Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Here are this AM's three quick Bills thoughts.
The FitzDrama continues. First, the Jets leaked that their offer to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick pays $12 million in the first year of a three-year deal. Then, multiple reports indicated the deal is actually for $24 million over three years, which would make Fitz the cheapest starting quarterback this side of Tyrod Taylor, Robert Griffin III and all rookies. So clearly, Fitz doesn't want to run the risk of getting paid up front in 2016 but not much in 2017 and 2018. And on the flip side, the Jets see a 33-year-old quarterback who might hit the wall --- they also drafted Penn State's Christian Hackenberg in the second round.
It's heating up behind the scenes.
Negotiations are going public. This will either lead to a compromise or end ugly.
Receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker didn't show up for OTA's and the Jets ever-so subtlety try to make Fitzpatrick look greedy. One simple fact remains: the Jets are a playoff contender with Fitz. Maybe most Bills fans remember that dud of a finale i.e. Leodis McKelvin's premonition. This is still someone who threw for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns, is surrounded by veteran weapons in Marshall, Decker and Matt Forte and is supported by a defense on the rise. If Fitzpatrick returns, the AFC East is that much tougher.
Speaking of compromise... I thought the most telling Rex Ryan quote in his interview with Rob Ryan and The MMQB was when he compared Mario Williams to past players who did buy into his scheme.
Here is the quote in full.
He said: "He’s a good kid, but I am used to some mean (expletive) that play out there. The Terrell Suggs, Jarrett Johnsons of the world. I screwed them, too; I had them drop (into coverage), too. Not one of them bitched. Von Miller (dropped into coverage) in the Super Bowl. Why? Because that’s what’s asked of him; that’s what his job is. Your job is to play. Coaches spend a hell of a lot more time studying tape and everything else. They are trying to put the team in the best position to be successful, not an individual. Terrell Suggs, he has been the defensive Player of the Year in this league. Ed Reed has been. Ray Lewis has been. You can go right down the line. Trevor Pryce had 14 sacks as a defensive tackle. One of the most unselfish guys you’ve ever seen. That’s what it is about. I’ll never forget, I used to have Ray sell out for maybe the 11th guy on defense. Ray Lewis is going to be one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the game, if not the greatest. That’s when you’ve got something special, and that’s what we are trying to build here."
While Williams certainly took his complaints to a different level and teammates weren't thrilled with it, it is also true that when Ryan listened to his players at the end of the season it helped the Bills defense. There are players up front who want to cut it loose more often. In spots, more simplicity can help. Considering Shaq Lawson is out until mid-season and much of the personnel will be the same in 2016 as it was in 2015, it probably will be smart for Ryan to shave some plays from the playbook and maximize the talent he has whether that's Jerry Hughes rushing off the edge, cutting back on Preston Brown's checks before the snap, allowing Marcell Dareus to one gap or even letting Manny Lawson rush a bit more from the other OLB spot.
If a player has an idea, hey, why not listen?
Ryan even mentioned the Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Well, out at the Super Bowl, Miller and his teammates also praised coordinator Wade Phillips for taking their suggestions. It was see-ball, get-ball in Denver. They had the green light to rush without overthinking.
"I just think you work with people," Phillips said the Thursday before his Super Bowl triumph. "That's a big part of it. John Wooden always said that 'They're not working for you; you're working with them.' Although they need to learn from you, you need to teach them, I think you work with people."
That's quite a different tune than Rex.
Remember Bob Kalsu. The only U.S. pro athlete to die in the Vietnam War? Buffalo's Bob Kalsu. On a day like today, let's remember his unbelievable sacrifice. Kalsu, an All-American tackle at Oklahoma, chose to fight for our country after his rookie season with the Bills. This story in Sports Illustrated is a must-read, in case you missed it.
The stories of Kalsu's personality, love for his family and country, and sacrifice will last forever. They're legendary.
In 2000, Kalsu's name was added to the team's Wall of Fame. Bruce Smith's No. 78 will rightfully be retired this season but should the Bills retire Kalsu's No. 61, too? The vote here is a resounding "yes."
He's a real sports hero if there ever was one.