Vic Carucci's Bills Mailbag: Downtown stadium inevitable, but won't happen as fast as the NFL would like - The Buffalo News
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Vic Carucci's Bills Mailbag: Downtown stadium inevitable, but won't happen as fast as the NFL would like

PITTSFORD -- You have Buffalo Bills questions that you've submitted to me via Twitter @viccarucci.

I have answers, which I'm supplying from their training camp at St. John Fisher College.

@FBurgVaWill says: Although keeping up with the (Jerry) Joneses of the NFL is futile, the Bills are perennially at/near the bottom of NFL profit margins. At what point will the pressure (external and internal) to build a new Bills’ stadium become a necessity rather than a luxury?

Vic Carucci: The pressure is already there, mostly from the league. The most influential owners (and even the less influential ones) see New Era Field as being woefully outdated and substandard when compared with the state-of-the-art facilities popping up throughout the NFL. They, along with Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league executives, are pushing extremely hard for this to happen.

They also would prefer that it happens now rather than several years from now.

I think construction of a new downtown stadium is inevitable, but the timing is anyone's guess. This is not as simple as Terry and Kim Pegula writing a billion-dollar-plus check, as they did to purchase the Bills. They will contribute significantly, but there will have to be other forms of private money, likely from the sale of personal seat licenses (which I think would be a hard sell in this market), and public money. The NFL would provide a loan, but only after a certain amount of public money is generated for building costs.

I can see this becoming a very difficult and controversial issue, because state and local politicians will be all over this and you will hear more and even louder challenges to the league's position that the lack of a new stadium would put the Bills at a competitive disadvantage than you've already heard.

Oh, yeah, and there is the matter of what to do about that massive hole in the ground in Orchard Park, and all that surrounds it.

@TheBocaBreeze2 says: Vic- what areas of his play do you see Tyrod Taylor improving in this year? Thanks.

VC: He seems to have a greater overall comfort with being the leader of the offense, something that hasn't been all that natural for him the past couple of years.

Taylor remains mainly introverted, which isn't the best quality for a quarterback. But you do see him being a bit more assertive, as he was during the first practice of camp Thursday night when he suddenly pulled the offense together in the middle of the field after some dropped passes and other ragged-looking plays.

Taylor appears to also be doing a better job of making reads from the pocket and going to the right receivers, rather than being so quick to bail and run.

@lostnascarfan says: Rex Ryan was so overly full of B.S. Any thoughts on him saying the Bills are playoff ready?

VC: Rex rarely says anything in public that doesn't have an agenda.

I don't see anyone with his massive ego and reputation for holding grudges having any reason to say anything particularly nice about the team that fired him two years into a five-year contract beyond the fact that the team is still providing the bulk of his income.

Ryan calling the Bills a playoff team, when there are so many questions throughout the roster and a brutal schedule ahead, is typical of his look-at-me approach to everything he does, whether it's coaching or broadcasting.

It also wouldn't surprise me if he saw it as a way of putting a little bit of pressure on his successor, Sean McDermott, and the organization as a whole to follow through on the playoff prediction Ryan made when he became the Bills' coach. Hey, this team is good enough to win. If it doesn't, then the other guy screwed it up, too. See, you didn't get any better without me.

The reality is the Bills are doing a major rebuild, which includes tearing down some of the mess Ryan and former General Manager Doug Whaley created. Of the 90 players on the roster at the start of last summer's camp, only 30 remain. The turnover will continue in the next couple of years before McDermott and new GM Brandon Beane have a team that's ready to contend.

@InYourEyes4u says (in multiple tweets): I'm concerned about the Bills LB group & believe they missed the boat twice by not selecting Reuben Foster with their 1st rd pick. Although Preston Brown & Reggie Ragland are good players, they cannot roam the center of the field or go sideline to sideline like Foster. And neither may be an ideal outside linebacker as well. If McDermott plays his best 11, who do you feel is best suited of the two to play MLB & OLB?

VC: I think Brown is probably the better middle linebacker in this scheme. He demonstrated as much in the 4-3 defense Jim Schwartz ran for his one season as the Bills' defensive coordinator in 2014. Brown works best with a straightforward, simple approach that comes down to plugging gaps and chasing down ball-carriers. Just don't ask him to do a whole lot of dropping into coverage or making a whole lot of pre-snap adjustments.

Ragland has a tendency to play larger than his listed 252 pounds, which is why the Bills have assigned his top weight at 255 and will fine him $600 for every pound over that. The coaches clearly are concerned that he could gain weight to the point where he would become too slow to function with the attack-style mentality they insist from the middle linebacker.

I would say neither Brown nor Ragland is a good candidate to play outside, but for now, it seems Ragland's best role is to back up Brown.

@mclennon99 says: Do you have any insight as to why the NFL has yet to feature a Bill in their "A Football Life" documentaries? I can name a few worthy of it.

VC: Actually, NFL Films is producing "A Football Life" piece on Jim Kelly that I believe will air this fall on NFL Network.

The reason I know about that is because I was interviewed for it.

@WGRFan716 says: Tyrod looks taller out there. Is it possible that he grew in the offseason?

VC: I'm going to say no on the offseason growth spurt, but it's entirely possible he's making an effort to stand taller in the pocket by not crouching as much when he throws. Quarterbacks tend to crouch to give themselves maximum torque before releasing the ball.

@Ocram_Rules: What's your prediction for the starting five of the o-line on opening day?

VC: Cordy Glenn at left tackle, Richie Incognito at left guard, Eric Wood at center, John Miller at right guard, and Jordan Mills at right tackle. And "opening day" is the operative phrase here because:

*While it appears that Glenn is making progress in his recovery from a nagging problem with his left ankle, the nagging has gone on since last summer so it's something to watch. Rookie Dion Dawkins is working at both tackle spots after spending the offseason on the left side while Glenn watched from the sidelines in a walking boot. It wouldn't surprise me if the Bills are forced, at least periodically, to have Dawkins take over at left tackle.

*Wood looks to be fully recovered from the broken leg that sidelined him for the final seven games of last season. I think the Bills intend to let him play out the final year of his contract before replacing him. However, they know they already have a highly capable replacement in Ryan Groy, who performed well through that seven-game stretch.

*Miller is being pushed by Vlad Ducasse, so Miller might not be an absolute lock as a starter.

*I fully expect Dawkins to eventually unseat Mills at right tackle, but it might not happen until after the season begins.

@KevZimm says: Is Stevie Johnson back to the Bills a real possibility? If so, what do you do with Philly Brown?

VC: I asked and the answer is no.

@billsfanphx says: How did the OLB battle start Thursday and who think will be leading right now? Thx Vic.

VC: For now, I think Lorenzo Alexander and Ramon Humber are pretty well locked in as starters. They have a combined 20 years of NFL experience, and McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier are clearly leaning heavily on that to supply much of the glue that keeps the front seven and defense as a whole together.

@MarTheReporter says: Initial thoughts on Zay Jones?

VC: Too early to offer a whole lot of assessment, but I'd say he has plenty to learn about running routes in the NFL where defensive backs are more physical and aggressive about preventing receivers from getting off the line of scrimmage.

It's the first obstacle that rookie receivers typically must clear. And sometimes they never do so well enough to make their mark.

@LeeLewi55 says: Is Nick O'Leary actually going to be utilized this year?

VC: I don't think the issue with O'Leary's lack of production is so much his being under-utilized as it is his mostly ordinary skills as an NFL tight end. The great things he did at Florida State simply don't translate as well against bigger, stronger, and faster defenders.

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