Category Archives: Bills

Predictions: AFC East

New England Patriots: 11-5
Reason: The Patriots always seem to find a way to be on top the AFC East. I see no reason to bet against the Brady/Belichick duo now. This is especially because the defense projects to be better in 2014.

New York Jets: 10-6
Reason: The Jets had an incredible offseason. Erick Decker and Jace Amaro should significantly help the quarterback, whether it be Geno Smith or Mike Vick. The defense, especially the front 7 should be very good. The Jets went 8-8 last year with awful quarterback play. If they can get average play from under center they can have a 10 win season.

Buffalo Bills: 8-8
Reason: I think the Bills made real strides this offseason at least offensively. I am still not sure I buy into EJ Manuel stock and they have several defensive issues. Kiko Alonso is going to miss the season due to injury. That is a huge blow.

Miami Dolphins: 7-9
Reason: I think everyone in the East but the Dolphins got better this offseason. Miami talked a big game last year-the sexy pick to win the division. I think they still struggle on the offensive line and the defense is not dominant.

AFC East Season Preview

Like the fall turning into winter and winter turning into spring season, it seems like a Patriots division title is a yearly occurrence. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick rule over the AFC East with no mercy. The team so many love to hate is consistent as the change of seasons. This year we may have the same result but it will be a lot more interesting.

The Patriots will win the division. They had a strong group of free agent signings that will make them stronger defensively. Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner will help the secondary. Will Smith is a very underrated signing that will help the defensive line. Last season New England managed to have a competent defense despite injury after injury. The 2014 Patriots have bigger goals than just competent performance from their defense. Last season Tom Brady showed how remarkable he really is. He led the Pats to an AFC Championship appearance with a pedestrian set of offensive weapons. Much with the Patriots offense is up to Rob Gronkowski staying healthy. When healthy, New England can have a special offense. When he is on the sideline its just good.

The Patriots may have more competition than they’ve had in recent years. The New York Jets hit a home run in free agency and had a remarkable draft. Michael Vick is not a great quarterback, but he gives the offense a sense of legitimacy that Geno Smith couldn’t provide. He also has small flashes of brilliance. Erik Decker is a very good and reliable receiver. The Jets also got a big matchup nightmare tight end of their own, when they drafted Jace Amaro. Amaro and Jeff Cumberland make one of the best tight end duos in the league; expect to see a lot of 12 personnel sets from the Jets. The Jets also signed veteran running back Chris Johnson. They focused heavily on offense this offseason. They went 9-7 last season with abysmal quarterback play. With the major improvements they have made they can possibly be a 10 win team if they just get serviceable play from Michael Vick.

The Dolphins are going to be competitive, but I predict they finish third in the AFC East. Once again the Dolphins were players in free agency. They signed two decent cornerbacks in Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes as well as Louis Delmas at free safety. Their biggest splash was getting Brandon Albert to be their left tackle. The Dolphins draft was mainly a head scratcher, but Jarvis Landry will be a productive receiver. They drafted two tackles in Ja’Waun James and Billy Turner and they are expected to start one of them at guard. Miami was an 8-8 team last year and I don’t think much has changed. They will be better on defense but the offense still has some question marks. I still am hesitant to say they’ve addressed their offensive line problems correctly. The Dolphins are in my eyes behind the Patriots and the Jets. With a tough schedule it will be hard for them to make the playoffs.

The Bills got better offensively drafting a superstar in Sammy Watkins. They also added former Buccaneer, Mike Williams. This should help bring along the young EJ Manuel under center. The Bills lost Jairus Byrd in free agency which was a blow to the defense. The moral of the story (long story short) is that Buffalo will be an exciting team to watch but they are not quite there yet.

While we will likely get the same result of a Patriots division title it will be more interesting than usual. The Jets will make a strong push and be in the mix for a wild card spot. It would not be a stretch to see Miami in the hunt as well. It should be a fun 2014 season in the AFC East.

Draft Grades AFC East

New England Patriots: D+

The New England Patriots did not have their typical solid draft. While the Patriots are not afraid to be unconventional, they were actually ineffective. They had a reach in round 1, taking Dominique Easly. Easly was far from the best defensive lineman available. I had a 3rd round grade on Easly in a deep defensive line crop. Then the Patriots drafted Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garappolo. While Brady is getting up there in age, this was a head scratcher. Garappolo impressed at the Senior Bowl, but there are concerns with his ability to make all the throws. New England took Bryon Stork in the fourth round. Stork has short arms, a red flag for centers. The Patriots reached & reached. They can say it was a “future” oriented draft, but it was not good.

Miami Dolphins: D-

The Dolphins wanted to rebuild their offensive line; and they forced it. They drafted two offensive tackles in the first three rounds after signing left tackle Brandon Albert in free agency. The 19th overall pick, Ju’Waun James, was the worst reach of the entire draft, I had him as a 5th round talent. Billy Turner was good value but it was odd to draft another tackle. The Dolphins forced drafting for need, and ended up with very little value. Their one good pick was LSU receiver Jarvis Landry.

Buffalo Bills: C-

The Bills traded next years first and fourth round picks and swapped spots with Cleveland at 4. The trade was too much. They did draft a great player in Sammy Watkins. They then traded veteran Stevie Johnson to San Francisco for a low value of a fourth round pick next year. Taking Cyrus Kuandjio in the second round was unforgivable, especially with Morgan Moses & Billy Turner still on the board. Kuandjio is huge but already has knee problems and has surprisingly little upper body strength for his size. They had a few questionable picks. They grabbed a couple of good picks in Ross Cockrell and Cyril Richardson. They had 3 good selections out of 7.

New York Jets A

While it was surprising they took Calvin Pryor over Clinton-Dix; the Jets got a good safety and the one they preferred.
Jace Amaro in round 2 was a great value and a great pick. Maryland cornerback, Dexter McDoogle was an awesome pick; if it were not for McDoogle’s injury he’d be a first rounder. Jalen Saunders was the only reach with the 104th overall selection. Dakota Dozier was great value in round 4.

Team Needs AFC North, AFC East

Chris Schisler

AFC North
1.) Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have two major needs. They need a free safety to pair with last years first pick Matt Elam. Baltimore also needs a right tackle. Right tackle is not typically a position drafted. Don’t be surprised if the Ravens try to find the long term solution at wide receiver. With the uncertainty around Ray Rice Baltimore will probably use one of their third round picks on a running back.

2.) Cleveland Browns: The Browns have a good team, they really do. To show the world this they will need a franchise quarterback. They also need a receiver to pair with Josh Gordon. Running back is also a need.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have a handful of needs. They need a free safety and should also look for the aging number 43 as well. The Steelers need a receiver and a cornerback.

4.) Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals biggest need is defensive end. A guy like Kony Ealy would make a lot of sense.

AFC East

1.) New England Patriots: The Patriots need weapons for Tom Brady. I expect them to draft a wide receiver. They could also use help on the defensive line.

2.) Miami Dolphins: I don’t think the dolphins are satisfied at wide receiver. Their biggest need however is help on the offensive line.

3.) New York Jets: With Eric Decker signed in free agency the Jets are less receiver needy. I could still see them drafting one though. I think their biggest need however is cornerback.

4.) Buffalo Bills: The Bills need more explosion offensively. This would be a common sense landing spot for tight end Eric Ebron. The Bills will also look for help at right tackle and in the secondary.

Ravens Defensive Gameplan Week 4

Every week Common Sense Football provides you with a comprehensive scouting report/ gameplan to get Ravens fans prepared for each opponent. The purpose of these reports is to get the readers ( fans) ready like the pros. This week the Ravens travel to Buffalo to fight the 1-2 Bills.

Scouting Report

The Bills are starting to figure out who they are offensively. In week 1 vs the Patriots they featured 11 personnel (1 back, 1 TE, so 3 WR) a good majority of their snaps. They used many different looks from this package almost exclusively with Manuel in the shotgun.

In week 2 the Bills offense was very different. They started the game in 21 personnel ( 2 backs, 1 TE, so 2 WR). This was mostly a strong I formation with their fullback. The fullback was not featured much at all in week 1. They used this package some throughout the game. They also used their 12 Personnel more ( 1 back, 2 TE). Their base package remained their 11 personnel with Manuel under the shotgun.

In week 3 the Bills went back to their week 1 style, suggesting thats the direction they’d like to head. They were in 11 personnel almost the entire game. Manuel had his worst performance in this game against the Jets.

The Jets were able to get pressure, especially on the outside without sending extra blitzers. Manuel struggles under pressure. There are times he makes a rash decision where he throws it to quickly. But a lot of times he fails to get rid of the ball, or the throw is late. Manuel’s field vision shrinks and he ends up taking too many sacks.

The Bill’s offense is really set up to help their rookie quarterback. Running backs CJ Spiller & Fred Jackson as well as tight end Scott Chandler are great safety nets for the young passer.

The Bills also like to stack their wide receivers and tight ends which makes it harder to play man coverage. Play calling has been a real strength of the Bills. Good simple route combinations & pass protection minded play calls have been staples of the Bills offense. Manuel is streaky. When he is hot he can really get it going. It is very possible to bait him into throws however.

Defensively the Bills have talent, but have a lot of holes. The defensive line is not bad. Marcell Darius is very much like a young Haloti Ngata. Mario Williams is actually getting to quarterbacks, unlike last season. It is a formidable 4-3 front.

Rookie Kiko Alonso leads an okay linebacker core. Alonso is special, at least for a rookie. He has two straight games with an interception. He is great in zone coverage, and a great tackler. I absolutely love what this guy does on the field.

The secondary is the real are of weakness. Missing a starting cornerback and star safety Jarius Byrd the Bills give up big plays in the passing game.

Game plan: Defense

The key to this game is discipline. Its that simple. The Ravens have more talent than the Bills. The defense should be expected to dominate a rookie quarterback. Before we get into the game plan it is important to stress the importance of discipline. The easiest way to lose this game is the Ravens beating themselves.

The Bills are very reliant on the running game to stay on schedule. Usually the goal is to bounce the run outside and flow to the football. The Bills backs however want to get to the outside. We have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, especially on the edges. Courtney Upshaw will play a critical role on running situations.

The Jets had a lot of success in a 3-4 hybrid. The outside linebackers acted as defensive ends, dominating the edge. The defensive tackles played over the guards. They were able to stay strong outside, which funneled the running backs inside. The defensive tackles abused the guards. The Bills run game struggled except for a few big plays. The Ravens need to emulate the Jets defense. The difference is the Ravens must wrap up and run through each tackle. Jackson and Spiller have low centers of gravity and are deceivingly strong. Low pad level is important.

Pressuring Manuel is critical. The Ravens do not need to send a lot of blitz to create pressure, Suggs & Dumervil should dominate outside. Creative Stunts are still needed. The Bills offensive line struggled in each game against stunts.

The Bills guards are slow footed and do not move well laterally. Stunting should be focused on creating hesitation from the guards which should translate into great and quick A & B gap pressure. EJ Manuel likes to step back and frantically out of the pocket. If we can pressure inside we will steer him right into our great outside linebackers.

Our inside linebackers should be able to drop into zone coverage underneath. Daryl Smith had an interception last week when Texans quarterback Matt Schuab forced a throw over the middle. Manuel does that a lot. I want our middle linebackers to follow Manuel’s eyes in zone; he stares down his throws. He is prone to forcing throws over the middle, especially to his safety net TE Scott Chandler.

In the secondary communication is so critical. Pees needs to mix up coverage however I want a heavy dose of Cover 2 man under (But linebackers can mix QB spy and zone). Manuel is A.) inaccurate with deep pass. B.) forces throws into coverage.

Because I want to play receivers in man coverage communication is key. The Bills as mentioned before love to stack their wide receivers. This can cause trouble in man- the who’s got who conundrum. Good communication and safety play should alleviate these concerns.

The Bills main concern must be pass protection. The Ravens have 11 sacks in 3 games. The offensive line of the Bills is far from spectacular. I expect them two play more 12 personnel against the Ravens than they have in the first 3 games. Their second TE helps them immensely in pass protection and is a good blocker. He is an adequate receiver. If they do lean on more 12 personnel looks, they are adding a blocker for either Suggs or Dumervil. This only makes things better for our defensive line. Chris Canty is expected to play, Art Jones is playing great and Haloti Ngata looks like a whole new player.

Are Bills On Right Track?

With a new head coach in Doug Marrone and rookie quarterback EJ Manuel the Buffalo Bills hope to turn their lowly franchise around. The Bills have a lot of talent on their roster. CJ Spiller is one of the most exciting players in the open field and Stevie Johnson is a gifted receiver. Jarius Byrd is a top tier saftey for the defense and Marcell Darius is a great young defensive lineman. The Bills have the corner pieces of the puzzle in place. It won’t look like a winner until they fill in the whole puzzle.

The Bills traded down in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft; and selected Manuel 16th overall. The selection was a shocker as very few thought of Manuel as a first round talent. In a lackluster crop of quarterbacks, Manuel was the only one taken in the first round.

Manuel has unbelievable athletic ability. With a powerful arm and great speed he has potential. Manuel is a raw player and getting him truly ready for NFL football will be a season long project. His accuracy is inconsistent, and he does not have great touch on his passes.

Manuel’s Florida State predecessor Christian Ponder, was mechanically sound and ready to run a pro style offense. Ponder however lacked the physical talent of EJ Manuel. Its funny that Manuel is the antithesis of Ponder. He has all the physical attributes you could want in a quarterback and then some. His fundamentals still need work.

Only time will tell us if the Bills found their savior. It seems doubtful we will see much from their quarterbacks this season. Kevin Kolb was signed to be the band aid that would give Manuel time to grow. Kolb’s career is in serious jeopardy with concussions piling up. Manuel is recovering from a knee injury and the last resort could see Jeff Teul taking snaps under center.

Without good quarterback play the Bills will continue to be the lovable losers. The Bills have been mismanaged for years. A prime example of this is the contract the Bills gave to defensive end Mario Williams. The Bills gave Williams $100 million. If you watch Buffalo you have to look hard for Williams. As my colleague John Langley says “He is stealing money from the Bills”.

There are signs of hope for Buffalo but they are still immersed in their mediocrity. The Bills have some very talented players but they have not put it together. With a daunting history of bad decision making from the front office; I do not give them the benefit of the doubt. Without an improbable spectacular performance from EJ Manuel Buffalo will not pull itself out of the mud just yet.