Buffalo Bills: Will Dave Wannstedt Endorse Paul Posluszny or Not?
While the rest of the Buffalo Bills coaching staff were in Mobile, Alabama last week to coach the South team in the Senior Bowl, new Bills Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers coach Dave Wannstedt was busy pouring over game tape from the Bills season.
Part of his new duties as Inside Linebackers Coach, not to mention the Assistant Head Coach part, is to shore up the Bills run defense, and make the entire Bills defense better. No doubt Wannstedt was left to shake his head at watching all the horror films, as eight different times in the 2010 season the Bills allowed opponents to rush for over 200 yards in a game.
Chan Gailey brought Wannstedt in because he respects his opinion. This week all the coaches will be sitting down together and playing catch up and reviewing notes. To be a fly on the wall, huh?
Is Paul Posluszny The Answer Or Not?
Buddy Nix was interviewed at the Senior Bowl, and made the comment that he is looking to get bigger at inside linebacker. No doubt, he was referencing Paul Posluszny, who is 6' 1" and weighs 238. Posluszny seems to be able to shake off some blockers, but not enough of them. The other thing that happens is that he will run up to plug one gap, while the running back chooses to go through a different hole, and proceeds to zip right past Posluszny and the rest of the Bills defenders.
Because the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is not yet finished, the Bills hands are tied regarding Paul Posluszny, in that he does not currently have a contract.
Here are some of the key cumulative statistics of what Posluszny has generated over his first four years in Buffalo:
Fumbles Recovered: One
Forced Fumbles: Four
Passes Defended: 14
Total Tackles: 398, of which 295 were solo and 103 were assists.
Games missed due to injury: 19
For somebody that is supposed to be always around the ball, (think Brian Urlacher), you would like to see more stats in the turnover department. I am not positive if the Bills bring Poz back or not. I don't see any problem in bringing in somebody to challenge him for the job.
So Many Questions, So Little Time
Besides Paul Posluszny, the other Bills linebacker that spent the most time at inside linebacker was Andra Davis (pictured). Davis unfortunately tore his rotator cuff early in the season and continued to play with the pain, even though he couldn't lift his arm up to his shoulder.
Faced with the reality of the situation, the Bills opted to have Davis placed on I.R. and have the injury fixed so that he would be ready for 2011. To the extent that Davis is healthy and prepared to play at a high level is not a given. He has to prove that he is all the way back.
So, what does Dave Wannstedt do? Does he encourage Gailey and Nix to draft some inside linebackers early in the draft, or do they decide to bring in a free agent or two once the CBA is done. Since we don't know when the deal is finished, how does that impact the Bills draft, as well as their free agent offseason planning?
Inside linebackers are thought to be a weaker group in the 2011 draft, so the ones that have a degree of promise might be drafted sooner than they should have due to the inferior level of talent. Martez Wilson, a junior from Illinois is thought to be the best player in the draft. Would the Bills take him if he is still sitting there in the third round? What about Oregon Casey Matthews, what round will he go in?
What Exactly Is The Hierarchy Of The Buffalo Bills Defensive Coaches Org Chart?
Something I have been wondering about is what exactly the pecking order regarding the Bills coaches for the defensive side of the ball? Does being the Assistant Head Coach (Wannstedt) trump the opinions of Defensive Coordinator George Edwards?
What if Wannstedt and Edwards disagree on something, who wins the argument, or is it settled by Chan Gailey? Also, does Wannstedt report to Gailey, or does he report to George Edwards?
I think these are reasonable questions to ask, so that as the new season unfolds, we truly understand who is calling the shots, and who to thank for a turn around, or who to blame if disaster continues.
It's not like the offensive side of the ball is more normal. Curtis Modkins is the offensive coordinator in name only, as Chan Gailey fully intended to call all the plays for at least the first two years. At least that is what he promised in his first press conference after accepting the head job.
Whether or not Gailey will relinquish the play calling duties to Modkins remains to be seen. But, clearly the offense that was displayed after Trent Edwards was released was a stark improvement over what we saw in 2009.
Roger Goodell Is Trying To Turn Up Heat To Get CBA Finished
Roger Goodell is carrying the ball, literally. He is ratcheting up the pace on meetings with the NFLPA to try to strike a common ground to bring the CBA to completion. He only has a 30 day window to get the deal done, or else things will start getting dicey soon.
March 3 is the date for the old CBA to expire. After that, the owners will be locking out the players. That is not good for anybody, and puts everyone in a contentious mood. So, hopefully the lawyers and the owners and the players union will all come to their senses and recognize what a wonderful thing they have going and get something done.
The NFL Draft will happen with or without the CBA. So, at least Bills fans will know who our rookies are. We just don't know if we will have a new season or not, nor do we know if it will be 16 game season or 18 games.
How Many Players Will The Bills Lose On Defense?
Coming in to the offseason, the Bills have a fairly long list of unrestricted free agents, almost all of them on the defensive side of the ball.
Defense Unrestricted Free Agents:
Defensive Line: John McCago
Linebackers: Akin Ayodele, Paul Posluszny and Keith Ellison.
Secondary: Donte Whitner, George Wilson, Drayton Florence and Ashton Youboty.
Offensive Unrestricted Free Agents:
Linemen: Mansfield Wrotto
So, from this group, you suspect that unless Donte Whitner comes down in salary demands, he will be gone. Keith Ellison has been thought to be too small for some time, and usually gets hurt so is becoming less reliable.
The immediate reaction for me would be to bring back Posluszny, Ayodele, Florence and Wilson. Adios to McCargo and Ellison. While we are at it, will either Marcus Stroud or Aaron Maybin be back as well? There could be a pretty significant turn over of defensive personnel by the time it is all said and done.
Fast Forward: What Would New 2011 Bills Defensive Unit Look Like?
So, what if we just go ahead and removed the players that are currently on the bubble. Draw a line through Donte Whitner, Marcus Stroud, Keith Ellison, Aaron Maybin and John McCargo on your Bills program.We are going to go ahead and bring back Paul Posluszny, George Wilson, Ashton Youboty, Akin Ayodele and Drayton Florence.
So, who would still be left on the Bills roster to play defense in 2011? (in alphabetical order):
Defensive Line (six): Alex Carrington, Dwan Edwards, Kellen Heard, Spencer Johnson, Torell Troup and the Bills lone Pro-Bowl player, Kyle Williams.
Linebackers (12): Akin Ayodele, Mike Balogun, Danny Batten, Antonio Coleman, Andra Davis, Chris Kelsay, Shawne Merriman, Arthur Moats, Paul Posluszny, John Russell, Reggie Torbor, and Pierre Woods,
Secondary (nine): Jairus Byrd, Reggie Corner, Jon Corto, Drayton Florence, Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin, Bryan Scott, George Wilson and Ashton Youboty.
Practice Squad Defense: Safety Brett Johnson, LB Jammie Kirlew, DT Boo Robinson, CB Trae Williams.
By bringing back Posluszny, that would bring 12 linebackers already on the roster. You know that the Bills will definitely be drafting some LB's, and it is not a given that Shawne Merriman will be healthy all season.
There are six defensive lineman, including a very green Kellen Heard. You also have nine secondary members, by bringing back Florence, Wilson, Youboty and Jon Corto, who is a restricted free agent. McGee needs to have a solid season due to recent run of injuries or he will also be on the bubble. What holes does George Edwards still need to plug in to the 3-4 defense to become much better?
Some Players With Major Potential, But Will It Be Realized?
There are a number of defensive players that need to step up if they want to be more involved in the defense. The Bills have a pretty good idea of what Arthur Moats can do, and Torell Troup got enough playing time to show his wares.
The defenders I want to focus on early in the summer are: Alex Carrington, Antonio Coleman, Danny Batten, Shawne Merriman and Kellen Heard. We all know what Merriman used to do, the question is can he still do it? What about Coleman, Carrington, Batten and Heard? How much can they contribute in 2011?
You can already see that the Bills have enough bodies on the defensive roster to allow for some serious level of competition for the 2011 team. How many new additions will come via the draft, unsigned rookie free agents and new free agents to add to the mix? You would like to think that the Bills are going to invest at least half of their eight draft choices on the defensive side of the ball, if not more.
Hopefully there will be enough time for Edwards and Wannstedt to be able to figure out how to vastly improve the Bills anemic defense. They have the whole offseason to start correcting all of the problems. We see the level of defense with Pittsburgh and Green Bay to be able to make it to the Super Bowl. The Bills still have a long way to go to get to that level. But that is their job, to make that happen.