Hope everyone is recovering from their turkey hangovers. Loosen that belt buckle a notch or two, there's no shame today.
Here are this morning's three Bills thoughts...
Cornerbacks worth the risk. Every spring, NFL prospects are put under the microscope and analyzed --- on and off the field --- more than they ever will be in their lives. Last season, the cornerback class was full of questionable characters. Scouts and draftniks alike warned "buyer beware" on at least four of the top seven prospects at the position. Well, two of those four were worth the gamble to Kansas City and Buffalo and both teams have reaped the rewards. Marcus Peters, kicked off the team at Washington for multiple problems with the coaching staff, went 18th overall to the Chiefs and has 42 tackles, 14 passes defensed and four interceptions while taking on No. 1 receivers. Ronald Darby, who witnessed the encounter between Jameis Winston and his accuser at Florida State and reportedly refused to testify, has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed and two picks. Both players have been tested, often, as rookie corners always are and have responded.
Time will tell, of course. But so far two gambles have paid off for two teams in the thick of the AFC playoff race. Both Darby and Peters have outperformed the supposed safer choice in Michigan State's Trae Waynes, taken 11th overall by the Minnesota Vikings.
Coach Rex Ryan has spiked the proverbial football several times at the mic, too.
"I haven’t seen the kid from Minnesota," Ryan said this week, "but he can’t be as good as these two. I think Darby is a little better, but I really like this kid man. I liked him when he came out. They don’t care who they put him on, so will you see him on Sammy, you probably will. He was on AJ Green the whole game. So we will see."
Spencer Ware the likely RB. LeSean McCoy joked earlier this week that Andy Reid doesn't like to run the ball much. But the Eagles-turned-Chiefs head coach has used an effective ground game to generate offense... even without the dynamic Jamaal Charles. Whether it's Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware or quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs have been able to keep defenses off balance. West missed practice again on Thursday, so his chances of playing remain up in the air. The injury report will be released later Friday. That could mean more of the former LSU back, Ware, who tore up San Diego's defense for 96 yards on only 11 carries. West or no West, the Chiefs have indicated that the 5-foot-10, 227-pounder will play a role. Ware brings a power element the others on the roster do not have with offensive coordinator Doug Pederson telling reporters, "That’s what he did in college. When you watch him and go back to LSU, that’s the way he ran back then and he’s always been that type of a runner. He’s a one-cut guy and it’s explosion through the hole."
Ware would be the third physical back the Bills have faced in a row. They had some problems with New York's Chris Ivory but mostly bottled up New England's LeGarrette Blount (16 carries, 56 yards).
The deep ball. It'll be key again. Tyrod Taylor has certainly hit on his share of go routes to both Sammy Watkins and Chris Hogan. And Ryan defended his quarterback this week on that front, calling Taylor one of the most accurate deep throwers in the NFL. But he certainly was not in the 20-13 loss to the Patriots, missing both receivers open deep. The Bills' starter will again have opportunities in the secondary with defenses sticking with a single-high safety and man coverage. In his first year as a starter, Taylor doesn't cycle through progress like veteran or throw his receivers open with consistency. As former OC Kevin Gilbride said, Taylor throws it to a man once that man is open. Still, that's not necessarily a death sentence for the Bills offense. Far from it. If Buffalo can get LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams rolling on the ground, keep those eight/nine defenders in the box, and take timely shots deep, that's still a recipe for success and Buffalo will be in the playoffs. Taylor just needs to hit on those throws and put enough air under them this time around to let Watkins make a play. At New England, the long ball as a tick late and underthrown. Getting this timing down, now that Taylor is throwing with that hurting shoulder is critical.