The NFL's annual owners meeting kicked off Sunday in Orlando, Florida. This gathering of league business is one of only two events between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft when members of each NFL team gets together. Like the NFL Scouting Combine, it provides an opportunity for media members to ask questions of many different teams and their executives. Nobody has been covering it better from a Bills fan's perspective than ESPN's AFC East blogger, Tim Graham, and The Buffalo News' Allen Wilson. All quotes are linked to the respective source.
The biggest change to come from the meetings so far has been to replace the sudden death overtime format in the playoffs with a modified system. In this new system, if a team drives for a field goal on the first possession of overtime, the other team would get a chance to replicate the field goal and send the game to sudden death, or win the game outright by scoring a touchdown.
As far as the Bills go, playoff overtimes haven't been an issue since a certain miraculous comeback in 1993. The most interesting piece to this topic may have been who made the decision. Early in the process, Buddy Nix was in favor of the idea of reformatting overtime, but Buffalo's vote was cast against the measure. Nix said yesterday that the team allowed head coach Chan Gailey to make the decision.
"If it's a decision that involves the game and playing, then I think the coach should make it," Nix said. "To me, he's the guy that's got to deal with it."
Gailey's hangup was reportedly that the regular season and playoff formats would be different. Regardless, the move was telling that Nix (and Ralph Wilson) is willing to give someone else control of a situation because it's what's best for the team.
The quarterback situation in Buffalo has been unstable since Jim Kelly retired in the mid-90s and downright fluid since Trent Edwardscouldn't grab hold of the reigns early in the 2009 season. Not a whole lot has changed since Nix and Gailey took over. In fact, both have addressed the position this week.
"I have no idea [if the opening day starter is on our roster]," said Nix. "I really don't know. I know that's what we got now, and it's open. [Bills head coach Chan Gailey has] made that clear. We're going to see who comes out. The fact that those are the three guys we got, we like all three of them, all of them got redeeming qualities, but if something else comes available, we might add a fourth to the mix. I don't know."
Gailey did say he would like the quarterback position decided this month so the Bills can focus on taking the best player available.
"That would be ideal," Gailey said. "You'd like to have everything settled before you went into the draft. The problem comes if you don't solve an issue before the draft. Then you have to try and solve it in the draft. Then if you don't solve it before the draft or in the draft, now your back's to the wall and everybody knows it."
Despite wanting the issue resolved before the draft, Gailey took some time to discuss polarizing QB prospect Tim Tebow, suggesting he had every intangible you look for but was concerned about the passer's throwing motion. He also alluded to Tebow potentially changing positions in the NFL.
Also brought into the fray this week has been an Eagles QB. In an exchange with the Philadelphia Inquirer,Gailey was asked about trading for a quarterback with the initials "D.M." The asking price for
Darko Milicic Donovan McNabb has reportedly dropped to a second-round selection, and Kevin Kolb is still in play. Gailey's answer was understandably muted in response.
Three-time Pro Bowler Daunte Culpepper also expressed his interest in starting in the NFL this year, specifically mentioning the Bills this week. The 33-year-old is seeking his fifth NFL team in six seasons.
The Bills' offensive line was a major question mark heading into the 2009 season, and little has changed. Nobody really knows if Demetrius Bellis the answer at left tackle, and Gailey addressed the big man's future at the position yesterday, saying, "[Bell's] got a lot of work to do, but has a lot of ability and a chance to get there."
Buddy Nix also gave an optimistic update on Eric Wood's leg injury.
"I think he's ahead of schedule. That's what we hear, so he should be fine. ... He'll be back. Exactly when, I don't know. ... We want to count on him, but we also have to have a plan. But we think he'll be ready."
In the backfield, Gailey expressed his desire to provide depth behind Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch by drafting one of the "quick-as-a-cat water bugs."
"There's some good running backs in the draft this year different than what we've got. So change of pace, again, might be something you could do there with a different type of player."
The tight end position is the one area on offense that hasn't been discussed recently. This past weekend in a conversation with the Buffalo News, Nix downplayed the need to add a veteran wide receiver, saying he wanted to see the young guys "step up," likely alluding to James Hardy and Steve Johnson
Despite the GM seeing the back of his eyelids as free agency dawned, the Bills have added two starting-caliber pieces to the defensive front seven. Who will eventually start has not yet been decided, however. Gailey did reveal yesterday some key news about the Bills' new alignment and personnel.
Andra Davis, Kawika Mitchell, and Paul Posluszny will all line up at inside linebacker for Buffalo. It has been speculated that Mitchell could be bumped to outside linebacker with the presence of the veteran Davis, but for now that is not the case.
There is no update on the return of Aaron Schobel though should he return, he will be joined at outside linebacker by Chris Ellis, Chris Kelsay, and Aaron Maybin. Gailey understands why the decision is taking so long for the veteran.
"I can see his dilemma. I'd love for him to play, but I understand being a husband and a daddy, too."
As for the defensive line, all Gailey would say was Dwan Edwards, Spencer Johnson, Marcus Stroud and Kyle Williams will be there. He didn't specify positions or anticipated starters.
One area Gailey seems content to leave alone is the defensive backfield, saying, "as strong a group as I've ever been around." Quite a ringing endorsement, as Wilson notes, for a guy who coached teams with Darren Woodson, Charles Woodsonand Deion Sanders.
The owner's meetings end today, with the next major date on the NFL's offseason schedule being the draft, which concludes a month from this afternoon. With the 2010 regular season schedule release just a week or two away, this morning the league reportedly changed policy and will schedule only divisional matchups in the last two weeks of the season.