Time to get rolling with another edition of Fan Friday with your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net.
1 - Chris, as Bills fans I think we are prone to believing that change is always for the better. Can you shed any light on the qualifications of the new scouting department that Buddy has brought in? I know Bills fans were eager to move on from Modrak however was his dismissal so Buddy could bring in an old friend’s son and guy he recruited when coaching in 1972? What are the qualifications of the new hires? Do they have a track record and any talent they are specifically credited with finding? How do the new hires’ experience match up to Modrak’s? Am I off base by saying that the Buffalo Bills will now only go as far as Buddy Nix’s eye for talent takes us?
– Colorado Bills Backers
CB: I think you’re selling the new hires short. First, Pro Personnel Director Tom Gibbons was with the organization from the time he started in this business in 1992. He worked with Buddy Nix when he was with the organization the first time and then again when both followed John Butler and A.J. Smith to San Diego. Nix has worked with Gibbons for the better part of the last 18 years. He wouldn’t hire him if he didn’t think he could add to the operation. Granted Cook is a guy that has some close history with Nix as his father coached with Buddy at one time. But to his credit Cook has his own self made resume in scouting.
Cook oversaw the pre-draft process for the Kansas City Chiefs for a dozen years, so he’s most definitely qualified for his current assignment with Buffalo. Buddy Nix made it plain. He only hires people he knows first hand. He’s not hiring people off recommendations.
Now comparing the experience of these two men up against Tom Modrak might not be fair since Modrak has been in the game since the late 60’s. But I believe Nix is confident these guys have an eye for talent that will only deepen the pool of quality players on Buffalo’s roster.
2 - Chris:
We have some defensive linemen who should be real run stoppers – Kyle Williams, Torrell Troup, Alex Carringon and Marcell Dareus. Kellen Heard and Mike Jasper both seem to have some huge upside (no pun intended); any chance we’ll see them this year, or will they be more likely relegated to the Practice Squad? It would neat to see us play the Ravens or Browns with Heard and Jasper on the inside, and Williams and Dareus on the outside.
Mike Allen, Pittsford
CB: I think Jasper has to come a long way in a short period of time (getting shorter with each day of the lockout) to convince the coaching staff he’s NFL ready as a rookie. Both he and Kellen Heard have a much bigger hill to climb with the depth of the defensive front now with Dareus in the fold and Torell Troup and Alex Carrington now second-year players. Buffalo’s staff is unlikely to keep more than six or seven defensive linemen on the active roster. Last year they kept seven, so if it’s seven that last spot could be between Jasper and Heard.
3 - Chris,
Can you break down what you presume to be the starters for the defensive backfield? Listening to Buddy, it seems McGee, McKelvin, and Williams will be in competition for starting. In terms of SS how deep on the depth chart is Searcy? Buddy wants to bring back Drayton, how would that affect Reggie Corner and Rogers? How does the coaching staff plan to better defend the TE, in almost every game a linebacker or safety was burned in pass coverage.
CB: A lot of questions there. Basically if McGee stays healthy and McKelvin is more consistent and no other additions are made or return I anticipate that McGee and McKelvin will be the starters outside. Those are a lot of ifs however. McGee has had trouble staying healthy the past two seasons and McKelvin has not been consistent.
That could open the door for Williams if he has a solid training camp, provided there is one. I don’t believe Williams will do any worse than being the third corner. McGee has been the team’s best run support corner. If staying healthy is still an issue for him they need a good run support corner on the strong side and Williams is the next best option for that.
Corner and Rogers would be corners four and five with other additions likely leading up to the season before final roster cuts are made.
As for Searcy I believe he will push both Bryan Scott and George Wilson for a starting role. He’s bigger than both of them physically and being stouter in the run front is critical for this team. Provided he shows and ability to cover he could be in the mix for that starting SS job, especially if he can muscle up with tight ends.
4 - Why didnt the Bills address o-line or tight end in draft as much in your opinion? And the 7th rounder Mike Jasper the monster d-linemen, will he play some nose tackle or does Williams stay at nose? And finally what happens with Fitz if the Bills miss playoffs again?
CB: I think people are expecting a lot from Jasper because of his athleticism and measurables. I’m not here to sell him short, but rather to keep expectations realistic. He’s got a lot to learn with respect to technique having not played nose tackle the past two seasons. He’s got to make the 53-man roster first. Kyle Williams will start at the nose and his backup will be Torell Troup. Jasper has to convince the staff that he deserves one of the last D-line spots.
As for not addressing offensive line, the Bills drafted a tackle in round four, Chris Hairston who is seen as a right tackle prospect. Tight end Nix said was a position they looked at, but that the board did not fall right with the prospects they had an eye on.
I think the staff believes they can work with Scott Chandler, who was picked up late last season, and Shawn Nelson is still an athletic talent they’d like to find out more about.
Fitzpatrick is the starter in 2011. Beyond that is anybody’s guess because he’s entering the last year of his contract, barring an extension.
5 - Chan wanted to upgrade the pass rush and taking Dareus and Kelvin will help the run game. Are there favorites going forward for the starting edge rushers? Without seeing Merriman on the field yet it’s hard to gauge how good he can be again. Kelsay looked better with his hand on the ground. Moats looked the best in pass/run coverage. Maybin still needs work but Torbor might be a good back up option to. Who do you think Chan likes?
CB: I think the whole pass rush hinges on Merriman. I know, that’s a lot of eggs to put in one basket, but if he’s right the Bills could really make a giant leap forward with their defense instead of steady improvement. If he’s on they could have a top 12 defense. But as you said it’s a wait and see type deal.
I believe Moats will only improve in year two, I’m interested to see what Danny Batten has to offer. Torbor I’m anticipating might move inside where he played for most of the two seasons prior to his arrival in Buffalo.
Who Chan likes is really anybody’s guess.
Tags: Aaron Williams, Arthur Moats, Buddy Nix, Chuck Cook, Da'Norris Searcy, Fan Friday, Kellen Heard, Leodis McKelvin, Mike Jasper, Reggie Torbor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shawne Merriman, Terrence McGee, Tom Gibbons
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills GM Buddy Nix was the one that made the call in hiring Tom Gibbons as Pro Personnel Director and Chuck Cook at Director of College Scouting, and when it comes to hiring Nix goes with who he knows.
Gibbons is a scout that Nix has worked with since he first worked for Buffalo as a scout himself. Gibbons was just getting started in the Bills organization before working up to being a pro and college scout. He also went to San Diego when Nix went to the Chargers as well with John Butler and A.J. Smith.
“I think he’s known me long enough to know the way that I evaluate players and I know what kinds of players he likes,” said Gibbons. “It’s easy both ways. He knows when I’m writing reports what I’m saying in them and when I’m out looking at players I know what he’s looking for and what kind of players he wants to bring in here. When you have that kind of relationship it makes it a lot easier.”
Meanwhile Nix has known Cook since he was a 10-year old.
“His dad and I coached together in 1972 and we’ve been friends ever since,” said Nix. “In fact he raised Chuck so hard I felt sorry for Chuck so I tried to have him let me handle him. I know how he came up so work won’t be a problem for him.”
While coaching at Auburn Nix even recruited Cook out of high school as he was a star running back, but Cook ultimately chose to stay close to home playing his college ball at Southern Miss.
Tags: Buddy Nix, Chuck Cook, Tom Gibbons
Posted in Inside the Bills