Subject 1: Stevie Johnson, what should be done?
Clearly Stevie is immature. I also blame Chan here because when it became evident that Stevie was unable to think like a mature football professional, Chan should have given absolute clear instructions to Stevie and all other players for that matter - that any premeditated celebration or message must be cleared by him first, period. I can't believe that Stevie wrote that on his shirt and that nobody saw it while he was getting dressed in the locker room before the game.
I guess the biggest issue is how do we accommodate the players personality and not squash it? I am starting to believe that Stevie needs this type of crap to fuel his engine.. Are we better off with a motivated Stevie that does a bit of crap of with an un-motivated Stevie that doesn't produce as much? Maybe the answer is replacing Stevie with someone else?
I personally don't think that Stevie is a true #1 receiver. I love the guy and have always been in his corner but he drops too many crucial passes. I also think he's too slow to be a true number 1. I do however think that he is so much on the same page as Fitz that we'd be absolutely crazy to let him go. Stevie is a GREAT #2 receiver. We need to bring in a faster #1 guy. I compare Stevie to a guy like Boldin, good possession receiver in short to medium areas with very good YACs.
IMO, we resign him in order to preserve the team chemistry.
Subject 2: Fitzpatrick & the QB situation going forward
What do we have with Fitz? We have a great leader of men, a guy that does not get phased, a guy that isn't afraid to pull the trigger (à la Trentative Edwards...). He's shown that with playmakers around him, he's able to move the ball effectively. I read an article this morning where Phil Simms was saying that the quick passing game with 3-step drops can be blamed for a lot of the inaccuracy down the stretch. The synch between QB/Receiver for those quick plays must be perfect every time and if it isn't - then it's horrible.
I certainly am not a fan of the quick passing game, certainly not as your base offense to open up the running game. I think with runners like Freddy and CJ can be quite effective at opening up some play action passing downfield but in order to do that we need a great Oline, which I don't believe we have - yet.
Given the fact that we had no chance at Luck or RGIII anyways with the impressive start we had to the season, it made sense to resign Fitz. Fitz might be a middle of the road QB but he has the tools to get us into the playoffs and as we are in the rebuilding stage - that's all we should be asking for. We need to build our Defense into a juggernaut and build the pieces around our future QB and then once the pieces are in place then we can make a move for our Franchise QB.
I think Fitz is a great fit during our rebuilding process.
Subject 3: Wannstedt, doe he continue with the 3-4?
I'm really not sure how I feel about Wannstedt yet. I definitely know that I want us to stick with the 3-4 plan and see this thing through. We've drafted too many pieces in the past two years getting much bigger in order to run an efficient 3-4. We are missing some pieces like a great pass rushing OLB, which I think should be the primary focus going into 2012.
I think too many people put too much emphasis on aligning to a standard scheme. How do you think schemes were invented in the first place? I have no problem at all with running an efficient Hybrid, just as long as we have a concerted plan. Every great Offensive and Defensive scheme was invented by crafty coordinators that felt that their personnel did not quite fit the standard, so they invented a new approach. I think the advantage of a guy like Wannstedt is that he's been around long enough and has seen enough to actually be able to do just that, be creative with what he has to work with. The fact that he's bounced around as DC & mainly HC with various DC's that each had their own take might actually benefit us. More so than say a coordinator that has always done things the exact same way for like 25 years, like a Monte Kiffin or a Dick Lebeau. He might be less rigid to a standard and more flexible to finding new creative concepts in order to maximize what we have.
Subject 4: Nix retirement and Whaley promotion
The perfect Storm. I can't believe so many GM openings are currently available, never saw it coming. Clearly, Whaley is our future not a 72 year old Buddy Nix. And Buddy was wise enough to recognize that he needed to put his plan in motion quickly when he first hired Whaley. I think they need to accelerate the plan. They need to promote Doug immediately and Buddy should slide into a executive role similar to what Parcels had in Miami.
Please Ralph, act quickly before it's too late.
Subject 5: No more fabricated pressure, a superstar pass rusher is required
We've been talking about this for way too long. We cannot put all our eggs in the Merriman basket again this year. Addressing the Rush OLB position this off season must be the absolute biggest priority - period.
Successfully fabricating pressure works here and there when used sparingly. But when that all you have, it gets shut down quite quickly and leaves us very vulnerable. There is no substitute for having a STUD rusher, nothing at all. Forcing teams to double team one guy and have to slide protections over, helps us dictate tone. It makes every other player that much better. There is no doubt at all that this IS OUR BIGGEST NEED IN 2012 !!
Subject 6: The State of our Oline
As I alluded to in the 2nd subject about our QB situation, I do not think our Olin is as good as most seem to want to believe. I believe that our line is actually quite mediocre and lacks depth. Why do you think Chan Gailey went to the quick passing game in order to open up the run? Does anyone around here think that Freddy is not a top tier running back? CJ Spiller has also proved in recent weeks that has the potential to be a great runner as well - so why do we need to pass the ball in order for these great runners to be successful? Because our line is weak, that's why.
Of course it did not help to have such a revolving door this year along the line. The fact that Gailey made Andy play just about every position on the line is proof enough that even he doesn't think our line is that good.
We need a franchise LT, Hairston is still far away. He and D.Bell provide great depth but neither is even close to being in the same league as the top 5 LTs in the league. We've adopted a quick passing game because of this major weakness. By quickly getting the ball out of Fitz's hands our Line doesn't need to hold quite as long.
Getting a franchise LT would enable us to leave him out on an island against the top rusher, essentially taking that huge advantage away. We would not need to keep that extra guy back there on the deeper drops, the plays that take a bit longer to develop. Those are often the home run plays. A franchise LT would greatly improve our running game as well as our deeper passing game.
Subject 7: Free Agency, will we be more active?
I hope we are more active in FA this year. Here are the key positions that I view could and should be addressed in Free Agency:
QB2: I'd love to see the Bills try to pickup Jason Campbell
WR1/WR2: I think we need to resign Stevie as an above average WR2 and then try to get a guy like Vincent Jackson as our top dog (WR1). I hope that the Nix/Merriman connection helps us land this guy. No disrespect to David Nelson or Roosevelt or Smith or Hagan but where were they when we went on our 7 game losing streak? Jackson/Johnson would be a very formidable duo and then you let guys like Easley and Clowney compete to back them up and then guys like Nelson/Roosevelt/Parrish compete for the slot role.
OLB/DE: I would love to see us pursue a guy like Cliff Avril in the off season. I think Cliff at 6'3" 260lbs could easily transition to rush OLB. He could be our missing piece. I seriously doubt that Detroit would let him hit FA or that he'd want to leave Detroit for Buffalo but it's worth a mention nonetheless. If he actually gets to test free agency, I sure hope Buffalo makes him an offer that he can't refuse!
Another guy I'd be interested in taking a flyer on would be Derrick Harvey. He's been basically a bust in both his two first stops (Jax & Denver). I think this guy could probably benefit from a move from DE to OLB and under the tutelage of one of the best LB coaches he could actually maybe blossom in our hybrid 3-4.
Subject 8: BPA is the only way to go in the draft
QB Position: I strongly believe that there is going to be a frenzy this year in order to pickup one of the top two guys, which will probably help a third guy go higher than he should. There are at least 4-5 teams that desperately need a QB ahead of us so the chances of us getting our hands on RGIII are practically nil. I believe that (3) QBs will be chosen in the first 9 picks.
OT Position: Reiff or Martin are two top ten tackles and there is a very strong chance that either one could fall to us this year and if so, we should jump on the opportunity to finally get our franchise LT.
CB Position: Claiborne or Kirkpatrick are the two top corners this year both definitely top 10 quality players and one of them could easily be available for us at #10
There is no way Blackmon is getting out of the top 5 this year, which is too bad cause he would have looked great in a Bills uniform!
I'm not a huge Coples fan, I think he's best suited for a pure 4-3 not a hybrid like ours. Plus he did not play with a lot of heart in his Bowl game, which really turned me off on him.
Depending on how he plays in his bowl game, I could see us reaching a few spots for Courtney Upshaw. He could be the missing piece at OLB.
The great news here is that if my projections are accurate there should be 3 QBS, 1-2 OTs, 1-2 CBs, 1 wR, 1-2 DE/DT & possibly even 1 RB gone in the first 9 picks. IMO the highest likelihood is that either Martin or Reiff will be available at #10 and I would be thrilled to get either one of them. Next on the list would be one of the two Corners, which again would be instant starters and would greatly help our team.
There you have it fellow Rumblers, my first mind dump of 2012 !
Let me know what you're thoughts are on those subjects!
Here's looking forward to the 2012 season!
Go BILLS !