Archive for March, 2012

Draft Watch Returning for April

March 29, 2012

For those of you who have been avid followers of Bleed Buffalo, you may remember a series of articles we wrote last year profiling some players that the Buffalo Bills were likely to consider drafting in 2011. We will be bringing back this feature for the month of April leading up to that glorious event which begins on April 26th. I’m a little bummed to learn that the annual Sporting News Draft Guide has been discontinued but I’ll do my best to update you on multiple players that may peak the Bills interest at the end of April.

Don’t look for any write-ups on players like Andrew Luck, RGIII, Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon however, as this series of articles will only feature players the Bills are likely to draft. I’m going to try to get a few profiles up later today but count on multiple player profiles every day from now until the moment when Roger Goodell makes the announcement that the 2012 draft is officially under way. I may have been lax at times over the past few months but fear not, the draft is like Christmas for me so look forward to the 28 days of the draft on Bleed Buffalo!!!

Jeffery’s Pro Day Could Change Bills’ Draft Plans

March 29, 2012

When the Buffalo Bills draft tenth overall in next month’s NFL Draft, it’s likely that they will either take an offensive left tackle or a wide receiver, the two most pressing needs on the current roster. Until about three weeks ago the consensus pick would’ve been a pass rusher, either defensive end or outside linebacker, but the recent acquisitions of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson have made the need somewhat obsolete. If the draft were tomorrow and the Bills were to stand pat at 10 the names you would likely here would either be Iowa’s Riley Reiff or Stanford’s Jonathan Martin at tackle or Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd at receiver. All three players have their strengths and weaknesses but possess the skill sets to be considered top ten picks. South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery may have made things a little bit more interesting today for that top pick on April 26th however.

Jeffery, widely considered the sixth or seventh best receiver in the draft, was a sure-fire top ten pick heading into his junior season in 2010. He was coming off a season that saw him haul in 88 catches for 1,517 yards and 12 touchdowns and was set to battle Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon as the nation’s top receiver prospect. Instead, inconsistency at quarterback (with Stephen Garcia’s laundry list of moronic issues) and a 230 pound frame significantly stunted Jeffery’s progress in his junior season. He managed to catch only 49 balls for 762 yards in 2011 and although dominant at points, took a huge step back from his junior season. Scouts have questioned Jeffery’s passion and dedication for the game and his personal issues (including getting thrown out of his last college game for fighting) have dropped him from a guaranteed top ten pick to a fringe late-first, early-second rounder. The former Gamecocks receiver may have changed that perception a bit on Wednesday however.

Jeffery weighed in at 213 pounds, looked good in receiving drills and timed in at around 4.5 seconds in his 40 yard dash. I’ve never put too much stock into offseason workouts as a determining factor for draft status but it’s encouraging to see that Jeffery has rededicated himself to become a better football player. His junior season may have been a disappointment but some blame can be placed on Garcia’s idiotic exploits and subsequent suspension. The question now is how did Wednesday’s workout affect where the receiver will land in the draft?

There’s no way he’s in the discussion at ten but if the Bills decide to trade down a bit to acquire a few more picks, he may be worth taking a chance on in the late first. The optimal scenario in my mind would be Trent Richardson somehow falling to the Bills at ten, trading the pick to a team like the Bengals who have picks 17 and 21 and are in desperate need of a running back. Although it seems that Richardson will likely not make it past the Browns at four, stranger things have happened. If the Bills were to acquire the 17th and 21st pick they could use the 17th pick on a guy like Martin or possibly Georgia’s Cordy Glenn or Ohio State’s Mike Adams and use the 21st selection on Jeffery. Again this is only conjecture at this point but there’s a chance that the Bills could fill both of their pressing needs in the first. Jeffery’s game-breaking potential and his renewed dedication is certain to alter multiple teams’ draft boards in the coming weeks.

Big And Tall Podcast Round 2

March 28, 2012

The focus of our most recent podcast is Sunday Night Television. We cover everything from Mad Men to the Sopranos. Not to much info on sports but don’t worry it’s coming. Look forward to next weeks Podcast when we’ll be discussing the results of the NCAA Tournament, the Sabres Playoff Push, the Masters, an MLB season preview and even a little soccer for you hooligans out there. We’ll also have a heavy focus on the NFL Draft and the NHL Playoffs (if/when the Sabres make it) in April. Keep listening and feel free to suggest some discussion topics.

BIG AND TALL PODCAST, Episode II: 
http://soundcloud.com/buffaloparker/big-and-tall-podcast-2-sunday

Bleed Buffalo Enters the 21st Century

March 26, 2012

After months of anticipation the Bleed Buffalo crew has finally entered the world of Podcasting. While I’m trying to figure out how to add this podcast as a part of the actual site please find the link to the  first ever “Big and Tall Podcast” below. The Podcast features Bleed Buffalo staff writers Russ Andolina and John Kowalski (me). Our first show focuses on topics ranging from Mario Williams, the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Wendy’s, yes Wendy’s. It’s random, it’s funny, it’s really fuckin’ long but take a listen and let us know what you think. Oh and there is some explicit material so please be advised.

http://soundcloud.com/buffaloparker/big-and-tall-podcast-1

 

Anderson Signing Could Have Ramifications on Current Roster

March 21, 2012

The Buffalo Bills have reportedly signed free agent defensive end Mark Anderson to a four year contract today in an attempt to continue improving their pass rush. Buddy Nix already bolstered the Bills pass rush last week with the biggest free agent coup in franchise history by landing Mario Williams. The move to bring in Anderson is extremely encouraging but brings up some questions as to Nix’s faith in April’s draft class and the team’s current roster.

Anderson, a seven year pro, burst onto the scene with the Bears in 2006 with a 12 sack rookie campaign. His play leveled off significantly in the years since before a 10 sack regular season with the Patriots in 2011. From 2007-2010 Anderson essentially disappeared, totaling just 13.5 sacks before his resurrection with New England last season.  His 10 sacks in the regular season in 2011 were impressive enough but the fact that he got to double digits playing half the snaps was nothing short of incredible. He’ll be 29 when the season starts and if last season and his 2.5 sacks in the playoffs (1.5 in the Super Bowl) were any indicator; he has plenty left in the tank.

The Bills interest in adding Anderson is another step in the right direction to improve on the 27th ranked pass rush in the league but if they’re able to sign him there could be some ramifications on the current roster. Anderson will likely command anywhere between 4-6 million per year and it’s highly unlikely that the Bills will keep the hefty contracts of Chris Kelsay, Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson. Not to say that they won’t keep one of two of the trio but it’s likely Nix will shed a contract or two to create some more cap space. Edwards is the most likely cap casualty with a 2012 hit of $3.8 million and $3.65 million in 2013. He’s not a great fit in the Bills’ new 4-3 scheme at tackle and makes much more sense as a 3-4 end. Johnson’s contract number is $3 million in 2012 but he has plenty of experience playing in the middle in the 4-3. He’s a good rotational player that can give Kyle Williams and Dareus a break, and can get after the quarterback in passing situations.

Cutting Kelsay is the most interesting idea. He has three years left on that ridiculous 5 year $28 million extension he signed in 2010, and has a cap hit of $3.5 million, $3.725 million and $3.745 million from 2012-2014 (Stats courtesy of Rotoworld). Kelsay is much better suited as an end in a 4-3 but Nix has made it clear that Williams will man the left end position which Kelsay has occupied during his nine year tenure with the team. He’s solid against the run but his pass rushing statistics have just never been up to snuff (30.5 sacks in 138 games played, 5.5 career high in 2006). Even if the Bills decided to keep Kelsay and eat his $11 million over the next three years, he will likely be relegated to back up/rotational duty.

Super Mario’s Impact Goes Beyond Sports

March 16, 2012

I’m a bit shocked at myself that it’s taken me this long to actually do an official post on the Bills signing Mario Williams but to be honest I’m still a bit in shock. At 25 years old the majority of my memories of the Bills’ glory days are as blurry as last year’s St. Patrick’s Day. I remember the Bills last Super Bowl against the Cowboys and I remember that the first jersey I ever owned was Bryce Paup’s number 95. As a diehard Bills fan the most significant moment of my sports adoration existence came around 12:15 yesterday when, after roughly 60 hours of staring at TweetDeck and my twitter account, Adam Schefter confirmed that the Bills and Mario Williams had agreed to terms on a deal.

Coming off roughly seven hours of sleep over the three previous days, I couldn’t distinguish if I was excited, relieved, or just in pure shock to read that the Buffalo front office had finally roped in a legitimate star. As evidenced by my fellow co-workers’ amazement by my immediate reaction, some people just don’t understand how significant this signing is for not just the Bills organization but the Buffalo community at large.

Mario Williams brings Buffalo, New York back into the realm of relevance on a national spectrum. During this process writers and reporters from multiple national sporting news outlets weren’t just criticizing Williams’ decision to join the Bills organization but making the move the cold and dreary Buffalo area. It’s not news to anyone who’s lived in this area for any amount of time that Buffalo is a once up and coming city that’s been hit hard by the economic downturn for the better part of the past two decades. It’s not a shanty town that’s belted with eight feet of snow in the middle of May, which is its common representation in the national media. One of the greatest items to take away from Williams’ press conference yesterday was that he ignored the things he heard about Buffalo, kept an open mind and was blown away with the passion demonstrated by the Bills faithful.

It’s no secret why Buffalo is commonly referred to as the “City of Good Neighbors.” Buffalonians are a brother/sisterhood of people drawn together by our common plight and the misfortunes that have been bestowed upon us by fate. From “Wide Right” and “No Goal” to Love Canal and the closing of Bethlehem Steel, we’re no strangers to hard times in Western New York. These don’t define us however, they just make us stronger. What defines Buffalonians is our perseverance and our ability to move forward with the hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Williams isn’t the second coming of Christ but he is undoubtedly a sign that times are improving in our rustbelt hometown and serves as further proof that good things come to those who wait.

Three Days of Super Mario

March 14, 2012

The Buffalo Bills are nothing if not persistent. After hosting stud defensive end “Super” Mario Williams for the majority of the day yesterday and all day today, the team’s website operator and propaganda dynamo Chris Brown announced that the number one defensive free agent will spend another night in the Queen City. Reports have been incredibly conflicting all day regarding Williams’ intentions but it finally seems clear that he will at least be here for one more night.

I don’t know about any of you but I’m running on about four solid hours of sleep, my blood pressure is through the roof and I haven’t been able to focus on anything for the last two days (my apologies to my employer). When Mike Florio, who I respect more than most journalists, reported that Williams was set to leave Buffalo tonight I honestly thought it was over. I’ll admit that when Brown confirmed that Williams was going to spend at least one more night the joy overcame me and I sent ole’ Mike a tweet I probably shouldn’t have, but that’s the price you pay for not checking your sources. Well at least I think it was joy, I honestly can’t read my body’s signals at this point because this whole situation has me perplexed and physically and emotionally exhausted.

If I were to take the pessimistic view on this situation I would just assume that Williams is trying to drive up his price tag a bit more or see what’s happening with Peyton Manning in Tennessee. The more optimistic position on the matter would be that Williams has actually taken to the city in his brief time here thus far and needs one last night to think it over. Let’s think about this, why would he fly his fiancée out to Buffalo, New York if he didn’t have serious intentions to sign? The Bills have wined him, dined him, showed him and his fiancée the surrounding area and I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up in the Bills box at the Sabres game tonight. Can you imagine the kind of ovation he will receive if he shows up at First Niagara tonight?

But let’s call this what it is…frustratingly exciting. This area hasn’t been on the edge of its collective seats for three straight days since the Sabres made their amazing run in 2006-2007. Although it’s incredibly nerve-wracking and I’ll likely have to pop an Ambien to get a few hours of sleep tonight, I can’t remember a time I’ve been this engrossed in an issue surrounding the Buffalo Bills. Well done Buddy Nix, Russ Brandon, Dave Wannstedt and Chan Gailey. You’ve peaked our collective interests for the time being. Now just imagine the ticker tape parade you’ll get if you can actually land this guy, (just please try to do it tomorrow I’m pretty sure my hearts going to give out if I have to wait another day).

Update on Free Agency

March 13, 2012

There’s been no official word on the Buffalo Bills signing either Mario Williams or Robert Meachem yet but there have been a slew of signings since I stopped posting at 6.

Buccaneers:

-Signed WR Vincent Jackson
****Without a doubt the biggest signing of the day. VJAX gives Josh Freeman the deep consistent threat that Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn couldn’t provide in their sophomore seasons. He might not make them an immediate contender in a loaded NFC South but he makes them exponentially better.

Rams: 

-Signed Cortland Finnegan
***Finnegan already ranks as the best cornerback the team has had since Aeneas Williams retired  in 2005. He reunites with former Head Coach Jeff Fisher to give the Rams a potentially much improved secondary.

Colts: 
-Re-signed Reggie Wayne
***This is just puzzling to me. I understand that Andrew Luck needs someone to throw to but is it really smart to re-sign a 33 year-old receiver on the downside of his career?

Bears:
-Signed Jason Campbell
***It may not seem like a substantial signing but don’t discount it. When Jay Cutler went down last season Caleb Hanie may have been the worst starting quarterback in the league. He cost the Bears a chance at a Wild Card birth. Campbell isn’t a world beater but he should be a great back-up to Cutler.

49ers: 
-Re-signed Carlos Rogers to four year deal
***One of the biggest steals in last year’s free agent class, Rogers had a Pro Bowl season. He was a major play-maker and a solid lockdown corner.  He’s getting up there in age a bit but if he stays healthy he’s a solid defender.

 

Calling it quits for the night unless Mario Williams or Robert Meachem sign before i can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Let’s hope for good news in the morning.

NFL FREE AGENCY MADNESS!!!

March 13, 2012

12:40: Marques Colston re-signs with New Orleans
*** 5 year deal, didn’t think the Bills would go after him anyways. Way to similar to Stevie and has a tougher time getting seperation.

1:40: Chargers cut LT Marcus McNeill
***Most likely a move to re-sign Jared Gaither. If the Bills don’t re-sign Bell they should target McNeill heavily. He has injury issues but is a huge upgrade on the blindside.

2:20: 49ers sign CB Perrish Cox
***Normally this would be somewhat of an insignificant signing but it almost guarantees Carlos Rogers will hit the open market

2:34: Rams release Center Jason Brown
***Got a huge deal a few years ago on the first day of free agency. May be a guard option but not worth money he will command

2:40: REPORT: Dallas Cowboys release Terrence Newman
***WOW, pretty surprised by this one, I guess that $10 million hit for cheating the cap really hurt. Not an option for the Bills though, too slow and too poor of a tackler.

2:45: Center Nick Hardwick re-signs with Chargers
***Chargers moving on to Gaither next, VJAX as good as gone.

3:40: BILLS PUSHING HARD FOR MARIO WILLIAMS PER HOUSTON REPORTER!!!!!

3:55: Brandon Marshall traded to Chicago Bears for two third-rounders
***Didn’t see that coming at all. Pretty shocking but looks like Cutler has his favorite target back.

4:05: I’m not one for spreading rumors but supposedly Russ Brandon is meeting with Mario Williams at Tempo Restaurant in Buffalo today*******
****CONFIRMED

4:14: Per WGR’s Sal Capaccio Bills may be pursuing Robert Meachem early in Free Agency.

4:17: ESPN confirms Mario Williams is visiting Buffalo tonight!!!!!!!

4:22: Williams won’t be alone on his visit, Meachem will be visiting the Queen City tonight as well

4:31: Pierre Garcon is evidently already in contract negotiations with Redskins.

4:45: Garcon signs with Redskins

4:45: Bucs pushing hard for VJAX, other suitors starting to back off.

5:03: Bucs and VJAX close to a deal

5:03: Josh Morgan set to join Garcon in Washington

Don’t Discount Morrison Signing

March 12, 2012

With NFL free agency set to open in a little over 24 hours, the Bills took multiple steps to improve their roster by re-signing three players last week. The biggest signing came on Monday when Buddy Nix and the Bills front office announced they extended receiver Stevie Johnson to a five year pact. The most underrated signing of last week came on Friday however, when the team announced it had given linebacker Kirk Morrison a two year deal. Some people out there may not have even known Morrison was on the Bills active roster last season because he didn’t see any sort of significant playing time on defense but bringing back the seven year pro is not insignificant by any means.

Morrison joined the roster a week before the season started and played mostly on special teams. His only tangible contribution on the defense came in a week ten blowout 23-0 shutout against the Washington Redskins when he sacked John Beck in the fourth quarter. He finished the season with only seven tackles and that solo sack. So why has Morrison been pinned as an early favorite to start on the strong side of Buffalo’s 2012 base 4-3 D then?

In his six seasons prior to joining the Bills he started in 191 of a possible 192 games. During his tenure in Oakland he consistently ranked at the top of the league in tackles, missing the 100 tackle mark once in six years. He’s also no stranger to the big play evidenced by his 5 sacks, 7 INTs, 6 Forced Fumbles, and 18 passes defended in his six years leading up to him arriving in Western New York. He played primarily in the middle of Oakland’s defense (both 3-4 and 4-3) in his five seasons with the Raiders but saw time on the strong side in 2010 with Jacksonville. Morrison is solid in coverage and may be the best possible option on the strong side for the 2012 Bills D.

The alternatives on the current roster are an oft-injured Shawne Merriman, an underachieving Arthur Moats and Danny Batten. In free agency the only real upgrade option is Erin Henderson but he’s expected to re-sign with the Vikings. The draft class for 4-3 outside backers features players with potential but no one who could really step in and start from day one. Courtney Upshaw is a better fit in a 3-4, Lavonte David may be an option in the second and Zach Brown has been plummeting down draft boards. David and Brown may be worth a second or third round pick but Morrison’s contract at least gives Dave Wannstedt a stopgap starter while they develop a prospect behind him. Morrison’s consistency in pass coverage, above average tackling ability and nearly flawless injury track record make him an ideal fit to man the strong side for the immediate future.


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