November 17, 2010 - 3:59 PM
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick spent two seasons (2007-08) backing up Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. The two became fast friends. Fitz will start against Palmer for the first time on Sunday when the Bengals host the Bills. He said they communicate with one another on a regular basis.
"Yeah," Fitz said. "Just joking, texts back and forth and that kind of stuff. Yeah, we talk about the season and how it's been going, what we're going to go to eat."
Fitz was asked if he and Palmer joked about their passing statistics. "No," Fitzpatrick said. "Are they funny to you? Uh, I don't know. I don't know why I would joke about them."
Well, Fitz might want to needle his mentor about their respective spots in the NFL passing stats. Fitz has taken a tumble the last few weeks. He's dropped to 11th in the NFL in quarterback rating at 85.5. That's one spot in front of Palmer -- a former No. 1 overall draft pick -- in the ratings.
Oh, and Fitz is second in the NFL in third-down passer rating at 110.0, just behind Drew Brees of the Saints. Palmer is 26th at 59.8. He has completed just 50 percent of his third-down throws.
So it'll be a big game for both this Sunday. Fitz admitted it won't be just another game. Palmer, meanwhile, has been struggling for a team that has lost six straight games. If he loses to his former caddy at home, Bengals fans might begin to wonder if they should be the ones looking to take a quarterback high in the draft.
November 3, 2010 - 5:47 PM
Bills coach Chan Gailey was asked his impressions of Shawne Merriman early Wednesday afternoon, before the news broke that the team had claimed Merriman on waivers. He said he hadn't seen Merriman in awhile. Gailey also said he had no recollection of coaching against the former Maryland star when he was coaching Georgia Tech, a rival in the ACC.
"I think he was gone by the time I got there," Gailey said.
Both claims seem a bit curious. For one thing, it's hard to imagine the Bills making a claim on Merriman without the head coach being involved in the process. It's well-established that Gailey and Buddy Nix are attached at the hip on all team matters.
As for the latter notion, Gailey was the head coach at Georgia Tech from 2002 through 2007. Merriman played at Maryland from 2002 through 2004. So their time in the ACC overlapped for three seasons.
Bills fans can only hope that Merriman makes a better impression on Gailey this time around.
October 18, 2010 - 4:24 PM
The Bills had a bye on Sunday, but they moved a tiny bit closer to getting the first overall pick in next April's draft when San Francisco won the Battle of the Bay against the Raiders. That leaves the Bills and Panthers as the only winless teams in the NFL.
It's a long road, but I think the Bills are in the driver's seat. For one thing, they're the worst team in the NFL. They have the worst talent in the sport, which will happen when you consistently blow first-round draft picks and don't bring in any quality free agents. If the injuries continue to mount, and their opponents have something to play for late in the year, the Bills could win this going away.
Carolina is 0-5, but the Panthers are better than their record. They're weak at quarterback, but they're second in the league in pass defense and sixth overall on D. They also have a fairly easy schedule. The Panthers host the 1-5 Niners on Sunday. They also have games remaining against St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Arizona and Seattle. I see them with three wins at least.
San Francisco is a decent 1-5 team. They were picked to win the NFC West and their owner says they're still going to win the division. With Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis in the division, I wouldn't rule it out. No team with Patrick Willis is going to go 1-15. I figure them for at least four wins.
Detroit is not a bad team. In fact, the 1-5 Lions have outscored their opponents this season, 146-140. I wouldn't be surprised to see them favored when they come to Buffalo on Nov. 14. Even if the Bills win that game, I see the Lions finishing with a better record.
Dallas is 1-4. They're the top-rated defense in the NFL. I wouldn't include them, but it gives me a chance to get a dig in against Wade Phillips, who is lucky to still be employed as an NFL head coach. Some Bills fans think of him as the last good Buffalo coach, but he had exceptional talent and didn't wina playoff game. Wade is a poor detail man, as Colin Cowherd said on his radio show today. Phillips will probably coach the Cowboys up to an 8-8 record.
Cleveland. The Browns (1-5) are probably the biggest threat to the No. 1 pick. They play in a tough division. They have games left with New England, New Orleans, the Jets, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. If they lose to the Bills here on Dec. 12, they could get the first pick in the draft. But they host Carolina on Nov. 28 and could be two games up on the Bills by then.
What do you think? Who has the best shot at No. 1 overall?
October 6, 2010 - 1:42 PM
Once again, the Patriots and Bill Belichick proved that when it's time to part ways with a player, they don't fool around. According to various reports, the Pats have traded veteran receiver Randy Moss to the Vikings for a third-round draft pick in the 2011 draft.
The Pats now have eight picks in the first four rounds of next April's draft -- two in each of the first four rounds. With Belichick continuing to replenish his roster, might it be another five years or more before the Bills can compete with the Pats in the division?
Moss, whose 151 career TD catches is second all-time to Jerry Rice, had been at odds with Pats management for some time. According to a report on ESPNBoston.com, Moss had a heated exchange with his quarterbacks coach at halftime of New England's win over Miami on Monday. Moss didn't have a catch in that game and was targeted only once in the first half.
The Bills, meanwhile, waited more than six months to figure out that Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch had no future in Buffalo. They got a fourth-round pick for Lynch, which they almost surely could have gotten before last year's draft. Still, this might be a sign that anyone on the Bills is available for the right price.
How about Lee Evans? The Pats are still loaded offensively, but they will likely be looking for a deep threat to complement their underneath receiving game. Evans makes about $8 million a year, so it would be tough to move him, especially considering his poor production the last two seasons.
What do you think? Would you trade Evans if the Bills found a team desperate enough to take his contract off their hands?
September 22, 2010 - 5:20 PM
Chan Gailey has a pat answer whenever anyone asks about his running backs: "It depends on the package." When Gailey was asked if Marshawn Lynch would start again this week, the head coach said, "Depends on the package, Depends which we start with."
I asked Gailey about Trent Edwards' assertion after the Green Bay game that he wasn't aware who the starting running back would be until the game started. Is that customary, I asked. "It depends on the packages we go with," Gailey said. "It could have been someone different in each package."
Well, I have a suggestion for the head coach. Go with the Fred Jackson package. It's time to give one of the three running backs the bulk of the carries, and Jackson deserves to be the featured guy. Jackson has been especially productive against the Patriots. In two games against New England a year ago, Jackson had 30 carries for 137 yards (4.6 per carry) and nine catches for 112 yards. That's 252 yards from scrimmage. Jackson also rushed for 136 yards against the Pats in the final game of the '08 season, in snowy conditions where New England knew the Bills would run the ball.
Lynch has played against New England three times in his career. He has 145 total yards and has averaged a shade under 3.5 yards a carry.
Jackson is averaging 4.5 a carry this season. He's averaging 4.5 yards a carry for his career. I detect a pattern here.
September 15, 2010 - 11:05 AM
James Hardy, who was released before the opener by the Bills, worked out with the Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. There's been no other report about Hardy, a former second-round pick who joined Tom Modrak's list of draft busts. It would be a surprise if Seattle or any other NFL team added him to the active roster.
September 15, 2010 - 10:49 AM
Evidently, Chan Gailey isn't the only head coach in the AFC East who is having problems with his offense after one week. Rex Ryan, the voluble Jets' coach, is openly criticizing his offense after Monday's 10-9 loss to the Ravens on national TV. Ryan wants his team to throw more passes down the field and -- same as Gailey -- said it might be a good idea to simplify the attack.
The difference, of course, is that Gailey is his own offensive coordinator. Ryan's blast was a direct shot at his offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer, as you might recall, was a hot candidate for the Bills' vacant coaching job before the Bills settled on Gailey.
The Jets certainly looked bad on Monday. Mark Sanchez threw for only 74 years and seemed tentative against pressure. Sounds a lot like the situation with Trent Edwards in Buffalo. The Jets had 176 total yards and six first downs. The Bills had 166 yards and nine first downs against Miami.
Anyone care to bet the under when the Jets come to Ralph Wilson Stadium on Oct. 3?
September 11, 2010 - 12:10 PM
Bills safety George Wilson is a frequent voice of eloquence and reason in the Buffalo locker room. So it was no surprise to see "The Senator" provided some of the more passionate comments
on the Saints and Vikings players' show of union solidarity before Thursday's opener. Wilson called the gesture a show of respect and said he "felt chills" when he saw it.
It's good to see the NFL players showing solidarity as the continue their difficult negotiations with the league on a new collective bargaining agreement. The players put their physical well-being on the line and take a huge physical toll over their careers, most of which are relatively short. I hope this is more than an empty gesture and the players stick together for the good of all. They should be wary about going to an 18-game schedule, which will put even more stress on their bodies and shorten careers.
How disappointing to hear the Cowboys' Roy Williams decline comment on the issue, saying he doesn't get into "politics". This is an association that has represented NFL players for decades and helped get Williams and his fellow players the lucrative salaries and benefits they enjoy. Sure, any union battle is by nature political. But it's weak for Williams to act as if he's above the fray.
September 8, 2010 - 2:18 PM
C.J. Spiller is the nominal No. 1 running back on the Bills' current depth chart, but coach Chan Gailey suggested Wednesday that his star rookie won't be given the heavy workload of a typical featured back in this Sunday's opener against the Dolphins.
"We have to be very smart about how we handle him, especially early in the year," Gailey said on Media Day in the fieldhouse. "We have to make sure we don't throw too much on him very early in the season."
Gailey was quick to add that if the rest of his backs are healthy, giving too much responsibility to Spiller "should never be an issue."
Gailey said the Bills have three No. 1 running backs (Spiller, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch). ""We've got three starters. Some people have trouble finding one starter and we have three."
Fred Jackson, who won the starting job last year, is expected to play but isn't fully recovered from his broken hand. It sounds as if Gailey intends to spread the carries around and take advantage of Jackson's ability to run inside. Jackson has done well against Miami in his career. In five games against the Dolphins, Jackson has 49 carries for 271 yards -- a 5.5 average.
It will not be a surprise to see Spiller and Jackson (or Lynch) on the field at the same time. Spiller is a special player. He'll get his touches. But Jackson proved he could be an every-down NFL back last year, and I suspect Gailey will want to maximize his talents while developing Spiller.
September 4, 2010 - 7:43 PM
There were no major surprises among the Bills' 19 cuts today. I was mildly surprised that James Hardy got the pink slip. Hardy was a second-round pick just two years ago. He barely got on the field a year ago. But evidently, Chan Gailey saw all he needed to see in training camp and came to the same conclusion the coaches did late last year: Hardy simply isn't good enough. This qualifies as yet another black mark on the record of Tom Modrak, the chief college scout.
This move says Gailey and Buddy Nix had no emotional investment in Hardy just because the team used a high draft choice on him. He wasn't their mistake. It's a good sign that they're making moves based on merit and not a player's draft stature. They kept an undrafted rookie receiver, Donald Jones, who has more value on special teams. That's an indication that Bruce DeHaven, the veteran special teams coach, has influence with the top brass and needs help on his struggling units.
I didn't expect Joique Bell to be cut, though the Bills have three running backs ahead of him. He'll probably be on the practice squad and he's a promising asset for the future. I don't see Marshawn Lynch on this team long-term. It would have been a big surprise if they cut Lynch, but it's clear that the coaches feel Lynch can still help, especially if Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller get hurt.
Kirk Chambers was nominally the third offensive tackle, but he brings little to the table. It wouldn't be a shock if the Bills picked up an offensive lineman off the waiver wire. They're still very thin there.