Good morning, Buffalo Bills fans!
I know you all are probably asking yourself, "Who is this Kent Dickerson, and why is he posting a Morning Joe? Why is this post on the front page, and what happened to Doctork44?"
Well folks, this is Doctork44. "Wait! What? I'm confused."
Its official: Doctork44 has gone Hollywood Hogan on you all. I am no longer to be known as Doctork44; as I have officially graduated to the big leagues. You must now address me by legal government name of Kent Dickerson.
In all seriousness, if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm officially a contributing writer for Buffalo Rumblings.
Before I get in to today's Joe!, I really wanted to take a moment to thank our fearless leaders, MRW and BG, for giving me the opportunity to write for this awesome website. When I joined back in 2010, I started out like most of you. I used to just follow along and read the fantastic articles, never really commenting or posting, too afraid that I might say something wrong or stupid and create a big fight.
As time passed, I became more comfortable and the community embraced me. I remember being so thankful that I found a community of Bills fans that was just like me. I admired BG and MRW, because what they were doing here at Buffalo Rumblings was out of pure love and passion for the Bills and that this website was their baby. They gave so much to me by being a source of information on behalf of my favorite team. In 2011, I remember saying to myself "what can I do to give back to a community that has given so much to me"? I decided to create the Morning Joe! series, which was an attempt to keep up the traffic on the website during the offseason. I discussed controversial topics; took a few "shots" from disgruntled members, but all in all the site continued to grow and prosper.
In the midst of all of this, something happened that I didn't foresee. I found my voice. I found my life passion: writing. As a 30 year old who had his very first child six weeks ago, I finally found something other than my faith and my family that I truly love. So thanks BG, MRW, and my Rumblings family. I promise I won't disappoint or let you down. Go Bills!
Now that I completely bored you all with my emotional rant, let's get down to football, shall we?
We all know that our Bills are faced with some serious questions heading in to the offseason. Is EJ Manuel the man? Can C.J. Spiller get back on track? Will our defense be okay now that Mike Pettine is gone? Are we going to re-sign Jairus Byrd? With all of these burning questions that need to be answered, there are some not so burning questions that I would like to have answered.
5. Who will be the kicker?
The Bills actually spent a sixth-round draft pick on a kicker this past season. Dustin Hopkins was drafted to take over the kicking duties from long time veteran Rian Lindell. As a senior at Florida State, he was a first-team All-American and finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in school history. In his first season as a Bill, he was unable to stay healthy and eventually landed on the injured reserve list; he has yet to play a NFL down. In comes veteran kicker Dan Carpenter, who was out of a job after spending the past four seasons with Miami. Dan comes in and has one of the best seasons of any Bills kicker in team history, connecting on 91.7 percent (33-36) of his field goal tries (career highs), and was by far the special teams MVP. Unfortunately for the Bills, Carpenter is a free agent, so a decision must be made on his future this offseason.
Should the Bills sign Carpenter and give him the job, or have him compete? If you're Carpenter, would you even sign with the Bills knowing that your job isn't guaranteed? If Carpenter wins the job, do we stash a kicker on the practice squad?
4. What should the Bills do with Arthur Moats?
Moats has really won Bills fan over. His big hit on Brett Farve, ending his consecutive game streak, and his "Don't Cross The Moats" moniker has really caught on with Bills fans. Not only that, but Moats has a huge presence in the Buffalo community. He was the Buffalo Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year, and just won the United Way Grant competition. He was also one of the individuals that was asked to convince high priced free agent Mario Williams to sign with the Bills. But outside of those few things, Moats hasn't really done anything of significance on the football field. He struggled his first few seasons to find a position, shifting from end to outside linebacker and finally back inside. He had his best opportunity this season, as he won a starting job in Pettine's defense over Nigel Bradham. Moats struggled, and was eventually replaced by Bradham later in the season.
Do the Bills keep a guy solely based on his community service efforts? Moats seem to be more valuable off the field than on it. I wonder what the Bills think.
3. Will Scott Chandler be re-signed?
Chandler has taken a lot of criticism as of late, considering that he wasn't a high-priced free agent coming to Buffalo, nor was he expected to do much when he did arrive. All Scott has done in his three full years as a starter is average 44 catches, 538 yards, and five touchdowns. He is tied with Pete Metzelaars with the most scores in a season for a Bills tight end. Coming off a leg injury at the end of the 2012 season, Chandler had a speedy recovery and actually led the team in receiving last year.
Chandler, who turns 29 and is a free agent this year, struggled with drops this past season. He was never considered a great athlete or a great blocker, but he was consistent and demonstrated the knack for getting in the end zone. The Bills signed veteran tight end Tony Moeaki at the end of last season and drafted Chris Gragg in the seventh round. All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham is a free agent this year, and the draft is flooded with game breakers (Eric Ebron, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro).
Is this the year that Bills fans finally get the game-breaking tight end that they've been clamoring for? Are Chandler's days numbered as a Bill?
2. Will we see major changes at wide receiver?
It was no secret that Doug Marrone and staff wanted to overhaul the receiving corps this past season. Gone were fan favorites and underdogs Donald Jones and David Nelson; in came rookies Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. The holdovers were Stevie Johnson and T.J. Graham.
After disappointing seasons from both Johnson and Graham, there is a real chance that neither player will be back next season. Stevie had one of the worst seasons in his career. He never seemed healthy, and never really got in to a groove with Manuel. He dropped passes at crucial times and mentally never seemed to get it together after his mother unexpectedly passed away. Stevie is owed a $1.75 million roster bonus in March, and carries an $8.5 million cap hit. Even if he's cut the Bills would still carry over the $8.5 million in dead money.
Graham, on the other hand, has never blossomed in to the deep threat that team was hoping for when he was drafted two season ago. Goodwin showed flashes throughout the season and has proven that he can be the deep threat that the team is looking for, perhaps making Graham expendable.
The draft this year is deep with very talented receivers. Will the Bills look to land one of the talented wide outs in the upcoming draft? Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are early favorites to be selected with the No. 9 overall pick.
1. Can we trust Thad Lewis as the backup QB?
What can you say about Thad Lewis? Thad was acquired in a trade prior to the start of the regular season as injuries were piling up. Getting his first start in Week 6 against Cincinnati, Thad had a good game and almost pulled out the victory in overtime. The following week he goes to on the road to Miami and pick up his first career win. In that game, he showed a lot of moxie by standing in the pocket and taking big hits from Miami defenders. Thad has a huge arm and some mobility to escape the pocket and avoid the rush.
Even though Thad may have won fans over with his gutsy play and his ability to turn nothing in to something, he is still is limited as a passer and struggles with accuracy and ball security at times. If the Bills are expecting to make a legitimate run at the playoffs next year, a veteran quarterback that can go in there and steady the ship is needed if Manuel can't stay healthy. With a laundry list of veteran quarterbacks available in free agency this offseason, will the Bills look to bring in one to compete with Thad or bring in a late-round prospect?
Okay folks! What do you guys think? I'm interested in hearing you guys opinion.
For question, comments, and topic suggestions for my posts, contact me at AskDoctork44@gmail.com or contact and follow me on Twitter @Doctork44