Once again, it's a "prove it" week for the Buffalo Bills.
The Week Four win on the road in Atlanta was the first time this season we got a chance to see if this team is "for real." As impressive as that win was, however, much of the good from it was erased the following week when the Bills lost at Cincinnati.
Similarly, coming out of their bye week and beating Tampa Bay to get to 4-2 was good, but it won't mean nearly as much if the team can't back it up with a win over the Raiders. More on why I feel like this is a pivotal point in the Bills' season at the end of this week's mailbag. Now let's get to your questions:
Jared E. Smith asks: Be the judge of the debate: What’s the better trade, LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso or Jerry Hughes for Kelvin Sheppard?
Jay: Fun question. Both deals have some strong similarities. In each case, the player the Bills traded away spent only a year with his new team — Alonso in Philadelphia and Sheppard in Indianapolis. Each player the Bills received is clearly better than the one they sent away.
Here’s why I’ll pick the Hughes deal as being the better trade. Everyone knew McCoy was a great player. He has lived up to expectations in Buffalo. Hughes, on the other hand, has blown them away. Before he came to the Bills, he was on the verge of being a bust as a first-round draft pick. Stuck behind Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney with the Colts, he had just seven starts over his first three seasons. Credit the Bills’ former front office for making both deals, but particularly seeing something in Hughes that perhaps few others did at the time.
Carli Zielinski asks: Do you think the Bills are going to make any big trades before the deadline?
Jay: This is just setting me up to be on Old Takes Exposed, but … no. While the trades of Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby this summer should have taught us not to rule anything out, it’s tough to make deals in the NFL. There are a few different reasons for that.
No. 1, players need time to learn the scheme of their new team. Sometimes that can be accomplished quickly, but more often that takes a decent amount of time. No. 2, there are serious salary-cap implications when a player is traded. If the Bills were to move, say, Marcell Dareus or Cordy Glenn, they would still have a big cap hit next year for that player. The team acquiring a player must also have enough cap space to fit the contract they inherit. No. 3, every team will be skeptical about why a player is available to begin with. Is he a problem in the locker room? Is he washed up? All of those questions have to be considered.
Because of those reasons, and the general lack of activity at the trade deadline, it would be a reach to expect the Bills to make any “big” deals. Given that they have at least one player I firmly believe that they would like to move, though, in Dareus, it can’t be ruled out.
Jake Krezmien asks: What week does LeSean McCoy hit 10,000 rushing yards?
Jay: *shakes Magic 8-Ball*
McCoy needs 676 more yards to reach the milestone. He’s averaged 75.8 per game in his career. If he keeps that pace up, he’ll surpass 10,000 in Week 16 at New England.
It’s worth noting that he’s averaging just 61.7 yards per game so far this season, though, so he’ll have to start picking up the pace, like he did in Week Seven against Tampa Bay.
Jason ShanDarsh asks: Is sliding the best way we should be protecting QBs downfield?
Jay: This is in reference to the injury suffered by Joe Flacco on Thursday night, when he was drilled by Alonso and suffered a concussion. Flacco seemed to slide a little late as he attempted to pick up the first down, but Alonso didn't appear to make any effort not to make contact to the quarterback's head. Seeing the play, I thought Alonso should have been ejected.
As for whether there is a better alternative to sliding, I don't have one. Unfortunately, injuries like this will occur from time to time in those situations. If Alonso was ejected and suspended, would defenders be more careful about avoiding such hits? That would be my solution right now.
"Brandoooo" asks: Why aren’t the Bills using Groy at right guard, since they haven’t been satisfied with the production there?
Jay: This has been a popular question for awhile now. Coach Sean McDermott has been asked about it and says that Groy is a consideration, but we haven't seen him work in at that spot during the limited practice time we get to watch. The answer seems to be that the Bills like Groy best at center, which means his playing time will be limited as long as Eric Wood is healthy. As the only backup interior lineman active on game day, Groy needs to know both guard positions and center, so clearly the coaching staff trusts him. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo had Vlad Duccase in Baltimore, so he obviously feels right now like that's the Bills' best option.
"Brian McThroatChop" asks: Can we trade Anquan Boldin to Washington for Terrelle Pryor? Update on Charles Clay?
Jay: Thanks for the question, Mr. McThroatChop. If the Redskins were to make that offer, and Bills GM Brandon Beane liked it, then sure. Of course, neither team is going to come out and say so beforehand. That deal looks good from the Bills' side, but I'm not sure the Redskins would bite. If they were trading Pryor, it's because they are comfortable with the receivers they had. My guess is they would look to fortify another position.
Mark Jakubowski asks: Why is Cordy Glenn not being favorably looked at long term, looked at as trade bait? #jasonpeters
Jay: Simple – he has a big contract that the current front office didn't sign him to. Just look at what has happened to Doug Whaley's draft picks. It's clear that Beane and McDermott want their own guys. The team traded up into the second round for Dion Dawkins. While most thought that was to play him at right tackle in place of Jordan Mills, Dawkins was a left tackle in college at Temple. That's where he has played when Glenn has been out. The Bills can free up significant cap space by moving on from Glenn, either at the trade deadline or in the offseason. Is that the best idea? I'd be hesitant to do it, because we've seen him be a good (not great) player here for a long time.
"Gangs" asks: Why is the media so sensitive about Boldin?
Jay: Why are fans so sensitive? I've gotten more responses about Boldin than anything else I've written this week, and several of them have, shall we say, not been kind in his direction.
If you think he quit the Bills because he didn't like the direction the team was headed, I can understand being miffed. But the Bills are 4-2 without him. Sure, they could use help at receiver, but does anyone really believe a 37-year-old would be the difference maker this team is lacking?
The truth is, the Bills hold all the leverage here. If a team offers up what the Bills feel is fair value, they'll get something in return for a player who would otherwise be sitting at home. That's not a bad situation for the team to be in.
Justin Phillips asks: What would an Anquan trade fetch in return?
Jay: Again, a 37-year-old can't have that much trade value. My guess is, depending on the team, the Bills would take a seventh-round draft pick. Maybe that could become a sixth-round pick based on Boldin's playing time for a new team. Anything more than that would be a surprise.
Tim Bowen asks: Seriously want to know the logic behind 6 player inactive squad? All teams have 53 players on roster why not allow all to dress?
Jay: The reason is injuries. The Bills, for example, have ruled three players out for Sunday's game – tight end Charles Clay, linebacker Ramon Humber and cornerback E.J. Gaines. Safety Jordan Poyer (knee) and left guard Richie Incognito (ankle) might not be able to play because of injuries. By limiting teams to 46 players active on game day, the idea is that there will be a competitive balance. If the Raiders had all 53 players healthy, but the Bills were without the five players mentioned, that could be looked at as a disadvantage. A possible solution would be teams having the ability to promote players from the practice squad to the active roster to get to 53, but the pay scale would have to be worked out between the league and player's union – two sides who generally can't agree on what is up and what is down.
Patrick Yandow asks: Why is next week’s game only on NFL Network and not CBS or NBC like every other Thursday night game?
Jay: Because it's Bills-Jets? There are three games this season that are only on NFL Network, with Bills-Jets joining Texans-Bengals in Week Two and 49ers-Rams in Week Three. That doesn't say much for the national appeal of those teams.
Tom Mehs asks: "Am I wrong to feel like the wheels can fall off? Pass defense is starting to fail and the offense is weak. I'm worried it ends with six wins."
Jay: I wouldn't say you're wrong. I'd say you are a Bills fan. I'd also say that would make my preseason prediction right, which I would be sure to proudly tell all of you. Here is how I would predict the remaining 10 games:
• Week Eight, Oakland – Loss.
• Week Nine, at N.Y. Jets – Win.
• Week 10, New Orleans – Loss.
• Week 11, at L.A. Chargers – Win.
• Week 12, at Kansas City – Loss.
• Week 13, New England – Loss.
• Week 14, Indianapolis – Win.
• Week 15, Miami – Win.
• Week 16, at New England – Loss.
• Week 17, at Miami – Win.
That gets the Bills to 9-7. That's three games better than what I predicted before the season, but might not be enough to get into the playoffs. That's why a win Sunday against the Raiders would be huge.