Today, I bring to Rumblings, a new series. I am going to force feed my thoughts, to anyone silly enough to open this article, out of curiosity, interest, or just sheer boredom. In it... you will find wonders, and mystery.
Actually, you will find... My thoughts, as they relate to the Bills' current roster. I wanted to wait for the lull when we all are bored, have little happening, and are anxiously waiting for SOMETHING to happen, to have anyone spend the time on my silly thoughts, and impressions from this past season. But I too, want to look ahead at what can be, and in order to do that, I figured, I need to see where we really are. So, after the jump, you can check out my assessment, of first, the QBs, and the offensive linemen, who we have grown familiar with, and who may or may not, be part of the plan moving forward. I hope you enjoy my new series, where I will follow up with a few more posts, to cover the remainder of the offense, as well as the entire defense, and my impressions moving into the draft.
For those of you who have been here a while, you know that I am a very opinionated, and long winded fellow. You may or may not have an appreciation for my view, and you may or may not bother reading this post. I respect that, but what I will say, is that if you pass this by, you are totally missing out. What follows, is how TRT would approach this offseason, and what the roster that I assembled, would likely resemble. I have put in a fair amount of time, and will probably consider another look at this, after the NFL Combine. For now, I will provide a roster breakdown, some hopes regarding scheme, as well as some additions that could be made to help make us competitive in the upcoming season. Most importantly, I will provide my player by position breakdown, where I provide my own perspective on current Buffalo Bills players, and how I would approach their situation, and the improvement of this team. Most assuredly, there will be some things you don’t agree with. Some of you may think my assessment is a tad extreme, opinionated, or just plain wrong. Others, might want me to take Nix’s place atop the OBD staff (ok, probably only I want this)… because they (and maybe even YOU) will think “Hey, this guy is onto something here.” Most of these ideas I have already shared. Some of them might be new, and maybe even surprising. Ultimately, this is a Post-season assessment of where I think we are, where I think we COULD be, and where I ultimately see us going, this coming season. After all that: Here we go!
The easiest way for me to approach this, is with each position, our current players, and where I might like an upgrade. For now, I will just assign any holes created/existing with a letter, to be addressed later on.
Quarterback- IMO- This position is the single most important position in the league.
Ryan Fitzpatrick -OBD would have us believe that Ryan Fitzpatrick is capable, qualified, and can lead us to a championship. Sure, that COULD be true, but so far in his career, he has not shown me enough to believe this to be true. I look forward to his improvement under new QB Coach Lee, though I am not overly optimistic that “FitzMagic”, can’t turn into his evil twin “FitzTragic” at any second. While I accept that he will be our starter, probably for some time, we are certainly looking for our “QB of the Future” (a 10-12 year starting “Franchise” QB).
Tyler Thigpen- I will waste no time bashing Thiggy, for you fans. I will simply cut him, and let him land on some UFL roster. His release creates hole “A”. Ok… maybe I should say… need #1.
Brad Smith- Is he a QB? Is he a WR? Is he "Slash 2.0"? I personally think the answer to all of these, is no. What I CAN say, is that he CAN operate in a Wildcat package, as he demonstrated earlier in the season, and there is NO ONE better to assist him in this, than David Lee (Lee was named “Innovator of the Year” 2008 by Sporting News for introducing the “Wildcat offense” to the NFL.) He has shown the ability to read blocks, and make cuts, both in this package, as well as on screen plays. However, even though I think the Bills may list him on the depth chart as a QB again this year, by no means do I consider him a viable backup, to actual run a pro-style (sorta) offense and not get our receivers killed. He hasn’t shown a lot of ball velocity on the few plays we have seen him in our primary offense, but he was a 1st down machine from our versions of the “Wildcat”. I think he will resume that role, and hopefully with Coach Lee’s help, he can make some strides, and be a viable threat to our opponents once again.
Offensive Line, by position
LT- The left tackle covers the QB’s blind side, and is therefore the second most important player on a team, IMO.
Demetrius Bell: Bell is injury prone. He has missed 2/3 of the potential games where he could have played. He is a pending free agent, and I WOULD re-sign him, in the hopes of having experienced depth. I think he is a prototypical RG, or maybe could be a very very good LG, if we had a need there. I am happy to leave him as LT depth, LG depth, and a potential RG starter, should there be a need there. (I will further speculate why, in a moment.) I would re-sign Bell for around 4 years, and 14 million, but only 3 in guarantees, so that if after a season he proves again to be ineffective due to injury, he can be cut, and save all but about 5 of that deal. If he would not accept this deal, I would let him walk.
Chris Hairston: Hairston has the size, length, and intelligence to be a starting LT. In the long term, should we land a STUD LT in the draft, he can be a RT, or a guard, on either side. He might have better skills to move inside, as some think he is too weak in his lower body. I think he plays with good technique. CJ Spiller ran behind him much of his college career, with great success.
LG- I think interior lineman are smaller needs, and that many guys have shown capable, even though they might be undersized (Levitre), oversized (Urbik) or just not drafted early (Rinehart)
Andy Levitre: Andy is a Pro- Bowl caliber player. (What do we call them now, All-pros? If there is NO Pro Bowl moving forward, of course…) He has proven to be one of our best linemen. Though Chan might have over assessed his versatility, he surely has played really well, given his relatively small size for an NFL offensive Lineman. I guess we will keep him. ;)
Chad Rinehart: Chad has proven effective in depth, and maybe even a capable starter. I have no issue here. Keep him.
Center: An NFL center is responsible for keeping the O-Line on the same page, and communicating the protections that the QB wants.
Eric Wood: Wood, could be a great NFL pivot if he can stay healthy, and on the field. Most fans would agree, he is one of our best players, a finisher, and more than capable, as an NFL center. I would like to see him succeed long term, because of the time, money, and hope that we have invested.
Right Guard: You might have noticed I don’t list a backup for center. That is because our best center backup, is right guard Craig Urbik. I too, would try and limit my linemen to 7, as OBD has tried. By carrying versatile lineman, injuries might not hinder us too badly. I think it logical to note, that OL might create need #2- if an injury occurs, that leaves us with 5 or 6 capable of suiting up. For my purposes, I will provide 7.
Kraig Urbik: I was NOT a fan of Urbik. I thought he was slow, heavy footed, didn’t play with a lot of leverage, and that Wood was trying too hard to pick up his slack throughout the pre-season. Either I was misinterpreting assignments, or he became a whole new player, because I now feel that Urbik has as much potential at center, as right guard. I think that potential amounts to…. A TON. He can be a starting center in Wood’s absence, and Rinehart (or even Demetrius Bell, as I feel could be a GREAT right guard) would then be the backup at this position as well.
Colin Brown: LOL. I have nothing more. HE GONE!! I don’t see him as a center, a RG, or a tackle, at all. As we don’t need a 6’7” monster for a LG, and he isn’t athletic enough to be a RT, I see no reason to have him.
Right Tackle: The “other” bookend, the right tackle is taking on the weaker of the two pass rushers generally, but is just as necessary in ensuring the interior linemen (specifically the RG) can double team in the middle, so they need to match up one on one against the defender, consistently.
Erik Pears. Pears had been underwhelming to me… but as he completed each and every game on a line that helped post the least sacks of a QB in the league, he is obviously capable. He is signed for the next few years, and I think that we could use backup for him, in the next couple years, but that Bell/Hairston can potentially hold this role, keeping us at 7.
Sam Young: cut, if we re-sign Bell. He won’t necessarily be picked up by anyone else anyway, and we can always carry a prospective tackle on the practice squad. His release doesn’t necessarily create a need.
This means, Hairston, Levitre, Wood, Urbik, Pears would start. Bell would backup LT, RT (and in my reality RG) while Rinehart will backup LG/RG. If Wood were NOT capable of playing, this would create need #3, potentially filled by Sam Young (who I haven’t seen enough of to say he can’t play, but also haven’t seen enough of to say he CAN.)
Feel free to ask any questions as they relate to this post, and understand also, that the WR,RB,TE post is almost ready, and will address questions related. I also intend to address the "needs" mentioned, at the end of this post, to sum up "Offense" before moving on to, the D. I need more time for that, because honestly... I am just not prepared for this 43 switch yet. Hahaha. That said, I am going to muddle through it, find the silver linings (however few there may be) and try and find my perspective on the upwind side of the fence.