This week's Buffalo Bills mailbag is several days late, for two reasons: the NFL Combine was filling up the news cycle on Tuesday, the day we normally post this, and we also were running low on questions. If there's anything on your mind that you'd like discussed, please send those our way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We only have two questions this week, so send those inquiries in for next week's post!
Do you think the hiring of Jim Hostler is at all an indication that Doug Marrone was not satisfied with Nathaniel Hackett’s work as an offensive coordinator?
Back in late January, when the hiring of Hostler was announced (at the same time that quarterbacks coach Todd Downing was brought in), I wrote this article about how it signaled that the Bills were doubling down in their support of EJ Manuel. That's the prism through which I view the team's decision to hire Hostler. I don't think it had much of anything to do with Hackett.
Marrone, in explaining Hostler's role, noted that the presence of the Senior Offensive Assistant will allow his offensive coordinator the freedom to focus more on the task of preparing game plans and studying opponents. That doesn't have to mean that Marrone was dissatisfied with Hackett's job performance last year; on the contrary, Marrone has gone out of his way to defend Hackett, citing the team's revolving door at quarterback. It's not difficult to understand why Hackett is a popular scapegoat for the fan base, but that doesn't make it right - and it almost certainly does not reflect the reality in One Bills Drive, either. Hackett's going to be around for a while.
Thanks for the question, Travis!
Hey @BuffRumblings what is Nigel Bradham's role next season expected to be? Also what position do you think the bills draft in round 1?— Kenny Ward (@KennyWard92) February 28, 2014
Let's sip past the second question for now, because it's way too early to take a stab at seriously answering that question.
Bradham's fate seems pretty straightforward: his role will depend on what the team does with current middle linebacker Kiko Alonso. If the Bills free up Alonso by moving him to the weak side, as it seems they'd like to do, then they'll be in the market for a middle linebacker, because that's not Bradham's game. If, however, the Bills end up keeping Alonso in the middle, then Bradham becomes the likely starter on the weak side - which, really, is the position that he should be playing in the NFL.
If last season was any indication, the team was starting to warm up to Bradham late in the season, when he saw a majority of his playing time, but he was still a little-used player in a system that did not make liberal use of linebackers. That decision seemed more about personnel than philosophy. Out of every potential starter on Buffalo's roster, Bradham is one of the easiest to upgrade.
Thanks for the question, Kenny!