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.
August 25, 2010 - 1:56 PM
Sports Inc. has released its annual ranking of the Top 200 players in the NFL. As Buffalo fans might have feared, the evaluations were not kind to the Bills. If you put much stock in the rankings -- and this is the judgment of a respected scouting operation -- it seems the Bills might have the least talented roster in the NFL.
There was only one Bill on the list. Receiver Lee Evans finished in a tie for 133rd. No other team had only one player selected among the elite 200. Detroit and St. Louis had two players apiece. Seattle was the only other team without a player in the top 120, though the Seahawks had five players overall.
The Cowboys, Ravens and Steelers led the way with 11 players each among the top 200. The Colts had 10 players, the Patriots and Vikings nine each. The Jets, Panthers, Saints and Bengals had eight apiece.
More bad news for Bills fans: The Bills play half of their games against the 10 teams with the most players on the list. They play the Pats and Jets twice apiece, along with the Ravens, Steelers, Bengals and Vikings. The AFC North had 34 players on the list, the most of any division. That's the Bills' intraconference matchup this season. They play all the teams in the AFC North.
Indy quarterback Peyton Manning was named the league's top player by the scouts. Houston wideout Andre Johnson was ranked second. Eight players were tied for third spot: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis; Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware; Saints quarterback Drew Brees; Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald; Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas; Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha; Niners linebacker Patrick Willis; and Pats quarterback Tom Brady.
No running back was in the top 10. Adrian Peterson of the Vikings and Chris Johnson of the Titans were ranked in a tie for 11th. Of course, Buffalo rookie C.J. Spiller wasn't on the list, because it's too early to rank players who haven't appeared in a regular-season game.
A few former Bills were on the list. Jabari Greer, who left Buffalo as a free agent after the 2008 season, was a surprising 51st. Greer, who had a solid year for the Super Bowl champion Saints last season, was among the top five rated cornerbacks in the sport. That seems a tad high, but it also makes you wonder if the Bills would have been better off to re-sign Greer rather than draft Leodis McKelvin in '08.
Philly left tackle Jason Peters, another player the Bills didn't see fit to re-sign, was tied with Evans at 133rd overall. Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, still productive after 12 seasons in the NFL, was ranked as the 122nd-best player in the game.
Shane Lechler, the Raiders' Pro Bowl punter, was the only special teams player on the Top 200.
It's all subjective, of course, but the Scouts Inc. rankings reflect the dubious drafting the Bills have done over the past decade. Time will tell if some of their recent draft picks (Eric Wood, Jairus Byrd, Spiller) play well enough to work their way onto the list. Which Bill do you think belonged on the list? Brian Moorman, perhaps?
August 24, 2010 - 12:26 PM
The Bengals come to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the third preseason game on Saturday night. It might be a good chance for the Bills to generate some pass rush, because Cincinnati could be without its starting left tackle, Andrew Whitworth. Whitworth, who started every game at left tackle for the Bengals a year ago, missed two workouts this week and had his thumb taped Sunday.
If Whitworth can't go, the Bengals will be judicious about whom they line up on Carson Palmer's blind side. They certainly don't want to risk an injury in preseason. As Geoff Hobson explains in his piece on Bengals.com, they might be reluctant to shift right tackle Dennis Roland to the right side. Andre Smith, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, is just getting back on the field after injury and conditioning issues and is barely a factor at tackle right now.
Check out the Bengals web site. It's one of the best in the NFL, thanks to Hobson, one of the hardest-working and most dutiful writers in the business. This year, he has both Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco to deal with. I'm just hoping my old pal Hob' makes it to the end of the season with his sanity intact.
Darcy Regier is management's mouthpiece on personnel matters, so the Sabres' veteran general manager was compelled to spout the company line and deny the obvious after the puzzling decision to waive Tim Kennedy. But I was surprised that his nose didn't grow when he uttered these words at Tuesday's press conference:
"There is no room for being vindictive," Regier said.
On the contrary, buying out Kennedy was a vintage vindictive act by management. How else could you explain the Sabres cutting ties with a young prospect who had just won a $1 million contract in arbitration? You needn' be a cynic to suspect that management resented Kennedy going to arbitration and wanted to show the world they weren't going to let him get away with it.
This was about $200,000 in salary, a fairly insignificant sum. What if the arbitrator had awarded Kennedy, say, $875,000? Are we supposed to believe the Sabres would have still cut him? I have to think they would have kept him at a lesser number. The Sabres pride themselves on player development and showing patience with their prospects. This seems like an awfully flimsy way to determine the roster. It's hard to imagine this move playing well in the dressing room.
Regier isn't a vindictive sort by nature. But he works for two of the more vindictive men in the game: Sabres owner Tom Golisano and his managing partner, Larry Quinn. People who have negotiated with Golisano and Quinn behind the scenes can tell you how spiteful those two can be when people have the audacity to challenge them. There's a vindictive quality to many of Golisano's political machinations.
People say the Kennedy move makes no sense. It makes perfect sense when you consider the vindictive nature of the people at the top of the operation. There's one word for it: