One of the more controversial potential moves for the Buffalo Bills this off-season - and a move I've championed for quite some time - is the proposed shift of third-year safety Donte Whitner to free safety. For a year, my theory was passed off as valid, but unlikely to happen. Then the Bills spent part of this off-season entertaining the likes of Marlon McCree, bringing the Whitner-to-free talks back to life.
Now, Anthony Bialy of RealFootball365.com - a writer I very much enjoy - sounds off on the topic. His thought? Whitner should stay at strong safety. Since we live in a democratic society, however, I have the ability to (respectfully) poke holes in his argument; I'll do that right now:
It's hard to argue here as far as Whitner goes - though he takes bad angles too frequently that result in big gains, he's generally a very solid tackler in the box. My problem doesn't lie with Whitner, however - it lies with the rush defense as a whole. If moving Whitner back to free safety and adding a safety (or using a current option) at strong makes Buffalo's defense better, how can it be considered a bad move?
I don't know about y'all, but I distinctly remember watching George Wilson get run over by Willis McGahee in Buffalo's victory over Baltimore last season. It's not like the free safety isn't important in run support. Whitner would be an absolute force from the position in that department - perhaps the best run support free safety in the league. If the move backward makes us stronger at free safety, better against the run and gives Whitner more chances to make big plays (something Bialy admits needs to happen), I again ask the question - how is it a bad move?
That's just it - it hasn't worked, and Whitner hasn't "traumatized offenses" by any stretch of the imagination. Our defense, the past two seasons, has been dreadful, and Whitner was a part of it. He's been impressive in terms of leadership, character and intelligence, and I'm very glad he's a part of this team. But if we can make him more productive and the defense better as a whole - which is more than a "slim" hope, as Bialy puts it - it's a move you make. It's that simple.
With the Bills losing out on McCree, however, it seems more likely at this point that Whitner will, indeed, stay at strong safety (unless the team gets a superb training camp out of John Wendling). That's not the worst thing in the world, as Whitner does have the ability to improve at that specific position. I just don't understand Bialy's argument in the least - it's one thing to keep Whitner's responsibilities consistent so that he can grow, but if you're compromising the effectiveness of your defense in doing it, it's just a bad idea.
The official site updates us on the progress of Ko Simpson, Whitner's running mate as a rookie. Mr. Whitner seems very excited to have his draft-mate back; it's going to be interesting to see how Simpson responds to early strenuous workouts on his surgically repaired ankle.
More Donte Whitner: his early quote in this Buffalo News piece got me pumped up for a season that's still six months away. QB Trent Edwards had some adrenaline-inducing comments as well (discounting the fact that he shaved his rookie beard).
Free agent linebacker Josh Stamer has signed with the Tennessee Titans. That's one special teams linebacker to bite the dust; if the Bills can't re-sign Mario Haggan now, they'll almost certainly look for a depth strong-side linebacker with special teams potential in the draft. Unless, of course, they're comfortable with Blake Costanzo in that role.
As it's planned out now, sireric will have a post up this afternoon about this year's tight end prospects. We're going to be asking for a lot of community input from y'all on this, so stay tuned. And if sireric gets busy, Kurupt will take his place - we're loaded with content, so keep your browsers locked in to Buffalo Rumblings.