You have Buffalo Bills questions that you’ve submitted to me via Twitter @viccarucci.
I have answers:
IDon’tTrustTheProcess asks: The Bills have said they believe they don’t need to have a true #1 WR. In a passing league, who on the roster is capable of drawing double coverage to get the matchups necessary for the offense to succeed? Do you think they will still add a vet WR for the X role if available?
Vic Carucci: I don’t necessarily see an obvious candidate to consistently force multiple defenders to cover him. John Brown’s speed should command a decent level of respect from opponents, and I can see Josh Allen targeting him quite a bit on deep balls. Robert Foster also has the play-making skills to build upon the impactful work he flashed last year.
Although I wouldn’t rule out the addition of a veteran receiver for the X spot, it’s highly doubtful that anyone of significance is going to become available. The flirtation with Antonio Brown was a sign that General Manager Brandon Beane recognized the void for dynamic talent in the receiving corps and that he didn’t see one that carried more draft value than the players they selected at defensive tackle (Ed Oliver) and offensive tackle (Cody Ford). Beyond that, I don’t see a similar pursuit happening again this year.
Also, given that the play-calling and schematic philosophy of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is deeply rooted in the New England Patriots’ approach, I fully expect that the focal point of the passing game will be newly acquired slot receiver Cole Beasley. Daboll will want him to be the Bills’ version of Julian Edelman, meaning if all goes as as planned, Beasley will finish as the team’s leader in receptions while the bevy of running backs does their part to help dramatically improve the ground attack and contribute catches from the backfield.
David Dupler asks: Vic, does an improved O-line, WR corps and RB stable actually help with Josh Allen’s accuracy? Curious to know if those stats are supporting cast-driven or true skills deficiency. Thanks!
VC: I do not subscribe to the theory that a supporting cast does anything for the fundamental improvement of the quarterback. He’s the one who must make everyone around him better, not the other way around. And Allen’s accuracy issues won’t stop being a concern until and unless he resolves them through whatever work he has been doing on his own and will presumably do once on-field football drills begin this offseason.
Zachary Kelley asks: Does David Sills have a realistic chance to make the Bills this year? Loved his game at West Virginia, and he reminds me a lot of Chris Hogan.
VC: I’d say he has a solid chance, especially when you consider how open-minded the Bills’ decision-makers have proved to be when it comes to weighing the quality of undrafted free agents against drafted rookies and incumbents. For the most part, how a player was acquired or how long he has been with the team doesn’t matter as much as how well he performs.
It’s fair to say that players tend to go undrafted for a reason, and if the Bills truly loved Sills, they could have invested a pick in him. However, it’s also fair to say that there’s a reason they signed him, and I agree he could be a fit in Daboll’s offense.
@billsdynasty asks: Do you think there’s a chance with signing Ziggy Ansah?
VC: Beane has said multiple times the door remains open. The question is, how wide?
My sense is that Beane is hanging back and seeing what the true market is for Ansah and if other teams are making any sort of play for him rather than getting into a situation where the Bills would be bidding against themselves.
Alex M says: I thought Harrison Phillips was going to be Kyle Williams’ replacement. Now the talk is that it is Oliver. Who is the replacement for Kyle then?
Despite what I said earlier about draft status not factoring into roster decisions, the Bills made Oliver the ninth overall pick because they’re convinced he can be a transformative component to their defense. Their decision to select him as high as they did was clearly driven by what they believed was a need created by Williams’ retirement.
Phillips remains an important part of the rotation of the defensive line, but he didn’t do all that much to distinguish himself as a rookie last year and needs to make big strides in order to fend off competition for playing time from Jordan Phillips.
Jim in FL says: With the decision on Shaq Lawson’s option revealed, do you think this is a ploy by the Bills to motivate him to play better, now that it will be a contract year for him?
VC: I wouldn’t necessarily call it a ploy. Teams make these decisions every year, and those that choose not to pick up the fifth-year option for a first-round draft choice usually do so as an acknowledgement that the player has fallen short of expectations.
Remember, Beane and coach Sean McDermott inherited Lawson from the previous administration. Lawson never looked like a good football or personality fit for the current GM and coach, even if he did seemingly show signs of buying into their program last year.
I don’t doubt that being in a contract year could serve as additional motivation, but I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Lawson could very well be traded before the season.
Guido says: Does Zay Jones deserve to make our roster?
VC: At the moment, I think his chances are around 50-50, maybe slightly lower, but there seems no question that he faces an uphill battle. Brown, Beasley, Foster and Andre Roberts (for his return skills) are locks for the top four spots, in my view.
If a second-round pick from 2017 can’t break into the upper end of the depth chart, then it’s hard to see him being kept around. Don’t be surprised if he’s traded by the start of the season.
Cole Janson says: With all the new additions on offense, do you see any one that stands out as having an opportunity to truly excel within the system and one that may not do so well?
VC: My way-too-early view of that is that free-agent center Mitch Morse is the player with the best chance of standing out the most, because he’ll serve as the glue for a totally rebuilt offensive line, and Oliver could be the one who might draw some wary looks if he doesn’t pile up double-digit sacks.
Oliver might be in the toughest spot to have the kind of impact reflected by a sack total, because he’s working from the middle of the line and will typically face multiple blockers as he finds his way in the NFL.
matthew says: How much cap room are Bills scheduled to have next offseason? I think they could be in “one player away” mode next year.
VC: According to Spotrac.com, the Bills are projected to have roughly $69.2 million in cap space, which is fourth-highest in the NFL.
I’ll reserve judgment on the one-player-away thing. Let’s see how the most important of the players they have, Allen, does in his second season.
Kevin Shelley says: Do you think now with how the Bills handled the draft and free agency, that the Frank Gore signing was more for locker room or to push LeSean McCoy?
VC: My sense is that they always believed Gore’s addition would be a plus for the locker room and to provide more competition for McCoy. The competition part seems to be the biggest component, especially with the acquisitions of T.J. Yeldon and Devin Singletary.
Matt Klute: What will happen with LeSean McCoy going forward?
VC: Regardless of what Beane said after the draft about McCoy still being the starting running back, I think the Bills are open to moving him. It makes perfect sense for the GM to talk up McCoy’s value, even if teams that might have a remote interest in trading for him can see it is strictly for their sake.
The fact is, a 31-year-old running back – which is how old McCoy will be once the season begins – commands almost nothing in the way of trade capital.
Trent Haines: Can Tremaine Edmunds finish in top 3 for DPOY?
VC: I think he has that kind of talent. To get there, though, he needs to generate overwhelming statistics that contribute to a defense that dominates. From what I saw of him at the start of the offseason program, it looks like he has added some bulk that he seemed to need to help maximize his production.
@Shugsmith asks: Vic, do you think the Bills traded up to draft Cody Ford, because they feared the BUCS would draft him?
VC: There’s a terrific video the Bills posted from inside their draft room showing Beane and the rest of player-personnel hierarchy working the phones for trade possibilities. This was in addition to the GM’s touching interaction with ailing superfan Pancho Billa, but I’m referencing the trade talk because I think it might help address your question.
Trades. Picks. And all the drama.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) May 2, 2019
In one sequence, Beane and his staff were shown as being so determined to land Ford that they attempted to trade back into the first round to get him. The next day, the Bills found themselves recognizing they had to move up from the 40th to the 36th pick of the second round to get Ford. When they weren’t able to pull off a trade, they were all but certain they wouldn’t have a shot at him when another club seeking an offensive tackle, the Carolina Panthers, traded up to No. 37. Much to the Bills’ relief, the Panthers selected a different tackle, Greg Little, allowing the Bills to grab Ford after moving up to No. 38.
Matthew Corey says: Bills make a trade for an edge rusher or trade a RB by deadline?
RPO from Daboll this year?
Post draft- What defensive player benefited the most?
VC: One: I’m inclined to think there’s a better chance they’ll trade a running back.
Two: I would think Daboll incorporates a decent chunk of run-pass option, especially if some of the newer additions to the backfield show the capacity to make those plays work.
Three: I think a decent case can be made for end Jerry Hughes as the defensive player benefiting the most from picks the Bills didn’t make, with cornerback Levi Wallace a close second.
Harry Kozlowski says: Any chance the Pegulas ask Brandon Beane's advice for getting the Sabres right?
VC: My guess is that Beane is more than happy to remain in his own football lane, recognizing there is still plenty of work to do on that side of the Pegula enterprise. All that has been accomplished so far is the addition of a bunch of new faces to the roster. We’ll see just how much better the team is as a result.