Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on...
Bills Stock Watch #1
The Buffalo Bills Stock Watch (also known as the BUFFALO BILLS STOCK WOOWTCH) is a space for me to talk about some recent news and trends coming out of practices and Bills media. I won’t be writing this every week, but every so often when I feel like we need to check in on some things. These will probably include plenty more actual information and analysis of the team as we get closer and into the season, but at this point in time there is so little to talk about it’s painful. Alas…
‘Tweeners’ -The rise of the Tweener has come amongst us! No, I’m not calling them much more NFL-acceptable terms like ‘hybrid’ or ‘scheme versatile’; TWEENER is much more fun to say! Anyways, tweeners have received the spotlight this week in Buffalo after Chris Brown wrote an article about how this coaching staff has embraced them. Tweeners are generally players who are too small, big or slow for a position, and therefore don’t really have an ideal position in a traditional defense. But we love these guys! Marcus Dowtin, Bryan Scott and Jerry Hughes could all be described as such. Also, if you stretch the definition, Alex Carrington, Aaron Williams, and Duke Williams have also received significant practice time at multiple positions. In general, I’ve always been a proponent of versatile defensive players, or at the very least, utilizing players that wouldn’t particularly fit in more one-dimensional offenses. I think it’s a great way to integrate useful football players/athletes that other teams passed over because they weren’t a perfect “fit” (the highly-ranked Pittsburgh defenses in the recent past were always very good at this).
Kiko Alonso – On draft day, the pick of Alonso made a few people scratch their heads. He was mostly projected to go a round later in the third round (who cares), and he had a spotty past, particularly with underage drinking (some people care, I don’t, Buddy Nix made it clear he didn’t). At this point, it looks like he could potentially get more playing time than any of our rookie draft picks. He’s consistently on the first team defense during practices, and Head Coach Doug Marrone made a comment this week that they drafted Alonso to be a three-down linebacker. Alonso is tall with long arms, has the speed to go sideline-to-sideline, and displayed terrific pass coverage instincts at Oregon. He could significantly upgrade the team’s pass coverage abilities at the linebacker position, something that the Bills have been struggling with for the past couple of seasons.
Scott Chandler’s Injury Rehab – A sneaky-huge worry of mine for the 2013 season was that Chandler would not be ready for it after ACL surgery, creating a Scott Chandler-sized gap in the tight end depth chart. It now appears that he will be ready for training camp, and is already doing some light practicing with the team. Although it seems that they will bring him along slowly in camp (Chandler himself was talking about a schedule where he’d rest every third or fourth practice day), practicing that early will give him an opportunity to be fully ready for the regular season. Marrone-Hackett offenses in the past have made good utilization of multiple tight ends as pass catchers, so any good news about Chandler is good news for the team. Also, watch out for seventh-round pick Chris Gragg to see targets early in the season, as he seems to have a skill set apt for filling in on receiving downs.
The BuffaloBills.com Coaching Staff Sit Down Interviews – This could also be called ‘Jason Shannon’s Irrational Optimism About The Buffalo Bills New Coaching Staff’. First off, a second consecutive Tuesday shout out to Chris Brown and John Murphy for being great hosts for these sit-down interviews. Although Head Coach Doug Marrone was pretty tight-lipped about team specifics, Nathaniel Hackett and Mike Pettine were very open about their philosophies for their respective offense and defense. And boy were they exciting. Hackett wants to push the pace, tire out defenses, and most importantly, GIVE THE BALL TO CJ SPILLER! Pettine wants to attack quarterbacks with relentless pressure, and utilize players in multiple positions that are going to give the Bills’ defense the opportunity to put the best eleven on the field at any given time. Well said, guys.
The Unintentional Comedy of Jim Kelly’s Post-1983 Draft Interviews – I happened to come across the ESPN ’30 for 30′ documentary ‘Elway to Marino’ again the other day. First off, it’s great. Watching Dan Marino cringe for a couple hours is comedy at its finest. But the quotes from Jim Kelly post-draft were also interesting. Let me say first, I love Jim Kelly, he was my idol growing up, I’ve met him numerous times, and I’m incredibly thankful that he is cancer-free. That said, I still found myself saying ‘F YOU JIM’ at the television when he said “Where would you rather play, Houston or Buffalo?” As someone who was born in ’88 and didn’t get to see the rise and fall of the USFL, it’s still laughable to me that someone would choose anything over playing in the NFL. But I suspect that’s probably an honest answer that almost anyone who isn’t from Buffalo would say. But the good thing is that we won you over Jim! And look at you now, you’re this city’s ambassador and most important athlete (and maybe person, in general). And you love it. Makes me proud to be a Buffalonian.
The Cornerback Situation – I’m going to reserve judgement for a few weeks because the Bills coaching staff seems much more confident in this situation than us fans do. We have Stephon Gilmore, but the rest of the depth at the position is noticeably shaky. Leodis McKelvin (who isn’t practicing), Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers, Crezdon Butler, TJ Heath, and Nickell Robey round out the group. You can make your own judgement here. I still think signing a veteran option may be a possibility. The fading Rashean Mathis seems to be a popular choice to add some competition to the group. Again, I’ll wait a few weeks.
The Jairus Byrd Situation – This is officially starting to scare me.
New England Patriots – You guys all know the specifics by now, so I won’t go any further into the player they lost last week. But Gronkowski had 97 surgeries this offseason, potentially leaving Tom Brady with just Jake Ballard as a tight end option for the foreseeable future. We’re about to see how much of an effect Brady has on a receiving corps, with Danny Amendola, Michael Jenkins, Aaron Dobson, Donald Jones, Julian Edelman (and Kamar Aiken!) as his receivers. I have a suspicion that if things aren’t working out they’ll bring back Brandon Lloyd, who was decently productive for them last season.