With all the drama surrounding the Bills over the last 96 hours, it's easy to forget that the day-to-day grind of the NFL season forges ahead. Today’s injury report at practice was close to what we expected, and that's not necessarily a good (or bad) thing. Also, players were asked for more expansive comments regarding the change in leadership on the offensive side of the ball, and they did not disappoint in giving some added insight. On to the major points:
Glenn, Watkins, Clay miss practice
While Sammy Watkins made a point to say that he should be able to go on Sunday, the concern is obviously his level of effectiveness if he is able to play. Cordy Glenn was unable to practice due to his ankle injury, and Charles Clay missed with an undisclosed injury. Rex Ryan said that he was concerned about the trio’s inability to practice but gave no indication as to whether he expected any of the three to miss the game Sunday. In other injury news, Cardale Jones (shoulder), Colt Anderson (foot), and Ronald Darby (hamstring) were all limited participants. Marquise Goodwin has also been fully cleared after exiting from the concussion protocol.
Praise, Support, and Hope for Anthony Lynn
Multiple players were asked to comment on the offensive changing of the guard, and many of them had similar answers when responding. Tyrod Taylor, Richie Incognito, and LeSean McCoy all mentioned that Lynn “played the game” when discussing his ascension to the offensive coordinator spot. Some might say this is merely coincidental that all three players responded similarly to a question regarding a first-time coordinator, but when combined with the fact that the recently-fired Greg Roman never played in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine that the comments weren’t meant with some pointed criticism towards their former boss, as well.
While playing the game at the highest level certainly isn’t a prerequisite for coaching at that same level, it stands to reason that a coach who played in the league will have an easier time relating to players. These comments could have been innocent, merely meant to pump up the new offensive coordinator; they also could have meant much more.
McCoy also mentioned his approval of the game plan for the upcoming tilt against Arizona, calling it simplified compared to what they had been doing. Taylor also noted that “volume” was taken from the playbook, which should allow players to hone in on what they do best. “Simple” is often thought to be synonymous with “bad,” but that’s not always the case. Allowing players to play and react instead of forcing them to think about their next move is often greatly beneficial to players, as they can rely on their instincts and their abilities to make plays. This seems to align with Watkins’s comments earlier in the week about beating people rather than trying to trick them.
Players weren’t the only ones praising the new coordinator while taking shots at the former one. Ryan, who sat in on offensive meetings for the first time as Bills’ head coach (he said it was something he did with the Jets, and he is “more of an observer” in offensive meetings than in defensive ones), had some interesting thoughts about what changes to expect with the offense this week. He implied that the verbiage would be simpler, saying, “Let’s just say it will be a lot smoother with Anthony Lynn calling plays.” A common theme over the past 18 games has been late calls coming in on both the offensive and defensive ends. While the defense seems to have smoothed those issues out thus far in the season, the offense seemed to regress in that regard. If Ryan’s words are any indication, Roman was at least a large part of the problem. Another interesting tidbit from Ryan concerned offensive assistant (and former NFL HC/OC) Chris Palmer. He made it a point to note that Palmer will be “heavily involved” in the passing game, helping to ease the transition for Lynn.
Lynn himself gave a solid interview on the John Murphy show this afternoon, and it's well worth ten minutes of your time. Among my favorite points he discussed:
-Lynn has called plays before, although in the preseason only. He believes that play calling "really happens Monday through Friday,’’ with the majority of calls during the game coming from the ‘‘call sheet’’ and the ‘‘gut.’’
-He repeatedly mentioned the need to stay on the field, suggesting that the team has to play with better tempo and win the time of possession battle. He even mentioned the lack of touches for LeSean McCoy resulting from this lack of time on the field.
-While having plenty of praise for Greg Roman, he also made two points that seem to directly go against the system his former boss ran. Regarding the playbook, he mentioned losing volume, stating that ‘‘65-70 plays is an NFL game. You run 30 passes, 30 runs...that's pretty much a game. Call ‘em twice, that's two games.’’ He then mentioned that the entire staff was involved in developing this game plan, something that Roman was criticized for failing to do.
-When asked if his head was spinning, Lynn was frank. ‘‘You’re damn right my head is spinning,’’ he said, and who can blame him? He also expressed confidence in the plan overall, but his honesty was certainly refreshing.
Sal Capaccio noted that the team seems irked by all the negative attention it has received lately, and that they are “galvanizing” around one another. Let’s hope that next week’s buzz is centered on the team collecting its first win in the face of severe adversity.