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.

Free Agency News Offseason Transactions

Terrell Owens: First Reactions to Buffalo’s Big News

Terrell Owens is a Buffalo Bill
The Buffalo Sabres – Buffalo’s other pro sports franchise – are very happy with their trade deadline acquisitions. This past week they added a goalie and a promising young forward. They also signed one of their star players to a well-earned contract extension. They kept the buzz going with two straight 5-1 victories since the roster moves.

But all that pales in comparison to what the Bills announced today.

We here at the Buffalo Bills Review were hopeful that the Bills might fill some needs with some recognizable name players like C Jeff Saturday or Matt Birk, or backup QB Jeff Garcia, even RB Fred Taylor. Based on their history, that was wishful thinking of course, but people – and organizations – can change, so there was always a chance.

The Bills lost out on most of those guys, and strangely went with a very Losman-like QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick from Cincinnati. They have had a parade of free agent visitors through the doors at One Bills Drive, but have only managed to sign those you might expect them to. G/C Geoff Hangartner and CB Drayton Florence have both signed with the Bills. They seem to be hole-filler, role players, replacing the released G Derrick Dockery (now back with the Redskins) and recently departed CB Jabari Greer, who will don the New Orleans Saints uniform in 2009.

And the parade has continued. Names like Lavarenues Coles, Joey Galloway, Cato June, DeShaun Foster, Freddie Keiaho… all players with some name recognition. To this point, I have been giving the Bills an “A” for effort. They’re definitely not satisfied with their roster as-is.

But honestly, I never saw this coming. Even when I saw the idea posted to the Buffalo Bills Message Boards. Even when a Cowboys-fan friend of the show suggested the possibility.

Not even in my Madden franchise.

But we have said repeatedly on the Buffalo Bills Review that Russ Brandon has done an excellent job marketing this team. He may not be a football guy, so to speak. He may not have years of NFL experience. He may not be the best candidate for General Manager of the Buffalo Bills. But he sure knows how to market his team.

You can’t argue with TO’s numbers. While his off (and on) field antics may draw the attention of the press, his production on the field has been stellar. Nine straight 1,000 yard seasons. Double-digit TD receptions three of his last four seasons. He’s a deep threat, he’s a possession receiver, and he’s just a play maker. Owens presence in Orchard Park should even land the Bills at least two more nationally televised games in 2009.

Still, you have to wonder what Marv Levy thinks of this deal.

What I really do like about the signing is that it is just a one year deal. Owens often has a good first season for his new team. Perhaps that will hold true in Buffalo.

Still, questions abound – especially from the nation media who has something of a TO soap opera fetish. How will TO mesh with young QB Trent Edwards. (When will he first complain about not getting the ball enough?) Can a team already dealing with the distraction of RB Marshawn Lynch’s second brush with the law in the past year handle the walking time bomb that is TO?

For the moment, the Bills are happy to have the chance to roll the dice.

If they do indeed get on a roll, and TO produces on the field as he has been, the Bills will not be the 25th ranked offense in the league next year. With Evans, Owens, Lynch, Jackson, Edwards and even Parrish and Reed… opposing teams will have their work cut out for them. has some great coverage of the signing. Check out Chris Brown’s article, and coming up tonight, one-to-one interviews with Russ Brandon and Terrell Owens at the multimedia page.

Draft Free Agency Links Offseason Players

Jason Peters: Did You Expect Anything Else?

As I’m sure you’ve heard, and according to, Jason Peters will skip the Pro Bowl again. This year no official reason has been given for his absence:

At this point no official reason has been given for his inability to participate although Peters did miss the last two games of the 2008 regular season with a knee injury.

Sheesh. Can we please TRADE Jason Peters for a top draft pick??? I stand by my idea as the best possible move for Peters and the Bills. What will stop the “two-time Pro Bowler” from holding out again this offseason? Why would the Bills want to deal with that again, and why in the world would they increase his salary based on his 2008 performance?

They shouldn’t. And I really hope they don’t.

Trade him. Draft the top LT. And then draft one of the top three centers to replace all three of our current subpar centers who are all going to be free agents this offseason. (Chris Brown presents a good case for this at I think Walker, Dockery, and even Butler, Chambers and the young fella, Bell are all pretty good linemen. Throw in a couple rookie studs, and we should have a pretty solid O-line. (A line that steadily improved all last season, especially in the running game, which started horribly.)

At least we know, Peters must go.

Coaching Staff Offseason Recommendations Transactions

Attention Russ Brandon: Off-Season Plan

Here’s the thing. I’m not sure that running a franchise in Madden ’08 is the same thing as running an actual NFL franchise, but they seem to have done a good job of adding enough of the pieces that it very closely parallels that experience. And, in that the Bills have languished in mediocrity for a decade or more now… wouldn’t you think they’d want some advice from a successful NFL owner/GM? I have managed to take the 2007 Buffalo Bills – a middle of the pack team – and turn them into the highest rated team, and a financially successful organization after just three seasons.

So, Russ, if you’re listening… here’s what I’d do.

Football Man at the Top
I really believe Russ Brandon has been good for the Bills, and will be good for the Bills. I think if he wants to keep the franchise moving forward, the first thing they have to do is bring in a “football guy” to make football decisions. Right now Tom Modrak and John Guy are making those decisions, and they are doing a 7-9 job of it. What I would do is bring in a guy who has proven to win wherever he has gone – and a guy who has been around – and put him at the top of the chain for football-related decisions. Not a business guy… that’s Brandon. A football guy.

My top pick? Mike Holmgren. He’s retiring in Seattle. Doesn’t want to coach for now. But he could perhaps be persuaded to continue earning a fat paycheck as the Head Direction Giver for the Bills, much like Bill Parcells in Miami. Turned them around in ONE SEASON. These Bills have much more talent than the Dolphins did last year.

Once Holmgren is here, he can evaluate the staff, the players, and maybe with a little pruning and a few additions… we’re right where the Dolphins are this year.

Russ… please… if you are listening… this is almost mandatory.

The JPs must go. They are both a cancer to this team. I didn’t know that about the larger JP until this past off season. But the way he handled his dispute with the Bills (which was interesting, in that he had THREE more years on his contract…) was just ridiculous, unprofessional, and revealed much about his character. Then the way he has played this year, coupled with his various public comments, and then sitting out the last two games… the man HAS to go.

QB JP is a free agent, and will be gone. But LT JP still has two years on his current contract. And, maybe his undeserved second invite to the Pro Bowl will actually benefit the Buffalo Bills.

Here’s the plan. Trade our “young, talented, two-time Pro Bowl LT” to one of the top three teams in the 2009 draft (Detroit, Kansas City, or St. Louis) and select Michael Oher or Andre Smith with that pick. Both these guys are super highly rated tackles in what is being called a rich offensive lineman draft class. Michael Oher should be amazing. He could easily equal (and hopefully exceed) what Peters did this season. So trade Peters for their top pick… straight up. They get a “proven”, Pro Bowl left tackle, and we get to dump Peters.

The Bills will have the #10 pick in this year’s draft. That’s a pretty good pick. If they do trade Peters for a top three pick, that would be two of the top ten picks in the 2009 draft. Theoretically… that’s amazing. And what they really, really need is a top-notch defensive lineman. A real play maker. Like a Bruce Smith. Oh, how we miss Bruce Smith. There seem to be some pretty good choices in this draft class, too. Athletic guys who can make things happen on the field. That’s what we need.

Also, we need to build depth. We should draft a decent QB prospect, as we’ll be losing one this off-season. (I have already said, I’d like to see University at Buffalo QB, Drew Willy as a Bill.) We also need to think about depth on both lines. Our middle round picks should be used for both lines, offensive and defensive. With the #10 pick (and hopefully a top three pick) the Bills could have three picks in the top 50. Maybe trade up with some lower round picks and get another high second round pick if that fits our needs. A few quality guys from this draft might be just what we need to break out of mediocrity!

Free Agent Signings: Defensive Play Makers!
A lot of people have their sites set on Albert Haynesworth of the Tennessee Titans. He is definitely a force, and a good player. But he is not the type of guy the Bills generally go after. In the news too often for the wrong reasons. However, there are a couple other guys who may be worth the Bills shelling out big bucks for.

Terrell Suggs is my top choice. He is a defensive end/linebacker who makes lots of plays. He could be much like Cornelius Bennett was for the Bills in the 1990s. Bennett was just all around great. All over the field, making big plays when we needed them, covering, tackling, and especially, getting pressure on the QB. Imagine a Bills team with a healthy Aaron Schobel, Marcus Stroud, one of those top DEs from the draft, Terrell Suggs, and the current playmakers, Poz, Mitchell, and the secondary. That is much improved right there.

Another guy they may take a look at is Julius Peppers. Peppers has always been a force on defense, though he is getting older, and perhaps losing a step. But if they can not get Suggs, I would think Peppers has enough left in him, teamed with some guys already on the field here, to make a difference for Buffalo.

Give Dick Jauron an Ultimatum
It is quite obvious that the players like to play for Dick Jauron. That’s a good thing. Should rally them to play their best football. But so far… that has only equaled 7 wins. Three years in a row. That’s not good enough. Russ, if you’re listening, you really need to say to Dick… this is it. You either make the playoffs, or we are going to bring in someone else who can. The NFL is a very short season. While good plays, and players who are happy are all good things… winning is really the bottom line. When a team has not made the playoffs for a decade… that’s really inexcusable. (Reference again the 2007-2008 Miami Dolphins… worst in the league to AFC East champs in ONE season.)

So, early in the off-season, let Jauron know that he is in fact playing for his job this next season. Whatever that means… hiring new assistants, letting them have more game day decision control, bringing in better players… whatever. The ultimatum is: playoffs, or pink slip.

That’ll Do It!
And, Mr. Brandon, if you are listening, and if you heed most or all of this wise counsel… our Buffalo Bills should be once again, not only competitive, but perhaps even champions.

Please do whatever it takes to get President Wilson to authorize these moves, and you’ll be the smartest GM in town.

Coaching Staff Offseason Recommendations

My Christmas List

About this time of year all around the world, boys and girls of all ages begin making their Christmas lists. They think long and hard about what they want Jolly Ol’ St. Nick to bring them under the tree or in their stockings. Some things come easy, some take more thought, but usually the list is full by the end of the process!

This year, Bills fans were treated to a 5-1 start, best since 1991 (a year in which we were also treated to our second-straight Super Bowl appearance) and that super start has definitely made the recent stretch where they have posted a 2-6 record even more pronounced and harder to bear.

So what do Bills fans want for Christmas? What’s on their Christmas list?

First and foremost, you’d have to think that since the season is technically still salvageable, Bills fans want to see four straight wins. Another quarter of the season where they are 4-0. And a win streak going into the playoffs usually spells success in the post season, too. So, beating all three division opponents, plus Denver out at Mile High… that would be tops for this Bills fan, and dare I say most Bills fans.

But some are taking a different approach.

Dick Jauron is in his third season as Bills head coach, and it’s really just time to “put up or shut up,” as they say. Jauron has only had one winning season in his career. It was a very good season: 13-3. But up-close observers say it was also helped along quite a bit by fortunate bounces and other lucky breaks. Losing bad in their only playoff game that year, and then tanking the next season would suggest they were right.

So now he has two 7-9 seasons with the Bills, and has taken a 4-0 start and managed to go 6-6 by week 13. What do those numbers mean for Jauron and his staff? I’d say they point toward an imminent coaching change.

I have been a big supporter of Dick Jauron. I really like his demeanor, even though most do not. I like the way he has changed the attitude of this team from an arrogant, self-centered bunch of guys to a team-first, hard-working, high character group of guys who love to play together, and are more like a family. I think that is important. And every report I hear is that the players love that, too.

But the question has become, is that enough? And unfortunately, I think after the Cleveland game in which the coaching staff decided to run three straight plays up the middle to settle for a 47-yard field goal (which sailed eerily wide right…) I realized what many have been trumpeting since Jauron was brought to Orchard Park in the first place: the man is just not a winning head coach.

Where do we go from here then? Is it time to rebuild? Time to offer another unproven (or just plain losing) coach the reins once more? Is it time to start over again??? In many ways, I don’t think it is, but if I could make the ideal Christmas list, it might look something like this…

Ralph Wilson Sells the Team to Jim Kelly & Friends

We don’t yet know who the funding source for Jim Kelly’s bid to buy the Bills might be, but the rumors persist that such a group exists. In fact, on Sunday Night Football a few weeks ago, Peter King actually mentioned that fact as though a plan were already in motion to make it so. Until that time, most reports had Wilson not selling the team until after he dies, so that would be a slight change.

To me, this is the key. The Bills have been around for nearly fifty years now, and most all of their head coaches have been second-level coaches. Almost never has a “big name” coach been brought in to run this team. Why? Partly because of the “small market” deal, where Wilson insists we just don’t bring in enough money. I’m sure that is true. But it must also be from the owner himself. It’s been his philosophy. Spend as little as possible, and hunt for the hidden gems. At times it works, but for the most part… it has not.

But, if Wilson were to sell the team to Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Sabres’ Owner Tom Golisano, and whomever else Jim can rustle up, the Bills might begin to take on a different shape. Jim was not a conservative player. He was a “gun slinger”. He always trusted his arm to get him out of anything. He was hard-headed, tough-nosed, and a gutsy leader of this blue collar team in a blue collar town. I have to believe he would bring many of those qualities to his role as majority owner of the team.

That would be #1 on my Christmas list.

Mike Holmgren

Nothing against Bills’ Chief Operating Officer, Russ Brandon, but he’s not a football GM. He is a business and marketing guy. And actually, he’s done a very good job. Bills season ticket base is second-highest in team history. The team has successfully “regionalized” and are hoping to further that with the 5-year Toronto Initiative. (First regular season game is this Sunday.)

But he’s not a football guy.

Most know that Mike Holmgren, currently the Seattle Seahawks’ head coach (and Executive VP of Football Operations… General Manager) is planning to retire from coaching at the end of this season. Another thing the Bills are sorely lacking at the moment is a good man at the top.

When Marv Levy decided to call it quits, the Bills lost their vision caster. I’m not sure Marv was doing much more than just being Marv-elous around the players, coaches, and staff around One Bills Drive. He certainly had a hand in bringing in the talent that is currently on this team (and pulling out the weeds from previous administrations) but he was definitely not the full role of the typical NFL General Manager.

Perhaps Mike Holmgren, a well-respected, long-time student of the game, would be willing to “retire” to a similar role with the Buffalo Bills? There is already a nucleus of talent. With a knowledge of the game, and of the league, and a track record of winning (won Super Bowl with Green Bay, got there with Seattle) it would make sense that he could do it again in Buffalo.

Look at what Bill Parcells has done for Miami in just one season. Perhaps Mike Holmgren could do something similar here with the Bills.

That’s item number two for my Christmas list.

Marty Schottenheimer

You’ve heard us say it on the show. You’ve heard Bills fans for a few years now mention his name here and there. You’ve just heard his name right alongside perennial playoff contenders for decades in the NFL. Everywhere Marty has gone, he has won. (He still has the “Can’t Win the Big Ones” monkey on his back, but perhaps that could change eventually? Given the right circumstances?)

Schottenheimer is still available. He hasn’t been snatched up yet. The Bills greatest struggles in recent years has been their offense. It doesn’t make sense when you have players like Lee Evans, Marshawn Lynch, Roscoe Parrish, and even Trent Edwards who has shown so much promise, despite this year’s mid-season slump. Perhaps such an offensive-minded coach could be the impetus we need to move to the next level?

(Yes, I know, Schottenheimer played LB with the Bills when he was here in the 60s, but he is known for offensive teams. And he’s also known for winning.)

That would be Christmas list item #3.

In the end, I’m not sure I’ll really get any of the items on my Christmas list. The Bills have been very consistent in their mediocrity through the years, and most of it starts with the owner, and the way he wants to run his team. Bringing in guys like Holmgren and Schottenheimer are not his typical style. But, you’re never too old to change, are you? Ralph just turned ninety, and perhaps he’d like to turn over a new leaf for his team’s 50th anniversary in two years…

Or, maybe we’ll just keep plugging along with the status quo for Buffalo Bills fans. Some good moments, several bad… and year after football year that end with no meaning… no playoffs… and no real excitement for what lies ahead.

Well this Christmas, I’m hoping for the best. Either we win all four remaining games and make the playoffs, or Ralph calls it quits, and Jim Kelly (and his team), Mike Holmgren, and Marty Schottenheimer come in for the trifecta and take the team to Super Bowl 44 or 45, just in time for the Bills 50th anniversary season.

That would be a Christmas present Bills fans would not soon forget!

Merry Christmas, everyone! And to all, a BILLS WIN!

Offseason Players

Peters Is Back: Is That a Good Thing?

Jason Peters is back, and I still can’t figure out how I feel about that.

It’s not that anyone is asking me. I’m pretty sure that Russ Brandon isn’t wondering what my opinion is on the subject. I haven’t gotten any phone calls or emails from Dick Jauron asking for my advice on what to do with Jason Peters now that he’s back. Ralph Wilson has not set up any meetings with me to discuss how they should proceed.

And boy am I glad!

Honestly, what do you do with this? Is the NFL so much a “business” that you just don’t worry about the disrespect that Peters showed the Bills organization and his teammates by not reporting for work when he was supposed to… for many months? Would you be able to do that where you work? Would your boss just work you right back into the rotation? How about if you were being paid a salary $3.25 million dollars to do that job?


I know the NFL is not “real life” but how is this a good thing? Peters may have all the talent in the world, but how can his little negotiating tactic – the “silent treatment” – go unpunished. Sure he’s paying lots of fines, but that would happen to anyone, even a player who is actively trying to negotiate with the organization. Peters was not, and there should at least be some added consequence for that.

First things first. Peters must pass a physical. He was given one today when he reported, but the results are as of yet unknown. Assuming he has kept in shape (expecting that he would play this season) will he be added to the active roster? The Bills could surely use help at the tackle position, but is it a good idea to just throw Peters right back into the mix.

If the ultimate goal is winning (and if he passed the physical) the answer is, “Yes.” Plain and simple, he’s a great lineman, and will help this team win. But if the team morale is involved in the equation – or even just “the right thing to do” – then perhaps the Bills coaches have a tougher decision than we think. I may be thinking way too much about this, but if I was in the situation the Bills front office was in, I would trade this player, or just cut him. (Assuming of course that we have all the same details they do. Perhaps he wasn’t as silent as we have all been told. Or perhaps he was.)

We know that he will not play Sunday. The Bills will rely on their current back-up tackles, Langston Walker and Kirk Chambers. Walker has been injured, but should be ready to go for Sunday. And he has a good test in Patrick Kearney, a solid DE.

It will be interesting to see what the front office and coaching staff decide to do with this situation. I really don’t have a good answer. But whatever they do, they need to do it quickly, and keep moving forward. This team has a great nucleus of talent and a decent shot at advancing to the playoffs this season. Would be a shame to see Jason Peters’ offseason antics ruin that.

News Offseason Players

Peters to End Holdout?

According to Adam Schefter of the NFL Network Jason Peters is set to end his hold out. Chris Brown passed along this news on his blog, and I’m sure updates will be posted there.

What do you think? How do the Bills move forward with Peters? What gives? Can you really not talk to anyone on your team for most of a year (and not show up for any scheduled work during that time) and just move ahead like nothing happened?

The report is he may play as early as next Sunday (Sep 14, Jags) but he can’t be in great football shape, and there have to be some rifts that his holdout created. It shows lack of commitment to the team, and his teammates. Unacceptable. I believe he is only returning so he doesn’t pay $200K per missed game or whatever it was going to be. Obviously he is talented… we’ll see if that talent can smooth over this very poorly handled situation.

UPDATE: Peters will report to Bills Saturday morning.

Offseason Players Videos

Donte Whitner: Championship

Got this link as a response to the article posted directly below. Donte Whitner was one of the players I have heard saying, “We just want to make the playoffs,” so this was good to see. I do know he made the guarantee on ESPN that we’d make the playoffs, but again, is that enough? Apparently Donte wants more.

Really like this kid. Think he’s gonna be great for the Bills for years to come. Seems Levy wasn’t crazy when he made him the 8th overall pick in his first year as the Bills GM… 🙂

News Offseason Players

Regarding Marshawn: Let’s Move On

Well, it’s finally over. The Buffalo News is reporting that Marshawn Lynch pled guilty to a minor traffic violation today (read his complete statement here) and now – hopefully – we can get back to Bills football.

From Lynch’s statement, he was unaware that anything actually happened. I’m not sure if this is all lawyer finagling or what (and I still don’t know why this took so long!) but I am really ready to just move on. This is certainly a warning to Lynch and all the other Bills to not do stupid stuff, and maybe just not be out and about at 3:30 in the morning! But, finally, thankfully… it’s over.

Will the team apply any further discipline? Will the league? For a minor traffic violation? I think not. Will Lynch be sued by the victim of the minor traffic violation? Perhaps. (Has he already been? Not sure…) But hopefully this is the end of this off-season saga.

Now, the final business of the off-season is offering Jason Peters a deal that will get him in camp, and offering Lee Evans a contract extension that will keep him in Buffalo beyond this year. Both of those things (in my opinion) must happen.

We are less than a month away from players reporting for training camp! We are only 43 days or so away from the Bills first pre-season game. Only 72 from the first regular season game. The season is fast approaching!

Thanks to today’s plea, hopefully the turmoil is also fast leaving.