Archive for January, 2011

Draft Watch Continued…

January 28, 2011

It seems like over the last few years several quarterbacks have come into the Senior Bowl game with a lot to prove. Last year it was Tim Tebow, in 2009 it was Pat White, 2008 was Joe Flacco’s opportunity and this year that pressure falls on the shoulders of Jake Locker. Locker was a lock as a top ten pick if he would’ve come out for the NFL Draft last season but decided to return to Washington for his senior season…what a mistake. Locker raised some serious question marks with his wildly erratic play this season including two absolutely miserable performances against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In the two meetings he went 9-36 for 101 yards two TDs throwing, two rushing and two picks…COMBINED! He’s shown flashes of brilliance throughout his college career and has the mobility, stature and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. The aforementioned QBs were all picked in the first or second round and Locker should fall into that range as well but there’s no doubt that he needs to demonstrate consistency, accuracy, and sound decision making this weekend to make him one of the top passers taken in April.

Joining Locker on Saturday will be a cast and crew of several talented playmakers on offense. Here’s a look and the skill position players to keep an eye on at Mobile on Saturday.

Quarterbacks:

Andy Dalton, TCU (6-2, 213 pounds): Dalton is perhaps the most intriguing quarterback prospect in the Senior Bowl, even more so than Locker. Dalton has the leadership capability and the winning attitude that teams pray for. Out of all the quarterbacks coming out in the draft this season he may not be the most gifted but he has all of the intangibles. Dalton has started for TCU since his freshman season. He had his best statistical season last year finishing with a 66.1 completion percentage, 27 touchdowns, while only throwing six picks and finishing with an astonishing 166.48 QB Rating. Although it wasn’t his greatest statistical performance of the year, Dalton’s most impressive game was the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. In a back and forth game Dalton kept his composure and looked great under pressure to lead the Horned Frogs to perhaps the biggest victory in school history. Like Locker, Dalton is very mobile but showed much better recognition, accuracy and decision making than the Huskies QB this year. He can do a lot for his draft status this weekend but I pray that he is available in the third or fourth round for the Bills to take a shot on.

Christian Ponder, Florida St (6-2, 222 pounds): You want to talk about disappointing senior seasons, look no further than Ponder. Going into the season Sporting News had Ponder pinned as their preseason sleeper for the Heisman Trophy. Very often great expectations are never realized and Ponder can be the poster child for that very fact. Reading this may be a little bit confusing considering the fact that Ponder through for 20 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions and led the Seminoles to a 10-4 record. If you delve deeper into his season however you’ll see that he looked mediocre at best against Oklahoma and NC State, two of the four good teams that Florida St. played this year. In the 11 games that Ponder participated in (he was injured for Clemson, VA Tech and most of the Chick-fil-A Bowl against SC) he managed to throw for over 200 yards in only three. Compare that to the seven games that Dalton and Locker each surpassed the 200 yard mark this season. Now stats aren’t everything and I realize that but in the games that I was able to watch him in this season (SC, Oklahoma, UNC, and Miami) Ponder looked average at best with the exception of the UNC game where he actually looked like he could realize his potential. Like Locker, Ponder has all of the physical tools to become a very good NFL player but also like Locker, he needs to demonstrate consistency. He has a lot to prove this offseason and it all starts on Saturday.

Wide Receivers

I know that wide receiver is not a top priority for the Bills this offseason with the development of Steve Johnson, David Nelson, Donald Jones and even Roscoe Parrish, but there are some intriguing names participating in the All-star game this weekend that I wouldn’t mind seeing Buffalo take a long look at.

Titus Young, Boise St (5-11, 174 pounds): I know that the Bills are already extremely undersized at receiver but Young is lightning in a bottle. Every time he’s on the field there’s no telling if he’s going run, catch or throw the ball. He went over 70 catches and 1000 receiving yards in both his junior and senior seasons (1215 in 2010), and finished 2010 with nine receiving touchdowns. His production is sometimes put into question because of the quality of competition he faced with the Broncos but Young shined in Boise’s games against their three ranked opponents this season. Against VA Tech, Young caught six balls for 80 yards; he also had six catches against Nevada for 129 yards and one touchdown; and in the bowl game against Utah he again tallied six catches for 64 yards. He has to have a good showing this offseason to prove he can play in the NFL but I look forward to watching him tomorrow.

Austin Pettis, Boise St (6-2, 205): There’s no concern with Pettis’s size but he doesn’t have the playmaking ability of Young. Don’t get me wrong Pettis is a solid receiver and playmaker in his own right but he doesn’t bring the electricity to the game that Young does. Keeping that in mind, Pettis is a solid possession receiver and can be a real threat in the red zone. Like Young, Pettis raked in over 70 catches this season and went over double digits in touchdown receptions with ten. Both Young and Pettis should be early to mid-round draft picks and it would be interesting to see what the Bills would do if either were around in the fourth or fifth round.

Like I said I didn’t want to go into great detail about the available wide receivers but the Bronco duo are fun to watch and could develop into show stoppers in the NFL.

Tight Ends:

Luke Stocker, Tennessee (6-4, 255 pounds): Stocker is probably the most complete all-around tight end at the Senior Bowl. He’s gained national recognition this week for his run-blocking ability and he has great hands as well. In his senior season he caught 39 passes for 417 yards and two touchdowns and finished the season with a strong performance against North Carolina tallying five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. If the Bills continue to only use the tight end in running and short passing situations, Stocker might be worth a look in the early to mid-rounds.

D.J. Williams, Arkansas (6-1, 236 rounds): With the exception of Kyle Rudolph, Williams is probably the top tight end prospect in the draft. The raining Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top TE, Williams finished the year with 54 catches for 627 yards and four touchdowns. Not only is he a great player but Williams’ story is remarkable. The victim of domestic abuse by his father throughout his childhood, Williams persevered to become the Mackey Award winner and was also bestowed the 2010 Disney Spirit Award, which is given to the nation’s most inspirational college football figure. Williams is a player that I haven’t seen a lot of this season but I’m going to keep an eye out for him on Saturday.

Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin (6-3, 240): A consensus first-team All American, Kendricks led the Badgers in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. It may not seem like a great accomplishment on a team that runs the ball on about 75% of the time, but Kendricks is a solid pass catching tight end. He finished the year with 43 receptions for 663 yards and five touchdowns.

I’m not going to waste my time talking about the Senior Bowl running backs because I honestly could not fathom a situation where the Bills would draft one before the seventh round. A couple of exciting guys to keep an eye on though: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State; and Noel Devine, West Virginia.

Check back tomorrow before the Senior Bowl for the last installment of Draft Watch focusing on the top offensive lineman in Mobile.

Draft Watch: The Senior Bowl

January 27, 2011

The best time of year for avid Bills fans of the past decade has finally begun…the offseason. For the next six months or so we get to enjoy the promise of hope and possibility. Beginning with the Senior Bowl this weekend and culminating with the NFL Draft in April, the next batch of NFL players will showcase their talents for the entire league and the Buffalo Bills coaching staff will have a front row seat. The Bills coaching staff will be leading the South squad on Saturday in Mobile and will have a plethora of talent at their fingertips. Over the next few days I will highlight some of the names to watch for on Saturday and keep in mind over the next few months.

Assessing the Bills’ needs going into the offseason it’s clear that priority number one is addressing their run defense and pass rush. Luckily, rush linebackers and defensive ends seem to actually be a strong point in this draft class. Here’s a list of linebackers and defensive linemen to keep an eye on at the Senior Bowl.

 Defensive Line:

DE Cameron Jordan, Cal (6-4 287 pounds): Jordan has already gained recognition for his dominating performances in practices this week and was featured in Chris Brown’s blog yesterday. He is considered to be a first round talent but does not have blazing speed. During his senior season he amassed 62 tackles (including 12.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovered for a TD. His wide frame and long arm span make him an ideal 34 defensive end. The lack of premier defensive end talent should allow Jordan to shine this week and if he’s available in the second round he may be worth a look at the 34th overall pick.

DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue (6-3, 255 pounds): Kerrigan is a pass-rushing machine. His 14 career fumbles forced is tied for a NCAA record, he finished tied for third in the FBS with 12.5 sacks, led the FBS with 26.5 tackles for loss, and was a unanimous All-American selection in 2010. He doesn’t have the ideal size for a 34 defensive end but should fair well as an outside linebacker. Kerrigan is a surefire first round pick and is highly touted but is probably not worthy of the third overall selection. If the Bills decide to move down the draft to the low teens to stockpile a couple more picks then he would be a great fit.

DT Terrell McClain, South Florida (6-3, 310 pounds): McClain gets his second shot in a week to showcase his talents for NFL scouts as he participated in the East West Shrine game this past Saturday. McClain was a late addition to the roster and will be taking the place of Oregon State defensive tackle and projected first round pick Stephen Paea. McClain was named first team All-Big East and finished the 2010 season with 24 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 3 sacks. Todd McShay tabbed McClain as one of his top performers in Saturday’s Shrine game and commented on his ability to shed blockers with his strong center of gravity and powerful “violent” hands. He most likely won’t be a first rounder but should garner some interest in the mid rounds.

DT Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson (6-3, 309 pounds): Keep an eye out for Jenkins this weekend. Unlike Jordan and Kerrigan he is not touted as a top round talent but his size and strength would be an ideal fit for a 34 defensive end. He had 53 tackles (9 for loss), one sack and two blocked kicks during his senior season at Clemson. Jenkins is another mid round talent that could provide some great depth to the Bills defensive line.

DT Phil Taylor, Baylor (6-3, 337 pounds): Taylor is an absolute beast and the prototypical nose tackle in a 34 defense. The Bills may have gotten it wrong with Terrell Troup in the second round last year, although it still may be too early to tell, but drafting Taylor would be a perfect way for them to redeem themselves. He has received praise throughout the Senior Bowl practices this week for his ability to be nearly unblockable in one-on-one situations. He finished his senior season at Baylor with 62 tackles and two sacks.

Linebackers:

OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M (6-2, 237 pounds): Let’s start at the top. Miller tallied 10.5 sacks in both his Junior and Senior seasons, was the receipient of the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, and is widely regarded as the top outside linebacker prospect in the 2011 draft,. His size may be a little bit alarming, considering it’s dangerously close to that of Aaron Maybin, but Miller has performed at an exceptionally high level his entire college career. Again Miller probably isn’t worth the third overall pick but is definitely a top ten talent. If the Bills do indeed decide to move down a bit in the first round and Miller is available he should be a no-brainer and a great fit to help improve their pathetic pass rush.

ILB Nate Irving, NC State (6-1, 242 pounds): It’s amazing that Irving is even participating in the Senior Bowl and not due to his lack of talent because he has plenty. No, the amazing thing is that Irving is still able to even play football. In June of 2009 he was in a car accident after he fell asleep at the wheel, suffering a broken leg, collapsed lung, cracked rib and separated shoulder. The accident cost him his 2009 season and almost his life. He rebounded to have an absolutely stellar senior season in 2010 however. He recorded 97 tackles, 20.5 for loss (including a NCAA record eight in one game) seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He didn’t record an interception in 2010 but led the Wolfpack with four in 2008 as well. Irving has flown under the radar somewhat but he is a dominate force as an inside linebacker and his penetrating style (just look at those tackles for loss and sacks) is almost unprecedented. I’m sure after this week’s game and his performance at the scouting combine at the end of February he won’t be flying so low under the radar.

ILB Kelvin Sheppard, LSU (6-2, 250 pounds): I don’t know if it’s his intensity or his actual athletic ability that I like more. Sheppard brings a fire and passion to the game that’s been absent from a Bills defensive huddle since Takeo Spikes departed for Philadelphia. Along with his leadership skills the production is there as well. Sheppard led one of the best defenses in the nation last year with 116 tackles while adding four sacks and two forced fumbles in 2010. His size makes him and ideal fit as a 34 inside linebacker and he may fall to the late second or early third round.

ILB Greg Jones, Michigan State (5-11, 240 pounds): Coming into the 2010 season Jones was widely regarded as one of the top linebackers in the nation. He was a semifinalist for the Butkus, Bednarik and Lombardi Awards and was a unanimous first team All-American selection. He led the Spartans with 106 tackles, 10 for loss and three forced fumbles. He is incredibly talented but his size makes him more suitable for a 43 or Tampa 2 defense. Although he may not be suited for the Bills 34 defense he is a special talent to keep your eyes on this weekend.

OLB Mark Herzlich, Boston College (6-3, 250 pounds): No doubt one of the best story lines of this week. After the 2008 season it looked as though Herzlich was headed for a top 10 pick and an extremely promising NFL career. He earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year Honors and was voted as a first-team All-American by Rivals.com and Scouts.com. Before the 2009 season his life changed forever when he was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. He missed the entire ’09 season but overcame the cancer to return for his senior season in 2010. Herzlich was not the same player in 2010 but still finished with pretty impressive numbers including 65 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. He could turn out to be a player like Mark Fields who also battled back from cancer to become a Pro Bowler. At the very least he is a high-character, inspirational player who should still be a mid-round pick and would be a great locker room presence.

Signing Wannstedt is reminiscent of LeBeau

January 21, 2011

Fox Sports is reporting via twitter that the Bills have agreed to terms with Dave Wannstedt to become the team’s Linebackers and Assistant Head Coach. In what is possibly the biggest coaching move since the Bills hired Dick LeBeau as a defensive assistant and Assistant Head Coach, Wannstedt brings a proven track record of defensive success. His coaching resume includes a four-year stint as the Cowboys Defensive Coordinator from 1989-1992 which included a Super Bowl victory against the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII; a seven year run as the Bears’ head coach from 1993-1998; and head coaching the Dolphins from 2000-2004.

Signing Wannstedt brings back memories of when Greg Williams brought LeBeau in to install his zone blitz defense in 2003. Although the 6-10 record was incredibly disappointing that season, the Bills defense improved from 27th in the NFL in points allowed and 15th in yards allowed to fifth and second respectively. With the right personnel, Wannstedt can have that sort of impact on this putrid defense. Although George Edwards’ title as Defensive Coordinator will remain, there’s no doubt that Wannstedt will become the brains behind the operation. With a healthy Shawne Merriman, and hopefully a few defensive editions via free agency and the draft, Wannstedt will most likely install an attacking defense that propelled his Dolphins defenses to the top of the league during his tenure in Miami.

Comparing Wannstedt’s preconceived impact on the Bills D to the impact that LeBeau had during his brief stint in Buffalo is somewhat unfair. The names on LeBeau’s defense included Fletcher, Spikes, Clements, Adams, Williams and Schobel. The names currently on Wannstedt’s squad include a smaller Williams, Kelsay, Posluszny, and McKelvin. Ralph Wilson’s willingness to first re-sign Merriman and now bring in a defensive guru should signal a change in the mentality of the penny pinching owner. Numbers aside, it was clear that the Bills run defense completely hampered their ability to be successful this season and all areas of the D need to be addressed in the offseason. If Wilson is willing to bring on Merriman’s contract for two more years and bring on a coach with a strong defensive background, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be dead-set on finding talent in what could be a wealth of defensive riches this offseason.

Wannstedt is far from the second-coming but his signing is a big step in the right direction. Taking into account that this point would be completely moot if there is no CBA, his influence should at least entice some free agents to consider the “rust belt” city and his input on defensive schemes should bring about more of an aggressive mentality. A dramatic statistical jump from 28th in the league in points allowed and 24th in yards is highly unlikely with the current “talent” on the roster but with a healthy Merriman and the right additions of the defensive side of the ball, a LeBeau-esque jump could be in the cards for the 2011 Bills.

College coaching conundrum

January 16, 2011

If you do a Google search on poor time management a picture of LSU head coach Les Miles is surely to appear. While Miles’ game management skills are questionable, he finally came through in the clutch and made a smart decision by declining the Michigan head coaching position.

Miles, who was a two-year letterman and assistant coach at Michigan, recently declined his Alma Mater and signed a new seven-year contract to stay with the Tigers. This is a rarity in college football, where coaching changes are as frequent as diaper changes at a daycare facility.  But my question is why do so many coaches switch positions when they are already in a good job?

Take the case of Miles, he has a 62-17 overall record with LSU, which includes a BCS title in 2007 and he coaches in arguably the best conference (SEC) in college football. So tell me why he would risk his secure position with the Tigers to try and rebuild the Michigan program. Sure he could have accepted the Michigan challenge for pride, but a few seasons of not producing and the same whispers Rich Rodriguez heard will start creeping up on him.

I’m not trying to say that no coach should ever take another position, but when you’re already coaching at the highest level of college football why change? In cases like Turner Gill and Butch Jones, they paid there dues in the MAC and were rightfully rewarded with jobs at BCS schools (Kansas and Cincinnati). These are examples of where it makes sense for a coach to leave his current school for a different job.

One recent switch that didn’t make much sense to me was Randy Edsall going to Maryland. Edsall, who was coming off his best season at Connecticut, takes over a Terrapins team that hasn’t been relevant since 2003. Sure Edsall moves to a better conference, but he faces a major rebuilding project if he hopes to compete against the likes of Virginia Tech and Florida State.

Maybe in some cases high profile coaching switches work out, but to me there is still a big risk. Why start from scratch when the foundation has already been laid?

Sabres need a shake-up

January 11, 2011

Anyone have a life preserver handy? That’s a question the Buffalo Sabres should get used to asking as they get ready to embark into the second half of the season tonight. At the midway point the Blue and Gold have a 18-18-5 record and currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings. One more extended losing streak and any chance they had to make the playoffs will most likely go out the window. Buffalo’s fall from atop the Northeast conference last season might surprise most people, but I must admit I’m not one of them.

There are several reasons Buffalo has struggled this season from their sluggish start, to Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers inconsistent play and to most recently the loss of Derek Roy. But for me the biggest reason this team has struggled is the lack of changes that took place in the offseason.

For a team that layed an egg in the first round of the playoffs last year and vowed change after the early exit not a whole lot is different down at HSBC Arena. Did Darcy Regier really think Rob Niedermayer was the missing piece to put this team over the top? It’s pretty frustrating when the Boston Bruins beat you in the playoffs and go out and add valuable pieces in the offseason to get even better (Nathan Horton).

Besides Jordan Leopold all of the new faces in the locker room have been invisible and it seems to be yet another year where most of the “core” players are failing to live up to expectations. I commend Regier for locking up several of Buffalo’s up-and-coming stars a few years back, but that’s where the problem lies. Besides Miller and Roy, the rest of the “core” look like they’ve taken a step backwards in the last few seasons. Paul Gaustad does nothing but win faceoffs, Jochen Hecht looks lost on the ice and the population of Pominville has been pretty low the last few seasons.

I guess what I’m getting at is it’s time for Regier and Lindy Ruff to change up the team. Lets be honest, with the Roy injury it’s going to be hard for Buffalo to make a playoff push in the second half of the season. So Regier it’s time to pick up the phone and start making calls.  The Sabres don’t need to clean house, but a contender might want the services of someone like Tim Connolly or Hecht to help in the playoffs. A couple of moves like that could a long way in reshaping the heart of the team.

The “core” of this team has been together since lockout and with new ownership on the way it might be the right time for the team to make significant changes in every aspect of the organization.

Famous Trades: The Dominator

January 9, 2011

This latest installment to our website will look at memorable trades in all four of the major sports.  We will take a look at who was involved in the trade and how each team was impacted.  We hope you enjoy!

Why not start the column off right with arguably the biggest trade in Buffalo sports history. On August 7, 1992 the Buffalo Sabres made a minor deal with the Chicago Blackhawks that would turn out to impact their franchise for the next decade.

The Sabres sent goalie Stephane Beauregard and future considerations to Chicago for Dominik Hasek, who at that point was a back-up goalie. Well as most of you know the  rest is history.

Hasek remained a  back-up with the Sabres for a year and a half until Grant Fuhr went down with an injury in the middle of the 1993-94 season.  How did he adjust to the starting role? By winning his first Vezina Trophy and finishing as the runner-up for the Hart Trophy.

The  Czech native was the catalyst of the “blue collar” Buffalo teams of the 90’s, leading them to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999.

While wearing the Blue and Gold (and Black and White), Hasek won a total of six Vezina Trophys, two Hart Trophys, 271 games (including playoffs) and a gold medal for his home country.

Beauregard never panned out for Chicago, but with the future considerations pick the Blackhawks selected Eric Daze. The winger played 10 seasons for Chicago and scored over 30 goals four times. I think its pretty apparent who got the better end of this deal.

The  Hasek era in Buffalo had a contreversial ending, but no true fan can ever forget the impact he had on the franchise. Ryan Miller has a lot of work left to do to catch up to the Dominator.

Guest Writer: Ralph Wilson’s Legacy

January 7, 2011

This is a guest article written by my father….

What will Ralph Wilson’s legacy be in Western New York after he’s gone?  The truth is that Wilson has held Western New York hostage for fifty years.  He’s milked every dime out of the area that he could and refuses to sell the Bills to local ownership now or after he’s gone.  If this team leaves Buffalo Wilson will be the most hated name in our history. 

And why has Ralph been such a colossal failure as an owner?  If owners could be fired like coaches Wilson would have been given the “gate” in the 1970s.  He may very well be the worst owner in NFL history.  There is no league fairer to small markets than the NFL.  Small markets like Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Minnesota, San Diego, Tennessee and Kansas City make this point.  Wilson has given Western New Yorkers maybe 10 good seasons in fifty years.  And it’s not just because he’s cheap.

Because there is an unwritten rule in the NFL that coaches and GMs who are fired do not criticize the owner who fired them, since they want to work again in the league, we really cannot know what Wilson is like to work for.  But we can read between the lines and listen to the rumor mill.  Ralph is probably more meddlesome than Jerry Jones.  The difference is that Jones is more flamboyant and wants to win.  Every good GM or coach that the Bills have had has either been fired by Wilson or  has quit because of his constant interference.  Lou Saban, Chuck Knox, Bill Polian, John Butler, A.J. Smith, Phillips and Tom Donahoe are all vivid examples of this.  The owner feels more comfortable with men he can easily manipulate like Harvey Johnson, Kay Stephenson, and Dick Jauron.  This is why no capable coach or GM wants to come here.  Now this disease has spread to players as well.

And Wilson wants us to thank him for not moving the team over the years.  But the truth is that he bought the team for $25,000 and now it’s worth around $800,000,000.00!  Thanks Ralph, you really sacrificed a lot while you squeezed every free penny out of Western New York that you could!  The “Catch 22” is that our team will never really improve until our “absentee landlord”, Ralph, is gone and if he doesn’t sell to local owners, then the team could be gone as well!

Killer’s Korner 1-6-2011

January 6, 2011

Well the hectic nature of the holiday season put a damper in my ability to consistently post the Killer’s Korner and one thing became unavoidably clear to me: sports don’t take a vacation. I apologize for the tardiness of this article but my New Year’s resolution is to post Killer’s Korner every week in 2011.

Here’s the “Reader’s Digest” version of what happened in the sports world since I last posted. Cliff Lee immediately made the Phillies’ rotation one of the most intimidating in MLB history; the Boston Red Sox evidently were upset about missing out on the postseason with their flurry of free agent and trade activity; the NFL playoffs are set and will feature the first ever team with a losing record; the UCONN women’s win streak ends at a NCAA record 90 games; Terrelle Pryor and a few other Ohio State players get suspended for five games next season for pulling an A.J. Green; and if you haven’t seen HBO’s “Lombardi” special, there is something wrong with you.

Like I said that’s just a quick overview of what I missed over the past month. Here’s the headlines that popped out at me this week: the Titans pick Jeff Fisher over Vince Young; Rich Rod gets the axe in Michigan and the Panthers are s&@t out of Luck.

The Titans announced this week that they will either trade or cut Vince Young this offseason in a move that almost definitely means that Jeff Fisher will continue his streak as the longest tenured head coach in the NFL. The move seems like a no-brainer, Fisher has become one of the best coaches in the league and Young is nothing but trouble. Starting with his apparent suicide attempt a few years ago and finally boiling over when he stormed out of the Titans facility after a verbal altercation with Fisher after he was put on IR following week 11 this season, Young’s talents haven’t equaled the constant headache he’s become to the Titan’s franchise. To play devil’s advocate however, Young did compile a 30-17 record as a starter, went to three Pro Bowls (somehow), and led the Titans to two playoff appearances. In the long run the nuisance outweighed his deceiving production and Bud Adams made the right move by staying loyal to his steady coach and giving Young the boot.

Being a fan of the Big East, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Rich Rodriguez getting the boot from Michigan on Wednesday. Rodriguez left the Wolverines with a 15-22 overall record, 6-18 in the Big Ten, and three years of probation stemming from improper practice violations. Rich Rod ran College Football’s winningest program into the ground during his three-year tenure and who knows how far he’s set the Wolverines back. Michigan is now left to rebuild with the country’s worst defense, a spread offense that has only one true star in Denard Robinson and probationary restrictions from the NCAA for the next three years. Even if they can somehow immaculately snare Jim Harbaugh away from Stanford, the future looks desolate for the former powerhouse.

The second worst season in franchise history looks like it may have been all for naught for the Carolina Panthers. Andrew Luck, arguably the most complete quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, announced today that he plans on staying at Stanford for at least one more season. The Panthers received the dagger to the heart a day after they declared that they would draft Luck if he opted out of his last two seasons of college eligibility and headed to the NFL Draft in April. What seemed to initially be a desperate plea for Luck to declare for the draft could actually have been a great move by Carolina. I thought it was a little bit peculiar for the Panthers to disclose their intentions to the media before the playoffs, let alone the offseason, even began but it seems like they may have used it as a tactic to determine Luck’s interest. By eliminating him as a possibility they can now focus their attention on finding the right coach to replace John Fox, improving their team in free agency, and scouting the top flight defensive prospects to help rebuild their woeful excuse for a defense. Although losing out on the best QB prospect in recent history will certainly sting throughout the offseason, the Panthers can now focus on developing Jimmy Clausen and building up an offense around him.

The Final Edition of Inside the Blue Zone

January 6, 2011

This final edition of the Blue Zone is going to be short and sweet thanks to Buffalo’s putrid performance verse the Jets. Against New York’s second and third stringers, the Bills dusted off their golf bags and started the offseason early.

Here are my thoughts from the game: Three strikes and your out Brian Brohm, how do you allow Joe McKnight to run for 158 yards and was this one of the most interesting Bills seasons in recent history?

After Sunday’s game you can put to rest any notion that Brian Brohm is the future quarterback of the team. Brohm, who was facing the Jets’back-ups, had a miserable day and will most likely be wearing a different uniform next season. Brohm figures to be the odd man out with the Bills most likely to add a QB early in this April’s draft. You have to wonder why a guy with the skill set of Brohm just can’t figure it out.

In their most uninspired performance of the season, the Bills’ defense allowed McKnight and Brad Smith to run rampant. Buffalo finished the season allowing a NFL worst 169.6 yards per game, but to not be able to stop New York’s back-ups is really troubling. Chan Gailey got this team to come out and give it their all in the first 15 games of the season, but for whatever reason it wasn’t the case on Sunday.

Well folks that puts a wrap on the 2010-11 season and I must say record aside it has been one of the most interesting Bills seasons in recent history. It’s going to be an even more interesting offseason with the unsettled CBA and with Buffalo having its highest pick in the NFL draft since 1985. Check back throughout the offseason for updates on all the Bills moves and our thoughts on the progress of the team. We will also have features on draft prospects frequently throughout the offseason.

Williams & Johnson Get Snubbed

January 3, 2011

Just when it seemed like Kyle Williams was finally getting the recognition he deserved around the league this season, the Pro Bowl rosters come out and the fifth year defensive tackle is overlooked again. Williams gained national notoriety and was the only focal point on the Bills defense for game broadcasts this season. He became a consistent penetrating force, led the team and set a career-high with 5.5 sacks and was the only defensive player that opposing teams game-planned around this season. He also ranks at the top of the league in the two major statistical categories for defensive tackles. Williams ranks second in the NFL in tackles with 77 and is tied for third in the AFC in sacks.

Here’s how Williams compared statistically with the three defensive tackles selected over him in the AFC: Haloti Ngata had 63 tackles with 5.5 sacks, Richard Seymour had 48 tackles with 5.5 sacks and Vince Wilfork had 57 tackles with only two sacks. Of the three Williams was the only one listed as a defensive tackle throughout the ’10 season as well. Seymour has split time between defensive tackle and defensive end his entire career while both Ngata and Wilfork transitioned to defensive end in their respective 3-4 schemes this season. Williams was selected as a first alternate and will most likely get a chance to play in his first Pro Bowl with the Patriots being the odds on favorite to return to the Super Bowl making Wilfork ineligible to participate in Hawaii. But the very fact that he wasn’t even selected as a reserve reinforces the belief that the Pro Bowl is just a popularity contest with deserving players like Williams getting snubbed year after year.

Williams wasn’t the only snub on the Bills roster. After a breakout year Steve Johnson didn’t even make alternate status for the AFC roster. Entering his third season in the NFL Johnson was only expected to be a possession receiver who took some pressure of their $9 million deep threat Lee Evans but completely stole the show in 2010. Although he is probably more known league-wide for his dropped touchdown against the Steelers in overtime and his ill-conceived comments the following day on Twitter, Johnson forged his way into elite status with a spectacular statistical season. Johnson finished fifth in the AFC with 82 receptions, sixth with 1074 receiving yards and tied for third with 10 touchdown catches. Unlike Williams, Johnson had much stiffer competition. Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and the surprising Brandon Lloyd were all selected over Johnson to represent the AFC. Even though all five had impressive seasons, Steve Johnson was the only one to rank in the top six in the AFC in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. There’s no doubt that Andre Johnson, Wayne, Bowe and Lloyd all deserved a ticket to Honolulu, Stevie Johnson not even getting the alternate tag is yet another slap in Buffalo’s face.

There’s no doubt that Buffalo’s total ineptitude over the better part of the past decade has played its part in their lack of Pro Bowl selections. The front office executives at One Bills Drive really have their work cut out for them this offseason and several years to come. In order to restore the once respectable image of this franchise, Buddy Nix needs acquire and develop more players in the mold of Williams and Johnson.


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