As the Sabres prepare to hit the ice for the first time in nearly a calendar year, there is reason for some hope with Buffalo’s outlook for the 2020-21 season. The additions of Eric Staal and Taylor Hall creates the opportunity for the Sabres to ice a more formidable lineup and we discuss how the lines are shaping up and if they are putting the Sabres on a path to success for the year. We also touch on the difficult aspects of the East Division and some of the areas the Sabres may be able to exploit. We also give some love to the Bills as their playoff run shapes up before diving in on Jeff Skinner’s potential usage as the season begins.
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The Josh Allen Experience has been, well, an experience.
Everything surrounding his drafting and the start of his career has been rife with debate. It was pretty evident the Bills were going to move on from Tyrod Taylor after the 2017 season with a mind on drafting a quarterback of the future that spring. And right from the get-go, the process was a fight.
I was a Tyrod fan but I was on board with moving on from him. It seemed as if they had reached their limit with him under center with an effective but somewhat predictable offense. It felt like the Bills were closer to a Wing-T than the other teams around the league racking up passing yards. Of course, the underlying numbers indicated the offense under Taylor was better than you might’ve assumed, but it still felt like they were limited with him at quarterback. Even in breaking the drought, the toothless attack in Jacksonville served as the final straw for just about everyone who hadn’t already began to look forward.
Knowing that it was likely the Bills would be drafting a quarterback in 2017, I had already begun to look ahead to some of the players they could be targeting. I was fully on board. Using a high draft pick to ideally get a quarterback capable of vaulting the offense into the 21st century was what I’d been waiting for. Thanks to his impressive sophomore year, Josh Allen was my personal favorite entering the 2017 season. But as his play wavered in his junior year, I soured on the thought of him. Especially as a high pick.
So, when it looked more and more obvious that Allen was going to be Buffalo’s pick, I got progressively more disappointed with the decision. Given all of the data available to us, it wasn’t unfair to question whether or not it was a good pick. Yet, very quickly it became a capital crime in the eyes of Bills Mafia to question the new quarterback. An odd wrinkle but not wholly unexpected. You want your guys to do well, right? You want your team to be the one making good decisions, not bad ones. I’m almost always on the side of at least giving the organization (Bills or Sabres) the benefit of the doubt with a hire or a signing or a draft pick. I’d much rather start on the positive side of things as opposed to the negative. But considering the way his play regressed in 2017, I wasn’t sold on the pick. Still, the preposterous amount of piling on for anyone who even dared to mention that maybe we shouldn’t put too much stock into wins over Gardner-Webb or Texas State made this an exhausting endeavor from day one.
I’m not sure if that makes me a critic of his. I certainly didn’t want him to fail, I wasn’t rooting against him. But I wanted to see some proof of concept before buying in. Continue reading →
This week’s Instigator Interview features Buffalo’s own Polo Kerber of Sole High. Sole High’s popularity has skyrocketed as Polo and his team have become the go-to for custom cleats throughout the NFL. We chat about the customization process, some of Sole High’s more notable NFL clients and an upcoming project they’ve worked on with Alex Ovechkin.
Another Bills season has gone without playoffs and yet another season has ended with an impending search for a new head coach. We’ve all heard this song 17 times over yet there’s no sign that anything will be different this time around.
Yet there’s no sign that the Pegulas are willing to burn down the front office and start fresh.
The only thing different this time around that more questions are being asked of the decision makers at One Bills Drive, not just the failures of the coach. Doug Whaley, Russ Brandon and the Pegulas have come under fire from fans and media alike and while it doesn’t appear as if any serious changes will come, at least the larger issues are being addressed.
I didn’t have high expectations for this season, I didn’t see the Bills as the playoff team some were selling them as, and I certainly didn’t think they had the answers to overcome their shortcomings. Somehow they still managed to fail to meet my expectations. It’s an amazing feat that the Bills can find new and interesting ways to disappoint, but with nearly two decades of practice I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. Continue reading →
As you may have heard, the Bills won’t be making the playoffs this year. Entering their week 14 pillowfight matchup with Cleveland, they still have a mathematical chance of qualifying, but for all intents and purposes this season is yet another write off for the Bills.
So, as the playoff drought gets one year closer to legal voting age, I decided to form the Bills All-Drought Team to look back fondly on some of the players who admirably contributed to Buffalo’s playoff plight over the past 17 years.
This practice was inspired by this tweet from my friend Russ, whose friends recently held an impressive 11-round Bills Drought Draft. I decided to put together this little project in a similar vein to the Ultimate Hockey and Football Movie Roster posts I did in previous years. The final product is a 22-man roster along with specialists, general manager, head coach and coordinators that spans the entire length of the Bills’ drought. I was going to include President but there’s really only one choice for that now isn’t there?
My goal was to pick a roster that would best represent the trials, tribulations and ineptitude of the Bills drought. I didn’t want it to simply be a roster of the most random players (of which there are plenty) nor will this be a roster of the worst players (of which there are plenty). Ideally there was to be a mix of good players, average players and downright bad players and I think I did a fair job in accomplishing that. Each position will feature at least one backup (aka honorable mention). In some cases there are multiple backups, that was all dependent on qualified candidates and wealth of choice at certain positions.
Each choice was based on a handful of categories that would go beyond simple on-field contributions. The factors I considered included on field play, off-field activities (positive and negative), career trajectory and their overall impact (expected or actual) on the franchise.
The resurgence of the Buffalo Bills over the last three weeks hasn’t just been encouraging in terms of the outlook for the season but it’s been somewhat relieving too.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts heading into this season as injuries and suspensions pulled a number of key defensive contributors away from the team while question marks on offense left me wondering just how potent the Bills could be. Not to mention my willingness to buy into anything the Bills were selling hit an all-time low this summer. There’s only so much abuse you can take over a 16 year span before you adjust your behavior. Continue reading →
After receiving some feedback that some Two in the Box or Instigator Podcast swag would be well received, we took the steps to get decals printed adorned with The Instigator Podcast logo.
Whether or not you’re familiar with the logo, it features the lightning bolts and stars from the Buffalo city flag along with Buffalo Sabres blue and gold. You can slap them on water bottles, lap tops, car bumpers or anywhere else you please.
The decals measure roughly three inches by three inches and will stick on anything. They’re vinyl automotive decals so they’ll stand up to abuse as well. We’re selling the decals for $4 each which will cover any postage necessary to get them sent your way.
If you wish to purchase one send an email to email@example.com or simply tweet to Tyler or Chris and we’ll get you set up. Thanks to everyone for continuing to listen to the podcast and reading the blog.
Del Reid of 26 Shirts joined the podcast to discuss the new naming rights deal for New Era at the stadium. We also discuss what options the Bills and the Pegulas have when the time comes to either renovate “The Cap” or build a new stadium. Download and subscribe to The Instigator Podcast on iTunes by following this link.
Chris and Tyler devote more time to this episode than usual as we got a little off track discussing the Bills injuries of late and the debate around Buffalo’s injury troubles. Our main point of focus is to analyze Tim Murray’s trades and whether or not he’s been successful on the trade market during his time as GM of the Sabres. You can catch the episode here or you can subscribe and listen on iTunes or tune in via Sticher.
The Bills and Sabres each offer countless retail options for fans to deck themselves out in on gameday. Between jerseys, workout gear, hoodies, shorts and hats, both teams have everything you could ever want.
But I was brainstorming the other day about how cool various concept jerseys often look and how it would be cool if a team acted on some of the concepts you see floating around the internet. Not just sport specific either, but the crossovers you see like basketball to hockey, football to baseball, etc.
So as I started doodling I realized the Bills and Sabres could develop a line of apparel – jerseys in this case – which capitalizes on the love design-oriented people have for creating concept jerseys. I dubbed this “line” of apparel the Futbol Series and applied it specifically to the Bills and Sabres. Continue reading →