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Greg’s Big Announcement

As you have heard by now on Show 5.03, Greg has announced his retirement from the Buffalo Bills Review. After four fun years of talking Bills football, he is laying down the microphone.

Here is the statement he read on the final show (minus a few ad libs…)

To the BBR listening (and participating) audience.

In August of 2005 I had a fun idea, pitched it to my brother in law (Uncle Josh, for those who have been with us that long) and later to The Drake… and thus was born Buffalo Bills Review. Seemed like a fun idea, even if no one would listen.

Well, we were wrong. In the first couple weeks we started getting emails. People loved the show. We had well over a hundred people downloading our shows… Sports Illustrated even featured us as one of four podcasts worth listening to!

It’s taken off from there… we have met up for two years at Bills game (the BBR game!) … we’ve had listeners from all over the world participating in the show. We’ve had lots of great current and former Buffalo Bills join us on the show since that first year. We’ve had fun Bills fans like the president of VH1 on the show (Hey, Tom…)

We’ve had J.P. Losman. Nuff said. 🙂

But in this coming season, Season 5 of the Buffalo Bills Review – four full years after we recorded the first show… we will not have me.

Effective immediately, I’m laying down my microphone, and will no longer be hosting this #1 Bills show on the internet. I may keep writing articles (not sure yet) but I will no longer be doing the show, at the mic, or in the mixing/engineering/podcast/website running duties.

The show may continue. We are not shutting down BBR just yet. That’s not set at the moment, so we won’t go into any detail there. We’ll make any pertinent announcements via the BBR website (or Facebook page).

I would like to say thanks. Thanks for listening. For contributing. For having fun with me, with us. Thanks to my co-hosts over the years. Thanks much to our special guests. I’ve had a blast – and if I had the time to give to it, I’d certainly continue. But my growing family needs me (and I need them) 🙂 So, with regret (but knowing it’s the best thing to do…) I lay my microphone down.

Can’t wait for this Bills season… as with every Bills season! I’m a big Bills fan, and will continue to be!

BBR will take it’s normal off-season break – post-draft to training camp. We’ll see how it comes out on the other side. For now… for me…

Thanks, goodbye, and Go Bills!


Bills 2009 Draft – 10 Things I Think

Alrighty, then. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Keep adding talent.

1. The draft is much more about not making mistakes than it is about getting the very best player. Sooner or later you need some of the very best, but what you really can’t afford is to blow a high pick completely. Mike Williams hurt a lot more than taking Whitner over Ngata.

So the big question after the first day was whether Aaron Maybin will be a quality starter in the NFL. The DEs were the biggest questionmarks at the top of the draft. But the Bills needed someone on the front four who can get consistent pressure from the edge. The Bills had to get in the DE lottery and take their shot. If Maybin brings quality pressure from the edge, this draft looks like a home run. If he doesn’t, well, it can’t be a good draft if you strike out at #11.

2. The Maybin pick, and the absence of any real effort to get a linebacker, means the Bills still intend to generate pressure on the quarterback from the front four, not the front seven. They’re staying true to the Tampa 2 philosophy. It’s up to Schobel, Williams, Stroud, Maybin, Kelsay and Denney to get the job done.

3. I really like the Wood/Levitre picks. I don’t know how good these guys are; I’m not a talent evaluator, I don’t follow college ball, and I don’t know the intricacies of offensive line play. What I like is the Bills understanding that they MUST pay attention to the offensive line. It’s stating the obvious, but coming into the draft I was worried that the Bills would chase after DEs, linebackers and who knows what. Fortunately, the Bills get it. They couldn’t get the best tackles, so they got the best center/guards.

4. The Wood/Levitre picks tell us some very interesting things about the Bills.

a. The Bills really do think they can solve the tackle problem with the guys they have. They didn’t trade up to get one of the top three tackles, and the they didn’t trade up from 28 to get Oher. They didn’t manage the second round to get one of the remaining decent tackles. That means they think Chambers can do it (so do I). Or it may mean that they think Bell can do it this year – maybe Bell moves into the spot during the bye week. It may also mean that Butler is moving back to his college position. Whatever the plan is, the Bills think it’s good enough not to chase after a tackle.

b. Listen to the first-day press conference with Brandon, Modrak and Jauron. They described these guys with the same words – gym rat, hard working, football IQ, etc. But one word stood out. They kept saying it over and over. The word was TOUGH. They said it with an edge. “He’s a TOUGH kid.” That’s why they like Butler, too – his toughness. He really wants to mix it up.

Why is that so interesting? I think what the Bills leadership didn’t say over the past couple of months was that Dockery decidedly was NOT tough enough. He wasn’t. He was a passive offensive lineman. Big, but mechanical. Preston was the same. Frankly, I’ve had the same thought about Peters, and I suspect that contributed to the Bills decision not to pay what Peters wanted. Peters made some great plays, but I rarely saw him play with the grit and determination that the really good players show.

The Bills are making a statement – if you aren’t nasty, don’t apply. If their evaluation of these two rookies is correct, the Bills’ offensive line will look decidedly different this season.

5. Byrd? I think you have to keep drafting DBs. It’s hard to find good ones. Their careers are short; they get hurt or they slow down. You lose them in free agency. You need about eight or ten every year, between corners, nickels and safeties. I thought the Bills would take a DB sometime on the second day.

Clearly, the Bills rated Byrd so high that they didn’t want to pass him up, much the way they took Edwards in the third round a couple of years ago. I’d guess the Bills figured Byrd wouldn’t be there and were plannning to go for Levitre. When he was there, the Bills probably got on the phone to see if they could trade for another second round pick. When they discovered they could, they pulled the trigger on Byrd.

Byrd apparently has outstanding ball skills, something none of the current DBs has (McKelvin closes well, he just doesn’t catch it so well). Byrd’s also a really smart player. I think he’s probably a Jim Leonhard with better raw physical talent. Still, I worry about guys that short. I worry about his speed, although free safeties typically aren’t the fastest guys on the team.

I wonder what it means about the present safety tandem. What we’ve heard is that Whitner was to be the free and Scott the strong. So when Byrd is ready, does Whitner move back? If you’re moving Whitner to free, why didn’t the Bills look for a replacement for Scott? There are a lot of questions about the pick, but I suppose they’re all answered simply by saying the Bills really liked Byrd.

One thing it probably means is that the George Wilson experiment is over. Possibly Wendling, but more likely Wilson.

I’m not even close to thinking Byrd was a mistake. The guy has Ball Burglar written all over him. Get out your checkbooks, fans.

6. The tight end fans got their wish, sort of. I have to admit that even I, the guy who says tight end is the least important player on the offense, was warming to the idea of Pettigrew if he fell to the right spot for the Bills. The Bills had other more important needs, however, and Pettigrew fell to others. Then the Bills traded their third round pick to get Levitre, another good move, so they had to wait until the fourth to shop for a TE. I thought that meant the search for a TE would go on for another year.

What the Bills found in the fourth round, surprisingly, was a wideout. Have you watched the video of Nelson? The guy’s a big wideout. He can run, he has great hands, and he likes to fight for the ball. Really impressive. Watch the video of him.

I didn’t think the Bills needed another big offensive threat at tight end – the Bills already have an outstanding receiving corps – two #1 wideouts, a good slot man, promising youngsters and three running backs who can catch and know what to do after they catch it. Now the Bills, at least in some situations, are going to put a tight end on the field who is going to be an enormous challenge for the defense. How is anyone going to defend Lee, TO, Josh, someone out of the backfield and a 6’5″ kid who can run, jump and catch? Good luck.

The Bills need a blocker first, receiver second. The Bills say Nelson can bulk up to be the guy they need as a full-time tight end, but that’s probably 2010, not 2009. Nelson says he can block, and maybe with the Bills’ new stout offensive line, he’ll be enough. I don’t think he’s an immediate starter, but he should be a situational player this year.

I’m sure there’s a reason this guy fell to the fourth round; I just don’t know what it is. If Nelson bulks up and becomes an effective blocker, watch out. It’s easy to see him being Tony Gonzalez. Seriously. Watch the video.

The Bills have had an interesting progression in the draft at tight end. Think about it: The Bills hoped Kevin Everett would be what they now hope Nelson will be – the tight end who can stretch the field. Then Schouman – the H-back, second tight end-type, clearly not the everyday player at the position. Then Fine, more the prototypical tight end, but probably not big enough. Now Nelson.

I still think the Bills will sign Wrighster. If they do, Schouman’s days as a Bill are over; Fine will hang on to play special teams and fill-in duty at tight end, but that’s about it.

7. Nic Harris is a very interesting pick. Again, it confirms that the Bills are sticking with their Tampa 2 philosophy. Nic Harris is another Ellison; I hope he’s better. The guy apparently has a high football IQ, great anticipation, and loves to hit. He probably has the mobility to play the game the Bills want, and he may be a better attacker than Ellison.

In fact, the first three defensive picks have one thing in common – they are playmakers. The Bills are lacking in playmakers – I think the Bills actually have them but don’t turn them loose. These three picks suggest to me that the Bills decided that they need some guys who will be more than solid, guys who will attack the ball and the ball carrier. Maybin’s pass-rush specialist. Byrd’s a pick master; he finds the ball. Harris is a playmaker.

Harris may not make it, but he could turn out to be a big surprise. Can you say Ball Burglar?

8. I think every draft breaks down this way: In the first, second and (maybe) third rounds, you must get players who WILL play, maybe not as rookies, but who will be starters eventually. First round you hope for rookie starters. In the fourth and fifth rounds you should get players who SHOULD play, but who aren’t sure things. In the sixth and seventh rounds you should get players who MIGHT play. So I don’t get too excited about the 6th and 7th round picks.

Why DBs? I don’t know; I suspect it’s simply that those guys were the best value on the Bills’ board. They’re trying to find guys who, despite the odds, will make it. At 6, there’s no point in taking a tackle you don’t think will make it over a DB who you think might. I would have liked to see OT or OLB or DT next to the names the Bills picked at 6 and 7, but it simply didn’t fall that way. I didn’t go into the draft thinking the Bills were going to get a game-changer at 6 or 7, so I’m not going to get upset that the non-game-changers the Bills took were at a position where there seems to be little need.

9. I’m always the same the day after the draft. No matter how hard I try, I envision every guy taken from the first through the fifth rounds a starter for the Bills – an immediate starter. It never happens, of course. One through five rarely all make the team, let alone start. Somehow, this feels different. The Bills took two of the best interior linemen in the country, and I think they’re pretty safe bets. The Bills must think Byrd is a starter within two years or they wouldn’t have gone after him aggressively like that. Maybin is the wildcard – is he Dwight Freeney or is he another quick college defensive end who’s going to get handled by the best offensive linemen in the world? Nelson will make the team; if Harris does too, this was a heckuva draft. If Maybin gets sacks and Nelson and Harris play significant downs, my oh my.

10. The Bills have been building and building for four years now. There have been a few notable missteps along the way – Dockery’s bust, losing Peters (although they got picks for him). Some decisions that haven’t worked out – Dockery, Fowler, Kelsay. But there has been serious, steady building. Butler, Walker, Edwards, Lynch, Hardy, Johnson, Williams, Stroud, Poz, Mitchell, McKelvin, Whitner, Scott, Youboty, Corner. Add Hangartner, Owens, Rhodes and now this draft class. That’s a lot of new – and good – talent. It’s too much talent not to win. It’s the same defense, with Schobel back, Poz having learned the ropes, and a new pass rusher on board. It’s the same offense with a remade offensive line that should be as good as last year, plus Terrell Owens and a big new target at tight end.

As I’ve been saying for months now, the spotlight is on and will stay on Jauron, his staff and Trent Edwards. When you’re the Lions, you have an excuse for not winning. The Bills have no excuses now.

Current Bills Draft News Players

A Review of the 2009 Buffalo Bills Draft Class

After a weekend that saw some pretty bold moves by their division rival, the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills lone first-day trade to move up to the second round to pick Andy Levitre seems a bit lackluster. Time will tell, of course, how the brazen moves by the Jets will pan out on the field, but with a glut of wide receivers, and nine picks heading into the weekend, it seemed the Bills might be a bit bigger wheelers and dealers.

Instead, the Bills were somewhat predictable, and their typical completely unpredictable selves.

Aaron Maybin’s name had been thrown out there as a possible first round pick for the Bills. So that was not too much of a surprise. But most felt that OT was one of the more glaring, pressing needs for the team, and they didn’t draft a single player who was primarily an offensive tackle.

On the other hand, the Bills have a core of four really solid CBs on their roster, yet they chose to spend their first pick in the second round, and their fifth round selections on more cornerbacks? Really?

They did address the TE position by landing a fairly highly rated player in Shawn Nelson, but must not have found who they were looking for at LB, as the only player they found at that position actually played safety in college.

Well, let’s take a look at each guy the Bills added, and their potential fit with this roster.

1 – DE Aaron Maybin – Penn State

At the scouting combine, defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, hinted that the Bills might not necessarily be looking for a starter at defensive end, but more likely a pass rushing specialist. He emphasized that the NFL game is very specialized nowadays, so you can afford to spend draft picks on specialty players.

And that is just what the Bills did.

The Bills anticipate Maybin being a third down/passing situation specialist, coming in to add some pressure on the quarterback—something the Bills have been pretty bad at for a few years now. They’re hoping to get 10 sacks or so out of Maybin, plus having a healthy Aaron Schobel back (plus Stroud and Williams in the middle, as well as a healthy rotation of other players on the D-line). They see Maybin as a “piece of the puzzle.”

They needed pass-rushing help on the defensive line, and they are hopeful they found it in Maybin, a player they had their eyes on at the top of the draft.

Read more on Aaron Maybin at

1 – C Eric Wood – Louisville

This one was perplexing. OT Michael Oher—a great story, and most feel a great player, at a position the Bills really need—was still available only a few picks earlier. The Bills could have moved up to get him. OT Eben Britton was still available. Lots of tackles were still available. Instead, the Bills draft a player listed as a center, which is a position they already addressed (first signing, I believe?) in free agency with Geoff Hangartner. Very strange move indeed.

Can look at this a few ways. First, Eric Wood is a very good, solid lineman. He will be a good player. We could use more good offensive linemen, to be sure. So, perhaps he was just the best option available. The Bills were definitely looking to get some more help at guard, but not necessarily center. So, it’s still perplexing.

Maybe Hangartner was not their first choice as a center? Competition is always good… maybe they just wanted to make sure they had two guys they could count on to push each other at the center position? Maybe.

If you take the Bills at their word, they just really liked Wood, and they like the fact that he’s both a center and a guard. At 6’4″ 310, he’s a pretty big fella. They intend to play him at guard (presumably left guard, vacated by the released Derrick Dockery) but really like that they can use him at center if they need to.

OK, I buy it.

My favorite part about Eric Wood (besides the fact that he’s from Cincinnati, land of my genealogical roots) is the following quote:

“It’s all about flipping the switch when you go out on the field,” said Wood. “You can do things on the football field that are severely illegal on the streets. I just kind of flip that switch and try to take it to people on the field. I’m a finisher. The fun part is knocking people down and punishing the guy you’re going against. That’s the joy of football to me.”

Read more on Eric Wood at

2 – CB Jairus Byrd – Oregon

OK, I’ll admit it. This one floored me. At least as much as when they chose Donte Whitner at the 8th spot overall. The jury is still out (at least a little) on our friend Donte. Perhaps most evident in the fact that they are moving him to a different position this year, to see if that’s a better fit. I’ll admit it turned out better than I thought, but a CB?? With their second round pick???

If you read my previous articles you’ll see that CB was specifically one of the positions that I said would be a “shocking” choice should the Bills choose to go that way. Well, they did, and I was.

Upon reading further, I discovered that they intend to use this college cornerback as a safety on their roster. That put my mind a bit more at ease as the safety position is a bit more in flux. But still, what about the left tackle?

The thing I like so far is that he is a playmaker. Had 17 INTs in his college career. The Bills are looking for playmakers, and I guess they feel they found one in Byrd.

Read more on Jairus Byrd at

2 – OL Andy Levitre – Oregon

In their most exciting move of the draft, the Bills traded their third round pick and one of their fourth round picks to move back into the second round at pick #51 and selected… an offensive lineman! Good move!

And, he’s even listed as a G/T! (That is almost like drafting a tackle!)

The Bills obviously like this guy as they gave up two picks to get him. He has decent size, 6’3″ 305. (But more suited to playing guard in the NFL.)

And what I’m noticing even more is that they are really into this “two for one” concept. So far, the Bills have drafted a CB who is a S, a C who is a G, and now a T who is a G (and a T). (Perhaps they feel the more letters they can list next to a player’s name, the better he will be?)

Read more on Andy Levitre at

day TWO

4 – TE Shawn Nelson – Southern Miss

Most are rating this pick one of (if not the) best values of the 2009 draft class for the Bills. Nelson was projected to go in the second or third round, so the Bills being able to land him late in the 4th round was quite a good deal. Especially considering the vacancy they apparently had at TE by releasing last year’s starter, Robert Royal.

Nelson is a pass-catching TE whom Bills scouts say should be able to help the passing game immediately. He’s got good size at 6’5″ 240, but needs work on his blocking. The Bills were really lacking a TE in the passing game, though, so Nelson seems like a pretty good fit. Good pick up at round four.

Read more on Shawn Nelson at

5 – S Nic Harris – Oklahoma

And, here they go again. Now, as I said earlier, I expected the Bills would look to add a safety at some point in this draft. So, that part is not unexpected. BUT, adding their second S is pretty unexpected.

Until you remember this is the “Year of the Utility Player”.

This college safety is projected to play linebacker in the NFL, and that’s just what the Bills intend to do with him. Linebacker is a position of need for the Bills, so again, this seems to be a good fit for their needs. But why are they drafting these guys who have more experience at a different position than the Bills plan to use them in? Perplexing.

Harris has speed, smarts, and is a good tackler. The Bills are counting on him also being a quick study at his new position. Don’t expect him to be the other starting LB opposite Kawika Mitchell, but he has enough upside to add some depth to the unit.

Read more on Nic Harris at

6 – CB Cary Harris – Souther Cal

OK, this is getting weird. Not only are the Bills drafting players who are not experienced at their positions (hoping they’ll “pick up” the position they want them to play) they are also STILL DRAFTING DEFENSIVE BACKS! I really don’t understand this pick.

First of all, this Harris (unrelated to the previous Harris, as far as I know) is only 5’11” 187. Do we need another smurf on the team?? Second… he’s a cornerback!!! He doesn’t have great speed, there are questions about his “durability”… I honestly don’t know what he has, or why we picked him when we already have Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin, Ashton Youboty, Reggie Corner, Drayton Florence, and now even Jairus Byrd from earlier in the draft.

“He’s an ultra competitive kid. He really paid his dues playing in a big time conference,” said Bills scout Rashaan Curry. “He started over 30 games and is a really competitive kid. He’s probably average size, but he’s of a tougher brand”

Ooohh… That’s why.

Read more on Cary Harris at

7 – DB Ellis Lankster – West Virginia

OK, at this point, it’s either a really bad joke, or, the Bills staff knows something we don’t know about the current group of DBs on our roster. Regardless, with their final pick of the draft, the Bills selected another defensive back. That makes four. (The Bills are calling it three, but that’s because they are counting Nic Harris as a LB already. Even though he’s not yet.)

Are they planning to not renew Terrence McGee’s contract? Is McKelvin a bust? Youboty? I know Dick Jauron was a defensive back, but… enough already!

This selection is as baffling as the previous one in that Lankster is 5’9″ 191 pounds, and they are going to ask him to cover guys like Randy Moss. Nice.

Read more on Ellis Lankster at

One thing that I did consistently see in all of the selections the Bills made (at least, their scouts’ reports about the selections) is that they were looking for smart players, with good instincts who are also good tacklers. And, throw in a competitive mean streak as well. That seemed to be how they described most of the guys. They were not too concerned with the “measurables” as they call them. They just wanted good football players, whatever position.

If I had to grade this draft, just based on finding players to fill positions of need, I’d give it a C- at best. At best.

I hope I’m wrong, and these players turn out to be just what the Bills need. I like Wood. I didn’t at first, since he’s listed as a center, but I think he’s a good fit. I think I like Maybin… will have to see him play at the NFL level. And I like Shawn Nelson. I think he’ll help the offense right away from the sounds of it.

Overall, even though Trent Dilfer says the Bills were big draft winners, I don’t see it. I don’t like taking guys who didn’t play the position, hoping they’ll work into it. I don’t like not getting another OT. I don’t like taking four DBs (mostly CBs!) when you already have 5 on your roster, four who are pretty good (one unknown). Mostly, unfortunately, I don’t like it.

Time will tell, of course. And, I can’t wait to see it all actually play out on the field.

Rookie mini-camp this weekend, then some more OTAs… training camp will be here before you know it!

Bring it on!


Free Agency – 10 Things I Think

Okay, here’s something for you beat up while you’re waiting for the draft to begin. A friend of mine sent me the following, which apparently appeared in the Sporting News:

“Teams That Handled Free Agency WORST”: BILLS – They re-signed Marcus Stroud and added WR Terrell Owens (is that a plus?). But they lost versatile LB Angelo Crowell and Gs Derrick Dockery and Duke Preston,and had to trade Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters when they couldn’t re-sign him. Buffalo also let solid CB Jabari Greer go and replaced him with Drayton Florence, who was a free-agent bust with Jacksonville in 2008. “

Here are 10 things I think about that:

1. The friggin press makes up this stuff. If you look around, you’ll find some other guy – I’ve seen it somewhere – who said the Bills had one of the BEST free agent periods. In fact, I think they did okay. Not great, but okay.

2. A lot of what he’s talking about isn’t free agency. They CUT Dockery, he wasn’t a free agent. Stroud wasn’t a free agent. The guy can’t even get the basic facts right.

3. Marcus Stroud – He wasn’t a free agent. I think they promised Marcus they’d redo his deal when they acquired him in a trade last year. He had a good year, he’s a good player, and resigning players is something teams do all the time. What’s wrong with keeping your good players happy and extending their contracts?

4. WR Terrell Owens. Okay, we can argue this all day. I’m still not thrilled with it. I think he’ll be a big plus in the offense, but maybe not. If he is, he’ll be gone in a year, and then they still have a hole. But if last year’s second round pick, James Hardy, develops properly, then having Owens for one year is perfect. So it isn’t a terrible move, it won’t hurt. It just doesn’t build long-term strength.

5. Versatile LB Angelo Crowell. Yes, the guy was a good player. The Bills gave up on him last year when they more or less pleaded with him all off-season to have knee surgery, and he refused. When September came, he said his knee wasn’t well enough to play and had surgery. Stupid move on his part. Bills probably overreacted by putting him on IR (he could have played later in the season), but they decided he wasn’t committed to the team.

6. Derrick Dockery. The Bills cut him. He was a free agent mistake the year before. He played pretty well for a while. Last season he was terrible. Maybe the worst guard in the conference. He had a big contract. So this was in part a cap move. And what’s wrong with admitting your mistakes and cutting your losses? Oh, and our author doesn’t mention the Bills signed Seth McKinney, a part-time guard for the Browns last season. So they brought in someone with some prospects to compete for a the job of a guy who was more or less a total failure.

7. Duke Preston. Duke had been on the team for four years, never really succeeded. Played decently at center for the last half of last season. Bills decided they needed an upgrade. What the Bills did was leave him unsigned until free agency opened. Then the Bills signed the only good free agent center, Hangartner. Once they signed him, Preston was completely expendable. The Bills also let their other center go, same reason. No one has signed the other guy. Green Bay just signed Preston to an unremarkable contract. So why exactly is it a mistake to let someone go that no one else in the league is hot to sign, while you sign a better player on the first day of free agency?

8. Had to trade Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters when they couldn’t re-sign him. Yes, they did. And when you read the better articles on the subject, you’ll understand why. Everyone in the league agrees this guy is among the most, if not the most, talented offensive tackles. He has incredible talent.

Everyone in the league also has serious questions about whether he has the heart to play at the level he’s able to. He clearly cares about the money. He admitted that when he missed blocks last year, his attitude was “well, they’re not paying enough, so I don’t really care that I missed it.” He didn’t know he gave up 10-13 sacks in 13 games last season. You want that guy to be your premier LT?

You know how you can tell the entire league had questions? If the guy was certifiably as good as he thinks, the Bills would have gotten two first round picks for him, or a first and a second. The fact is the Bills couldn’t get more than a late first and a fourth, and no one else was in the bidding. Peters may turn out to be great.

If I had to bet, I’d bet he’ll turn out to be erratic. There’s something about him that makes him a big questionmark.

9. Let solid CB Jabari Greer go and replaced him with Drayton Florence. Total ignorance of the situation. First, when Greer got hurt last year, the Bills inserted last year’s first round pick, Leodis McKelvin, who by the end of the season looked like a lights-out, shut-down corner. Second, since McKelvin is clearly a starter (and Drayton was signed purely as training camp fodder, not to replace Greer), the Bills either had to sign Greer or next season let their other corner, Terence McGee go. It was either Greer or McGee. Greer was going to command pretty big dollars, and they were big dollars this year, not next year. McGee is very good, McKelvin looks like a star, Youboty is back, and the Bills had another good rookie corner last season. They’re set at corner. No brainer.

10. I am no apologist for the Bills. They do a lot of stupid stuff. Peters was mismanaged, despite my doubts about him. But this stuff from Sporting News is nonsense, and anyone who knows the Bills knows that. Problem is, 95% of the readers don’t follow the Bills, so it makes sense to them.

Let’s go BILLS!!!!

Current Bills Draft Offseason Players Transactions

Draft Weekend Is Coming: Assessing the Buffalo Bills Defense

Continuing from the previous article where we looked at the Buffalo Bills offense, position by position, where they are solid, as well as where their biggest needs are … let’s take a look at the defense.

The defensive line has been much maligned over the past seasons for lack of pass rush (and previously, a lack of run stopping) and still remains one of the biggest questions on the team. This will almost definitely be a position the Bills address in the draft, especially since they did not address it in free agency.

Aaron Schobel will return after missing most of 2008 with a foot injury. He did not need surgery to repair it, so he should be ready to go when the team comes back together for training camp. He has been a solid pass rusher in the past, but production has tailed off since his Pro Bowl season in 2006. He will be 32 years old this season, so age along with returning from a fairly serious injury mean there are probably more questions surrounding Schobel than answers.

After Schobel, the Bills have a few average-to-good DEs. Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney are often maligned for not getting enough pass rush pressure, and are mostly deserving of that criticism. Chris Ellis was a third round pick last year who did have some special teams success, but perhaps wasn’t as noticeable as the coaches may have liked on defense. But he figures to be a factor on the 2009 team.

Then there’s a list of guys who so far have only been mediocre at best. Ryan Neill has the added advantage of being the team’s long snapper, then we find Corey Mace, Bryan Copeland, and Marcus Smith. Certainly none of those guys would make the Bills’ brass think, “Boy, we’re set at defensive end!!”

It would be quite surprising, even shocking, if the Bills do not address the DE position specifically in the 2009 draft.

The middle of the line has a couple bright spots. First, the Bills signed big man Marcus Stroud to a nice contract extension this offseason. He is happy to be here, and definitely is a presence in the middle, even if he doesn’t have the stats. He is a player the opposing team must account for. His DT partner is Kyle Williams. Williams has that “motor that never stops” and just seems to make things happen. He’s still a little undersized, but he’s produced pretty well for the Bills since joining the team in 2006.

After the starters there is John McCargo, who was traded to the Colts last season, then sent back! He’s got talent, but doesn’t seem like it’s ever worked out for him. Not really counting on him for much in 2009 accordingly. Spencer Johnson is the other DT on the roster. Johnson came over in free agency last season, along with Stroud, and is a solid backup.

As with the DE position though, the Bills are definitely in need of help on the defensive line. If they draft an interior defensive lineman, it will be to add depth, and will likely mean they have given up on McCargo. (They may have already done that, as demonstrated by trading him away last season.) Either way, the Bills may choose to add two defensive lineman in this draft. DE and DT.

But, no doubt about it, there will be a defensive lineman added this weekend.

The Bills were pursuing a veteran linebacker in free agency this offseason. It doesn’t seem like they landed the guy they really wanted yet, which could mean that we’ll see a LB among the 2009 Bills’ draft class.

2007 starter, Angelo Crowell, signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing all of 2008 with a nagging injury. He was a promising young player, and already was a loss to the Bills defense in 2008. There are a few options to fill his spot. After the other two starting LBs: Kawika Mitchell and MLB Paul Posluszny, the Bills have some solid depth in newly re-signed Keith Ellison, and Alvin Bowen who missed all of his rookie season last year with an injury. Ellison has lots of experience as a starter, and Bowen has some great athleticism and potential.

Add John DiGiorgio, Blake Costanzo, and even John Corto and Marcus Buggs to the mix as mainly special teams contributors, and you have a position where the Bills seem to be fairly solid.

So why were they courting so many LBs in free agency?

They did sign MLB Pat Thomas from the Kansas City Chiefs. Not an earth shattering announcement, but does show that there is a perceived need there. The real need is for a clear starter opposite Kawika Mitchell at OLB. Will that be Bowen? It will not likely be Ellison, unless nothing else pans out. Might the Bills spend a draft pick on another OLB? It’s either that, or they may make a trade for an outside linebacker, or pick someone up after the draft weekend is over.

However it happens, I don’t think the Bills are satisfied with their current roster of LBs.

The Bills lost last year’s starting CB Jabari Greer to the New Orleans Saints in free agency this offseason. They were prepared for such an event, and signed San Diego free agent CB Drayton Florence. Florence will be a solid depth player, as CB is perhaps one of the positions where the Bills are the most talented.

By the end of last season, the starters were Terrence McGee and rookie Leodis McKelvin. Both players are very talented. Solid starters. And, many seem to forget, before he was injured again last season, Ashton Youboty was having a very good season. He’s a very solid nickel back. Add the promising play of Reggie Corner to that crew, and it would be at least a little surprising if the Bills draft a CB in 2009.

Safety is a bit different. Donte Whitner is officially moving to free safety, a position he played toward the end of last season. Bryan Scott did well at strong safety – and is a bigger guy, better fit there – so he is slated to be the starter at that position. The Bills may be shopping last year’s starter FS Ko Simpson, so he may or may not return. After those three, there are some special teams standouts who also add valuable depth to the defensive backfield: George Wilson and John Wendling.

Just as with the cornerbacks, it would be a little surprising if the Bills drafted a safety. But with some shifting of positions and a possible trade… there is a possibility that the bills would add defensive backfield help, perhaps in the later rounds.

Special teams remains one of the strengths of the Buffalo Bills. From the special teams coach of the year, Bobby April, to great return guys like McKelvin, McGee and Parrish (and apparently Jackson as well!) to perhaps the most consistently good player on the team, punter Brian Moorman. Kicker Rian Lindell is no slouch, either. This unit is solid, and will likely remain mostly the same. As opposed to the 2008 offseason, they did not see a massive overhaul of their players. Most of the unit are returning, which should be a very good thing for the Bills and their fans.

Final Thoughts
The Buffalo Bills still have lots of questions. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the team after the signing of future Hall of Famer Terrell Owens. The other additions should add to the success of the team, too. And, they do have the #11 pick in the draft, which could be a really good player.

Overall, if the Bills didn’t trade any of their nine picks, I’d see the Bills taking three offensive linemen, two defensive lineman, a linebacker, a tight end, and two more guys at any position as special teams players. The Bills will likely make some draft day trades, however, so they won’t use all nine of those picks this year.

However it all shakes out, it promises to be an exciting year of Buffalo Bills football!

Is it August yet??

Current Bills Draft Offseason Players

Draft Weekend Is Coming: Assessing the Buffalo Bills Offense

With only two days until the clock actually starts ticking on the Buffalo Bills 2009 draft, I wanted to take a look position by position at who the 2009 Bills are shaping up to be. We have all heard the experts predicting whom they believe the Buffalo Bills will select in the draft, what holes they need to fill, and even possible trades. And they could be right. But let’s look through the roster and see just where the Bills may be looking to improve.

Potential Trades
Let’s get this out of the way first. There are a few players whose names are being mentioned as possible draft day trade fodder. Roscoe Parrish is a big one. When Terrell Owens joined the club, there was a possibility that Parrish was on the outside of the bubble looking in. While he is incredibly productive on special teams (league-leader in punt return average in 2007, second in 2008) and consistently provides good field position for the offense, his production on offense hasn’t been what the Bills had hoped. (It’s interesting to note, by the way, that #1 on the list for average yards per punt return was Buffalo’s Fred Jackson with 16.6 yards/return as compared to Roscoe’s 15.3/return. He did that on only a third of the returns that Parrish had, however.)

So, the Bills could potentially move Parrish, but I would think if they did it would be for a pretty good price. He may be near the edge of the bubble as a WR for this team, but I recall a Wall of Fame Buffalo Bill WR who consistently made the team for his contributions on special teams, despite being at the edge of the bubble for his offensive production…

Another player named in possible trades is Ko Simpson, who has lost his starting FS job to the recently-shifted SS Donte Whitner. Simpson is a good player, but was a bit small for the defensive scheme the Bills want to run.

And of course, we all know that Buffalo’s prima donna OT, Jason Peters, was traded for three draft picks from the Philadelphia Eagles. The picks were not as high as I thought they might get for a “two-time Pro Bowler”, but in my estimation, it’s a good move. The Bills can use the two picks this year to add depth, or potentially package them to make a move on draft day.

It might be an interesting weekend just in the wheeling and dealing alone!

J.P. Losman is finally not part of the equation at QB for the Bills, so they went out and signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bengals’ starter last season (when Carson Palmer was injured most of the season). Interesting move, but perhaps Fitzpatrick is a similar player to Edwards, so there is consistency there should Edwards go down with an injury. I had thought they would add a QB with more experience, as there were many out there, but Fitzpatrick it is.

Gibran Hamdan will be returning, and Matt Baker is still on the roster somewhere. Will the Bills pursue a QB in the draft? Probably not. But I do still like Drew Willy, quarterback of the University at Buffalo Bulls in 2008. Would be a cool local story, and he definitely has skills. The Bills wouldn’t take him till very late, and I’d imagine he’d be gone before that.

Marshawn Lynch is apparently appealing his three-week suspension, but the Bills are counting on not having their star running back for the first part of the season. They made a move to ensure some stability there by finally signing the veteran RB they have been seeking since the start of Free Agency. Being turned down by Fred Taylor and Kevin Jones (likely among other candidates) they finally were able to procure the services of Dominic Rhodes. Rhodes will probably occupy the third spot on the depth chart, but will get lots more playing time in the absence of Lynch to start the season.

Fred Jackson is also a bit of a question as he is unhappy with his contract negotiations. He is restricted free agent, I believe, and they are still crunching numbers to get him a new contract. The Bills need to pay the man. He has turned into a super reliable compliment to Lynch, and well, they just need to pay their players!

Assuming Jackson is signed and happy, the Bills are really strong at RB. Marshawn Lynch (Pro Bowler last season, actually, leading rusher in the Pro Bowl, too!) and Fred Jackson, and now Dominic Rhodes… that’s a pretty good trio. Add the potential Xavier Omon has (but has not shown at the NFL level as of yet) and they even have the hard working Bruce Hall on their roster. I’d be surprised to see the Bills select a RB in the draft at all, but if they did, it would be late.

As I mentioned above, the Bills are chock full at this position. Lee Evans signed a big contract extension last year. Terrell Owens, while only here for a year, well, we know what he is capable of. That’s quite a tandem already. Add in Josh Reed back in the slot where he belongs, and he’s likely even better at being “Mr. First Down”, as we like to call him.

Then you have the aforementioned Roscoe Parrish, with his explosive possibilities, and I haven’t even mentioned James Hardy and Steve Johnson! Hardy, the Bills second-round pick in 2008, is returning from an injury and with a year of NFL experience—he has the tools—should be a contributor on this team. Johnson actually produced more than Hardy last year, so don’t count him out of the mix.

The Bills also have Justin Jenkins, Felton Huggins and CJ Hawthorne on the roster. Jenkins and Huggins are big contributors on special teams coverage units, and decent WRs.

Obviously, not all of these guys will be here when the roster is trimmed down to the final 53. You can’t keep nine receivers on a team. The likely candidates would seem to be the last two I mentioned, but Bobby April may say otherwise. That really lends credence to the Parrish trade rumors.

It will be shocking if the Bills add a WR on draft weekend. I’ll go ahead and say right now… they will not!

For a few years now, Bills fans have been complaining about the tight end position on their team. Perhaps the last player we had at this position that really made any impact was Jay Riemersma, and he played with Doug Flutie… so it’s been a while.

The Bills released last year’s starting TE Robert Royal just as the free agency period opened, so that leaves three TEs on the roster: Derek Schouman, Derek Fine, and (Derek) Jonathan Stupar. (He should be named Derek, apparently…) Fine showed some promise last year, and Shouman is a “fine” special teamer, so those guys will make the roster, but are they impact players? Do they make a difference to this offense?

I don’t know anything about Stupar, so we’ll just assume he’s roster depth at this point, that may not even make the team?

The Bills reportedly tried to make a deal for future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez, but that fell through, with reports saying he just didn’t want to come to Buffalo. His loss.

Now that they have also signed T.O. – who is a bigger WR – do they really need a big play-making TE? Some argue that T.O. was more successful in Dallas because of the great play of Dallas TE Jason Whitten. Another great player can’t hurt, but who’s to say that by adding T.O. to the offensive mix, you don’t automatically free up one of the Dereks to make chain-moving plays across the middle? Defenses have to already cover Evans, Owens, Reed, Lynch, Jackson… that may leave these TEs more open than they have been in the past?

Still, I would not be surprised to see the Bills take a TE in this year’s draft. I don’t think it’s as big a need as some (who think we should spend our #11 pick on a TE) but it couldn’t hurt.

This is probably the biggest question mark on the team. Most people are now focusing on the trade of Peters, and the hole that leaves at what is considered the most important spot on the line, LT. But don’t forget, the Bills released last year’s starting LG, Derrick Dockery, just before free agency began, and they have not attempted to re-sign either of their centers from last year, Melvin Fowler and Duke Preston. That means the entire left side of the line will be different at the start of the 2009 season.

The Bills did re-sign OT Kirk Chambers. They also brought in C Geoff Hangartner from Carolina, and OL Seth McKinney from Cleveland. Not the most sought-after guys, but the Bills are happy with Hangartner for sure.

What does that mean for the whole O-line? At the end of last season, the line left to right was: Jason Peters, Derrick Dockery, Duke Preston, Brad Butler, Langston Walker. Now it looks as though it might be: Langston Walker/Kirk Chambers, Kirk Chambers/Demetrius Bell, Geoff Hangartner, Brad Butler, Demetrius Bell/Kirk Chambers. The only player who remains the same is RG Brad Butler. Every other position has a new player in it. Every one.

That’s not good. There is no doubt the Bills need a larger pool of guys to select from not only for the starters on this unit, but also depth players. This is definitely a position the Bills will address in the draft, and maybe even with the top pick at #11. There are some great players available. Michael Oher, Andre Smith (No, not Big Dre from the BBR!) are two names at the top. But so far every player who has greatness also seems to have some “baggage”.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills go after one of the “big name” OLs, but I’d look for them to add up to 3 guys with their middle to high round picks. They need lots of help at this position, so it may be a “boring” draft of just picking the big, no-name guys. (Who you really need on your team if you want to win!)

Stay Tuned…
That covers the offensive side of the ball, but there’s a whole other side of the team that the Bills will definitely be addressing. In fact, I’d say we’ll see more defensive players selected (other than offensive linemen, really) in the 2009 draft than offensive players.

Will post the remainder of the article tomorrow, the state of the Bills defense.


Jason Peters – 10 Things I Don’t Know

Well, it’s done. Jason Peters has been traded to the Eagles for a first and fourth pick this year and a sixth next year. Peters has signed an extension with Eagles.

What do I think? I don’t like it, but mostly I think there are a lot of things I don’t know.

1. I don’t know if the Bills have any idea what they’re doing. The Bills clearly started rebuilding in 2006. By 2008 they had cleaned out everyone who needed to go and plenty others, as well. They had the core they needed, it seemed, to begin to win consistently. Then, in three months, the starting center is gone, the starting left guard is gone and the starting left tackle is gone. Are the Bills rebuilding, again?

2. I don’t know if Jason Peters will ever be a premier left tackle. I know he has the physical tools. I’ve seen him make all the plays that a premier left tackle makes, but there have been plenty of guys with the tools who never starred in the NFL .

3. I don’t know if Jason Peters has the heart to be a star in the NFL. He hasn’t shown it so far. There’s something about him that’s always made me uncomfortable. Part of it is how he leaves games with injuries. Fine, I know guys tweak things and have to go out for a play or two here and there, but it seems like a habit with Jason. He’s missed the end of the past two seasons with injuries. I guess they were real. But the really great players stay on the field. They WANT it.

I saw Jim Kelly get knocked unconscious, fumble, the Bills get a turnover on the next play, and Kelly return to the field to throw a TD on the first play. You could feel it with Jim. I don’t feel it with Jason.

There’s something troubling about a guy who says, essentially, “I’m not going to give you my best until you pay me.” Is Jason Peters Manny Ramirez? For that matter, is he Terrell Owens?

4. I don’t know about his pedigree. This goes to his heart, too. Just about every good pro showed his potential in college. I know, there are exceptions, and maybe Jason is an exception. Coming out of high school, Jason wasn’t a top prospect. Fine, not every star was showing it in high school. Then Jason spent his time in college and he still hadn’t shown enough for anyone to draft him. That raises a real questionmark for me. The guy has these fabulous physical tools and didn’t apply them enough for any team to burn even a seventh round pick on him. That says something about him, something I don’t like.

Compare him to Leodis McKelvin. Leodis must not have shown much coming out of high school, either, becasue none of the big-time schools took a shot at him. So off he goes to Troy. By the end of four years, he was showing it.

There’s just something about Jason that always left me uncomfortable.

5. I don’t know who the Bills studs are. Jason Peters was unquestionably the best young talent on the Bills. Raw physical talent, he’s better than Lee, better than Marshawn, and way better than anyone else. There are only two ways to win in the NFL – collect really outstanding talent or have truly outstanding coaching (or some combination of both). Either way, you have to spend money. The Bills have demonstrated they won’t spend the big dollars for a really good coaching staff – it’s been no-names (with the exception of Chuck Knox) for 50 years. The Bills have to be willing to overspend on really good talent here or there – it’s the only other choice. If you’re going to overspend on anyone, Jason Peters has the talent to have been the one.

6. I don’t know what the Bills coaching staff thought about Peters. They might have had the same concerns that I have. Who wants a guy who doesn’t show up at camp? They might have said to Brandon “don’t spend top dollar for this guy, because we don’t think we can count on him, play after play, game after game, season after season, to dominate.” Frankly, I think the questions about Peters are reflected in the deal the Bills got. A 28th pick and a fourth rounder (a sixth in 2010 is practically worthless) is NOT enough for the an All-Pro left tackle. However, I think the Eagles were saying “we’re going to have to overpay for a guy who’s not really proven himself to be the long-term stud, so we’re not giving you a first this year and a first next year.”

7. I don’t know what the Bills do now. I don’t think Walker is a left tackle. Chambers actually looked pretty good at left tackle at the end of last season, but I assumed the Bills had him slated for left guard. I can’t imagine they’ll start the season with Bell at left tackle. I suppose Chambers at LT and Bell at LG is possible, although some people have said that Bell really has tackle skills and size, not guard skills and size. I don’t know – there are some big guards in the league.

It certainly seems like the Bills now will take the best offensive lineman available with pick #11. His issues notwithstanding, I like Andre Smith based on the little bit I’ve read about him. Jason Smith apparently is the star of the class, but I wouldn’t trade up into the top five to get him, for two reasons: The Bills probably would have to package the 11th and the 28th to get there (I’d rather have three first day picks), and the pricetag for top five players is just to high. If the Bills are willing to spend that kind of money on a draftee, they should have spent it on Jason and kept the 11th pick.

8. I don’t know who’s making the decisions at One Bills Drive. What I do know is that there isn’t one person there with a track record that makes me warm and fuzzy. Not Mr. Wilson, not Brandon, not Jauron. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I’ve been hoping for pleasant surprises for a couple of years now. I’ve been surprised, sure, but not pleasantly.

9. I don’t know what this does to team morale. It does mean Trent’s going to be peeking over his left shoulder at the pass rush, at least until he develops a little confidence that someone there can keep him from getting maimed. Marshawn may not mind the prospect of sitting out the first few games, so that the players and coaches can figure out how to block people on the left side.

But if I’m Marcus Stroud, I’m thinking “what in the world have I gotten myself into? Our defense isn’t bad, but what’s with the offense? Linemen are coming and going like it’s red-tag day at Wal-Mart, our running back gets suspended, we bring in the league’s most notorious problem child to play wideout. Even the supposed leader of the defense gets tossed in jail.”

10. I don’t know how all this is going to turn out. There’s no way to know now who got the best of the Peters deal. The Bills could be the winners if Peters craps out this season or next or beyond. The Bills could be the winners if Peters continues to show flashes of brilliance without sustained All-Pro play. The Bills could be the losers if Peters becomes the stud he can be. It could be a win-win if the Bills two first-round picks become the heart of a championship team.

I do know this: DIck Jauron’s job is totally on the line in 2009. I thought so after the Owens signing, and I think so now. This is his team – he’s kept the guys he’s wanted, he’s dumped the guys he didn’t. About the only holdover from the pre-Jauron era is the Ball Burglar. The offensive line is now totally his – no starter on the 2009 Bills offensive line was here when Dick took over (unless the Bills surprise me and swap a first-round pick to get Gandy back!). It’s his RB, his QB, his defense, his defensive players. Dick picked these guys, and Dick has to live or die with them.

Like I said, maybe he’ll surprise me.


The End

Well, it was a great, great season, and a great run through the NCAA tournament for my Spartans, but last night, it came to a screeching halt. Not only did they lose the game, and not only did they lose it by 17 points, they were simply a shell of who they had been all season, and through the previous 5 games in the tournament. They had more than 20 turnovers, they were dominated on the boards (they led the entire nation in rebounding margin in the 2008-2009 season) and their shooting percentage was just horrible.

Still, they kept getting to within about 15 points for the last 10 minutes of the game or so. They were playing some pretty good defense, and started to catch up in the rebound column… but it was too late, and, well… you have to hit some shots! Sheesh! 🙂

It was a great season, though. Definitely fun to see my team get so far, do so well.

The Sabres on the other hand…

They played last night, too. Actually, they played Saturday night as well. Lost both times. Pretty badly. On Saturday, to their credit, they made a valiant attempt at redeeming an awful game. They got the score to 3-2 after being down 3-0 to start the third period. Dominated the third, but lost. And it was a key loss. Had they won it, they would have tied the team directly above them, and been very much “in the hunt” for the last playoff spot.

But they did not.

So, last night, they needed to win, well, pretty much the remaining four games in the season. Tough task against one of the best teams from the Western Conference, Detroit, but it’s what they had to do. It was 0-0 through half of the game, until they allowed a power play goal… then it just crashed and burned. They ended up losing 4-1.

They still have a slight chance at making the playoffs. They would need the three teams ahead of them to lose most or all of their games, while they win all three of theirs… right. Not going to happen.

The difference between the two endings is, even though MSU was not “on their game” they still kept their heads in the game, and were sticking around to the end. The Sabres… I guess you could say they are trying, and they are “sticking around” to the end, but it also seems pretty obvious that they don’t belong. I’d look for major player turnover in the offseason for the Sabres, while the Spartans will return largely the same team of guys… meaning it should be a good season next year, too!

So, my teams are done… time to start getting ready for Buffalo Bills football!!! 🙂