Mario Williams gets animated in Arizona game
Coming into the Buffalo Bills Week 9 game at Houston, the overall defense is currently ranked No. 31 in the NFL. So that begs the question, would you want to "buy or sell" each member of the defense returning for 2013? In other words, which players do you want to see coming back next year?
The following slideshow is an alphabetical listing of the current 27 Buffalo Bills defensive players that are on the 2012 roster. On each slide we will conclude with a buy or sell decision on each player returning or not for the 2013 season. We are focusing on the players, not on the defensive coordinator or the defensive coaches.
Our presentation will analyze the players current contributions, looking at their age, contract status, performance and overall health to determine if they should be brought back for 2013. All Bills players' contract information published in the presentation is courtesy of Spotrac.com.
The first slide offers a detailed overview of where the Bills defense currently ranks in a number of categories. If the rankings leave you a little queasy, you are not alone.
For those Buffalo fans that still want to believe, we can point to the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles defense as a source of hope. That Eagles team brought in expensive free agents with a new defensive coordinator. The Eagles defense struggled in the first half of the season, and then they finally meshed over the final month of the season. Whether that same scenario occurs in Buffalo remains to be seen.
Bills defense hasn't had very many moments to celebrate in 2012
Before we dive into the presentation, it is fitting to provide a detailed overview of just how badly the Bills current defense stacks up to the rest of the NFL. All rankings were current after Week 8 games. This could get ugly folks.
Overall Defense: giving up 424.1 yards per game, ranked No. 31 in NFL
Passing Defense: allows 247.3 yards per game, ranked No. 22 in league
Rushing Defense: gashed for 176.9 yards per game, dead last in NFL
Scoring Defense: gives up 32.4 points per game, dead last in NFL.
Sacks: recorded 17 sacks, tied for No. 15 rank.
First Downs Allowed: allowed 166 first downs, ranking them at No. 25
Rushing First Downs Allowed: 71 first downs by rushing, dead last in NFL
Passing First Downs Allowed: 86 first downs by passing, tied for No. 12
Third-Down Conversions: 43 times opposition converted on third down, tied for No. 23
Third-Down Conversion %: Allowed opponents to convert on third down 47.3 percent of time, ranked dead last in the NFL.
Fourth-Down Conversion %: Opponents converted on fourth down 80 percent of the time (four out of five), ranked at No. 28 in league.
Interceptions: Have six on the year, tied for No. 19 rank.
Forced Fumbles: With nine forced fumbles, the Bills are tied for No. 8 rank in the league.
Fumble Recoveries: With five fumble recoveries, Buffalo is tied for No. 15 in the NFL.
Turnovers Created: Created 11 total turnovers, tied for No. 14 in NFL.
Like we said, this is ugly. It has been as painful to report on as it has been to watch. Looking up and down this list, it is difficult to find many bright spots. If you prefer even deeper analysis, Football Outsiders.com has the Bills overall defense ranked at No. 31 for the 2012 season.
Mark Anderson tries to snare Matt Cassel
Bills DE Mark Anderson was another of the ballyhooed free-agent signings the Bills accomplished in the 2012 offseason.
To be fair, Anderson's overall 2012 performance will be skewed due to the knee injury that he suffered in Week 5. Anderson underwent surgery to repair his knee, and he is now back practicing with the team. It is too soon to know if he will receive medical clearance to play against Houston in Week 8.
Prior to hurting the knee, Anderson had only registered one sack in the first five games, which basically puts him on pace for three sacks for the year.
Anderson's contract calls for him to make $19.5 million over four years. Anderson is under the Bills' control through the 2015 season. According to his salary information on Spotrac.com, here is the breakdown:
The Bills gave Anderson $8 million guaranteed. In 2013, Anderson is due to get a base salary of $2.5 million, along with potential bonuses totaling $2.1 million. The salary cap hit on Anderson is set at $4.6 million.
2012 season totals: Anderson is tied with Chris Kelsay for No. 15 on the Bills with 12 tackles. He has two tackles for a loss, one sack, two quarterback hits and deflected one pass. The rest of his stat line is empty.
Anderson uses his speed, quickness and athletic mobility to try to beat the tackle to the quarterback. If he doesn't get there (which is most of the time based on having just one sack), he winds up running past the quarterback and is out of position.
He has lost containment and that side of the defensive line is vulnerable for a screen or a quarterback scramble. Batting down a pass is out of the question, since he is already behind the quarterback. It doesn't appear that Anderson has that many moves. It's the same speed pass rush over and over again.
Based on the what we witnessed over the first five games, and the high compensation level, SELL on Mark Anderson. Due to salary cap hit, Bills should explore trade market for Anderson. Of course, he still has the second half of the season to turn his year around, but Kyle Moore is proving that Anderson is expendable.
Nick Barnett puts a hit on Kevin Kolb
Bills LB Nick Barnett is the only true veteran linebacker that the Bills dress every game. Consider Bryan Scott to be a unique nickel LB/nickel safety type. Kirk Morrison hasn't dressed all year.
Due to the young nature of the Bills linebacking corps, it makes sense to retain one veteran to help guide the youngsters like Sheppard and Bradham along. If the Bills believe that Barnett isn't fast enough or his reaction time is slowing down too much, he can then be rotated in to keep the starters fresh.
He is one of the few players on the team that has postseason experience, and that is a great thing to have on your roster.
2012 Season Totals
Barnett leads Buffalo with 57 tackles. He also is credited with three tackles for a loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one quarterback hit.
Barnett may have lost a step over the span of his 10-year NFL career, but he makes up for it with experience, anticipation and studying the opposition's tendencies. Barnett has been guilty of not filling his gap or containing on his end on some of the bigger gains against the Bills this season.
As for 2013, Barnett will be entering the final year of his contract with Buffalo. He is due to earn a base salary of $3.5 million with another $500,000 available in bonus. The salary cap hit for Barnett would be $4 million in 2013.
The call here is to BUY on Barnett for 2013, keeping him for the last year of his deal. He is well received on the team. If his contract expires after 2013 and it is clear he still has something left in the tank, Buffalo can consider signing him to a one-year deal to see how he plays. He isn't as old as London Fletcher yet, so you would like to think he still has a few years left in him.
Nigel Bradham tackling Kendall Hunter
Bills rookie LB Nigel Bradham was a fourth-round draft choice out of Florida State in the 2012 NFL draft. Bradham was originally slated to be a member of special teams for the 2012 season. He has now worked himself into becoming a starter on defense.
You can look at it two ways. Either Bradham demonstrated enough in practice that he deserved to be a starter, or that the play of the other linebackers was so bad that the Bills were forced to make a change.
Bradham brings speed, and quickness to the outside linebacker role. He is athletic and attacks the ball. As for his 2012 season totals, Bradham has 19 tackles on the year. The rest of his stat line is completely empty, so it is up to Dave Wannstedt to coach Bradham into becoming a playmaker. For example, he doesn't have any tackles for a loss, quarterback hits or pass deflections yet. That should start to develop over the course of the rest of the second half.
Buffalo has Bradham under contract through the 2015 season. His rookie deal was four years at $2.56 million, so he is an economical fixture at linebacker for the next three years. Makes sense to BUY Bradham coming back in 2013 and hope that the learning curve will enable him to make more plays as he gains valuable experience.
Ron Brooks loses helmet on this hit versus Steelers
Bills rookie CB Ron Brooks has yet to see any snaps in a regular season game in 2012. Brooks suffered a broken foot in the preseason and was placed on IR with the designation to return later in the year.
Buffalo was very high on Brooks when it made him its fourth-round draft pick out of LSU. Brooks is now back and practicing with the team. The earliest he can be cleared to play is the Week 9 game at Houston. It is sounding like the Bills might be placing G Chad Rinehart on IR, and if that happens look for the Bills to activate Brooks.
Brooks could be a challenger to Justin Rogers' playing time at nickel corner. He also could overtake Leodis McKelvin as the slot corner. That is all just speculation for now until we see how Brooks performs in live game action.
Based on how many big plays the Bills secondary has surrendered, it will be interesting to see how much better the rookie can perform.
Like Nigel Bradham, Brooks was a fourth-round draft choice for Buffalo. His rookie contract takes him through the 2015 season for $2.5 million. At that price, Brooks is a bargain for the Bills over the life of his contract. Brooks is a BUY to return to the Bills in 2013.
Jairus Byrd made two interceptions to key win at Arizona
Bills FS Jairus Byrd is playing in his fourth year in the NFL. At 26 years old, Byrd is entering the prime years of his career. Byrd has become a more physical and aggressive safety in the past few seasons. He is now capable of making solid, hard hits, which is one of the main reasons that he leads the Bills this year with three forced fumbles.
2012 Season Totals
Byrd is currently third on the team in tackles with 37. He has made two tackles for a loss, deflected three passes and doesn't have any sacks. Byrd leads Buffalo with three interceptions on the year. He has also recovered one fumble this season.
Byrd is in the final year of his initial rookie contract. The Bills have watched far too many talented secondary members leave Buffalo in the recent past after their rookie contract expired. Resigning Byrd to an extended contract should be a high priority for Buddy Nix during the rest of the 2012 season.
Byrd is close to playing at a Pro Bowl level, so there is no question that the Bills should do whatever they can to bring Byrd back for the 2013 season. We are BUYING on Byrd to return in 2013.
Alex Carrington celebrates his blocked FG at Arizona
Bills DT Alex Carrington has made the transition from defensive end and outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, to defensive tackle in the 4-3 defensive scheme under Dave Wannstedt. Carrington was on the roster bubble at training camp, but the Bills opted to keep Carrington instead of other players like Dwan Edwards or Kellen Heard.
The Bills asked Carrington to put on some more weight to play at defensive tackle. He is currently listed on the Buffalo Bills.com website as 6'5" tall and weighs 301 pounds. When Carrington was drafted, he weighed 285. Carrington was a third-round draft pick of Buffalo in the 2010 draft. He has seen plenty of game action, while the player drafted ahead of him, Torell Troup, has seen very little action.
For 2012 season totals, Carrington has been credited with seven tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and the big blocked field goal that allowed the Bills to defeat Arizona in overtime. The block that Carrington made is the only blocked kick or punt registered by the Bills this year. Carrington led the Bills with two blocked kicks in 2011, so he is worth keeping for that skill alone.
The Bills probably envisioned Carrington as an eventual starter when they drafted him in the third round in 2010. But he seems perfectly suited to be in the rotational mix with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams at defensive tackle for now.
His original rookie contract was four years at $2,65. million, which means that 2013 will be the final year the Bills have him under contract. In 2013, his base salary is just $575,000. with a bonus of $216,000, which means his salary cap hit is only $791,000. The economics alone says that Buffalo will be BUYING that Carrington is back in 2013. Perhaps he has finally found a home at defensive tackle.
Dareus celebrates a sack in Cleveland
Bills DT Marcell Dareus is now in his second year in the NFL. At 6'3" tall and weighing 331 pounds, Dareus can be an imposing physical presence in the middle of the Bills defensive line.
Dareus has experienced a number of personal tragedies over the span of his first 22 years of life, but he has learned to persevere and press on. This season we recall the loss of his younger brother, Simeon Gilmore, to a home invasion murder in Alabama.
Despite the heavy heart, Dareus has been asked to step up his game and take an active role in becoming a force on the Bills defensive line. Dareus of course was the Bills first-round draft choice in the 2011 NFL draft, with the No. 3 overall draft pick.
In the 2012 season totals, Dareus has been credited with two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, 13 tackles, two sacks, one pass deflection and one fumble recovery. With a healthy Kyle Williams back in 2012, Bills fans were hoping to see bigger numbers out of Dareus than what he posted so far.
If Mario Williams is finally healthy after his wrist procedure, hopefully we will see greater production out of the left side of the Bills defensive line in the final nine games.
When Buffalo signed Dareus, the team committed to a fully guaranteed deal that would pay him $20.4 million over four years. The deal included $13.34 million in signing bonuses. Because the deal is fully guaranteed, you know that Buffalo is BUYING that Dareus will be back in 2013. And 2014 for that matter as well.
Stephon Gilmore breaks up this pass in end zone to Gronk
Bills rookie CB Stephon Gilmore was the first-round selection by Buffalo in the 2012 NFL draft. Gilmore hasn't disappointed Buffalo as he has stepped in as a starter from Week 1 and has been thrown in the fire to learn on the job.
Coming into the Week 9 game at Houston, Gilmore is currently tied for No. 6 in the NFL with breaking up 10 passes this season. He is only three deflections away from the league leader, Tim Jennings of the Chicago Bears.
Gilmore has brought a physical style of play to the Bills at cornerback. Sure, he has been beaten on a number of occasions this year for costly touchdowns, but name me another rookie that never gets beat? Gilmore will continue to grow his experience and develop better coverage skills as the year progresses.
Besides breaking up the 10 passes, his 2012 season totals include 31 tackles and one forced fumble. Gilmore has come close to picking off a few passes, but we are still waiting for his first NFL interception. That is one area of his game that has to improve over the second half of the season.
Buffalo signed Gilmore to a four-year deal, worth $12.08 million. His contract is fully guaranteed, which includes a $7.228 million signing bonus. The Bills are BUYING that Gilmore will be here for 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Delano Howell makes a tackle in preseason game
Bills rookie S Delano Howell has only appeared in one game this year. That was a brief appearance at that, as Howell was credited with one tackle against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. Howell was an undrafted rookie free agent out of Stanford.
It is difficult to gain an accurate handle on what Howell brings to the table, since the sample size is so small. The Bills liked what they saw out of Howell in the preseason, and Buddy Nix prefers to keep four safeties on the roster.
Trying to predict Howell's future is a little tricky, due to some unknown factors. For example, will the Bills draft another safety in 2013? You can bet they will if they don't re-sign Jairus Byrd. What if Buddy Nix is relieved of his G.M. role after the season?
From a contract standpoint, Howell is a bargain at three years for $1.44 million. Until Howell sees more snaps his fate is still up in the air. Based on the economics we will go with Buffalo BUYING that Howell returns in 2013.
Spencer Johnson breaks up pass against Chiefs
Bills DL Spencer Johnson has been plugged in at defensive end, outside linebacker and defensive tackle over the past few years. Johnson has made his share of plays since joining the Bills in 2008.
At 6'3" and 304 pounds, Johnson has the size to make an impact on the defensive line. This is his ninth year in the NFL, and his speed seems to be slowing down over the years. Johnson was one of the many defensive linemen that were caught in the roster bubble, but he somehow survived training camp.
In 2012, Johnson hasn't made that much of a contribution. His 2012 season totals are six tackles, two pass deflections and one tackle for a loss. No sacks and no quarterback hits. The Bills could have kept Dwan Edwards or Kellen Heard over Johnson, so this is one decision that the team might regret.
Johnson's contract will be up at the end of this season and he will become a free agent. The call here is that the Bills should be SELLING that Johnson will not be back in 2013.
Kelsay collects a sack on Matt Hasselbeck in Week 7
Bills DE Chris Kelsay is one of the long-standing members of the Bills defense for the past 10 years, along with CB Terrence McGee. As one of the leaders on defense, Kelsay recently stepped up and called out the defense for not giving 100 percent effort on every play. That is seldom done in the NFL, but the evidence was there on game film for all to see. Many members of the Bills have applauded Kelsay for stepping up. Here are some excerpts from the article at Buffalo Bills.com.
Kelsay said: “Some way somehow we’ve got to understand what accountability means across the board, playing hard every play,” said Kelsay Monday after reviewing Sunday’s game tape. “You watch the film and not everybody was playing hard every snap and that’s unacceptable.”
“At the end of the day that’s who is on the field,” he said. “Coaches coach and players play. We might have to grab guys by the shirt collar and tell them to get to moving. It’s nothing personal, but we’re relying on you. Myself included. If I’m not doing my job I expect Kyle (Williams) to grab me by the neck and tell me to get going. That’s what it’s going to take. We’ve got a lot of young guys. We’re going to get everybody on the same page.”
Kelsay has gone through the recent defensive scheme changes of 4-3 to 3-4 and back to 4-3 again, and he survived the whole ordeal. At least he isn't being asked to play outside linebacker any longer, which was a disaster.
Kelsay seems to be a streaky player in the last few years, as he will have consecutive good games and then disappear for stretches. Right now he is on the good game stretch, as his role has taken on greater significance since the knee injury to Mark Anderson.
In the 2012 season totals, Kelsay has four tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, 12 tackles and two sacks. He hasn't forced a fumble yet or batted down any passes this season.
From a financial standpoint, Kelsay's contract extension still runs through the end of the 2014 season. He is earning $3.5 million this year, and then $3.725 million in 2013 and $3.745 million in 2014. Between Kelsay and Anderson, one of the two veterans should go in 2013, while the team keeps a younger and hungrier Kyle Moore. Which veteran will the Bills cut ties with?
BUYING that the Bills will have Kelsay back in 2013.
Terrence McGee knocks ball out of Joshua Cribbs hands
Bills CB Terrence McGee is one of Buffalo's wily veterans on the team. McGee has been with Buffalo for the past 10 years, and at 32 years old, his best days are behind him.
McGee has struggled to stay healthy for the past few years, and 2012 is no exception. Buffalo has been rotating McGee in with Aaron Williams at cornerback. With the other corner being manned by Stephon Gilmore, it is up to the duo of McGee and Williams to provide adequate coverage and keep each other fresh.
Overall, the Bills secondary is loaded with either rookies or second-year players including Gilmore, Williams, Brooks, Rogers, Searcy and Howell. The experience and knowledge that McGee brings to the table is invaluable and you can be sure that the young Bills are picking his brain whenever they get a chance.
As for 2012 season totals, McGee has made eight tackles and defended two passes. That is it. The rest of the stat line is empty. As we stated up front, McGee's best football is in the past and his most valuable contribution is to serve as a teacher.
From a contract standpoint, the Bills signed McGee in the offseason to a two-year deal for $4.03 million. McGee is due to earn a base salary of $1.75 million in 2013, along with another $2.6 million in bonuses, which brings his salary cap hit up to $4.35 million. McGee simply isn't worth that much in his current physical condition.
Bills should be SELLING on McGee not returning in 2013.
McKelvin has excelled in the return game in 2012
Bills slot CB Leodis McKelvin gone through his fair share of ups and downs during his career with Buffalo. McKelvin has excelled as a return man in the past year, but his contributions as a cornerback have played to very mixed results over that same time span.
Whenever the Bills asked McKelvin to line up as a starting cornerback, McKelvin adopted this technique of turning his back to the quarterback and focused on trying to react to when the wide receiver makes a play on the ball. With experienced wide receivers, they know the tricks of the trade, and McKelvin wound up getting beat on many long passes as a result.
The Bills countered by moving McKelvin in to be a slot corner in 2012, and while he has given up his share of completions, he hasn't been burned nearly as bad in this role as he was in the past few years. The blown coverage assignments is slightly negated by the great returns he provides the team, so McKelvin is one of those players that you can simultaneously love and hate.
For 2012 season totals, MeKelvin has registered five tackles, broke up two passes and intercepted one pass. The rest of his stat line is empty.
Looking at McKelvin's contract status, the Bills originally signed McKelvin to a five-year deal when they drafted him in the first round back in 2008. He will be a free agent in 2013, so the Bills have to determine if they want to bring him back as a slot CB/return man, and if so, at what price.
Brad Smith demonstrated in Week 7 that he still has some return skills, and with the duo of Justin Rogers and Ron Brooks, McKelvin could easily be replaced at slot corner. Projected that the Bills will be SELLING and not bring McKelvin back for 2013.
Merriman with a QB hit in preseason game
Bills DE Shawne Merriman is obviously on the down side of his interesting NFL career. Since Merriman was claimed off of waivers by the Bills, he hasn't been healthy enough to be productive, and when he was supposedly healthy, he hasn't produced anything then either.
Merriman was released by Buffalo prior to the start of the regular season. No other team in the NFL claimed him, which speaks volumes about where his perceived value is right now. When the Bills defensive line depth took a hit with the Mark Anderson injury, the Bills decided to bring Merriman back since he knew the defense already.
The contract Merriman signed was for $700,000 for the rest of the season. He will be a free agent at the end of the year.
Merriman did see some snaps in the Tennessee game, as he got in for seven plays. Merriman didn't make any contribution to speak of, and it is very likely that the Bills will either release him or make him inactive on game days once Anderson is medically cleared to play again.
Based on the lack of production at this stage of his career, it doesn't make much sense to bring Merriman back, no matter how cheap the price. If he starts making plays and generating sacks again that is a different story. But until then, Buffalo should be SELLING on Merriman not returning for 2013.
Moats is best remembered for knocking out Brett Favre
Bills LB Arthur Moats is now in his third year with the Buffalo Bills. Moats is best remembered for being the guy that knocked out Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre from his consecutive games starting streak.
Since then, Moats has been in a musical chairs situation in Buffalo, where they waver on if he is an inside linebacker or an outside linebacker. The Bills finally decided in 2012 to make him an outside linebacker and he was able to beat out Kirk Morrison for the starting OLB job.
But Moats failed to take advantage of his opportunity by not making very many plays. Even though he was a starter, Moats only has one tackle for a loss and no quarterback hits to his credit this year. Buffalo needs more production than that. Buffalo saw the lack of production and promoted Nigel Bradham to take over the starting job from Moats.
His 2012 season totals include 19 tackles and the one tackle for loss and that is it. Everything else is a zero on his stat line. The Bills defense is in dire need of playmakers, and that is not part of Moats' game.
Moats originally signed a four-year deal for $1.90 million and is due to earn a base salary of $575,000 and earn another $28,000 in bonuses. His salary cap hit in 2013 would be $603,000. Based on what we have witnessed this year, the Bills are probably wondering why they released rookie Tank Carder and Scott McKillop in favor of Moats.
Buffalo should be SELLING Moats as he should not be returning for 2013 season.
Kyle Moore pressure Matt Hasselbeck
Bills DE Kyle Moore wasn't exactly a household name to Bills fans during training camp. But as we can attest after watching his play in the past two games, Moore has our attention now.
Moore is now in his fourth year in the NFL. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. He has never started a NFL game and is still waiting to record his first NFL sack.
According to the Buffalo Bills.com web site, Moore has been making things happen lately, now that he is an active part of the rotation at defensive end. Moore's snaps increased when Mark Anderson injured his knee. Chris Brown wrote the following:
Moore got 32 snaps against Arizona and logged a quarterback hit and six hurries according to Pro Football Focus. Then this past game against Tennessee, Moore got 22 snaps and had a QB hit and three hurries.
Kyle Williams said: Kyle has played well when he’s come in,” .”He’s gotten some pressure for us and done some good things. He’s one of the guys that when you look at it, he’s playing fast. When you play fast you tend to be around the ball, you tend to make plays and that’s what he’s been doing.”
It will be interesting to see what happens to Moore's playing time after Anderson returns, noting that Chris Kelsay has also been making more plays of late. The guy that seems relegated to inactive duty once Anderson returns is Shawne Merriman.
As for 2012 season totals, interestingly enough Moore doesn't even appear on the Buffalo Bills team page on ESPN. The reason for that is Moore doesn't have a single tackle yet, or any other stat that ESPN keeps a running tab on. He does have credit for four quarterback hits and as Chris Brown mentioned, has nine QB hurries in the last two games.
Moore's contract is a two-year deal for $1.065 million. Based on the sample size we have observed and the small financial hit, it makes perfect sense for the Bills to be BUYING that Moore will be back in Buffalo in 2013.
Kirk Morrison picks up a sack against Redskins
Bills LB Kirk Morrison has been the forgotten man in 2012. Buffalo has kept Morrison inactive for every game this year. That seems to jibe with the Bills strategy in 2011, when they kept him on the active roster, but he seldom saw many snaps in games.
Why does Buffalo continue to keep the eight-year veteran on the team, if it isn't going to play him? Sure, Morrison does offer good veteran depth, but the Bills already have four active linebackers in Barnett, Moats, Bradham and Sheppard.
If the defense continues to be ranked in the bottom of the league, maybe Wannstedt will allow Morrison to play a few games before the year is over as an audition for 2013. There are no 2012 stats to report on, since Morrison hasn't suited up for a game yet this year.
Buffalo signed Morrison in the 2012 offseason to a two-year contract for $2.5 million. In 2013, Morrison is due to earn a base salary of $950,000 and earn another $300,000 in bonuses. The salary cap hit on Morrison would be $1.25 million in 2013.
Based on the way that the Bills don't seem to need Morrison to play in any games, it also would make sense that the team is SELLING on Morrison and that he won't be back in 2013.
Rogers gets beat on fourth-down TD pass to Washington
Bills CB Justin Rogers had an opportunity to come up big against the Tennessee Titans in Week 7, when the Titans were going for the win on fourth down at the Bills 15-yard line. Instead, Rogers allowed Nate Washington to inexplicably get behind him on the crucial play for the winning touchdown.
Rogers is still very young at just 24 years old and is learning on the job. The seventh-round draft pick in 2011 out of Richmond saw some action as a rookie. The Bills let him get his feet wet in the NFL, and they liked what they saw out of him. In 2012, his snaps have increased, but he still has room to improve as we witnessed against Tennessee.
As for 2012 season totals, Rogers has contributed with 16 tackles and defended one pass. No other stats to speak of. Rogers was drafted due to the Bills belief that he could grow into becoming a playmaker. That component of his game has yet to materialize.
In the current NFL, you need a larger number of cornerbacks capable of providing good coverage in four and five-receiver sets. For a seventh-round pick, Rogers gives the Bills good value and will no doubt be back in 2013 to continue his learning curve.
Rogers signed a four-year, $2,107 million deal, which means that he is under contract through the 2014 season. In 2013 Rogers is slated to earn a base salary of $555,000, and he is also eligible to earn another $16,875 in bonus. His 2013 salary cap hit would be $571,875.
BUYING that Rogers will return in 2013.
Bryan Scott comes up with turnover against Cleveland
Bills nickel LB Bryan Scott continues to have a keen nose for the football. Scott is a playmaker, and the Bills need to retain every playmaker that they have on the team.
Scott is now in his 10th year in the NFL, and at 31 years old, shows no signs of slowing down. His role over the years has ranged from safety to a swing LB in the 3-4 defense last year, and now he is firmly entrenched as the nickel LB in Dave Wannstedt's 4-3 scheme.
At 6'1" and 220 pounds, Scott really doesn't have ideal size for a LB in the current NFL. His size makes it tougher for him to handle big tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Moore.
Scott has come up with two interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in the first seven games this year. He has a knack for getting his hands on the football. Scott doesn't make every tackle that he should. If you are OK with the missed tackles for creating extra turnovers, then you can live with his shortcomings.
In 2012, Scott trails only Jairus Byrd on the Bills in creating turnovers. Scott's 2012 season totals includes 33 tackles, three defended passes and the turnovers. The Bills signed Scott to a one-year deal in the offseason for only $825,000.
Scott is due to become a free agent in 2013. Buffalo should think hard about trying to re-sign Scott to a new deal during this season, because he has proven that he is worth bringing back for at least another year, if not longer.
BUYING on bringing back Scott for the 2013 season.
Searcy knocks Collin Kaepernick out of bounds
Bills S Da'Norris Searcy is now in his second year with the Bills. Buffalo has decided to rotate Searcy into the safety mix this season to give him valuable playing time. In his rookie season, Searcy was asked to watch Donte Whitner and Jairus Byrd take most of the snaps.
As Searcy gains more experience, the Bills can gain a better handle on how reliable a safety Searcy can become. The 2012 season totals shows that Searcy has made 14 tackles and forced one fumble in limited snaps. Ideally, you want your safety to be filling up the rest of the stat line with an interception or two, pass deflections and a couple sacks.
The sample size on Searcy is still on the smaller side, so it is not easy to make a definitive judgment on his status for 2013. From a financial view, Searcy signed a rookie deal for four years at $2.52 million. Searcy will earn a base salary of $555,000 in 2013 to go along with $121,000 in bonuses. His 2013 salary cap hit would be roughly $676,000.
If Jairus Byrd were to walk away in free agency, that would then propel Searcy into the starting job with George Wilson. Based on the above factors, we recommend BUYING that Searcy will be back with Buffalo in 2013.
Sheppard comes up with another tackle against 49ers
Bills LB Kelvin Sheppard is now in his second year with the Bills. The Bills MLB had a full training camp this year as well as OTA's to learn Dave Wannstedt's expected role in the 4-3 defensive scheme.
Sheppard's 2012 season totals show that he has made only 35 tackles in the first seven games, which is a fairly surprisingly low total for a middle linebacker in a 4-3 defensive scheme.
Sheppard is either guilty of not reading the running plays correctly, or isn't able to shed enough of the blocks to enable him to get to the ball-carrier. By comparison, Nick Barnett has picked up 22 more tackles during the same time period. Granted, Barnett sees more action on third downs, but Sheppard still has plenty of room to improve his game.
In 2012 action, Sheppard has made only two tackles for loss, and that is also puzzling. He just isn't penetrating the line of scrimmage enough to come up with big plays that result in negative yards for the opponents. Sheppard has picked up one sack and been credited with two quarterback hits on the year. No interceptions, forced fumbles or fumble recoveries to date. That is also a disappointment.
The middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense is supposed to be a playmaker, but that is something that Sheppard isn't doing. Finding an upgrade at MLB in 2013 should be a high priority for Buddy Nix in either free agency or the draft. Bringing somebody in that can challenge Sheppard for the starting job makes sense. Sheppard still has the final nine games to prove that he can make more of an impact, but frankly we were expecting to see more from him.
Contractually, Sheppard is signed a four-year deal for $3 million. Sheppard will receive a base salary of $614,000 in 2013 and can earn another $202,000 in bonuses. His salary cap hit is $817,000.
Clearly this is a mixed endorsement, but for now the recommendation is for BUYING that Sheppard will be back in 2013. Hopefully things come together and he will have a breakout year in 2013.
Torell Troup hopes to come back healthy in 2013
Bills DT Torell Troup went on I.R. early in 2012, due to problems with his back surgery. Troup has already required surgery to fuse vertebrae together, so his back will be an issue for the duration of his NFL career.
Troup has been off the field more than he has been on the field since becoming a second-round draft pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Troup was Buddy Nix's second draft pick after C.J. Spiller, but Nix doesn't have very much to show for the pick.
The jury is still out obviously on how effective Troup can be. He is still under contract for one more year, as he will become a free agent in 2014. Troup will earn a base salary of $575,000 in 2013, so he is relatively inexpensive.
Buffalo can bring him back in to training camp next year and let him compete to see where he is physically. With enough time off from his surgery and time to rehab, hopefully Troup can come back closer to 100 percent health, so that he can challenge for a job.
Bills should be BUYING that Troup will be back in 2013 to compete for a roster spot. Will he make the team? We won't know that until we see how healthy he is in training camp next year.
White got some LB snaps in preseason games
Bills LB Chris White did see some action at LB in the preseason, but he has basically served the team as a special teams player in his career with the Bills. Drafted in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft out of Mississippi State, White has been waiting for his shot at seeing more playing time on defense.
The Bills haven't been afraid to rotate younger players in on defense to accelerate their learning curve at the pro level. Examples include Da'Norris Searcy, Nigel Bradham and Justin Rogers. But for whatever reason, Dave Wannstedt has been reluctant to do the same thing with White.
2012 season totals reflect that White has made eight tackles and nothing else. No forced fumbles or fumble recoveries.
Financially, White will earn a base salary of $555,000 and can earn another $30,000 in bonuses. His 2012 salary cap hit is $585,000.
Every team needs a certain number of designated special teams players that it can count on. If that is a role that White is content with, while waiting for his opportunity at LB, then bring him back again next year. So, we are BUYING that White will be back for 2013.
Williams can't stop this completion against New England
Bills CB Aaron Williams was considered somewhat of a steal when he was selected by the Bills in the second-round of the 2011 draft. Williams was projected to be a first-round draft pick, so Bills fans are still waiting to see the skills emerge that initially made him so desirable.
In 2012, the Bills have opted to rotate Williams with veteran Terrence McGee. Williams has received plenty of playing time, and some of it has admittedly been painful to watch. At times Williams looks like he is a graduate of the "Leodis McKelvin school of cornerbacks," when Williams is observed chasing after the wide receiver with no clue when the pass is coming his way.
The Bills were expecting to see more from Williams based on the pre-draft hype he received. We can put Williams in the same category with Kelvin Sheppard in that we expected more from both of these young defenders. Williams is still young enough that he can grow and has a great teacher handy in McGee to show him the ropes.
For 2012 season totals, Williams has 19 tackles, defended against five passes and there is nothing else. No tackles for a loss on a wide receiver screen, no interceptions, no forced fumbles or recoveries. One of the reasons the Bills drafted Williams was due to his playmaking ability, but that has yet to surface in Buffalo.
Williams signed a four-year deal worth $5.2 million. Williams will earn a base salary of $853,000 in 2013 with another $581,000 available in bonuses. His 2013 salary cap hit will be $1.43 million.
Recommendation here is that McGee will not be back in 2013, so Buffalo will be BUYING that Williams will be back in 2013. He will have to beat out the likes of Ron Brooks and Justin Rogers to claim the other starting CB gig opposite of Stephon Gilmore.
Kyle Williams celebrates a sack
Bills DT Kyle Williams has become more vocal in the past month about the issues with the Buffalo defense. Williams is truly one of the best-kept secrets on the Bills roster, and continues to perform at a high level. He just doesn't get enough attention nationally, because the Bills defense as a whole is so bad.
While we all wait to see how much of an impact Mario Williams will make on the team, we can recall that one of the reasons he came to Buffalo was due to the respect for Kyle Williams. Kyle got involved in the recruiting process as well, which isn't usually part of the job description.
2012 season totals show that Williams continues to make an impact. He has registered 22 tackles and his 4.5 sacks leads the Bills defense. In addition, Williams has come up with six tackles for loss (see note below), which also leads Buffalo. He has been credited with seven quarterback hits and defended two passes.
Williams is an emotional leader on the Bills defense. He sets a tone and example for the rest of the unit to follow. Due to his ability to take on blockers and hold the line of scrimmage, that is why it is disappointing that Kelvin Sheppard isn't able to take advantage and make more plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Buffalo smartly signed Williams to a long-term contract that will pay him $33.55 million over six years. In 2013, Williams will earn a base salary of $3.85 million and can pick up another $1.95 million in bonuses. The salary cap hit in 2013 will be $5.8 million.
The Bills defense would not be the same without Williams, so Buffalo is BUYING that Williams will be back in 2013 and beyond. He won't become a free agent until 2017.
NOTE: Some of the defensive stats for Bills players is up in the air. We used the Buffalo Bills home page on ESPN.com for the stats, but if you total up the numbers from individual box scores this year on ESPN.com, they differ from the accrued team totals for year to date.
Mario Williams tries to pass rush using just his right arm
Via a video from Buffalo Bills.com, we learned that Bills DE Mario Williams injured his wrist nine weeks ago. That would place the injury towards the end of the preseason games. The injury has clearly made him less effective as a result. "Super Mario" has been anything but super so far in his debut with Buffalo.
Williams had a procedure done on his injured wrist during the bye week, so we will see if he is able to bounce back and have a more respectable second half of the season. Based on what we saw of the first half, the return on the Bills investment has been very limited.
Mario claims that his wrist injury has caused him to hesitate on how to approach linemen. You know the old saying, "He who hesitates is lost." Well, Williams has certainly looked lost at times in the 2012 season. It started with the opening week when the Bills defensive line were expected to take advantage of a weaker New York Jets offensive line. The Jets ran all over the Bills and Williams debut turned out to be a flop.
Williams like to use his hands, so that is why the wrist injury was so significant. It will be interesting to see how much better he plays over the next two weeks to see if there is a noticeable difference.
The No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2006 NFL draft, Williams has been physically blessed with a body that goes 6'6" tall, weighs 292 pounds, and he is lean and powerful. The Bills thought enough of his potential ability to come and turn around the Buffalo defense that they handed him a six-year contract for $96 million.
2012 season totals has Williams being credited with 16 tackles, which ranks him at No. 11 on the Bills defense. He is second on the Bills with 3.5 sacks, which leaves him one full sack behind Kyle Williams. He has added four tackles for a loss and seven quarterback hits. Williams recovered one fumble and deflected one pass to date.
The Bills contract with Williams was the largest contract for a defensive player in the NFL. There have been some flashes of inspired play, but they have been too few and far between for a player that carried the level of expectations that Williams has.
Due to all of the guaranteed money that Buffalo committed to Williams, there is no question that he will be back in 2013. We don't know yet if Dave Wannstedt will still be the defensive coordinator, but we expect Williams to rebound in 2013 and have a much stronger season.
BUYING on Mario Williams for 2013.
George Wilson breaks up this pass play to Gronk
Last but not least is Bills safety George Wilson. Wilson is in his seventh year in the NFL and is viewed as one of the team leaders.
As safety, Wilson is part of the last line of defense. It should not come as a surprise that with the Bills giving up so many big plays that Wilson is second on the Bills with 48 tackles. However, there are a number of plays where Wilson wasn't able to step up or stop the long gain either by missing a tackle or being out of position.
At 31 years old, Wilson is still young enough that he should be effective. His experience and ability to anticipate are some of the attributes he brings to the defense. Historically, Wilson has been a playmaker over the years, but his game in 2012 has taken a step backwards.
Outside of the 48 tackles, the 2012 season totals shows that the only other stat for Wilson is two deflected passes. Nothing else to speak of, so Wilson is a player that needs to step up his performance in the second half of the season.
Part of the lack of making plays (no tackles for a loss, no sacks or quarterback hits) is due to the defensive scheme of Dave Wannstedt. We are still waiting for Wilson to make his first interception of 2012.
For 2013, Wilson is due to earn a base salary of $2.45 million. That is the final year of his current contract, so it is not out of the question that the Bills will bring him back in 2013 and see if he still has anything left in the tank. If his playmaking skills continue to dwindle, 2013 could be his final year in Buffalo.
BUYING that Wilson will be back in Buffalo in 2013.
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