On Sunday, Buffalo Bills center Mitch Morse was fully healthy. He didn’t appear on the team’s final injury report and wasn’t listed as questionable. So why didn’t the high-priced veteran play against the Arizona Cardinals? Head coach Sean McDermott said it was a coaches’ decision.
Morse was sidelined early in the team’s game against the New England Patriots with his fifth documented NFL concussion and missed the following week against the Seattle Seahawks working his way through the concussion protocol. But he cleared the protocol and was in uniform Sunday, but never saw the field.
“He was healthy, coach’s decision right there,” McDermott said Monday. “We know Mitch is a good player and just felt like for that week, meaning last week, we felt like we had at least some momentum with the group we had had in when Mitch went down and wanted to take a look at it one more week there.”
Excuse me, what?
“Strictly a football decision,” McDermott followed up, doubling down.
Frankly, this explanation makes zero sense.
Morse is better than starting guards Brian Winters or Ike Boettger, so I guess you could make the argument they wanted to keep Feliciano at center to make the calls and set the tone but didn’t feel comfortable playing Morse at guard. But that is certainly grasping at straws.
The other possible explanation is that McDermott was covering for a non-football decision. Maybe Morse didn’t feel comfortable playing so close to his most recent concussion or maybe the coaching staff felt that way and only wanted to use him in emergencies. (Then why was he active?) Maybe. Why not say that when asked? “We care about the long-term health of our players” isn’t exactly a negative stance to take.
It will definitely bear watching as the Bills come out of the bye. With Cody Ford likely to return from his injury and re-take one guard spot, Morse could jump back into the center position and Feliciano return to guard. That would get their best five linemen all on the field at the same time.
Cutting Morse after this season would only leave $5.5 million in dead cap space and save the team roughly $5 million in 2021 and more than $8 million in 2022. Feliciano is a free agent after this season.
With how the Bills have been struggling running the ball, they need to do something different on the offensive line. I’m not sure taking out your four-year, $44.5 million center is the right way to do it.
McDermott indicated that the move was only for one week and they would re-evaluate over each and every week going forward.