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
Miami DE Olivier Vernon had 11.5 sacks last year. He won’t square off against his former college teammate Seantrel Henderson Sunday, they’ll be on opposite sides of the formation, but Vernon still believes he’s one of the most athletically gifted big men he’s ever come across.
“I still think he was good,” said Vernon of Henderson. “To this day, that’s the biggest, most athletic guy I’ve seen at his size. Even when I was at UM (University of Miami), I didn’t do anything. I feel like he’s going to be a good player for that organization. We’ll see what happens.”
Henderson said he won’t be overwhelmed playing against guys he watched on TV while he was in college at Miami.
“It’s not too weird. I know a couple of guys. Olivier Vernon I played with him, so he’s going to be out there,” said Henderson. “I know a lot of guys from the Miami Dolphins. I used to seeing them when I’m down in Miami, but as far as playing against them it’s going to be just like another game.”
Tags: Olivier Vernon, Seantrel Henderson
Posted in Inside the Bills
He played at a major college program, but he hasn’t gotten the same pub as some of the household name talents in the 2012 draft class. Miami DE Olivier Vernon won’t come off the board on the first two days of the draft in all likelihood, but he could be a very good value on day 3.
“Vernon to me, I think he’s a better player than maybe the perception, and at 6’3″, 262, I think he played defensive end, can play outside linebacker, can do a little bit of both,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. “Has some stiffness, there’s no question. He’s not a great athlete, and his production didn’t always match up, and I’ve heard some things, is he mature enough, how does he work and all those things. But if he is focused and doing the right things and working at it and 100 percent dedicated to football, he’s well built, solid, strong, shows some quickness off the line, and I think he has a chance to make an impact as a pass rusher at the next level.”
The problem for Vernon is he’s very raw. He was caught up in the Nevin Shapiro scandal at Miami and was suspended for the first six games in 2011. That’s why it was surprising to see him declare early for the draft. But he was a highly touted prep player and has talent. Scouts just have to be convinced that there’s long term potential there.
He’s the kind of player that the Giants and Steelers usually draft because they have starters they can rely on while grooming a kid like this. Most draft services have him forecast anywhere from late round 5 to round 7. He also made a pre-draft visit with the Bills for what it’s worth.
Tags: 2012 NFL draft, Olivier Vernon, pre-draft visits
Posted in Inside the Bills