1 – Chris,
Do you think that the team is lacking quality player leadership right now? With huge games coming up, I’d have a lot more confidence in the Bills chances of winning if they had a leader on the field like Fred Jackson or Kyle Williams. Guys who should be filling this role like Mario Williams or Marcell Dareus just seem to be complaining. Who do you think can step into that leadership over the last few weeks to help the team make the playoffs?
Dan in Uganda
CB: I think the leadership is pretty solid on this team. The issue this year is there is new leadership that is kind of feeling its way. Tyrod Taylor has asserted himself as more of a leader in the second half of the season. He’s in a natural leadership position, but it’s hard to lead when you haven’t done anything yet. But I feel like Taylor has successfully navigated that as the season has worn on.
Eric Wood is a solid leader on offense, LeSean McCoy has put pressure on teammates to perform and follow his lead. On defense it’s a bit more complicated. With Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams no longer on the field the defense lost its two best leaders. Manny Lawson has tried to fill that void as has Corey Graham, but it’s been hard for them to help keep the defensive play at a consistent winning level, for whatever reason.
There’s no debating that the defensive play has been largely uneven for most of the season.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills How do you think Rex is going to get the defense back up to snuff?
CB: I think it’s safe to say that he and his defensive staff will be doing a lot of work in the offseason to devise a more effective way to deploy their defensive scheme and devise a way to re-generate an effective pass rush even when opposing offenses are getting the ball out in less than 2.5 seconds.
There will also be personnel changes in the offseason, as there are every year, but I believe there will be some recognizable names on this unit that will be moved off the roster. Ryan’s history shows that he does have certain player types that he deems as fits for his defensive system.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Know it’s early, but: top need in the draft, to your eyes? DE?
CB: I think there are a lot of current personnel situations that have to unfold first before one can accurately assess some of the top needs for the Bills in the draft. For example, what does the future hold for the playing career of Aaron Williams with his neck injury? Can Seantrel Henderson continue to improve or does his illness compromise his effectiveness as a player?
It’s clear that Cordy Glen and Richie Incognito are priorities to be re-signed, but what about Nigel Bradham? If he’s not back there are holes to be filled at linebacker. Will there be a couple of cap casualties with some of the team’s cost prohibitive contracts or will they be restructured?
I just think there are too many unknowns right now to clearly say this or that is the team’s top positional need.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills who has the better chance of being re-signed. Glenn or Bradham?
CB: I would say Glenn at this point. One of the big positives this season is how the offensive line has come together, particularly the left side with Glen and Incognito. From what I understand both Glenn and Incognito are among the top priorities for the club this offseason.
5 – Hi Chris,
I know it’s that time of the year you probably don’t look forward to having to answer these questions, but I’ll try not to be too negative. I’m just wondering what you think this team can do to right the ship at this point for next season? It seems like this defensive personnel isn’t going to return to greatness under Rex. Do you think they should stick with this coaching staff and scheme and try to rebuild the defense to fit the scheme? I for one have had enough with Rex and think we should look for a coach that is willing to use a 4-3. I know you believe in continuity of scheme, but I can’t condone tearing apart a defense we just finished putting together after 4-5 years of drafts and FA additions.
CB: I’ve addressed a number of fans when I’ve appeared on local radio shows and the John Murphy show, who are demanding another coaching change. My response is the Bills are on their seventh coach in 15 years. What has all that change gotten them?
I realize as well as any fan out there the level of frustration of not having a playoff team. I’ve been here covering this team for every one of those years and the five years before it.
As hard as it is you have to separate the last 15 years from what the Bills are trying to build now. You can’t lump Rex Ryan and his staff in with everything else. I know everyone feels it fits because Buffalo is unlikely to make the playoffs again, but to scrap the whole thing because the defense underachieved this year is not the solution.
It’s my belief you need only to re-tool the defense, move some cost prohibitive contracts off the books, add some good fits, re-sign your starting offensive linemen who are up and continue to develop depth.
Rex Ryan himself admitted he made some judgment errors with his defensive personnel and how he deployed them and tried to mesh his scheme with some of the successful principles that worked last season.
As I mentioned above, what changed was how opposing offenses attacked his defense. Week 2 against the Patriots, Tom Brady provided the blueprint for beating Buffalo’s pass rush, blitz packages etc. Get the ball out in less than 2.5 seconds. Future opponents followed suit.
It’s my contention that with Rex’s creative mind and the staff that he has that they will devise ways to counteract that approach.
It’s a cat and mouse game in the NFL where offenses evolve and change to defeat defensive strategies. Then defenses come up with answers for those new problems and have the upper hand. It goes back and forth. Unfortunately in a year where much was expected from Buffalo’s defense, opposing offenses figured them out and had a definitive answer.
Now it’s on Rex Ryan and his staff to find new ways to maximize their talent and reclaim their status as one of more creative and effective defensive minds in the game.
Tags: 2016 NFL draft, Bills defense, Cordy Glenn, leadership, Nigel Bradham, Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills head coach Doug Marrone had some pointed comments on his stance concerning player leadership on his roster. Naturally Marrone had captains on his team in 2013 (Fred Jackson, Kyle Williams, Eric Wood). When asked about leadership Thursday however, he made it plain that he’s not going to try and manufacture leadership in a player.
“If it develops, it develops,” he said. “I learned a long time ago not to push it, not to try to point out that stuff, not to identify or put people in those types of roles. If you don’t have that or you don’t see that or it’s not occurring on your team then you have to take more of a role. That means myself and then it passes on to the coaches. I do see a team that’s coming together and is getting to know each other better, which at least gives you the ability to step up from the leadership standpoint amongst the team.”
When Marrone was asked if he needs to make the leadership on the team better he again indicated that it can’t be created.
“I learned a long time ago not to try to do that. If you try to force that I think you’re always going to be disappointed,” he said. “You go full steam ahead and lead by example, starting with myself and the coaches. The number one skill you need to be a good leader and you first have to be a good follower. I learned that a long time ago. If you don’t want to stand up there and lead then stay in line and follow.”
Finally Marrone was asked if EJ Manuel has to be a leader. Here was his response.
“I think it’s a natural thing by position,” he said. “I don’t know if you’re sitting here thinking does he need to be this or that? What we need him to do is just play well. He’s in a natural leadership position, just like Eric Wood at center is in a natural leadership position. No different than the middle linebacker who calls the plays who is in a leadership position. So a lot of times on a team you have people in leadership positions. You just have make sure you have the right ones.”
What do you think of Marrone’s take on team leadership?
Tags: Doug Marrone, EJ Manuel, Eric Wood, leadership
Posted in Inside the Bills