Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix held a 45-minute press conference with local reporters this morning at One Bills Drive, during which he fielded dozens upon dozens of questions about his plans for the team heading into a critical off-season. As is typical of Nix, he was frank with the vast majority of his responses, and even went into detail about where he sees room for improvement on his roster.
We don't have direct quotes for you, but having listened to the entire press conference, here's what you need to know about how Nix plans to address his team's shortcomings over the next few months.
Current Personnel. Obviously, the first question fired was about the free agent status of Stevie Johnson. Nix unequivocally said that the team wants him back, that there's been dialogue between the team and Johnson's representatives since the season ended, and that if Johnson leaves, the team will need two receivers. This sounds like their most imminent priority, the way Nix was talking.
Current Personnel (continued). Nix also said that he plans on getting Fred Jackson under contract so that the running back can finish his career in Buffalo. Given the fact that Jackson is still under contract through 2012, however, Nix said that the goal is to get Jackson extended by the time the 2012 regular season begins. This is a priority, just not an emergent one.
Nix was firm in stating that the team would like Rian Lindell back to kick, and also said that the current plan is to try to re-sign Demetrius Bell to compete at left tackle. He was far less convincing about Roscoe Parrish, who Nix perceives as a major injury risk, and (surprisingly) Scott Chandler, who Nix said the team would like back, but only at "the right price." Nix also said that the team needs a receiver with Parrish's skill set, and that Bell's injury history is concerning. (He sounded iffy about the left tackle position in general, in fact.)
Finally, Nix was fervent in his support of Ryan Fitzpatrick, though he did say that the team would draft a quarterback they liked at the right spot if that situation presented itself. Buddy seems to truly believe that with a better supporting cast, Fitzpatrick can be a playoff-level quarterback.
Areas of Acquisition. The first position Nix brought up in terms of areas to improve was the team's pass rush. He was non-committal about a scheme, saying that even 3-4 teams spend roughly half of their time playing four-man front in sub-packages; he went on to explain that that reality dictates that the team is looking for bigger pass rushers - he used a 6'4", 255 or 260-pound measurement as a guideline - that can stand up or put their hand on the ground. Nix also said that the team would like one or two of these players, and that if there was a pass rusher in free agency that could help, they'd aggressively pursue the option.
Nix then mentioned that the team needs a "big-time" receiver, referencing the need for a player like Calvin Johnson that's "uncovered when he's covered." They'd like to get one even if Stevie Johnson is re-signed, noting that they'd get two if Stevie leaves.
Offensive tackle will be on the upgrade list, as well, with Nix saying that the team can't ever have enough of them. They'll get one at some point; Nix said they'd look at them in the draft. The team also wants two more cornerbacks -where the team's depth really dwindled last season - and at linebacker, where they've got a bunch of impending free agents.
What say you, Bills fans? There's a lot in there, so take your time and digest thoroughly.