Good morning, all. Well, the 2015 Bills season is over. Now, it's all about 2016... and this team has many, many decisions to make.
Here are three quick thoughts to start the morning.
1. Waiting on Tyrod Taylor makes sense. Surely, GM Doug Whaley knows his own future in Buffalo is tied to how he handles Tyrod Taylor's contract situation. Clear out salary cap space and pay him a lucrative contract right now and he runs the risk of the rest of the NFL figuring Taylor out and this being yet another epic Buffalo Bills QB fail. Paying up for Ryan Fitzpatrick backfired badly. Believing in JP Losman and Trent Edwards and EJ Manuel all backfired badly. You're all well aware of the curse at this position here. Despite Taylor's solid first year on the job, Whaley is right to show some restraint into the quarterback's contract year. Does he run the risk of Taylor driving up his price to astronomical highs? Absolutely. Taylor saw this effect firsthand in Baltimore with Joe Flacco and probably has no problem in betting on himself. If he takes his game to a new level, he'll get paid. A lot. And if it reaches that point, the Bills should be thrilled to pay a quarterback that clearly deserves such money.
Until then, it's perfectly fine to wait. And it's not like the Bills have money to spend, either. They'll need to release end Mario Williams and tinker with this roster elsewhere before thinking about signing anyone.
2. Kyle Williams is part of the solution. One way the Bills could instantly clear out salary-cap room is by releasing veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams. I know he'll be 33 years in June. I know he has started 131 games and that takes a massive toll on someone whose job is to mash into other 300-pounders on a play-to-play basis. But releasing Williams would be colossal mistake by this front office. He proved he can still play at a high level. His ability to eat up a double team allows the likes of Marcell Dareus and whoever plays end in place of Williams to get one-on-one's. Above all, he's a leader. As one anonymous player told The News, Williams was the one vet who could've spoken up to Mario Williams if some did believe Mario was checking out. When he suffered his season-ending knee injury, there was a leadership vacuum on that side of the ball. The good news? Kyle Williams has made it clear he still wants to play and the body language of Whaley and coach Rex Ryan yesterday spoke volumes. It sure looks like both men want Williams back.
As cornerback Leodis McKelvin said on the Bills 2015 defense: "When Kyle went down, everything changed." Ryan was planning on having a 4-3 presence defensively with Williams, plans that changed when he suffered a knee injury six games into the season.
3. Buffalo will keep using the Seattle model. Despite leading the NFL in rushing, the Bills finished 8-8. It's reasonable to wonder if a team can win with a run-first attack in 2015. Rex Ryan defended this approach on Monday, quickly pointing out that an "efficient passing attack" is needed.
"Which I think we have the ability to have that," Ryan said. "Sometimes when you look at it, I don’t know how many times Sammy was targeted yesterday. But you know I like those numbers, we will take those numbers any day of the week. But we have talent at that position, we will be able to throw the football."
Yes, the Bills will continue to build a run-first, run-often attack on offense with LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee and Taylor carrying the ball in a variety of ways. Yes, that'll probably include aggressively looking to re-sign both left tackle Cordy Glenn and left guard Richie Incognito. But Ryan is right to say they'll still need to pass the ball efficiently. The Seahawks ranked fourth (136.8 yards per game) and first (172.6 yards) in rushing these last two years to reach the Super Bowl, but they weren't exactly quarterbacked by a bum. Russell Wilson, another shorter quarterback who must create his own passing windows and uses his legs to make plays, made more than his share of clutch fourth quarter plays. Now, he's a bonafide star. This year's Seahawks offense evolved as Wilson threw for 4,024 yards and 34 touchdowns. So this is what Whaley and Ryan might be referring to on needing to see "last-minute heroics" out of Taylor. And their hope is that Taylor could ascend in a Wilson-like fashion.
As Buffalonians well know, that's easier said than done at the quarterback position.
Today's [BN] Blitz coverage:
- Vic Carucci: Bills brass look to future, again | Taylor's thoughts all about football
- Jerry Sullivan: What's next for the Bills and Tyrod? Reading between the lines at One Bills Drive
- Tyler Dunne: Whaley calls rift 'tabloid reporting' | Sammy Watkins reflects on speaking up
- Jay Skurski: Evaluation of coaches to come; Lynn to interview with Dolphins
- Bills notebook: Talk turns to other players named Williams
- Transcript: The entire Q&A with Whaley and Ryan at season-ending press conference
- VIDEO: Our Team's Takeaway from press conference and players' locker cleanout
- PHOTO GALLERIES: Bills clean out their lockers | 2015 Bills season in The News, cover by cover