When blacked out Bills games roll around it becomes very difficult to stay vested in their success. Considering that Sunday’s game along with the St. Louis and Jets games are likely to be blacked out, I’m pretty sure my Sundays are going to be free.
If you plan on using the super-secret internet feed, good for you. If you plan on enjoying a Sunday with intermittent radio feed updates, I say even better.
The Bills have successfully extended their plight another year and it wasn’t even for lack of trying this time around. Big money acquisitions in the offseason and a draft class with plenty of players expected to produce filled in the hope tank. Of course, the team sits at 4-7 with three painfully close losses on their schedule.
Entering this week, there isn’t much to get excited about. The team’s most electric player continues to be used as a 8 bit part and you must remain resigned to the fact that the marriage with this noodle-armed signal caller will continue until the New Year. Mario Williams has finally turned the corner and begun to produce, but there isn’t much more support coming from other positions on the team. These final five games will be pretty empty for most.
There is still the draft and free agency to look forward to. Perhaps the Bills will snag a playmaking linebacker and a new future franchise quarterback in hopes of turning things around. Certainly those two acquisitions should be enough to slide two digits from the right to the left column, no?
Linebacker has been one of the most glaring weak points on this year’s roster. Quarterback is right there too. However, the relatively weak quarterback class and the rich stock of defensive prospects makes me wonder if the Bills might dip into the defensive side prior to sorting out their wishes for a QB come April. They really can’t lose either way. I just know that I would prefer to see a sure thing at linebacker before reaching to take a mid-round QB in the top 10 of the draft.
Beyond the box stat: The Bills haven't picked a LB in the 1st round since 1987.
Damned if they do
Rumor has it that Leodis McKelvin may slide back to the nickel role on defense, the position where he started in week one. If that is the case, that would mean Aaron Williams will resume his role as an outside corner in nickel and dime formations. This isn’t an exciting prospect. However you have to ask whether you would prefer more Aaron Williams or more Justin Rogers? This is a no-win scenario.
Depending on how the next three games go, the Bills could either be 7-7 or anywhere between 4-9 and 6-8. When the Bills ultimately reach the point of being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, perhaps they will toy with a few options. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing what Ron Brooks has to offer as a nickel back starting this week. There is a reason Brooks was drafted despite playing behind Morris Claiborne and Tyrion (GOT reference) Mathieu at LSU. He obviously has something to offer. Why not find out now?
Beyond the box stat: The Bills have 9 interceptions this season (Tied for 17th). They are on pace for 14 interceptions for the season which would come six under last year's total.
Kick it away
This could probably be devoted to an entire post, but special teams can be boring. The choice not to attempt a 52-yard field goal on turf, in a dome on Sunday astounded everyone aside from Chan Gailey. The Bills have shielded away from kicking long distance with Rian Lindell this year and even kept a kickoff specialist out of training camp. When you still need a touchback guy when kicking from the 35, maybe your kicker’s leg isn’t what it used to be.
I don’t endorse using a draft pick on a kicker two years in a row, but Dustin Hopkins played with Shawn Powell for three years and happens to be able to bomb the ball. Playing for my favorite collegiate team helps too. Point is, it is time to move on from Lindell. He clearly doesn’t have the range to be an effective kicker in the league and it is literally costing the Bills points on the scoreboard. Rookie or free agent, it is time for a new kicker.
Beyond the box stat: Lindell is the longest tenured place kicker in Bills season (10th season). Lindell hasn't made a 50-yard kick since the 2010 season.
Despite what will ultimately be failed season number 12, there have been some players who have shown some promise for the Bills. Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore have been particularly impressive to me. Gilmore had a few rough patches early in the year but has rounded into form these past few weeks. He definitely appears to have all of the makings of an elite cover cornerback. His physicality has been particularly impressive.
Glenn has regressed a bit from his early season success. A safe assumption is that the ankle isn’t back to 100% and it was evident that he wasn’t up to snuff against Dwight Freeney last Sunday. Still, he has faced a number of impressive rush ends and hasn’t been manhandled to this point.
Out of the box stat: Glenn is tied for 6th in passes defended in the NFL with 13. No Bills' player had more than 12 last year.
Stats brought to you by Paul Heyman (Joe P.)