The Buffalo Bills were off to a hot start last season, but they quickly cooled off thanks to a seven game losing streak. How will the Bills approach this year's season, and can they make it into the post season?
Bills Go Back To School
By: Craig Tattan
The Buffalo Bills commence training camp on July 25th
and you can bet one thing, the team is ecstatic to be in their facility at St.
John Fisher College. Here are the
comments from team CEO Russ Brandon,
"We are excited to be here. As a reminder, as
many of you know, we were able to come together on a long-term extension with
St. John Fisher a year ago. The reason we picked this location (new grass
field) to have you all out today is because this is one of the elements of our
arrangement with Fisher. With having the new grass field—which is outstanding.
to thank St. John Fisher, most notably President Bain for all of his efforts
and all that Fisher has done for us. We have the finest summer home in the
National Football League. It is because of the efforts of Dr. Bain, the senior
staff and all of the faculty here at St. John Fisher. It is just a tremendous
place to get ready for the season. We are excited to be back. It is sort of
amazing that it is here. But we are excited to be here."
"We have the finest summer home in the
National Football League. It is just a tremendous place to get ready for the
season. We are excited to be back.”
Pass and Catch
By: Craig Tattan
camp looms, there are several unanswered questions as the Bills look to
compete in a division dominated by the Patriots. The Bills will switch to a 4-3 defense after having little success
stopping the run in the 3-4. New
defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt has a few new toys to work with in Mario
Williams and Mark Anderson. The question
is will their pass rush improve and will they be able to stop the run? If these two huge free agent splashes don't
spell success, then the Bills are doomed.
Bills committed another share of their financial resources to wide receiver and
number one target Stevie Johnson by signing him to a new contract and keeping
him in a Buffalo uniform. But who will
the number two guy be? According to
incumbent starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, it does not really matter.
not like we've got two receivers on the field a lot. Usually we've got three or
four receivers on the field. You want
to always be able to name a No. 2 guy, but really it's going to be by committee
for us - only because we're rarely in the two wide receiver sets."
That may be, but the
big question is, who else besides Johnson is a viable go-to guy? The Bills are hoping, and secretly so is
Fitzpatrick, that someone emerges in training camp.
Buffalo Stampede in New York
By: Craig Tattan
The Bills look to be a vastly improved team, particularly on the
defensive side of the ball. They have
added the biggest free agent prize (aside from Peyton Manning) in Mario
Williams and plundered an AFC East rival, the New England Patriots, roster of
their top sacking defensive lineman in Mark Anderson.
Buffalo will take to the highway and play their intrastate rivals the New
York Jets on opening day. I believe the
Bills will be a surprise contender this season, and there is no better place to
start building a successful season than on opening day. Look for the Bills to run on the Jets and
perhaps take an early lead that will not give up.
Play the Bills +4.
Bills Might Need To Sublet
By: Craig Tattan
The Buffalo Bills need to craft a lease extension with the board members
of Erie County if they want to remain in Buffalo. The current lease expires in July of 2013 and
the tipping point in negotiations is just how much of the financial burden will
each party shoulder for the extensive renovations needed at the 40-year-old
The Bills have already spent half a million on an architectural firm designed
to specify the length and breadth of the renovations as well as revenue
enhancing features which will make the experience of attending a Bills’ game
that much more enjoyable for their patrons.
The project is slated to cost approximately $200-$220 million dollars
which will involve funding not only from the county but also the state of New
York. The rehab is projected to take
three years to complete with the Bills ponying up as much as $37 million with
the league matching that figure.
Erie County official
Mark Poloncarz offered, "(The Bills) want more
(money) than I think they know they're going to get. But but (repeated word) we're not going to
give away the store to keep the team here. We're going to ensure that this team
is economically viable and is kept here for many years. But it's my goal that
the Bills contribute to part of the construction costs associated with the
Bills Snag Mario
By: Craig Tattan
Marcellus Darius was the Bills' sack leader with 5.5 last season, which is exactly why
Bills' management went out of their way to bring sack masters Mario Williams and
Mark Anderson into the fold during the offseason. Williams was one of the most coveted free
agents after the 2011 season concluded, and the Bills outbid everyone for his
services. Additionally, they plucked Mark
Anderson from AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots, to help Williams
wreak havoc on opposing backfields. Anderson was a pleasant surprise for the Pats, recording 10 sacks, which made him an attractive free agent signing as well.
and Anderson were teammates in Houston for one season, so they have a bit of
camaraderie as well as some friendly competition brewing between them. Mario Williams obviously wants everyone to know he's the alpha male on
this defensive line as evidenced by this bone he tossed to the press, "Well,
when you're only 210 pounds, you can't really do it like guys like me do,"
the 6'6", 290-pound Williams joked about Anderson's pass rushing moves.
"Thumbs up to Mark. It's tough for him. He's a little dude. It works. It
definitely worked from last year."
The 6'4" 255 pound Anderson
mulled Williams statement and responded,
"We will see when it is all said and done. It is going to be a fun competition, and we are both competitive guys.
We are just going to feed off of each other and the best man will win."
are quite certain the Bills coaching staff doesn't care who hits the
quarterback as long as the pass rush is vastly improved over last season. The benchmark for creating chaos in the
trenches and decimating quarterbacks is undeniably Bills Hall of Famer Bruce
Smith, who amassed 171 sacks in his career with Buffalo making him the all-time
leader in franchise history as well as the NFL's sack leader in which he
totaled 200 after spending the last three years of his illustrious career with
the Redskins. The eight-time first
team All-Pro had an incredible 19 sacks during the 1990 campaign, but I am
certain the Bills would be more than pleased if Williams and Anderson could
each get half that number this season.
Johnson Healthy In 2013
By: Craig Tattan
Steve Johnson is happy to be healthy again after a
season which saw the Bill's top target slowed by a groin injury that plagued
him throughout last season. What surprised many is the timing of his surgery. He
did not get it attended to until April, well past the end of the season and
uncomfortably close to the beginning of this one. Groins don't magically heal
overnight and one of the best remedies is rest.
Johnson participated in the Bills minicamp and
stated that he waited to get the surgery because he felt it would heal
naturally, without the need for a surgeon's scalpel. Despite the lingering
groin injury, Johnson did not miss any games in 2011 and caught 76 passes for
over a thousand yards and found the endzone seven times. Not bad for a guy who
said he felt a stinging pain after each sharp cut when running routes last
Johnson addressed the media after a workout last
week and stated, "Cutting in and coming to the right, it
felt like it was heavy. It is just a mental thing. I did not feel any sharp
pain like I did all last year. I feel like I am good so tomorrow, hopefully, I
will be able to go out there and just focus on plays, who is lined up across
from me, the defense and all that other stuff. Today was more of, if I cut
right here will it pop, or what is going to happen next? If I get a few more plays
I will be good."
Stopping The Patriots
By: Craig Tattan
are committed to finding a way, any way, to slow down the juggernaut of
prolific offenses in the NFL, particularly one which resides in the AFC East,
the New England Patriots. To that end they decided upon the best defensive back
in the draft when they tapped Stephen Gilmore of South Carolina with their 1st
round pick (10th overall) to bolster a secondary that was mediocre
mediocrity was partially due to injuries suffered by a key man over the last
few seasons. Terrence McGee was a formidable force when healthy but staying on
the field has been a struggle. He is tied for the franchise record with seven
special teams/defensive touchdowns as he has returned five kickoffs for touchdowns
as well as a fumble and an interception. Yet, he has only played 15 games over
the past two years and is now dealing with a ligament tear he sustained last
taken an all or nothing approach this season. He has given back $5.1 million in
guaranteed money to restructure his contract. McGee believes it was the right
thing to do noting, “These past three years I’ve been hurt, but still getting
all my money.”
Finding His Stride Early
By: Craig Tattan
coach David Lee was pleased with what he saw out of last season’s starter Ryan
Fitzpatrick during the most recent OTA’s (Organized Team Activities).
“I didn’t anticipate him hitting the
back shoulder (throw) until the middle of camp and he just nailed that one,”
said Lee following last week’s practice. “He hit the go route, which bothered
him last year especially to his left. I’m really pleased with how quickly he’s
taken to it, but it’s not muscle memory yet because we haven’t done it long
enough. He’s improving, but he’s not yet where he’s going to be.”
Tyler Thigpen is sitting out due to a small abdominal tear (sounds painful) and
his status is in doubt as to when he will return to the field. Team officials
don’t believe it will be a lengthy absence but abdominal strains and
particularly tears can be lingering issues that are difficult to shake without
a total and extended shutdown.
tackle and former LSU product Kyle Williams is back to live action after
suffering an Achilles injury last season that shelved him after Week 9 loss to
the Jets. Williams is progressing nicely and felt comfortable after Thursday
and Friday’s OTA’s.
Buffalo Bills Gear up for 2012
By: Craig Tattan
the Buffalo Bills started off like world beaters and were 3-0 after disposing
of the New England Patriots and snapping a 15 game skid against their AFC East
nemesis. It was a huge come from behind
victory for a team that had toiled in futility and they did it by picking off
Tom Brady four times en route to a 34-31 stunner in front of a frenzied Bills
After Week 8
in the NFL season, they sat atop of their division tied with the Patriots and
delivered a reason to believe for the Buffalo faithful. However, their prosperity would not continue
as they dropped their next seven games to effectively dismiss any and all hopes
for a postseason run. The defense could
not get any pressure on the opposing quarterbacks as they ranked a dismal 29th
in sacks but interestingly enough, they ranked 6th in the league in
had 30 million dollars in cap space to spend and they got busy quickly
addressing their ineffective pass rush. Though they have been reluctant in the past to delve into the free
agency market, this year was different and 2012 could be the year that a sea change
in the AFC East landscape is in the offing.
Off season acquisitions
Bills' management didn’t waste any time and got their man in pass rushing menace Mario
Williams as a free agent via the Houston Texans. The Buffalo brass was not deterred by
Williams’ recent spate of injuries and eagerly added the former number one
overall pick and NC State product to their roster in the form of a 6 year
contract with $50 million in guaranteed money.
then sought additional defensive line help by turning within their division and
luring former Patriot Mark Anderson with a four year deal worth reportedly over
27 million. Anderson had a rebound year
with the Patriots, recording 10 sacks and landing a healthy contract because of
it. It’s a big step for the Bills to
take as Anderson played less than half of the defensive snaps for the
Pats. However, he is a multi-faceted
player who can play the end or outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.
important but by no means as popular with the water cooler crowd in Buffalo
were the re-signings of wide receiver Steve Johnson, tight end Scott Chandler,
linebacker Kirk Morrison and aging kicker Rian Lindell. Second tier receivers Ruvell Martin and Derek
Hagan were also re-signed by the team.
Gilmore was universally lauded as the premier secondary man in the 2012
draft. He is projected to be an impact
player which should bolster the already ball hawking secondary of the
Bills. Buffalo does not have the luxury
of selecting a player who will eventually bear fruit, they need an immediate
starter and in Stephon Gilmore they may have very well found that guy.
In the 2nd
round of the NFL Draft the Bills chose an avalanche of a man in offensive tackle Cordy Glenn by
way of the University of Georgia. Glenn
affords Buffalo the luxury of an offensive lineman who can play guard or tackle
and could immediately begin contributing.
third round pick was a bit curious as wide receiver T.J. Graham was plucked in
the 3rd round yet many analysts had forecasted him as a 7th
round selection. The Bills actually
traded up a few spots to get him and sacrificed a 7th rounder in
trade. Graham is a speed merchant who
will complement their receiving corps but his electrifying speed and agility
may manifest more on the special teams squad.
Rounding out the draft were linebackers Nigel
Bradham (4th round of FSU) and Tank Carder (5th round of
TCU), offensive linemen Zebrie Sanders (5th round of FSU) and Mark
Asper (6th round of Oregon), cornerback Ron Brooks (4th
round of LSU) and finally kicker John Potter (7th round of Western
NFL odds makers are listing the Buffalo Bills at 50/1 to sin this year's Super Bowl.