Welcome back to Buffalo Rumblings after a long holiday weekend, Buffalo Bills fans. What better way to jump back into our daily coverage of our favorite football team than by publishing our latest mailbag post?
We received dozens of questions in our last call for offseason mailbag topics, and even though we can't get to all of them in these posts, they are tremendously appreciated. Please do keep sending in your excellent queries to email@example.com; we have about nine more weeks to trudge through before Bills training camp begins, so we'll need all of the questions we can handle!
On to this week's trio of questions, featuring GM Doug Whaley, running back C.J. Spiller and rookie offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson.
I was wondering what your opinion of Doug Whaley is, after one full year on the job.
For the record, this question was sent in on May 16, which happened to be the one-year anniversary of Whaley being promoted to the GM chair in Buffalo. Thanks for the question, Joe P! (This is a different Joe P than the one that has crushed our comments sections with TWSS jokes for years, by the way.)
Quite frankly, I had a fairly strong positive opinion about Whaley before May 7. Aside from the obvious gaffe in letting Jairus Byrd walk away, sans any sort of effort at maximizing compensation, in what was labeled a gesture of good faith, I had a hard time finding anything negative to say about Whaley's long list of personnel moves - many of which were excellent maneuvers for the franchise.
When he traded a 2015 first-round pick for the right to move up five spots this year to take receiver Sammy Watkins, however? I can't blame the guy for trying to be bold, and the team ended up with a player that I'm convinced is going to be a star in Watkins, but now I don't know what to think. A GM's legacy should start with a conversation about his choices with the franchise quarterback, but I'm not sure if anything EJ Manuel does will trump how Whaley's decision to mortgage part of the future for Watkins plays out. "Bold" is the word most frequently appended to Whaley's name these days, but that move goes well beyond bold territory in my book.
Do you think Nathaniel Hackett will make it a focal point this year to get C.J. Spiller the ball where he is most effective?
I have no idea whether or not Hackett will better use Spiller this year; I just know that he has to.
There's a bigger-picture issue, at least to me, than the urgent need to maximize Spiller's potential within the offense, however: he has to be on the field. If the Bills want to ensure that Spiller stays healthy and keep him in the 15 touches-per-game range, that's fine; he can't be off the field for 60 percent of plays, though. Spiller changes the way defenses approach the Bills. Touches or not, if he's on the field, he changes the game - particularly if he's part of the same package as Watkins. Those two guys will give opposing coordinators fits simply from a film study and preparation standpoint if the Bills are smart enough to keep them on the field a lot, and to move them around the formation.
More to the point: it is simply unacceptable for a former Top 10 pick to not be on the field as much as possible. Period. And it would be a pleasant surprise if Spiller surpassed 60 percent of snaps played in 2014, which says a lot about where he's been.
To me, if Spiller is on the field more, and they're not simply lining him up in the backfield, then the issue of getting him the ball in space will resolve itself. Spiller is too talented to not be on the field more, even if it's just as a decoy - and if they use him as a decoy, then he'll get the ball more in space. Just play the guy more, and the rest will take care of itself.
Thanks for the question, Paul B!
Is rookie tackle Seantrel Henderson going to be this year's Da'Rick Rogers, a late pick or undrafted player who the fans fall in love with, but who doesn't make the roster?
That is certainly a possibility. More practically, Henderson is clearly the big-upside college flier of the season, and fans will always fall in love with that player. It's the reason that Michael Jasper was a buzzworthy name despite little to no knowledge on his football skill; unlike Jasper, both Rogers and Henderson have skill.
And we shouldn't condemn Henderson to the same fate as Rogers, who blew a shot at making the team so thoroughly that he was among the team's first round of cuts last summer. His was never a question of talent; it was a question of work ethic and character, which clearly didn't match up to Doug Marrone's standards. Henderson will need to clear the same hurdles, but if he can be better in those departments than Rogers was, he'll maximize on the same excellent shot at making the team that Rogers was afforded.
Thanks for the question, Luke H!