It's that time of the week again: the Buffalo Rumblings Mailbag is here, and before we dive into your inquiries from the past week, we'll make our usual request for more questions. We can't get to all of them in these posts, but the more the better! Send questions to us via email, Twitter and Facebook - we really appreciate the level of thought most of you put into these things.
Let's dive right into this week's set of questions.
Most Bills fans want the Bills to find a No. 1 receiver, but aren't they in good shape with three No. 2 receivers (Stevie Johnson, Mike Williams, Robert Woods) on the roster?
That's an excellent point-in-the-form-of-a-question that reader Rob is making. Thanks for sending that in, Rob!
There is a difference between a legitimate go-to receiver and a starting-caliber receiver in this league - one is dominant, and forces teams to alter coverage schemes, and the other is more along the lines of a productive player in specific circumstances. If your team does not have that elite-level receiver, then it absolutely makes sense to stockpile as many productive, starting-caliber receivers as possible. That might have been the thought process behind adding Williams to Johnson and Woods, who are both capable of consistently producing 60-70 catches as starters in this league. That has been Williams' wheelhouse, as well.
It is exceedingly unlikely that both Johnson and Williams will be with the team beyond 2014 at their current salaries, but for the 2014 season - and assuming Williams can stay out of trouble off the field - the Bills did well to bring in a third productive receiver to toss into the lineup for EJ Manuel.
Doug Whaley and Doug Marrone were probably already working on a "3 years to succeed or you’re fired" plan, but do you think the prospect of new ownership may add a sense of urgency? Do you expect management to be more aggressive in the aftermath of Mr. Wilson’s passing?
This question almost answers itself at this point. The Bills have signed six free agents, traded for Williams, re-signed players to fairly lucrative deals (I'm speaking of Aaron Williams and Dan Carpenter), and went after DeSean Jackson on the open market. They have seemingly been even less concerned with off-field issues than they were in previous seasons, bringing in enigmatic players like Williams and Brandon Spikes (and, again, pursuing Jackson). They have certainly been more aggressive than usual, at least to my eye.
Whether that aggressiveness is tied into the team's ownership situation or not is not something I'm keen to speculate on. They had done plenty of aggressive things before Mr. Wilson's passing. I do believe that everyone in that building is thinking about their long-term future with the club, and will be until the team has new ownership in place, but I want to think that Whaley, Marrone and the rest of the football operation is simply executing the plan that has been in place all along, and isn't changing it on the fly.
Thanks for the question, Tim!
Brian, you have seemed to be down on Chris Hairston a lot in comments you've made on the blog. Do you really think he isn't capable of starting in the NFL?
I'm glad someone (in this case, reader Becky) brought Hairston's name up in our mailbag inquiries, because he's been mentioned a lot by fans recently discussing the team's lack of focus on the tackle position in free agency.
My opinion on Hairston as a player has not changed much since we last saw him in 2012: he's solid. Hairston is an asset in the running game when he's in the lineup, and while not a world-beater as an athlete, when he's been in the lineup, he has proven himself a non-liability up front. That is much more than many linemen in the NFL are capable of, and if he is healthy this spring and summer, he absolutely will be in the mix to start at right tackle, just as he would have been last summer. (That is, of course, unless the team makes an early-round investment at tackle, in which case all bets would be off.)
The only point I have repeatedly made about Hairston has nothing to do with his playing abilities, and everything to do with his being an accountable building block for the Bills up front. Before he missed a year of football with an undisclosed health issue, he was a player that dealt with ankle and foot injuries in both of his first two pro seasons. He is absolutely worthy of being in the mix during training camp; I draw the logical line at the Bills not addressing the position because of his presence. I don't see a player that the team can reliably say is part of their future foundation. He is, in short, not a player that the team should be counting on. If he's healthy, has an opportunity to play and takes advantage of it by winning a starting job, that will obviously be a great thing for the Bills (and for him as well, after what was undoubtedly a very frustrating year). Any expectation beyond that in Buffalo's part is, in my opinion, misguided.
Thanks for the questions this week, Bills fans. Until next time!