk about hypothetical!
CB: I think that Johnson and Kruger will both be available in round 2, but Jackson will be gone before the Bills pick at 42. Jackson is more of a 3-4 end anyway.
Johnson has freakish physical ability, but is raw and inconsistent. As a result I don’t know if he’ll be able to handle a full time role as a rookie, so that keeps him out of the first round.
Kruger’s upside is a bit limited as I see it. He’s got great straight line speed, but I’m not certain that he’s strong enough right now to hold the point against the run in the NFL. He’s also not that elite explosive type end (ran a 4.79 and 4.83) so he is probably a late 2nd to early 3rd round prospect.
A guy I’d consider in the round two is Cincinnati’s Connor Barwin. He’s more of the quick-twitch athlete you’re looking for to boost a pass rush. I think he could come in right away and help on passing downs, which is what Buffalo needs.
What are your thoughts on the restructuring of Jason Peters’ contract? I believe that his holding out at the beginning of the year impacted the team in a negative way. It seemed that it ruined the whole chemistry of the O-line. As we all know, it wasn’t until the Monday night game when the run game started to get going. I wasn’t impressed all season with the protection of Trent Edwards. Honestly, I don’t know how Peters was elected to the Pro-Bowl. Do you foresee a possible trade, renegotiation, no action, or something else? Thanks for your time.
CB: From what I understand the two sides have yet to close the gap on a new contract. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills still work to come to a resolution until the NFL draft, and if there is no progress my feeling is they may look into trading him prior to draft weekend. It’ll be unfortunate if it comes to that, but it takes two parties to make an agreement work and if the Bills can’t get some kind of compromise from the Peters camp it doesn’t leave them with too many other alternatives. And I don’t believe they’d be interested in dragging a contract renegotiation through another season.
I know DE is the considered the most pressing need but you and others
have mentioned how the top guys in the draft may not be able to stand
up to the run or are straight ahead rushers, etc. I’m just another
hopeless Bills fan, but if BJ Raji is available at 11, I’d take him.
(Full disclosure: I’m a BC grad but that’s pure coincidence in this
case.) Raji looks like a safer bet and more of a sure-fire thing. If
Stroud and Raji are pushing in, it might free up the current DE’s.
I’ve gotten a little sensitive to how the Bills have used some earlier
CB: I’ve got no problem with taking Raji at 11 if he’s there and a couple of the top speed rushers are already gone. In fact I think he’s the best secondary option to Everette Brown, though Aaron Maybin is tempting.
Your point about Raji and Stroud is valid, but I still think you could add talent at end in the second round with a Connor Barwin, for example if you took Raji at 11. So I’m not opposed to that approach at all. Heck I wanted Haloti Ngata back in 2006 (no offense Donte). I just believe in getting your big men early.
Does JP Losman have any suitors or teams expressing interest? I mean I always supported JP and was actually excited when he got a shot to play this past year but he did so awful. Is it a possibility we might see JP in the CFL???
CB: From what I’ve heard the Denver Broncos were interested in J.P. as a backup, but Chris Simms signed with them before Losman’s agent could enter into any hard core negotiations with Denver. Other than that I’ve heard very little as to interest in him by other teams.
I think his physical ability will convince some team to bring him in as a backup.
You are right that his play last year didn’t do much to help his cause so I’m not confident he could be part of a competition somewhere for a starter’s job. I think he’s got to take a backup role somewhere and hope he gets a chance to step on the field to prove he’s capable.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Andre Smith, B.J. Raji, Brandon Pettigrew, Brian Orakpo, Chris Simms, Connor Barwin, Derek Fine, Derek Schouman, Eugene Monroe, Everette Brown, Fan Friday, Haloti Ngata, J.P. Losman, Jason Peters, Jason Smith, Julius Peppers, Michael Johnson, Michael Oher, NFL Draft, NFL free agency, Paul Kruger, Trent Edwards, Tyson Jackson
Posted in Inside the Bills