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Buffalo Bills mailbag: bigger leap for offense or defense?

In this week's Bills mailbag post, we discuss some offensive personnel, the team's most under-appreciated player and whether or not we can expect a bigger step forward from the offense or defense.


Happy Friday, Buffalo Rumblings! With the end of the work week comes our typical Friday morning Buffalo Bills mailbag post, in which I answer a few reader-submitted questions as conversation-starters. We've still got over a month before Bills training camp kicks off, so keep those questions coming in via email (, Twitter (@BuffRumblings) and Facebook (like us here). On to this week's questions!

It's first worth pointing out that T.J. Graham is big enough to play on the outside (at over 5'11"), while Marquise Goodwin doesn't have the height to do so regularly (he's not quite 5'9"). Both players obviously have great speed, but my observation is that Goodwin does more with it as the shiftier and more natural open-field runner. Last year's coaching staff played Graham on the outside, and I believe that will continue under Doug Marrone and Nate Hackett. Goodwin looks like a slot option to me.

There's been some buzz about Mike Caussin so far this year. Is that legit, or is it typical off-season puff content? - Bill

Much of that buzz is coming from WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia, who for my money is the best on the beat at the moment. Joe has mentioned repeatedly that Caussin has caught his eye this spring, so yes - that's legitimate buzz. The real question now becomes whether or not he can continue that momentum and crack the 53-man roster, especially with Scott Chandler looking like he'll be full-go for the start of training camp. Reps won't be as plentiful as a result, and the team will need to find some for Chris Gragg, as well.

The one Bills player that isn't talked about enough but should be is __________. - Matt

I always have a few names in the holster for this type of question; today I'll go with Alex Carrington. In a limited role on defense last year, he flashed dominance as a pass rusher and made his fair share of plays despite only seeing the field for 31 percent of the team's snaps. The schematic flip-flopping that the team has done in his first three years have turned him into a player with some versatility, which will make him an asset for Mike Pettine. I anticipate a bigger workload this season - and when you factor in his kick blocking prowess (just don't expect another six or whatever it was this year), you're talking about one of the team's most valuable reserves and wave players.

Do you expect Buffalo's offense or defense to take a bigger leap forward in 2013? - Danny

Despite similar rankings (No. 19 on offense, No. 22 on defense) a year ago, I think it's pretty clear to everyone that the offense was better than the defense in Buffalo. I'm not so sure that will be the case in 2013, so the obvious answer to me is that the defense will be taking a bigger leap forward.

Quite frankly, avoiding a drop in the rankings would be a win for the offense, especially if they're starting a rookie quarterback. Finishing as the sixth-best rushing offense again won't be easy with changes along the offensive line, and is it fair to expect EJ Manuel (or Kevin Kolb) to elevate the Bills from the No. 25 passing offense spot?

Meanwhile, the Bills have better physical talent on defense, and they'll be coordinated by a coach that, while working with Rex Ryan in New York, took the No. 16 overall defense and No. 18 scoring defense from 2008 and turned them into the league's best in both categories in one year. I obviously don't believe that a similar turnaround will occur in Buffalo, but a finish in the top half of the league is a very fair expectation, and it wouldn't be particularly shocking to see a Top 10 finish, either.

Thanks for the questions this week! And again, please keep submitting your inquiries for future mailbag posts.