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2003Contenders

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  1. No doubt. Brees is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the most precise passers ever. But he wasn't always that way. In fact, there is a clear delineation between his days with the Chargers (his first 5 years in the league) and what he has been able to do with Sean Payton in New Orleans since then. If we want to talk apples to apples, Brees completed less than 58% of his passes in 2 of his first 3 years in the league. His combined TD-INT ratio after those three seasons was 29-31. The Chargers thought so much of him after those first 3 years, that they pulled the trigger to acquire Phil Rivers in the 2004 draft. I remember seeing him first-hand back in 2002 against the Bledsoe Bills in Orchard Park; Brees absolutely could NOT physically throw the ball in those winds -- and Flutie came in off the bench to play for him. If nothing else, I guess the Brees saga proves that Accuracy CAN improve over time (Brees has been no worse than 63% -- and usually near 70% -- every year since going to New Orleans).
  2. The Manning-Allen comparisons are silly. Aside from having similar records after 2 seasons, their style of play is in no way comparable. Manning was groomed to be an NFL QB from the time he was a child and was maybe the most "sure thing" of any NFL prospect -- ever. The offense at Tennessee was built around him, and he would have been the no-doubt #1 overall pick if he had chosen to come out in the 1997 draft. He elected to stay for his senior year -- and was the no doubt #1 overall pick the following year. Manning was one of the most cerebral (from a football perspective) players to ever set foot on the field. Even Josh Allen's biggest supporters recognized that he came into the league extremely raw. His first-round draft position was based on his great physical talent -- and potential. Josh's arm strength and mobility FAR surpass the natural talent that Manning possessed; however, after just two seasons in the league, Josh isn't even in the same stratosphere as Peyton Manning when it comes to X's and O's. Josh is a bright kid and has a strong desire to get better, which I believe will continue to serve him well -- but trying to draw comparisons between him and arguably the QB with the greatest mind in NFL history is unfair.
  3. Like many have said, I did not have any issues with Roberts as the primary returner. He was a reliable professional back there, who made smart decisions with the ball -- and we always had complete confidence that he was not going to turn the ball over. I know he rarely had any big returns -- but some of that could be attributed to lackluster blocking. I remember a 2-3 game stretch in the middle of the season where it seemed like every kick was called back due to a penalty. I think that as the overall roster talent continues to improve (and become more consistent/stable), the Special Teams units we see on the field will also improve -- maybe back to the days when Bobby April was here and had say-so on the talent that was brought in. While I do not have issue with the roster spot that Roberts occupies being strictly for returns (with an occasional appearance as a WR5 thrown in), the real issue is the presence of McKenzie/Foster/Roberts all active each week and filling in the WR3/4/5 spots. Adding Duke (who was only occasionally active) to that mix, I think what we come away with is that the McKenzie/Foster/Roberts/Foster foursome needs to be upgraded with 2-3 of those players replaced via the draft and/or free agency.
  4. What keeps getting lost in all of this is that if the Bills had stayed put at 10, they reportedly would not have drafted Mahomes anyway. They were prepared to take Lattimore there and had a provisional trade in place with the Chiefs that was finally cemented when the Chiefs agreed to throw in the 2017 3rd rounder in addition to the 2017 and 2018 1st rounders.
  5. Some of this may be based on recency bias -- that is, neither of them (especially Poyer) played especially well during the later part of the Houston game. Of course, the defense as a whole had numerous melt-downs. That aside, during the course of the regular season, I felt like that Poyer-Hyde tandem was one one the best in the league.
  6. I have to admit that I do not get too caught up in pre-draft hype, as I do not pretend to have a fraction of the knowledge that the Bills' scouts and front office have -- and just hope that they get things right. That is to say that I never had a dog in the Allen-or-Rosen fight and merely hoped that the Bills picked the right one. Say what you will, but Beane and his staff did their due diligence with that 2018 draft in regards to the QBs. I could be wrong, but I believe that for a variety of reasons, Josh Allen was the guy they came to a consensus on and would have taken him even if they had the #1 overall pick. That isn't to say that Allen has been or will be the top QB in that draft -- just that the Bills' brain trust believed that he was the right QB for them. The prevailing belief about Rosen headed into the draft was that he had the highest floor of the various QB prospects and was the most pro-NFL ready of the bunch. The biggest knock on him consistently seemed to be personality-based (some compared him to Jay Cutler). There were some NFL scouts that whispered that perhaps the NFL was not the main goal for him as he had other aspirations (perhaps political in nature). On draft night there were two things that stood out to me. The first was physical. When Rosen stepped onto the stage you could easily see the huge difference in his stature versus Josh Allen's -- compared to Allen's broad frame, Rosen looked almost frail in comparison. The second was Rosen's attitude and comments in post-draft interviews. Some guys (like Thurman Thomas and Tom Brady) are able to make perceived slights in the draft process as ammunition to embolden and motivate them. Rosen didn't come off as a guy that would use his fall in the draft is this way -- but, rather, came off to me as a whiner. It is true that Rosen has been in some unenviable situations in Arizona and Miami. That said, he is a smart guy and throws a nice ball, so there is a place for him in the NFL (even as a backup) -- if he chooses to do the work on and off the field. From that perspective, contrary to his pre-draft analysis, maybe he could prove to be a late bloomer in the right situation a la Rich Gannon. However, if the pre-draft rumblings about his personality and real motivations are correct, his tenure in the NFL will be short-lived.
  7. Wilson came into the league a much more polished passer than Josh. He was also a couple of years older -- and more mature. Wilson also joined a team that was pretty well formulated and had recently made playoff runs with a fantastic defense and solid running game. In fact, I would say that the Seahawks team that Wilson joined his rookie season is somewhat similar to the team that Josh will be playing for NEXT year. It is funny that we compare their playing styles and production -- but whereas Josh represents the prototypical NFL QB at 6'5", the only reason Wilson wasn't a sure fire 1st round pick is because scouts were afraid of his 5'10" stature. Also noteworthy is the 2012 draft that produced Wilson. Andrew Luck and RG3 were the high profile QBs that went 1-2 overall. Luck is out of the league, and RG3 is now a backup. Meanwhile, Tannehill, Wilson and Cousins all led their teams to the playoffs this season.
  8. Would love if Shenault somehow fell to 22. I would even be on board with trading up a few spots to land him.
  9. It is hard to fairly evaluate Josh Allen based purely on statistics for a number of reasons: 1. The conservative mindset of the coaching staff, in which case 300-yard passing games will always be a rarity. 2. The fact that his rushing ability is such a big part of his overall game. That said, there are certainly areas in which he needs to continue to improve in terms of decision-making and accuracy. Bill Parcells once described the 4-year cycle for QBs. Year 1: Rookie season; You are looking for "potential"; however, it is unfair to fully assess a young, rookie QB. Year 2: Given the baseline that was provided in Year 1, are there signs of improvement? If not, then time to move on. Year 3: Should be starting to put things together and play a role in putting the team in playoff position. If not, then time to move on. Year 4: Should know by now whether the QB is a Franchise QB. If he is, you are set. If he isn't, can you still win with him? If the answer is, yes, then start thinking about an upgrade -- if not, then time to move on. I think that Josh has actually been on the fast track with thumbs up for both Year 2 and Year 3 based on the Parcells criteria. With continued improvement (and upgrades to supporting offensive talent), I am hopeful for once and for all that he will prove to be the Franchise QB (i.e. able to keep up in a shootout against an opposing high-powered offense) that the team has been longing for since Kelly.
  10. Can't argue with the points about the weak schedule and blessed injury situation. But... We are in great cap shape, so I would expect a net gain (rather than a loss) from the talent perspective. I expect continued progression from Josh as well as improvements to his supporting cast on offense. I do not anticipate a decline in defense -- and trust McD and Frazier to make adjustments on defense to compensate for potential losses (Phillips, Lawson, etc.) I also feel like McD is the type of coach who will learn from his past mistakes. Look for this team to rally around the notion that they have unfinished business to complete in 2020. Also, it is hard to guess just how difficult the schedule will be. For example, at this time last year I had road games in Dallas and Pittsburgh penciled in as likely losses.
  11. I too get the sense that the coaching staff is less bothered by Kroft's presence than we are. The emergence of Knox helped to cushion the blow that Kroft's disappointing season provided. I have a feeling that he will be given another year in the system, given the injury situation early on. Also, he did sign a relatively hefty contract last season with a signing bonus -- so the cap ramifications for cutting him may actually outweigh the cost (at least in cap terms of keeping him in 2020). I know our cap situation is strong -- but still... Lee Smith has to be the goner. That should open the way for more playing time for Sweeney -- and vacate a roster spot for another TE. I do not expect that spot to be filled by someone like Hooper or Henry though. More likely another journeyman or mid-round draft prospect.
  12. Much has been made of the JJ Watt sack that led to the 16-0 field goal (which kept the game within a potential 2-score margin) and ultimately proved to be the turning point of the game. It is true that you could see the tide turn after that play - beginning with the Texans' next offensive series that led to their first score of the game, where Watson carried multiple defenders with him to the goal line -- and also broke a tackle to convert the 2-point conversion on the following play. However, it is worth noting how much softer the defense was playing on this series than they had previously in the game when holding the Texans scoreless. In particular, one play no one talks about is the play that was just prior to Watson's TD run. It was 3rd and 8 from roughly midfield, and a stop here would have been huge. However, Tre is playing a good 10 yards off Hopkins in a soft zone. Watson sees it and is able to make the easy pitch-and -catch to Watson to pick up the 1st down. That may not be as dramatic as the 3rd-and-18 fiasco, but it still illustrates how much the Bills' easing off the throttle contributed to the Texans' ability to shift the momentum of the game.
  13. I was VERY surprised that the game was not stopped and Josh examined for a possible concussion after that play. I was also surprised that a flag wasn't thrown for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cunningham. Regardless, as you said, if Knox and Morse do their job, that hit never happens.
  14. That was a 50-50 play in which each participant deserves some credit: the line for giving Josh time to set his feet and make the throw, Josh for making a pinpoint pass, Duke for being in the position to make the catch -- and the defender for doing enough to prevent the conversion. While I agree that a top-notch receiver should make that catch -- and Duke will probably tell you himself that he wished that he had come down with the ball -- the truth of the matter is that it is hardly a "drop". Or, how about this... That play represented not only a non-TD that would have put the Bills up by 3 scores going into halftime -- but it also represented a failed 3rd down conversion. What makes it worse is that they were in that position because of the two wasted plays on 1st down and 2nd down. The first was the inexplicable hand-off to Gore; the second was a spike to stop the clock. Maybe if the Bills had run three similar pass plays (passes to the endzone -- whether to Duke or someone else), their odds of completing just ONE of those THREE hypothetical shots certainly would have been better than the all-or-nothing SINGLE pass play to Duke. Maybe that's just me...
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