"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"
Bills fans likely were saying that to themselves last week watching their team's 27-6 demolition of the Minnesota Vikings. One thing is certain after that result: The next few weeks have gotten a lot more interesting. On to this week's mailbag ...
@atv3 asks: Watching the success of Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Sammy Watkins from afar, is it fair to say the Bills should’ve planned differently and kept at least one of them?
@1981Billsfan asks: When will Kelvin Benjamin become the receiver Sean McDermott believed he was when he snuck him in his suitcase on the way to Buffalo?
Jay: It’s a fair second guess, but worth revisiting why each player was let go. Goodwin could never stay healthy here, and didn’t have consistent quarterback play. Let’s see what happens this year now that the 49ers have lost Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Bills planned to replace Woods in the draft, trading up for Zay Jones to do it. So far, that’s a miss.
I believe there were three things at play in the decision to move Watkins: His health, his fit in the locker room and the Bills’ confidence they would be able to sign him to a contract extension. The Rams weren’t able to re-sign him after giving up a second-round draft pick and a starting cornerback for him.
Watkins is in a great situation now in Kansas City, with a high-powered offense led by Patrick Mahomes. Watkins is a big-time talent when healthy, and the Bills miss him, especially considering the slow start Kelvin Benjamin has gotten off to in 2018.
McDermott claimed this week that Benjamin had his best week of practice yet. We’ll see about that. He needs to start catching the ball.
Rick McGuire asks: Is Josh Allen at a point yet where, as the quarterback and leader, he has the power to talk to veterans about their mistakes or is that strictly the coach’s job for now?
Jay: One of the things the Bills like most about Allen is his leadership ability. Take a look at this quote from LeSean McCoy on Allen from Wednesday: “I’m not big on rookies, but certain guys you can see it. You can tell he’s one of them. He’s smart, he has a dog in him. He wants to compete at a high level, he wants to win, he lays his body out on the line. I’m sure a lot of franchise quarterbacks wouldn’t do that, and it’s no secret that he’s our franchise guy. I love him. I love his talent, and he’s out there just playing. Everything is like a learning experience for him, but for the most part, he’s just got the natural feel for the game. He’s a gamer, so I love that.”
We saw in Week 2 when Allen was firing up the defense on the sidelines some of what McCoy referenced. All of that is to say that Allen certainly does have the power to pull a veteran aside if he feels like it’s needed, but I’m not sure that’s his leadership style. He seems to be more of the supportive type, so I wouldn’t expect him to start chewing guys out when they screw up.
Carl Nocera asks: Is there any plans for a trade for another quarterback?
Luigi Michael asks: With Josh Allen’s aggressive running, does it make it more critical to upgrade the backup quarterback position? Have heard talk that, “well, he’s a big guy,” which seems silly to me.
Jay: It doesn’t appear that way. The team has been comfortable going into the last two games with Nathan Peterman as the backup. We can’t watch practice now, so it’s hard to say how Peterman is performing in that setting. Given that the Bills haven’t made a move, though, they seem content with him as the No. 2 for now. To Luigi’s point, the team has to be concerned with the number of hits Allen has taken so far.
Brendan Sweet asks: Should the Bills be interested in Rishard Matthews? He’s young and talented. Also, where do you think Le’Veon Bell ends up playing this year?
Jim Eimer asks: Bills current top wide receivers would be third or fourth wideouts on most teams. With that in mind, is Rishard Matthews on the Bills’ radar?
Jay: I’ll defer to colleague Jason Wolf on this. He reported Friday that there is “zero chance,” the Bills will add Matthews because he does not have the best relationship with Terry Robiskie, Buffalo’s wide receivers coach and the former Tennessee offensive coordinator.
As for Bell, I’ll go with a team Bills fans will hate: New England. Bill Belichick knows the window to win Super Bowls with Tom Brady is closing, so why not give him maybe the best running back in the league? New England has never been afraid to move draft picks in a trade, so I could see that happening.
Mark Carroll asks: Why is it ever since Vontae Davis retired at halftime during Week 2, the defense has played like an elite defense? I get adjustments, but it seems so drastic. I suppose you really are as strong as your weakest link.
Jay: I really don’t think Davis’ retirement had any kind of impact on the team whatsoever. He was a forgotten man by the time he pulled out of the New Era Field parking lot. Sean McDermott taking over play-calling duties in the second half against the Chargers had to be a wake-up call for the team that the results of the first six quarters weren’t anywhere close to acceptable.
The biggest factor to me regarding the defensive turnaround is the pass rush coming alive. It makes sense that pressuring the opposing quarterback leads to good things, and we saw that in Week 3. If the Bills can continue to get that kind of pressure, the defense has a chance to take a big step forward.
Brady Barksdale Sr. asks: What’s worth more: Whatever we can get trading McCoy or the value he brings to the team in a rebuild?
Jay: Good question. I’ll say the value he brings to the team. I think draft picks are often overvalued in the NFL, particularly when those are Day 3 picks – which is the absolute best I could see the Bills doing in any trade of McCoy. I laid out in last week’s mailbag what’s working against a trade of McCoy. To run through that list: He’s 30. He’s dealing with a nagging injury. He’s got a base salary of more than $6 million that any team trading for him would inherit. He’s got a looming police investigation and messy court case involving custody of his son hanging over him. All of that adds up to a player with minimal trade value.
It’s important to point out that McCoy’s teammates voted him a team captain this year. During the Week 3 win over Minnesota, McCoy was vocal on the sidelines, encouraging his teammates. He’s one of the team’s leaders, and it wouldn’t send a great message to the locker room if he was traded away. For better or worse, the Bills have stood by McCoy, so to turn around and trade him now doesn’t seem likely.
Buffalo Boys Productions: I’ve mentioned numerous times since Day One that the Bills should consider more double tight end offenses and also always keep a safe “dump off” running back or tight end in close as a safety valve? Has Brian Daboll been reading my posts?
Jay: I don’t get the sense from Daboll that he’s all that active online, so my guess is no. To the point, though, we saw the Bills make some big plays last week against the Vikings to both the tight end and running back. One of the more positive developments so far this season has been Jason Croom’s emergence as the No. 2 tight end. With Charles Clay banged up this week, Croom may play an even bigger role against Green Bay.
@EHLanded asks: Does a win in Green Bay change the total outlook of the season that looked bleak just four days ago?
Jay: It has to, right? Back-to-back road wins over teams expected to compete for the Super Bowl – in games the Bills entered as 10-point or more underdogs – would be one of the more impressive accomplishments for this franchise in recent memory. The schedule lightens up after this week, too. The Bills have three straight games coming up against the AFC South, starting at home in Week 5 against Tennessee. Beat Green Bay and I would expect the Bills to be favored against the Titans.
The Bills have to prove their performance against the Vikings wasn’t a one-week aberration. Beating Aaron Rodgers at home would go a long way toward doing that.
Mike asks: What’s the best beer … shower beer, airport beer, tailgate beer, pool beer?
Jay: I spent more time on this question than I care to admit. Here’s how I would rank them:
4. Shower beer – I’ll say it: I find shower beers overrated. You’ve got to make sure water and/or soap doesn’t get in there. My goal is to get out of that shower – so I can then drink the beer.
3. Tailgate beer – This might deserve to be higher, but it’s been so long since I’ve had one that I can’t even give it a fair ranking. One concern about the tailgate beer is that it’s followed by the dread of knowing you’ve got to go to work the next morning. That’s always a buzzkill.
2. Airport beer – If you’re going to willingly place yourself in a metal tube that travels hundreds of miles per hour 30,000 feet above the earth, you might as well have something to calm your nerves. Airport beers often come at the start of vacation, which obviously works in their favor.
1. Pool beer – I’m pretty sure it can be scientifically proven that you can’t have a bad time when you’re having a beer at a pool. The weather’s great, the music is probably playing ... pool beers are No. 1.
Nick Terry asks: Why is it that after I get out of the shower, I’m “clean,” but the towel I use when I’m “clean” is “dirty?”
Jay: Why aren’t you using clean towels? More importantly, did you have a shower beer? Thanks for all the questions this week!
Story topics: Brian Daboll/ Charles Clay/ Jason Croom/ Josh Allen/ LeSean McCoy/ Marquise Goodwin/ Nathan Peterman/ Rishard Matthews/ Robert Woods/ Sammy Watkins/ Sean McDermott/ Terry Robiskie/ Vontae Davis/ Zay Jones