Will special teams save Smith’s spot?

More so than the competition stewing under center at Bills camp; the gaggle of athletes vying for time at receiver has become one of the most intriguing parts of the preseason for the Bills.

One player at the crux of the battle is incumbent gadget player, Brad Smith. Smith’s role on the team was expected to be reduced this season and restructuring his deal during the dog days of summer indicated that he was well aware of what may be coming down the pipe.

With Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin slotted in as Buffalo’s top four wide outs, Smith was looking at the prospect for significantly fewer targets per game before the bags started being packed for St. John Fisher. The emergence of Chris Hogan, hype surrounding Da’Rick Rogers and the performances of Marcus Easley and, to a lesser extent, DeMarco Sampson has thrust Smith into some hot water.

Smith wasn’t going to be a major offensive contributor for the Bills this season. The draft all but guaranteed that the organization was looking for more speed and talent to complement their shiny new rookie quarterback. Even without a defined role on the offensive side of the ball, Smith still remains a quality special teams contributor both as a returner and in coverage.

Of course he has likely been supplanted as a return man too. Considering that, is there still a spot for Smith on the 53-man roster? Or will he be released to ensure a spot for one of the popular youngsters like Hogan or Rogers? Continue reading

Questionable roster choices have hurt the Bills depth

Terrence McGee’s career developed an extremely unfortunate trend the past few years. He has, quite literally, been limping towards oblivion and landing on the IR this week might just seal the deal for the longtime Bill.

Joining McGee on the IR is right tackle Erik Pears. John Potter was also released, making room for three players on the 53-man roster. Buffalo has since filled the three vacant spots and head into the rest of the week’s practices with a full roster.

Marcus Easley has finally found his way to the active roster after three seasons of hardships. Easley, elevated from the practice squad fills the spot that the Bills had allocated for their additional specialist at the beginning of the season. The Bills filled the other two spots with tackle Thomas Welch and CB Crezdon Butler. Continue reading

Extra Point: Bills run away from winning combination

Before the final drive of the game for the Bills, CJ Spiller only had nine total touches. He picked up a pair of receptions on that drive to bring his overall number of touches to 11 on the day. Fred Jackson also had 11 touches. Of the 54 plays the Bills ran, Jackson or Spiller had the ball on 40 percent of them.

Nine of the 22 touches the backs had come in the passing game, leaving only 12 total rushes between the two. That is 22% of the offense that went through the running game (excluding runs by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brad Smith). Yes, less than a quarter of the offense went through a running attack ranked in the top five of the NFL.

That isn’t to say that CJ Spiller didn’t produce. Outside of getting stuffed on a few runs, he still averaged 6.5 yards per carry and has 102 all-purpose yards. That is a whopping 9.2 average per touch. So, while the rest of the offense sputtered, Spiller was capable of nearing first down yardage every time he touched the ball (on average). Continue reading

Field goals: Receivers battle down to two spots

The Buffalo Bills have assembled a receiving corps worthy of a cameo in Major League. It is a rag-tag group of former misfit toys that have come together to become a rather formidable group.

Looking at their draft status and pedigree, it would be easy to say “They’re shitty” or “Who the hell are these guys?”, but the group led by Stevie Johnson turned out to be one of the most consistent groups for the Bills last year.

However, while most of the cream has risen to the top, there are a few spots open and a number of players vying for the roster spot. The battle to round out the Bills’ receiving corps is as open of a race as you could find at most NFL camps.

Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, T.J. Graham and Donald Jones are all but assured a spot on the opening day roster. The remaining seven players – Kamar Aiken, David Clowney, Marcus Easley, Derek Hagan, Ruvell Martin, Naaman Roosevelt and Derek Session – are all clawing for a precious roster spot.

An assumed roster breakdown would have the Bills keeping six receivers on the 53-man roster, with Brad Smith filling a versatile WR/QB spot. Continue reading

Deskchair Quarterback – Bills vs. Jaguars

I’m fairly certain that 75% of the fans who bemoaned the Bills’ poor performance against the Broncos have changed their opinion on the possibility of an 0-16 season for the Bills.

The only thing that matters to me is the 17-0 lead the Bills starters opened up in the first half against the Jaguars starters. Buffalo’s offense was in high gear, the offensive line kept Ryan Fitzpatrick upright and the defense was strong without Shawne Merriman in the lineup.

It seems as if Demetrius Bell responded well to the possibility of losing his job. He got the start and held up quite well against the Jaguars pass rush. Of course Jacksonville was without their best pass rusher, Aaron Kampman, but I’m going to try to stay positive. Andy Levitre was equally impressive when he bumped to tackle, however I still wonder if he will struggle long-term at that position considering his size. On the bright side, if the Bills deem Kraig Urbik unfit for the RG spot, Chad Rinehart is more than capable of stepping in to fill his role. I feel like that switch will be inevitable once the regular season starts but the coaching staff is waiting to weed out the best players for the left side first. Continue reading

Deskchair Quarterback – Bills vs. Broncos

Collectively the 86 players on the Buffalo Bills roster got lumped up by the Denver Broncos tonight. However, the 24-10 score is largely irrelevant to me considering this was just an exhibition game.

Terrence McGee had a nice pick to close the first half.

The most concerning issue is that the starting offense failed to score a touchdown for the second-straight week in a row. I can’t find the stats to back me up, but I’m fairly certain that is a streak that dates back to 2010. Again, it is just the preseason so it is all meaningless. Still, the fact that the starting offense is so pathetic is somewhat concerning.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked very much like a seventh-round draft pick in his limited time. Most of that can be attributed to the fact that Demetrius Bell is the worst tackle in football. Even on the plays that he didn’t get run by or pushed into the backfield, Bell was very average. Kraig Urbik still looked bad, particularly on that screen to C.J. Spiller in the first quarter. Chad Rinehart looked good, as did Andy Levitre. Both players will be adequate for the Bills’ needs inside. Unfortunately it appears as if the offensive line, as a whole, will prevent the offense from being successful or even mediocre. Continue reading

Lee Evans traded to Baltimore

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Bills have traded Lee Evans to the Baltimore Ravens for a 4th round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

This is a major move for the Bills as they are trading away one of their most lethal offensive threats, well at least on paper. Evans hasn’t been the same threat since J.P. Losman was removed as the starting quarterback. Since then Evans has seen his number dwindle -blast year he recorded a career-low 37 receptions.

That is pretty much the end of the reasons why it made sense to trade him. Frankly, he is a highly paid decoy. He doesn’t do much other than run a mean nine route, but he freeze up plenty of coverage for Stevie Johnson.

Now Johnson and David Nelson become the top receiving threats for the Bills as they hope that Marcus Easley and, San Diego castoff, Buster Davis can produce. All of that for a fourth round pick next season.

The main need for the Buffalo Bills is to fill their holes at tackle. They continue to ignore that need and the years pile up since the last time they had a true duo of NFL tackles (Howard Ballard and Will Wolford by my count). Instead Nix opted to remove a veteran talent for a draft lick that will turn into a guy like Dwayne Wright, Shawn Nelson, or Ko Simpson. Forgive me for not jumping out of my chair for this trade.

It seems like the Bills are turning into the Cleveland Indians from Major League, just get enough players to fill the roster and play the games. No need to worry about winning in these parts I guess.