Monday, August 8, 2016

I've moved!

What's up guys, I am proud to announce I am now writing for the Buffalo Bills Fanatics crew! Check me out at their website:

Thank you, and as always, let's go Buffalo!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Key Position Battles After Day 1 Of Camp

It's official, Training Camp practice is here! The players are all moved in and ready to go, and just concluded their first practice today. Training Camp will be competitive as usual, as many of these fresh faces look to make an impact and solidify their spot on the 53 man roster. Even after today, many position battles are already brewing. There are a few key ones to look out for in the coming weeks.

Wide Receiver:
After Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, the Buffalo Bills receiver depth is foggy. There are currently 12 wide receivers on the Bill's roster right now, and that number will lost likely fall to 5 or 6 once the 53 man roster is set in stone. There's several key names to look out for, including Dezmin Lewis, rookie Kolby Listenbee, Greg Little, Greg Salas, and Davonte Allen, another rookie. The coming weeks will hold a lot for this team, and the best receivers will rise to the top.

Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby are holding down the top 2 spots, but after that, there's some indecisiveness of who holds the final few spots. Nickell Robey-Coleman, formerly Robey, is believed to remain the 3rd CB, but with some new faces, such as Corey White and Sterling Moore, the final few spots will be tough to grab. The Bills will have a tough choice, but keep an eye on these players.

Lesean McCoy is of course holding it down as the #1 back, but with him aging, it is likely that the backup and 3rd string backs will see increased snaps this season. Both Karlos and Johnathan Williams got themselves in trouble, which leaves the door open for new faces, like James Wilder Jr. and Mike Gillislee. Add in Reggie Bush, if the Bills sign him, and the Bills have a stacked backfield. Only 3-4 backs will make the roster, so the competition will be very tight behind Shady. Look out for Wilder Jr, he appears to have the potential to be a real stud in this Bills #1 rushing attack.

Competition will be tough, as usual, but with our starting QB set in place, it's time to turn to other battles going on in camp. There's a lot of talent on this team, but it must all come together to be an impact in the NFL this year. Thanks for reading and as always, let's go Buffalo!

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Buffalo's Backfield Depth Proving Valuable As Training Camp Approaches

"I told our players to 'win July'. We won the offseason," Rex Ryan states at a post mini-camp presser back in June. We are now in mid-July and as training camp approaches, the Bills are not "winning July." In fact, some could say they are losing July. The past few days have been not pretty for the Buffalo Bills running backs, as Karlos Williams and Jonathan Williams alike find themselves in hot water. 2016 5th round pick, Jonathan Williams, was arrested this past Thursday morning and is now facing a DWI charge. Karlos, who had already shown up to mini-camp much overweight, has been suspended for 4 games after violating the NFL's PED policy. Karlos, the rookie standout, is not having a great start to his 2nd season in the NFL, and Jonathan is not having an ideal start to his NFL career in general. Both backs were expected to be productive in this offense, but in the world of sports, the show must go on.

Losing any player for any amount of time is not ideal, but with a backfield like Buffalo's, they can afford some absences if they need to. Buffalo's backfield is one of the best in the NFL, filled with talent top to bottom. Even With Karlos and Jonathan Williams out, this RB corps can still be dangerous. Led by the horse of the offense, Shady McCoy, Mike Gillislee, James Wilder Jr, and Boom Herron, it's still not a backfield to sleep on. We know all about what McCoy can do, but Gillislee and Wilder are sneaking under the radar headed into camp and into the upcoming season.

Mike Gillislee:
Gillislee made his first splash in Buffalo against the Houston Texans on December 6th, 2015. Since then, he's made his presence known as a Buffalo Bill, getting a contract extension after putting up 47 carries for 267 yards and 3 TD's in 5 games played. Gillislee stands at 5'11" and weighs 208 lbs. The 4th year back is a one-cut type running back who can pick up speed quickly once he hits the open field. The open field is truly where he thrives, as he can separate himself from defenders when he puts it into 2nd gear. Not to mention he can really make a defender look silly, as he can perform solid cuts. His production will be expected to jump in 2016 as he will be in the regular rotation for the first several games of the season.

James Wilder Jr.
James Wilder Jr. is an interesting player as he has a lot of mystery of what he can actually bring to the table. Wilder was brought in on a future/reserves contract on January 20th, 2016. Since he was signed, there's been a lot of fan hype online about what his potential may be, as his highlight reel shows he is a sturdy back [standing at 6'3" and weighing 232 lbs], who can throw men around and bounce off tacklers. The 2nd year player appears to be an excellent downfield runner who can put his head down and gain extra yards through his "second push." He's not afraid to dive for the endzone, or that extra yard either. His speed also assists in his contribution in the passing game. As a gritty, quick, all-around back, it looks as if Wilder could be an excellent addition for the Bills if he can reach his full potential.

Buffalo's done an excellent job finding RB's for the team, and the depth they've stockpiled may really begin to be seen this upcoming season. As for Karlos and Jonathan Williams, they've got to get it together. The poor decisions they make hurt themselves as well as the team. In the mean time, Gillislee and Wilder will look to training camp and the season, as they would love to make a great impression to the coaching staff. Thanks for reading, and as always, let's go Buffalo!

Image #1: Mark Mulville/Buffalo News
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Thursday, June 30, 2016

How Much Is Stephon Gilmore Really Worth?

The NFL has been pretty quiet the past couple of weeks since mini-camp finished up, but there are still some "elephants in the room" as far as contract situations go. Buffalo has a few of them on their hand, such as Tyrod Taylor and Stephon Gilmore. The focus right now is on Gilmore's contract, as he has threatened to miss time if a new deal does not get done soon. Gilmore is an excellent corner who has displayed some amazing skill over his tenure here in Buffalo, and it's time he gets paid. Overall, what will Buffalo be willing to pay, and more importantly, what is he worth? Let's break it down.

There are three main categories in which I value players. Each category is rated out 1-5 (5 of course being the best). At the end, the overall grade of the player will result in how I value said player.

Pass Defense: 4/5
Stephon Gilmore is excellent in coverage, more so man-to-man. He is a physical cornerback who can frustrate receivers (ex. Odell Beckham Jr.) as well as hold his own with any receiver. This past season, Gilmore posted 3 picks, 36 tackles, and an impressive 18 passes defended in 12 games. He will challenge a receiver, and adjusts well to the ball.  He needs to continue to work on his game though, as Gilmore still struggles with reading shorter routes, such as curls. Overall, his Pass Defense rating is a 4, as he could still perfect his game.

Run Defense: 3.5/5
Gilmore, as stated above, is a very physical cornerback who is not scared to try and lay a big hit. Gilmore does not play a big role in the run defense as Buffalo's front 7 has been dominant over the past few seasons. Still, his ability to lay a big hit along with his speed allows him to make a stop when needed. His run defense is rated a 3 as his tackling is not perfect, and he is often blocked out of plays. Gilmore needs to utilize his strength to break into the route of the runningback to make a tackle. 

Tackling: 3.5/5
Despite Gilmore being able to lay out a huge hit at times, his tackling is not the greatest. He is a solid tackler, and relies on technique and form to make a successful tackle. He needs to improve his tackling in space, but overall, his tackling is acceptable.

Injuries: 3/5
Stephon Gilmore's career has had a lot of injuries, and that may be his biggest downfall as a cornerback. He's missed 11 total games in his 4 year career, having a perfect 16/16 games played only in his rookie year. He's had mainly upper body injuries, such as wrist and shoulder injuries. He's gotta learn to stay on the field to optimize his usage and prove how consistent he can be.

Overall: 14/20
I'm grading Stephon Gilmore at a 14/20, which although it seems low, I give more weight to his excellent pass coverage and physical aspect he brings to the game. Gilmore plays a tough game of football, and deserves a big payday for sure. He has the potential, with a few tweaks to his game and of course, health, to become a top 5 cornerback in the NFL. So, that brings up a question, as perhaps a top 10 corner in the NFL, how much is he worth? 

Ideal Contract: 5 years/$12.5M per year.
This is the type of contract I would offer to Gilmore. In my opinion, he is not worth $14m-$15m, especially with 2nd year product Ronald Darby on the rise. It will be interesting to see what Buffalo does, but this is where I value Gilmore.

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Image #2: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Buffalo Bills Mini-camp Wrap-up

As the Summer finally arrives, the Buffalo Bills have just finished their mandatory mini-camp. A lot went down over the past 3 days, and the Bills believe it's set them up for a great training camp in July. “We’ve won the offseason. I will challenge any team. I think we won the offseason, but we need to win July,” Rex Ryan stated today at practice. The Bills have put in a lot of preparation, and are ready for July to roll around. Let's take a look at some key storylines of the Mini-camp.

Robert Woods Impresses:
The 4th year WR looks to make a big leap this season after being plagued by a groin injury nearly all last season. He's had an excellent mini-camp, looking quick, moving well, and making some highlight reel plays. In addition, his route running has also looked solid. Buffalo has a lot of WR's on the roster, and the competition will really be heating up heading into training camp. Buffalo will truly have a tough decision on who to name the #2 receiver behind Sammy Watkins, but odds are, a healthy Woods could be the guy.

Stephon Gilmore Shows Up:
Gilmore is also entering his 4th year in the NFL, and he's been adamant on his contract situation. Arguably a top 10 CB in the NFL, Gilmore is looking for his big payday, much like Marcell Dareus got last season. Gilmore showed up for the mini-camp after sitting out all of the OTA's. Gilmore is a huge piece to the Buffalo Bills defense, but if they can't come to terms soon, he may be on his way out. Him showing up to mini-camp shows he's willing to cooperate with the team, although he still is standing strong on his desire for a new contract.

Karlos Williams Out Of Shape:
The 2nd year RB showed up to mini-camp far from ideal football shape. Karlos had a long offseason, as he was taking care of his pregnant wife, often partaking in her cravings, it seems. "He's nowhere close to where he needs to be," Rex Ryan said. The Bills backfield is stacked, and if Karlos doesn't get himself into shape soon, his role could be taken over by the likes of Mike Gillislee, rookie Jonathan Williams, or James Wilder Jr. It will be interesting if Williams can return to the shape he was last year, and continue his short, yet promising career.

The Bills are done with any on-field activity until July's training camp. It will be a long wait, but there will be a lot to look forward to. It's only a matter of time until the Bills return for the 2016 season. Thanks for reading, and as always, let's go Buffalo!

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Top Bills News This Week (5/27-6/2)

It's officially June, and as the days go by, we are getting closer to the football season. The Summer is always a slow time, but with OTA's, roster improvements, and injury news, there's always a little something to talk about. Here is this weeks top Bills news.

Roster Moves: 

There haven't been too many moves as expected, besides the rookie signings mid-May, but the Bills added depth to their LB core by signing former Packer and Jet, Jamari Lattimore. The 2011 undrafted FA is 27 years old, and looks to add some needed depth to the Bills while Shaq Laqson recovers from injury. The product, from Middle Tennessee State University, has some size and speed to him, which will fit Rex's tough defensive scheme perfectly. Lattimore will be able to get to the QB, and he'll be fighting for a roster spot throughout the summer. 

OTA News:

Marcell Dareus and Charles Clay are back at practice. Both are key pieces of this offense this upcoming season. Dareus will be trying to help bring the defense back to top 10 form, while Clay will look to keep the rushing game #1 by using his big body to block and open up holes. It's always good to get great players back in the mix, even if it's practice.
Seantrel Henderson will also be making his return to the team after missing extended time last season and most of the offseason so far with Crohn's Disease. He's been recovering for some time now, and will look to take back his spot at RT, as Jordan Mills has been keeping it warm for him.

Injury News:

In addition to Henderson returning, Sammy Watkins is also making progress, about a month and a half after his foot surgery. He said he's hoping to get the boot off [Thursday], and that he is just listening to the coaching staff. Sammy Watkins will also be a key cog this year, as usual, so it's important that he receives the proper medical treatment and follows proper protocol to get back ASAP. 

That about wraps it up for the key Bills news this week. There will definitely be more coming in the future weeks. Thanks for reading, and as always, let's go Buffalo!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lawson's Injured, but Criticism Not Needed Yet

Shaq Lawson Injury: Updates on Bills Star's Recovery from Shoulder SurgeryThe injuries are beginning to hit the Bills, as it seems they do every year. Buffalo Bills 1st round pick, Shaq Lawson, underwent successful surgery this morning on his right shoulder. Now, Lawson must play the game of "Wait and Recover," as it has been suggested that he may be on the self for 4-6 months. For a rookie, losing this much amount of time to learn the system and get familiar with the franchise is crucial to a players young career. With that said, many fans and analysts are now questioning the amount of accountability being held for Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan's actions.

It was initially stated straight out of the draft, from medical crews, Whaley, Ryan, and even Lawson himself that the right shoulder of Lawson was "100% ready to go," which of course, is not the case. Lawson's shoulder issues were known months going into the draft. Adam Schefter, ESPN analyst tweeted during the draft that several teams even went as far as to take Lawson off of their draft board. That didn't stop the bold minds of Ryan and Whaley though, as they believed Lawson was an excellent talent, despite the reports of his injuries. It's speculated that Rex and Whaley were well aware of the injury, but thought the surgery could be put off until next offseason. It could not, and thus, fans seem to be very upset with the coach and GM of the Bills.

"If the Bills knew Lawson had injury issues and may miss up to half the season, why did the Bills take the risk on him?"

"Whaley and Rex don't think about the future, only now."

"Whaley and Rex lied to everyone when they said Lawson was okay."

Those are all loose quotes from Bills fans that I've heard since yesterday. Some fans are even calling for Whaley's job. To any fans questioning Whaley and Ryan about this pick, I say; don't. The Buffalo Bills will be just fine. I understand the concern, especially since this seems like a typical Buffalo scenario in the typical 16 year playoff drought, but it's not time to push the panic button yet, and here's why;

  •  Most fans knew that Lawson had this nagging shoulder injury that would require attention eventually. 
  • Getting this treatment done now will prevent further injury in the future. Let Lawson rest and rehab now, and he will come back full strength and ready to go.
  • Buffalo will get his services eventually. The idea of not having an exciting, disruptive first round talent for, at most, half the season does not sound good to me at all. But, if this team can have a decent record when he returns, Lawson can help further the playoff push. 
Whaley and Rex are not the ones to blame here. Lawson was definitely a first round talent, and despite this injury, he will hopefully be a force when fully healed, like he's expected to be. Lawson was one of the best defensively ranked players in the draft. He is very versatile, and can tackle, sack the QB and even play a bit of coverage.  They took a gamble, yes, but I don't think this pick is a bad one at all. I think he will prove that to all of us in his return. What do you guys think? Thanks for reading, and as always, let's go Buffalo!

Image #1: Bill Wippert/Associated Press 
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