Bills will be looking for a franchise QB in 2013 draft

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

When the Buffalo Bills signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a seven-year, $62.195 million contract right around this time last year, it seemed that they were making a commitment to Fitzpatrick as their franchise quarterback.

Things haven’t worked out that way. Fitzpatrick’s hot start to the 2011 season has given way to almost an entire season of mediocre play and the team has underperformed expectations over that span. General Manager Buddy Nix isn’t admitting that the extension for Fitzpatrick was a mistake, but he is talking about the team’s need to find a franchise quarterback in the near future.

“Listen, we have said from day one, that we want to draft a good young quarterback” Nix said, via Howard Simon of WGR550.com. “I don’t want to leave here without a franchise guy for the future in place. I have not said that before but I’m saying it now because its fact.”  Read more…

Violating injury report will cost teams draft picks

Mario WilliamsWith thee teams being fined $20,000 each in recent weeks for failing to disclose injuries in compliance with league rules, the penalty for the first offense isn’t much more than, given the value of NFL franchises, a parking ticket.

If teams become repeat offenders, however, the price will go up.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT that, if the Bills (as to defensive end Mario Williams), Redskins (as to quarterback Robert Griffin III), or Ravens (as to safety Ed Reed) commit further violations, the fines will increase.  Aiello also didn’t rule out the possibility of draft picks being stripped.

Aiello called it “unlikely,” but “multiple offenses of a very serious nature” could result in a team losing draft picks.

In the end, only the threat of lost draft picks will prompt teams to completely comply with the rules.  Fines will be viewed simply as a cost of doing business the way the teams want to do business — especially when the January 2012 comments from former Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams make clear the fact that teams will target injured players for further injury. Read more…

Top NFL offensive lines in 2012

No team is going to win games in the National Football League if it cannot control the line of scrimmage. Running the ball is impossible if the running back has no holes to run through. Throwing the ball is impossible if the quarterback has no time to find an open receiver. Which teams have the best offensive lines in the NFL this season?

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have what can be considered the best offensive line in the NFL. The proof is in the statistics. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick been sacked only three times. One of the sacks he suffered was on a pass that slipped out of his hand. It was ruled a fumble and a sack. Running back C.J Spiller was averaging over 10 yards a carry through the second week of the season.

Green Bay Packers

How has Aaron Rodgers been so ridiculously successful over the past couple of seasons? It is because his offensive line has gelled into one of the best groups in the league. Yes, he was sacked eight times against the Seahawks on last Monday night’s thriller. That blip aside, the Packers offensive lineman have allowed Rodgers ample time in the pocket to pick apart opposing defenses.

Baltimore Ravens

When you have one of the best running backs in the league, you have to have a great offensive line. Ray Rice isn’t going to create holes on his own. If you don’t think that is true, just look at the issues plaguing Chris Johnson. Therefore, you have to give credit to the Ravens offensive line whenever you see a running back putting up great numbers on the season. Read more…

Top defensive lines in the NFL this season

Jason Pierre-Paul

Jason Pierre-PaulThe NFL has quickly morphed into a passing league. Quarterbacks are routinely throwing for more than 4,000 yards in a season. A handful of them even threw for 5,000 yards or more last season. This means that getting to the quarterback is essential. Due to the advent of the spread offense, a defense must rely mostly on the front four to get a pass rush. Which teams do this the best?

New York Giants: The Giants rely so much on their front four for a pass rush. Guys like Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have been dominating the league for years. Their efforts are the reason why they have won two championships in the last five seasons. They scare opposing quarterbacks and keep offensive coordinators up at night trying to game plan for them.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills signed defensive end Mario Williams to a contract worth $100 million in March. They also acquired defensive end Mark Anderson as well. Combined with Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus, the Bills have one of the best front fours in all of football. They started to show some promise with five sacks against the Chiefs two weeks ago.

Denver Broncos: Lead by Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos have a solid front four that can limit your ability to run as well as get to the quarterback. You don’t want to be a quarterback dropping back to pass when that pass rush is coming at you. Throw in linebacker Von Miller and you have a nasty front seven to contend with. Read more…

NFL Week 3: The week’s best bets

Tony RomoThis should be the week that trends begin to take shape, separating the future contenders from the pretenders. Did you know that five teams remain undefeated while six are winless? And that one team has given just 17 points in their two games while another holds the league high at 79? We went a disappointing 3-2 last week bringing our season total to 7-3. Here’s this weeks picks:

*Home team in CAPS

COWBOYS over the Buccaneers- Notwithstanding Dallas’ loss to the Seahawks last week, (a lot of teams have a difficult time in Seattle with that crowd noise), we believe that the ‘Boys home opener will result in their second win of the season. The Bucs exposed their weak defense last week when they gave up over 600 yards to the N.Y. Giants. Tampa Bay simply does not have the firepower to keep up with Dallas who would like to dispose of the Bucs before welcoming the Bears next Monday Night.

BROWNS over the Bills- Cleveland is one of the best or at least the most unluckiest 0-2 teams in the league losing both their games by a total of eight points. If you remember thanks to some late heroics, the Eagles pulled out a one point victory over the Browns who showed they can play some D. Last week, QB Brandon Weeden and No. 1 pick RB Trent Richardson started to exhibit their talent and we got a taste of what they are capable of doing. Still not impressed with Buffalo although Cleveland will see plenty of C.J. Spiller this Sunday. If he can be contained the way LeSean McCoy was, than Cleveland should garner their first win of the season. Read more…

NFL Week 2 preview, picks

Randall Cobb

Source: Andy Lyons

Week 2 of the NFL Regular Season is upon us and tonight when the Chicago Bears visit the Green Bay Packers in one of the more interesting games of the week.  Here are my non-expert picks with some explanation. Disclaimer: I went 8-8 last week and it’ll probably go downhill from here, so take this with a grain a GIGANTIC SPOON of salt.

Chicago Bears (1-0) vs. Green Bay Packers (0-1) – Does a team have a more must-win game then the Packers do in week 2?  If Green Bay loses they are 0-2 at home on the season and down two games to the Chicago Bears in the NFC North and potentially two back in the race for home-field advantage against the San Francisco 49ers. If this happens then the Staples “Easy” button will be replaced with a “HIT THE PANIC BUTTON RIGHT NOW” by ESPN, NFL Network and the rest of the media.  That being said…Winner: Packers 30, Bears 23.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) vs. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – The battle of the mediocre defenses, both defenses came in hyped up to take huge steps forward and both gave up 40 burgers to the Falcons and Jets, respectively.  I picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West despite having Matt Cassel as their quarterback and if I hate anything it’s someone who jumps off the bandwagon after week one.  (Spoiler: I hate myself).  Winner: Chiefs 26, Bills 21.

Cleveland Browns (0-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) – This will be an epic battle — no, not between the Bengals and Browns – but between two longstanding rivals – Gingers and Old People.  Ginger Quarterback, Andy Dalton, is still trying to prove that Gingers can, in fact, play quarterback while Brandon Weeden tries to bounce back from the worst debut rookie performance by a quarterback ever  after taking his Metamucil and recording his marathon of “Murder She Wrote”. Winner: Bengals 21, Browns 9. Read more…

Vince Young: The story of a black QB in the NFL

Vince YoungVince Young, the man that was once called “In-Vince-able” after his legendary championship performance against USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl. That was six years ago and how the times have changed.

Vince Young these days has a hard time finding a job in the NFL. The 2006 rookie of the year, 2008 comeback player of the year, two-time pro bowl player, and player with elite potential.

It completely baffles me that Vince Young can’t find a job in the NFL, yet Tim Tebow has a job and ESPN has him ranked as the 30th QB in the league. It completely disgusts me that V.Y. can’t find a job. He is not that stat machine that an Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady is but he does the same thing that Tebow does, he wins!

His career record is 31-20. Which isn’t great, but still he is a winner. V.Y. showed he was good enough to be an NFL QB during his rookie year and saved Jeff Fisher’s job by leading the Titans to six straight wins with four of those being 4th quarter comebacks, and two of those comebacks the Titans were down 14+ points. They finished the season with an 8-8 record.

In 2007 he lead them to their first playoff appearance since 2003, they ended up losing to the San Diego Chargers in the wild card round.

In 2008 he was injured in the first game and while he was recovering the team went on to start 10-0 and ended up 13-3.

He sat on the bench and matured as player as he said in his own words.

The next year Kerry Collins continued as the starter, but the team started off 0-6 and was annihilated by the New England Patriots 59-0. After the bye week that year, it was time for V.Y. and boy did he ever deliver and saved Jeff Fisher’s job yet again. Starting off 0-6 and the team ended up 8-8 after V.Y. took over the starting spot.

In 2010 the Titans started off 5-5 and he was injured in a game and his injury required surgery. This ended up being the beginning of the end for VY in Tennessee. After the game it was noted that he threw his shoulder pads in the stands and had an altercation with Coach Jeff Fisher in the locker room. He was released after the season and ever since then his career has been a roller coaster ride that I’m sure he is tired of riding. Read more…

Ball downed on 4 yard line called a touchback?

In what was one of the more epic wrong calls of the pre-season so far, a replacement referee, for some reason known only to himself, said that a ball punted by Brian Moorman of the Buffalo Bills “…went into the endzone,” He then proceeded to call a touchback on the play. The ref blew his whistle and threw his beanbag which rendered the play dead while the ball was just inside the 5  yard line.

The chorus of boos reigned down on the field after the ridiculous call. Bills coach Chan Gailey threw a challenge flag and after under 60 seconds, Vic Reid, the replay official, reversed the call, ‘upon further review’, and called the ball down on the 4 yard line which was the correct call. Point is the ball never entered the endzone which clearly begs the question can the league function with replacement refs? This and other blown calls after just the first round of pre-season games gives us a renewed appreciation for the job that the refs do. Watch the video here…

Top defensive AFC rookie prospects for 2012

Drafting for defensive positions can be a lot more complicated of a process than drafting for offense. On offense, most of the players can be compared on the same scale. If a team identifies that it needs a wide receiver, then all they have to do is evaluate the wide receivers available, as virtually any player will be able to learn the playbook and contribute.

Defense, on the other hand, requires a lot more analysis. A great defensive end in college won’t necessarily fit with an NFL team in a 3-4 package, no matter how great he is. Moving players around in different defensive schemes changes the duties of the position, so it’s critical to evaluate players properly and make sure that they can fit the role they’re being drafted for. There were definitely some misses in this year’s NFL draft, but some teams managed to hit home runs as well. These are the top three defensive rookies coming into the AFC this year.

1. Stephon Gilmore, Bills CB

The Bills started out very strong last season only to finish weak, and part of the reason was their defensive unit. The output of offensive studs like Fred Jackson just couldn’t offset the holes in the defense. For that reason, the Bills looked to improve their defense through the draft. They appear to have found their man in Stephon Gilmore.

Drafted out of USC with the 10th pick, Gilmore is considered NFL-ready in all aspects of the game. He’s flexible enough to play in man-to-man coverage or zone defense, and he can play up on the line against his man or sag off for deep coverage. He still has some developing to do, but all the signs are there that he can turn into an elite cornerback. That’s something the Bills need, and the team is optimistic that Gilmore can fill that need. Read more here…

Shawne Merriman, the best all-around player I’ve ever been

Shawne Merriman

On Saturday, Shawne Merriman of the Buffalo Bills suggested that he’s now the “best all-around player that he has ever been.”

“I’m a much smarter player and much more technical now,” Merriman told the Bills’ website. “I know a lot more about the game. When you don’t have those physical tools the last three years and being able to blow by a guy or great pass-rush ability, you start to learn more about the game and you get a little bit more technically sound.
“And that’s what happened. Now my body is ready to take that on again with the knowledge I’ve picked up over the last few years. It’s going to be good.”
Bills coach Chan Gailey recently expressed optimism that defensive end Shawne Merriman would rejuvenate his career in 2012. Merriman, 28, reportedly had a strong offseason and seemingly regained some of the explosiveness he’s lacked since 2007 — Merriman’s last season as an effective NFL player.

Any logical observer should be extremely skeptical about Merriman after essentially a five-year layoff, but he’ll be an interesting player to watch this preseason. If Merriman has regained his off-the-ball burst, the Bills could field a dynamic pass-rushing trio along with Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.

Vince Young could be cut if he doesn’t learn offense faster

Vince YoungEven while saying he’s satisfied with how quarterback Vince Young has looked so far, Bills coach Chan Gailey admitted Young is having trouble picking up his offense.

Gailey has gradually added to his offense over the last two seasons, putting more in as starter Ryan Fitzpatrick has been able to adjust.

“He has done a very good job, considering the circumstances,” Gailey said of Young, via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “He had to come in and try to learn all of that stuff. It is very difficult.

“It would not have been as hard two years ago, but we are in so much more of an advanced stage now than we were two years ago. He is trying to learn what the base concepts are and how we have advanced to where we are today without the benefit of going through the baby steps.”

Read more here…

NFL Draft 1st round recap: 5.0

Mario WilliamsIn our fifth 2012 NFL 1st round draft recap, we take a quick analyses of the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Dallas Cowboys draft choices. Some of these picks were expected, some were unexpected, but with that, here is a quick analyses of picks 10 through 6.

10. Buffalo Bills-CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

With the selection of Gilmore, and the addition of Williams (90) via free agency, the Bills improved two levels of their defense in one off season

With the 10th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills decided to pass on Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox amongst other players to select Gamecocks’ cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

With the Gamecocks’ last season, Gilmore recorded 46 total tackles and 4 interceptions for the Capital One Bowl Champions, helping South Carolina record a school record 11 wins in 2011. Gilmore is not the biggest (188 pounds) cornerback, but Gilmore possesses nice height (6’1) to match up against AFC East wide receivers. Read more here…

Bills ink Stephon Gilmore

Stephon GilmoreIn another sign that we’re living in a different NFL, a second top 10 draft pick from April has agreed to a contract more than a week before Memorial Day. The Bills announced Thursday that they have signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 10th overall pick in the first round. Like all the other first rounders, Gilmore’s deal is for four years with a team option for a fifth year. According to Albert Breer of NFL.com, the total value of the four years is about $12.1 million and the option would cost the Bills whatever the transition tag for cornerbacks is in 2015. Linebacker Luke Kuechly was the first top 10 pick to agree to a contract. Read more here…

Bills sign Dorin Dickerson

Dorin Dickerson Pic

Former Texans receiver/tight end Dorin Dickerson attended Bills rookie camp on a tryout basis over the weekend. Evidently, the athletic Dickerson performed well enough to earn another look in Buffalo. The Bills announced Monday that they have signed Dickerson. The club reportedly envisions Dickerson as an “off the line tight end/H-back prospect,” and is listing him as a fullback for the time being. Read more here…