Someone had to do it, right?
First thing I need to talk about is continuity. I see no reason to retain coaches, players or philosophies that aren’t working. That said, there are 2 aspects of the 2012 BILLS that demand continuity into our uncertain future: #1 The offensive line + Joe D’Alessandris and #2 CJ Spiller working in a single back spread offense concept. Lets talk about them a bit since they are related in many ways...
THE OFFENSIVE LINE: It’s often said that a re-build strategy should start from the trenches out. Why? The critical element dictating whether or not an O-line unit will play well together is the ability to communicate -- especially in a LOUD, hostile environment on 3rd down. Communication (often non-verbal) allows 5 individuals to gel into a unit that can read the pass rush and do whatever’s necessary to put a body on a body. The 2nd most important criteria is finding TALENT that can win those body on a body matchups. Building from the trenches out allows a talented group of similarly aged individuals to work as a group for an extended period of time and become (hopefully) an elite UNIT. Nix built the foundation of that for us. This O-line are playing at a high level, and as the years go by this UNIT will get better as the individuals hone their skills and develop more efficient communication techniques. That said, my #1 priority is to sign Levitre and extend JoeD’s contract to maintain the cohesion of the unit.
SPILLER IS AN ELITE TALENT: This organization must do everything in its power to maximize Spiller’s potential from this point forward, which means building around his unique talents and skillsets, and mitigating his shortcomings. That said, I think we can all agree that Spiller isn’t a downhill power runner, nor is he an elite pass blocker. Fortunately, the BILLS don’t need to ask him to do these things with any regularity. Spiller’s talents will work best in an up-tempo, horizontal spread offense run by a QB that makes quck reads, preferably has a quick release and is either --A. mobile or --B. has a high degree of escapability in the pocket. Lets break those adjectives down... Having a QB that can distribute the ball quickly means Spiller doesn’t have to maintain blocks, he just has to get a hand or shoulder on the rusher and slow him down. Having a mobile QB (or one with high escapability) lets the QB get away and gain positive yardage should Spiller’s block suck. Playing in a horizontal spread gives Spiller more SPACE to work his majik and crack the Defense open with a long run. And finally, an up-tempo offense limits substitutions by the defense, tires them out and makes it more likely that CJ can outrun those winded defenders.
CHIP KELLY: is a passionate head coach. A leader of men who has tasted success. He is also an X’s and O’s kind of guy, who’s preferred scheme is just what the Doctor ordered if you’re trying to maximize Spiller’s potential. Find a satchel full of cash then dangle it in front of his face while talking highly of Spiller, our nimble O-line and blank slate of a defense. Make it so OBD!
RESIGNING SOME: I’m not going thru the numbers cause everyone else who’s done this made it work. That said, the following get contracts: Levitre, Byrd, McKelvin, Nelson, Merriman, Dickerson, Choice.... the only notable exception is Chad Rinehart. with the #6 pick, I trust the Nix will be able to find another trash heap guard on the waiver wire for much cheaper (and preferably one who can play center as well)
FREE AGENCY??: This team still has some holes, most notably the 6th corner & 4th DT, but my goal is to field a YOUNGER team, and I don’t want Vets at depth positions. Instead, I’d much rather Nix used his talents to scour the waiver wire and find more acceptably good players like Urbik and Kyle Moore. I believe our GM has the skills to find these types of players, and having the 6th pick in the draft gives him the ability to claim them off waivers. Though if someone's there at the right price, I'm all for it! On to the Draft....
DRAFT: My goal is not to find THE BEST player in the draft. My goal is to find potentially great players and put them in a position to succeed.
*rd1#6 (1600 points) - Trade back for #13, #45*
*rd1#13 (1250 points) - OLB Dion Jordan* He isn’t the best pass rusher in the draft, but he’s close. Jordan is something different, something unique. He can rush the passer with speed, power and a combination of both. At 6’-7" he has the length to bend the edge and be disruptive even if he doesn’t quite get to the QB. He’s FAST and is an amazing athelete who’s often lined up in the slot to cover WR’s... and does a better job of it than most safeties! I want this guy on my team, and I want to use him in unconventional ways. I might play him at 4-3OLB and use him as an extra pass rusher... or maybe I’ll have him fall back and cover Gronk? I might play some 3-4 concepts at time with Merriman and Jordan at OLB, Moore and M.Williams at DE and K.Williams (or Dareus) at NT. Maybe I’ll play him at 4-3 DE. Maybe he’ll rush the passer. Maybe he’ll drop into zone... Jordan offers flexibility that offenses will have to prepare for. He’s a Joker that can mess up offensive protection schemes opening advantages to our existing pass rushers. He’s a weapon that a good coach can put in a postion to succeed. His ceiling is sky high and Chip Kelly already has a handle on how to use his talents....
*rd2#41 (490 points) - QB EJ Manuel* Is he the best QB in the draft? NOPE! But he’s a QB I can see Chip Kelly finding amazing success with and is a prospect that should also intrigue Nix based on what we know of the GM.... Manuel is similar to Cam Newton from the legs down (I think EJ is less elusive, but equally fast), Manuel is however a much more accurate passer and has a better head on his shoulders. Manuel should also be a more pro ready prospect coming out of a FSU offense that has prepared him to do everything he will be asked to do in the pros. I also look at the success of Oregon freshman QB Marcus Mariota and that tells me Kelly will be able to succeed with a rookie QB.
*rd2#45 (250 points) - SS Matt Elam* Elite playmaking talent that would give us the best Safety tandem in the league from day one. And if Elam isn’t there, Rambo or Vaccaro or Reid will be. This move, in conjunction with the Byrd re-signing solidified a young starting safety tandem for the next 4 years, with good, experienced depth behind them in Searcy and Silva. Much like the O-line, this tandem requires excellent communication, and will only get better over time. I chose Safety over CB in hopes that elite over the top safety help will help mask Williams or Brooks errors on the outside.
*rd3#72 (230 points) - WR Markus Wheaton* He’s a complete WR prospect. Great hands, great route running, blocks downfield and might be the fastest guy in the draft. He’s a playmaker who knows how to get open and get in the endzone. I’m moving Stevie into the slot, pairing him with Nelson as safety blanket possession type guys over the middle. I’m then pairing Wheaton with Graham on the outside as playmaking speedsters. Coming from Oregon St. Chip Kelly should be familiar with him and what he can do. If unavailable, someone like Tavarres King or Marquess Wilson should be available.
*rd4#103 (88 points) - OLB Kenny Tate* He’s still putting "it" together but is a good OLB prospect that can cover decently, play well moving downhill and rush the passer.
*rd5#134 (39 points) - QB Matt Scott* is a very intriguing prospect. Scott has the mental makeup to really become something in this league. Most teams are gonna look past him though because he’s only 185lbs and only started one year. He is however my favorite late round developmental QB. Scott will be my backup QB unless I decide to do something crazy like sign Vince Young to a 1 year deal at vet minimum as BACKUP (this is probably the ONLY offense that would allow him to get his career back on track, and should get me one "A" vote from fernando)
*rd6#169 (23.8 points) - LB Jesse Tuggle* another LB who’s still putting it together, but definitely has the speed and smarts to make it happen. If he shows as much promise as I think he could, I might consider cutting Barnett.
*rd7#234 (Compensatory pick) - K Dustin Hopkins* Though I doubt Hopkins will still be here at 234, I would like to see us pluck a kicker to compete against Lindell.... However, he either makes the team or he doesn’t. None of this dual kicker crap.
Then alls that’s left is to play the games... I do however see this as a team with an identity and direction. I think it would be an entertaining team to watch on both offense and defense. I think it would be a difficult team to prepare for because of the myriad weapons on offense and the flexability on defense. Best yet... This team has enough talent and depth to succeed in the 2013 season. It doesn’t require another futile year with Fitz at the helm. It throws a rookie into the flames with expectations that he will succeed and gives him enough weapons at his disposal to have confidence that he will.
Here’s my depth chart. Click to make it bigger...