ESPN's John Clayton has written a story naming five NFL teams that he declares have had the worst off-seasons this year. Continuing the media trend started yesterday by Yahoo's Jason Cole, Clayton puts our Buffalo Bills at the top of the worst off-season list.
Which is fine. As I said during my reaction to Cole's column, it's tough to argue with heavy doses of media skepticism at this point. But it'd be nice if Clayton got some of his facts straight.
No team had a greener offensive line last season than the Bills, which had rookies Demetrius Bell at left tackle and Jonathan Scott at left guard. All the Bills did to help the line was sign 33-year-old tackle Cornell Green.
Well, first and foremost, Bell wasn't a rookie. For all intents and purposes, I suppose you could argue Bell was a rookie last year, but he was drafted in 2008, and had been in the league for a year. Jonathan Scott was not a rookie, nor was he the left guard; our left guard, Andy Levitre, was, however, a rookie, so Clayton's got that going for him. I have no idea why another rookie, Eric Wood, wasn't mentioned; likewise with Brad Butler's retirement.
To make things even more challenging, the Bills switched to a 3-4 defense even though they didn't have a legitimate 3-4 outside linebacker or a nose tackle. They drafted nose tackle Torell Troup in the second round and hope that Andra Davis and seldom-used Aaron Maybin can handle the tough outside linebacking jobs.castoff
I haven't paid close enough attention to Davis' full NFL career to comfortably claim that he's never played OLB; if he did, it didn't happen recently. Davis is a classic inside linebacker, and has spent the vast majority of his career in that role. It's what he did a year ago in Denver. It's what he did in Cleveland. It's what he'll do in Buffalo.
Oh, and this is also probably a good time to mention that fortifying the front seven of the 3-4 is the one thing that the Bills did focus on doing this off-season. That doesn't invalidate Clayton's point that the transition could be difficult, but it doesn't exactly credit the effort they did put in, either. Green and Davis are brought up, but the team's best free agent signing, end Dwan Edwards, is completely ignored.
Again - it's tough to argue Clayton. His inaccuracies don't really invalidate his claims. But a little fact-checking would lend some credence to those claims, would it not?