Here are my three thoughts on the Buffalo Bills at the end of one of the newsier weeks of the offseason:
> You've got to hand it to Doug Whaley. He isn't making any attempt to walk back his assertion on NFL Network earlier this month that the Bills drafted three players who will "start right off the bus" in Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland, and Adolphus Washington.
Nor is he showing even the slightest trepidation about Lawson needing shoulder surgery right after rookie minicamp.
“We’re going to play the best people," the Bills' general manager told Greg Bedard of SI.com. "We think they’re the best people, and if they come in and don’t perform that well, then we didn’t do our job right. So that’s on us. I have no problem with that."
Whaley also doesn't appear to have any problem with the flap created by Lawson's operation and the uncertainty of when he will be ready to play.
“We don’t know about the timetable just yet because he had the surgery (Tuesday), but we felt, ‘Let’s get this done now so if anything happens later on, we don’t want to be in the middle of the season and have to deal with it,’” Whaley said. “Why don’t we just remove all doubt and get it done now? And when he gets back, he’s back 100 percent for the rest of his career. It was a combination of everything, from the information we had, we had a little incident and we just sat down and asked, 'What’s the best thing for everybody involved?' And we came up with that."
Talk about doubling down on boldness. The guy seems unfazed by the criticism to which he and the rest of the Bills' organization have faced as a result of the Lawson situation. And Whaley is welcoming the elevated expectation that he is helping to create by touting the immediate impact he's expecting from the Bills' top three picks.
“If they don't perform, then they’re not going to play,” Whaley said. "We’re putting a lot of pressure on those guys. We believe we have guys that have come from winning programs, and they’re not going to be wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. They come from basically pro programs that know how to win, and they’ve been successful in their past, and we expect that to continue.”
> The Bills announced their training-camp schedule Thursday. When you consider that 16 two-hour practices are on tap from July 30 to Aug. 22, they really don't have a whole lot of time to prepare for the season.
A total of roughly 32 hours of work over three weeks is all Rex Ryan and his assistant coaches will have (besides two preseason games played while they're based at St. John Fisher College) to get their three prized rookies (and other young newcomers) up to speed with a complex defense and an offense trying to find a passing game as consistently effective as its dominant rushing attack.
Not only do the rules of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement put severe limitations on offseason workouts, but they also put restrictions on the amount of contact teams can have during camp. The pace and tempo are kept very much in check.
For the Bills and other teams in the league, training camp has pretty much become a glorified marketing opportunity, with the ability to put the team on display for fans who mostly don't attend games, sell merchandise and give sponsors somewhere to go for a summer outing.
> If there's any truth to the Bloomberg News report that the NFL is moving the Pro Bowl from Honolulu to Orlando, the league might as well just put its embarrassing all-star "game" out of its misery.
The trip to Hawaii was about all that players found attractive about being selected to the Pro Bowl in voting by their peers, coaches, and fans. And that was something that mostly appealed to younger players. Established veterans can't even be bothered with making the free trip even to collect the cash paid to each member of the winning ($61,000) and losing ($30,000) team.
Orlando is hardly going to feel like any sort of exotic trip, especially with rosters filled with players who are either from Florida or reside there in the offseason. Since 1979, the only Pro Bowls not played in Honolulu were staged in Miami (2010) and Arizona (2015), both of which also were Super Bowl cites those years.