Inside The Bills

Birk lining up FA visits?

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2009 – 8:18 pm

With the Vikings unable to re-sign C Matt Birk prior to the open of free agency, Minnesota is still an option, but Birk is fielding calls from other NFL clubs. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Birk has other NFL teams interested, but his agent is not naming clubs.

He does say however, that they’re considering making some free agent visits in the near future, perhaps as early as Saturday.


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Birk breaks off talks with Vikes

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2009 – 6:53 am

Minnesota FA C Matt Birk is on the market after he reportedly broke off talks with the Minnesota Vikings. That according to NFLDraftBible. The Vikings had been trying to re-sign him in the 11th hour before free agency opened.

Birk is a six-time Pro Bowl center and has played his whole career with his hometown Minnesota Vikings.


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C Saturday open to playing for Steelers

Posted by Chris Brown on February 25, 2009 – 2:23 pm

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Colts FA C Jeff Saturday, who turns 34 in June, is open to playing for the Steelers even if it means playing guard.

Truthfully what free agent wouldn’t want to play for the Steelers right now.

Saturday is not expected to re-sign with the Colts who are not long on cap space. The Steelers are expected to have a hole at guard if FA Chris Kemoeatu makes it to free agency, which is anticipated to be the case at this point.

I think Saturday is a legitimate option for the Bills in the pivot especially if Matt Birk moves closer and closer to re-signing with the Vikings.


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Vikes trying to re-sign Birk

Posted by Chris Brown on February 24, 2009 – 2:49 pm

This is the part of free agency that has to frustrate teams looking to fill needs. Minnesota FA C Matt Birk is one of the best veteran options out there at the center position, but whether he gets to the market on Friday is tough to determine.

Birk and the Vikings are to begin discussions on a new deal according to ESPN. Truthfully however, I’m encouraged that hard core negotiating hasn’t even begun yet with just three days before the market opens.

Though progress was made at the combine on Friday, no formal offer has been presented to Birk’s agent at this point by Minnesota according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

If they seriously wanted Birk back this would have been done already. Not to say it won’t happen, but I’m not convinced they’ll get a deal done with him in time.

I think a three-year deal would be attractive enough for him. Even if you only plan to play him two years (being that he’s 33) that third year might be the kind of commitment he’s looking for.


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Add Rams to list of those interested in Birk

Posted by Chris Brown on February 2, 2009 – 5:27 pm

It appears if the Bills were to be interested in Minnesota free agent center Matt Birk, they’ll have their share of competition. The St. Louis Rams are interested according to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. With all three of their centers set to become free agents themselves, the report that St. Louis is interested makes sense.

The Cardinals have also been mentioned as a team that would be interested in Birk’s services.

As for what his price tag might be, it’s been speculated that it would take upwards of $5 million per season for the six-time Pro Bowl pivot man.


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Fan Friday 1-30

Posted by Chris Brown on January 30, 2009 – 6:47 pm

Not surprisingly, free agency and the draft are dominating the questions I’m getting at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Feel free to submit a question if you have one. Here we go.

1. Chris, 
        I have read before that Bill Parcells in the late 90’s (while with the Jets) brought in Kevin Mawae to stop Ted Washington when we ran the 3-4 defense.  I thought that was interesting to build your team to stop or beat particular players in your division and not necessarily always filling holes on your team. What are your thoughts on this?

CB: I think when there are players of Ted Washington’s caliber that can be disruptive up front at a certain position on a division opponent you have to make it a top priority. There’s no question the Bills are facing a similar situation knowing they’re going to see Vince Wilfork and Kris Jenkins twice a year, every year, and to a lesser extent Jason Ferguson. Center might be a higher priority for Buffalo than any other team in football in light of the teams they have to face in their division. So taking a similar approach to what Parcells did with the Jets would be wise, but is the right free agent answer out there?

As I’ve said before I’d be willing to sign Matt Birk (Minn.) to a two-year deal and groom a young replacement behind him (draft pick). That being said I’d probably re-sign Duke Preston as well. Baltimore’s Jason Brown is another option. He holds his ground a bit better than Duke, but he’s not any more athletic as I see it.

 

2. Dear Chris,
Hardy’s injury was rough on the receiving corps. Any chance of trading up for Crabtree?
                                                                                                                               
Sincerely,
Zubbaz Wearer
 
CB: James Hardy’s injury will be something that has to be addressed, even though Steve Johnson came on strong at season’s end. I think a one or two-year deal for a veteran free agent like Amani Toomer would be the best move. It takes the pressure off Hardy to come back quickly and make an impact this year, which I think will be difficult. And it provides the receiving corps with a player that has been there and done that along with Evans and Reed. While Crabtree is enticing, I just don’t think another young wideout is the answer, particularly with a host of other positional needs.

 

3. Hey Chris,

Just taking a look at the draft this year.  Do you think either Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin would fit in the 4-3 and do you think (or know) if the Bills would be inclined to take either of these DEs?

-Anand

CB: I think Everette Brown is capable of playing in a 4-3 at the NFL level. I’m less sure about Maybin. Brown is a guy I like a lot. Most mock drafts right now don’t have him coming off the board in the top half of round one, but I like what I’ve seen.

I’ll try to do a little more homework on Brown to see if there are off the field issues or knocks on his game, but what I see on tape is pretty darn good stuff. I still need to see more of Maybin, but all indications are that he projects more to an OLB in 3-4 at the NFL level.

 

4. Hey Chris,
            I have been reading and a lot of people think that the Bills need to draft a TE to help open up there passing game, but what about free agency?  I believe the bills should pick up a DE in the draft with our first round pick, and then get our TE from free agency.  What do you think about L.J Smith being a realistic option for us?
-Anthony McClure

CB: I think there is a need to add a dynamic pass catching tight end and L.J. Smith has been that in his career. However, his injuries have become alarmingly frequent and I think he’s a very old 29. I think despite his talent, he’s too high risk to sign and expect him to change the face of your passing game. In free agency it’s pretty thin. The only attractive pass catching options are Tennessee’s Bo Scaife and RFA Owen Daniels (Houston). The draft might be the way to go, though I’m hesitant to add more youth.

 

5. Hey Chris,
 
For the upcoming draft I have a few scenarios that the Bills could pursue. Do you see them trading up to guarantee a guy like Orakpo from Texas? I also have them trading their first round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles 2 first round pick selections where they can draft a TE and C?
 
Artur
Toronto, Canada

CB: I think it’s very unlikely that the Bills would move into the top 10 to secure almost any player because it costs an awful lot to move up that high in the draft even from 11, and the top 10 is where the money really gets ridiculous for rookies. I expect the Bills will have a top 3 candidate pool for their first pick and hope one is still there at 11.

Either way they’re virtually guaranteed to get an impact player at that spot. If however, none of their top three choices are there at 11, I believe it’s reasonable to think they would explore moving down as you suggested.


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Vikes have made no decision on Birk

Posted by Chris Brown on January 9, 2009 – 2:08 pm

Vikings head coach Brad Childress had a season wrap up press conference following his team’s Wild Card playoff loss to Philadelphia. The Minneapolis Star Tribune provided some details.

He was asked about whether or not a decision had been made on what they’re going to do with some of their free agents including Matt Birk.

Childress said at this point no decision has been made on Birk. Birk just completed a long term deal this season. He’s 32, but is believed to still have a couple of quality years left in him.

I think he’s a viable option to upgrade Buffalo’s center position. You sign him to a two-year deal and draft a center in the spring to groom behind him.

Childress also said he understands Frerotte’s frustration that he didn’t start in the playoff game over Tavaris Jackson, but he said that Frerotte is a team guy, so it’s unclear as to whether everything is cool between the veteran QB and Childress. Frerotte still has a year left on his deal and Childress also said they’d be in the market for another quarterback.


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Vikings C Birk unsure if he’s returning

Posted by Chris Brown on January 5, 2009 – 4:15 pm

Vikings free agent C Matt Birk is unsure if he’ll be back with Minnesota next season. Wrapping up an eight-year deal with the Vikes, the 32-year old Birk is going to be available.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune there have not been any negotiations between the Vikes and Birk on an extension.

I wouldn’t mind the Bills inquiring about his services as an option for upgrading the center position. How interested Birk would be in what would like be just a two-year deal and to play against some of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the league in Kris Jenkins and Vince Wilfork twice a year remains to be seen. But it can’t hurt to offer.

I wouldn’t mind Baltimore center Jason Brown either. He’s younger than Birk and held his own against Jason Ferguson Sunday in Baltimore’s win over Miami. The Ravens averaged 4.6 per carry yesterday and Joe Flacco was not sacked by the Dolphins.


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Fan Friday 12-19

Posted by Chris Brown on December 19, 2008 – 6:31 pm

Well only a couple of more games to go. We’ll continue Fan Friday in the offseason of course so keep those questions coming at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Merry Christmas everybody and happy holidays.

1. Hi Chris,
I just had two quick questions for you. The first is why can’t Trent Edwards get more opportunities to create plays outside the pocket. He showed that he had the skills and quickness to do so against KC. Also, are there plans to upgrade the offensive line in the draft at all?

CB: I think the staff sees Trent as more of a pocket passer. He does have the ability to make plays on the run, but I see the offensive staff only making use of that when the time and score and down and distance make it prudent to do so. I don’t believe it will ever be a featured part of Trent’s game.

As for the offensive line, I would anticipate the Bills will look to strengthen the center position and draft prospects to improve the depth.

2. What do you think of this idea? This year in the offseason we sign Haynesworth, Suggs, and Matt Birk and switch to a 3-4.

CB: I like your idea a lot. Do you have $150M to offer in contract money? The Bills will not be able to compete for Haynesworth or Suggs on the open market. Plus there are more glaring needs than DT right now.

I like the idea of Birk. I’d sign him for two years to get a veteran to settle things on the interior. Then I’d draft a guard/center type in the draft that you can groom to succeed Birk.

3. Who are they keeping among their own FAs? I think Jabari Greer, Kirk Chambers, Corey McIntyre and Preston(at the right price).
Steve in Rochester

CB: I think Chambers and Preston are the most likely to be re-signed. I don’t know that there’s an urgency to re-sign McIntyre. The only thing that could affect Chambers is if the staff believes that Demetrius Bell is ready to handle his swing tackle role next season. Bell is very athletic and has come along quickly.

Greer I fear will cost too much to keep. After the Corey Webster deal (5-$43.5M $20M guaranteed) with the Giants, who has very comparable numbers to Greer, I think Greer stands a good chance of commanding $8M a year.

With all the money invested in Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee’s contract set to expire after the 2009 season, I don’t know if the Bills can afford to invest big money into another cornerback. It’s unfortunate in light of how the Bills groomed Greer into a solid starter, and in a league that’s passing more and more every year it’s advantageous to have three proven cornerbacks. I’m just not convinced he’ll be back. Ashton Youboty is also up after the 2009 season, so it will be interesting to see the choices the Bills make at that position over the next two seasons.

4. Hi Chris,
 
Can you provide a better understanding of how the Bills spend their week practicing for cold weather games?  The fact that we practice indoors has really bothered me since the Browns game last year as I really don’t think we have that big of an advantage anymore when it comes to cold weather football in Buffalo.  Guys like Trent, Roscoe, Leodis and Marshawn have very little experience in cold weather games and I believe the weather in games such as when the Pats come to town in week 17 will actually favor the visitors.  Thanks for clarifying.
 
Steve

CB: Up until this past Thursday the Bills had not practiced outside for a month. Dick Jauron when asked about it said it’s not worth it to practice outside unless you can effectively match the conditions to what they’re supposed to be on game day. Thursday this week was similar to what it’s supposed to be like on Sunday in Denver, so they practiced outside.

I personally feel there’s a psychological edge practicing outside in it all the time especially when you play seven of your home games in those very same elements. Why they didn’t practice outside prior to the San Francisco game I don’t know.

But they don’t practice outside much once the weather turns, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the elements present as much a problem to some of their warmer weather players as their opponents when they come to Buffalo.

The elements are part of the game especially here, so you might as well get accustomed to playing in them all the time with almost half of your games here. Just my two cents.

5. Chris,
It seems that we aren’t hearing Poz’s name much during the telecasts.  Is he playing hurt?  If not, it seems his play has dropped off significantly.  Your thoughts.
Thanks,
Ed White

CB: I think Poz has been pretty consistent. More often than not Kawika Mitchell’s number is called for blitzes, so getting to the quarterback is not something Poz will be seen doing a whole lot. I feel he’s been pretty sound with his run reads and is in the top 10 in the league in tackles among linebackers.

He’s capable of the big play as evidenced by his heads up INT against the Jets. I think ‘solid’ is a fair way to describe his play this season.


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Fan Friday 12-12

Posted by Chris Brown on December 12, 2008 – 6:29 pm

Fan Friday 12-12

For any questions you might have on the Bills feel free to email me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. I try to answer every email I get either personally or here in my blog. Let’s get to it.

1. Hey Chris,
 
Saw that Dick Jauron will have Jabari Greer be the starter when he comes back from injury, instead of letting McKelvin continue to play. Is there a reason why Jauron continues to have other corners who aren’t a hundred percent play instead of starting McKelvin?  Case in point, having Terrence McGee play at Miami where he was burned by Ted Ginn Jr. for 175 yards.  Thanks.
 
Matt Bills fan from Michigan

CB: First of all, Jauron said when Jabari is healthy he will start. I don’t think he’ll have Jabari start unless he is 100 percent. This week for example, Jabari is not 100 percent healthy and he’s been ruled out for the game. I wouldn’t anticipate him starting over McKelvin until he’s full go.

McKelvin has shown he can handle a starting role, but that being said Jabari has had a solid season.

 

 

2. Hey Chris,

Just wondering what the chances are of Gibran getting the start for the Bills this Sunday? With the way the offensive has been running as of late (0 touchdowns in the last 2 games) what have we got to loose? Does he not at least deserve a shot?
Thanks,
Brian

CB: I don’t think it will happen this week. I actually asked this question of Dick Jauron when I spoke to him for Bills Digest on Thursday. If the Bills lose on Sunday and Trent is still not healthy to play he indicated that there could be a scenario in which Gibran sees time on the field. But I think the Bills have to lose big and J.P. has to play as bad as he did last week for this to possibly happen. Losman has a 111.1 passer rating in his career against the Jets. But with as bad as this offense needs a spark, I’m all for it.

 

 

3. I was wondering, why do the Bills have such a tough time against the 3-4 defenses.  It seems more like bad play calling to me personally against the Dolphins(example: the fade route to Evans in the end zone) but still we could not get our ground game going.  I think this is a serious issue for our offense because all teams in our division use it and we need to play them multiple times.  I love what Turk Schonert did with the offense, but do you see him staying in as offensive coordinator seeing as he has trouble against this kind of defense?
 
Thank you,
Kevin

CB: I think it starts in the middle at nose tackle. All three division opponents have superior nose tackles. Kris Jenkins may be the NFL defensive MVP this year. Vince Wilfork is a man child and Jason Ferguson has played well for an aging vet. All three teams have been in the top half of the league in run defense.

Buffalo needs to acquire a center that can better handle these monstrous nose tackles, because they’re so disruptive to the run game and in pushing the pocket in the pass game. Your six most important games of the year are against these teams, so this issue has to be addressed. The problem is the free agent center class isn’t overly appealing.

Matt Birk is 32-years old and Jeff Saturday is 33. Both have also played their entire careers in Minnesota and Indy so prying them away will require overpaying. Baltimore’s Jason Brown is not a world beater and other than those two vets there aren’t many other center candidates that jump out at me.

Still I think it’s worth plugging that hole with a good veteran and hoping you can acquire a promising young center/guard type in the draft this spring. It’s a position that’s more important to Buffalo than perhaps any other team in the league because of the 3-4 prominence in their division.

Second is the 3-4 scheme is one that can better disguise blitzes causing more confusing situations up front. Making it even tougher is all three teams in the division have big OLBs (Matt Roth, Adalius Thomas, Calvin Pace) that are mismatches for backs in blitz situations and can even overpower tight ends.

Ironically, these teams didn’t have to blitz much as committing 7 and 8 to coverage was just as effective against Trent Edwards. I’d like to see the Bills spread these teams out with a total spread package most of the time. They’ve got to change something. Buffalo is 5-1 against the 4-3 and 1-6 this season against the 3-4 heading into the Jets game. Something has to be done to fix that.

 

 

4. Chris,
                Can you possibly tell me why the Bills get away from their running game when they are inside the 5 or 10 yard line?  We have an exceptional back in Lynch, who rarely gets less than 1 yard.  We, instead , choose to throw the ball.  I have watched this over and over again & simply cannot figure it out.  It was particularly frustrating to watch the interception in the end zone with the attempted pass to Evans from Losman.  Once again, a pass instead of a couple of runs?  And also, a timing pass play with our now backup QB?
                With all due respect to the coaches, can’t they see this?  We have a talented bunch of guys on this team, but the play calling does not allow them to do what they were recruited to do.
Thanks,
Tom

CB: I agree Lynch runs as hard as anyone in the league and hasn’t seen much action inside the 10-yard line. Buffalo had nine plays inside the 10-yard line against San Francisco and Lynch got the ball once. In the fourth quarter of the that game he had one carry. It is mind boggling.

I think with your backup QB in the game you should lean on your feature back all the more. I’d like to believe the coaches do recognize this. Whether it changes remains to be seen.

 

 

5. Chris,
 
Where has Melvin Fowler been? I have not heard any discussions about him being hurt. Duke has really hurt us the last couple of weeks in key situations. When is Melvin going to be back or was he benched in favor of Duke, which I would not understand !!!

CB: He has been benched in favor of Duke Preston. I thought Duke had a few good games in the middle of the season, but he’s had his share of problems. I don’t think he’ll be coming out any time soon. He’s bigger than Fowler by about 25-30 pounds and against the 3-4 fronts of the Jets and Pats coming up I anticipate he’ll stay in there. Fowler is quicker and more mobile, but had his problems holding his ground against the likes of Jenkins and Wilfork.


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