We should learn a great deal about the Buffalo Bills in Week Four. A road win in Atlanta just might mean it's time to reassess our expectations for this season. This week's mailbag deals with that topic, particularly when it comes to the 2018 NFL Draft.
Let's get to your questions:
Rick McGuire asks: What if the Bills covet Sam Darnold but the Jets hold the No. 1 overall pick. Would they trade with Buffalo and at what ridiculous cost?
Jay: A few things would have to happen for this scenario to play out. No. 1, the Jets would have to finish with the worst record in the league. The Browns and 49ers would like a word about that. No. 2, Darnold would have to leave Southern California. It’s entirely possible he sizes up the team that lands the No. 1 pick and says, ‘You know what, I’m good being the starting quarterback for one of the most powerful college programs in the country, living in Los Angeles for another year.”
But, if the Jets do get the No. 1 pick and Darnold does declare for the draft … there is no way New York is trading that pick to the Bills. Maybe there is a “ridiculous” price, as Rick puts it, but there’s no way General Manager Brandon Beane should do that. There will be other quarterbacks to choose from in 2018. Instead of mortgaging the future for Darnold, Beane needs to identify and acquire one of them to be the franchise quarterback moving forward.
Alex M. asks: With the high turnover on the Bills’ roster, can Beane and McDermott use the excuse of inheriting a bad roster if the season goes south?
Jay: Absolutely they can. Does that even qualify as an excuse? To me it’s a legitimate reason. For as much turnover as there has been, this clearly isn’t the roster Beane and McDermott would have gone into the season with if they had their way on every decision.
Exhibit A in that regard is Marcell Dareus. The new front office inherited the worst contract in football, and despite saying all the right things about trying to get Dareus on the bus … blah, blah, blah … do you really think they are happy with him on the roster? There are certain players with contracts that are too tough to move on from right away, and Dareus is one of them.
There’s a reason former General Manager Doug Whaley got fired. He didn’t acquire nearly enough good players, and wildly overpaid some of the ones he did.
With six picks in the first three rounds of the draft, Beane has given himself some ammunition to rebuild the roster as he sees fit, but it will be a … wait for it … process.
Rob Reid asks: Is McDermott going to win us out of being able to draft a QB?! The ultimate nightmare scenario.
Jay: That depends on where you stood during the whole “tanking” debate that took place after the team traded away Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby during training camp. I never believed that was the case. I also didn’t think the Bills were so talent deficient that they would challenge for the No. 1 overall draft pick. I still don’t believe that, either.
I’ve been impressed with the Bills’ defense through the first three weeks of the season, but I’m not ready to drastically change my preseason prediction on their record, which was 6-10. If they find a way to beat Atlanta on Sunday, then maybe we should talk next week.
So I don’t think McDermott is going to “win” the team out of a top quarterback, because I don’t think they were ever going to challenge for a top-five pick in the draft anyway. The good news is, depending on how many quarterbacks declare, there could be good options in the middle of the first round for the Bills, so don’t worry too much, Rob.
Dean Kindig asks: Atlanta leads NFL in fewest opponent rush attempts. Is a key to #Bills victory to buck this trend?
Jay: It could be, but wouldn't we have said the same last week? If Tyrod Taylor plays as well Sunday as he did against the Broncos, maybe the Bills can win another game with LeSean McCoy not doing much. We haven't seen Taylor perform like that on the road, though, and Atlanta is a much better opponent. Given that the Falcons have had issues against the run -- opponents are averaging 4.8 yards per carry -- it would make sense for the Bills to try and establish McCoy. That would allow them to control time of possession and keep the Falcons' high-powered offense off the field.
rtconner asks: Is McDermott the best coach the Bills have had since Marv Levy?
Jay: What a ridiculous question ... *starts thinking about it* ... I mean, he's only been here for three games that count ... *thinks about it more* ... it's way too soon to say that? Right?
Here is who McDermott would have to beat out, not counting interim coaches: Wade Phillips (29-19 record), Gregg Williams (17-31), Mike Mularkey (14-18), Dick Jauron (24-33), Chan Gailey (16-32), Doug Marrone (15-17), Rex Ryan (15-16). Clearly, Phillips is the best of that bunch. The bar is not that high to be considered the second best of that group.
Chad LaFever asks: Why aren't the Pegulas, and other owners, deciding if players kneel or stand? Players in uniform represent the team, not themselves?
Jay: The Pegulas were in the Bills' Saturday night meeting before the Broncos game when the team decided that players could kneel for the anthem if they wanted to do. As owners of the team, they could have forbidden players to do so, but what would that have looked like? Would they have cut LeSean McCoy if he took a knee? And Lorenzo Alexander? What about the other 10 players who decided to kneel? What kind of a message would that have sent, both to the team and the public?
I totally disagree that players in uniform don't also represent themselves. Their names are on the back of those jerseys, and you can be sure those names are important to each and every one of them. Working for a company does not strip a person of his or her individuality.
Nick Rizzo asks: Teams seem to succeed in midlevel pass game. Is that a product of zone defense or reflect the linebackers' coverage ability? And does this mean that Brady will feast?
Jay: Let's look at the numbers. According to the NFL's Next Gen stats, the average intended air yards for the three quarterbacks the Bills have faced so far have gone up each week. Josh McCown threw the ball down field an average of just 6.1 yards per attempt in Week One, while Cam Newton averaged 8.8 yards and Trevor Siemian averaged 10.6 yards. Against both Carolina and Denver, there were holes to be found in the Bills' zone defense, particularly in the first half of both games. Credit defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and the players, however, for making the necessary adjustments as the game went on. The Bills are the last team in the league not to allow a passing touchdown, so that should count for something.
Will they get shredded by Tom Brady? Probably. But that's true for just about every team in the NFL.
Eileen Hryckowian asks: Do you think Donald Trump is mad that he didn't have the winning bid to buy the Buffalo Bills and this is vindication?
Jay: I would think being President of the United States of America is a good consolation prize to owner of the Bills, but I can't speak for others.
Mista Bob Dobalina: Can't it be Sabres season already?
Jay: No clue where Mista Bob is going with this one. The Sabres' first game is a week away.
Is this a "I'm tired of watching the Bills" question? They're 2-1. Is it a "I'm tired of the 80-degree weather" question? Complaining about 80-degree days in October is like saying too many supermodels want to date you, Bob. I'm confused, which means it's a good time to wrap it up for this week. Thanks for the questions!