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Shaw66

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  1. Shaw66

    SI Chronicles the Sad Saga of James Hardy

    No, Colin. The truth that he made bad decisions is only a small party of the story. The whole truth, which is only hinted at in the story, is that this child spent the first fifteen years of his life, the years when just about all of his intellectual and emotional development takes place, effectively homeless. His father was in prison and his mother often wasn't around. He might have known where he would sleep tonight, but he had no idea where he would be sleeping in a year. He was poor. It's a good bet the world he saw was filled with drugs, alcohol and violence. Over the last twenty years, there's been a lot of study that's shown that children who grow up in that kind of environment have close to no chance of making. Yes, as adults they make bad decisions, but they do so because it's almost impossible for children living in that kind of environment to learn to make good decisions. Think about the one thing they do tell us - that when he was in high school he'd walk into a clothing store, take what he wanted and walk out without paying and without any consequences. Not learning lessons about honesty and good behavior when you're a kid makes it very hard to behave as an adult as though you did learn those lessons. The truth is very few guys make it out of that kind of life to have productive lives, including athletes. The few who make it out often get their heads straightened out in prison or in the service. Some do it because someone takes a really serious interest in them, commits to them. That's what Michael Oher's story is about. Whatever the truth is exactly, it's clear that those people who took him in when he was a homeless high school freshman changed his life. Look at Marcel Dareus. He continues to struggle trying to recover from that kind of childhood. From our perspective, it's easy. In truth, it's much, much more difficult to recover from that kind of a childhood than it is to learn to put a basketball in a hoop or to catch passes at Indiana. It's a tragedy. I think it's much tougher than you think. When everything around you as a kid is a disaster, when it's all poverty, drugs, unemployment, sex and violence, it's very hard to develop pitive life skills. When your life is as chaotic as his was and you begin to have success in sports, it's not surprising that you'd put all your eggs in one basket. It's an escape, it's the only thing that gives you gratification. But it remains extraordinarily difficult to do the rest of things in your life successfully. I'm not advocating for anything. I don't know how to fix the lives of people who live so dysfunctionally. But I do know that kids growing up in that environment have a very difficult time growing into responsible, positive human beings. That world is devastating to children.
  2. I'll admit to thinking that Barkley maybe should start. As you said, he earned it. If you ask who's the best QB on the team today, based on in-game performance, it has to be Barkley. He's outplayed all the others, including Allen. However, you have these additional considerations: It was the Jets. It certainly was an aberrational game for Barkley. He's essentially never played like that before, and no coaches or GMs in the league thought enough about anything he'd shown before Sunday to even have him on a roster. The chances that he's your guy for the next five years are probably 10% or less. The chances that Allen is your starter for the next five years are probably above 50%. What Allen needs is experience on the field. The Bills have the opportunity to give him six games of experience without much of anything on the line. That's a valuable opportunity. He'll know more starting game 1 of the 2019 season if he plays these six games. Add to that that Allen hasn't looked lost on the field, so the chances are the experience starting these six games will result in growth and not some emotional trauma that sets him back. The Bills are using the balance of this season to try out players. We saw it last week, we see it in the continuing roster changes. McDermott admitted it. It's not surprising that they're doing at QB, too. The reality for Barkley is that he's trying out for the backup role. Peterman is gone, Anderson likely is gone. Barkley has six weeks to prove that what he does on the practice field, in the QB room and in the locker room is what the Bills want in a backup. If he's a plus, he gets a few million dollar contract, a contract he didn't have six weeks ago. If he doesn't help, the Bills will look for someone else.
  3. This is what I've been thinking - the offense executed. However, it's possible that the execution by the Bills' offense was only possible because the Jets were SO bad. I've concluded that for an amateur, there's no good way to tell. I'm waiting for the next game. Even then, it'll be tough, because Allen be quarterbacking, not Barkley. If the offense stalls, we won't be able to tell if it's because of Allen or because of the better defense.
  4. That is the only explanation that makes at least some sense. But it's much more satisfying to think that the Bills were doing some things right.
  5. Shaw66

    Terrelle Pryor - cut

    'm glad to see him go. Certainly didn't contribute much. But beyond that, he just didn't feel like a McDermott type guy. A guy with that much phyusical talent either isn't too smart or isn't working hard enough - he just should be a better player than he is. Keep the merry-go-round going until you find some keepers.
  6. I think this is too simplistic. It may be right, but I doubt it. I don't think, for example, that the Bills were some kind of trap game for the Jets. There's no way they're taking the Bills lightly because they have too many of their own struggles. I also think that we're seeing better offensive line play. The oline was part of the explanation for why the Bills were so bad early, but I think the oline actually is improving. If you're right, the Bills will win about two more games. And that's certainly possible. We'll see.
  7. I don't know if they tanked, but you're right about Barkley. It was one game.
  8. I don't see that. Bills aren't going to spend another first round pick on a QB. You can have only one potential franchise guy on the team at a time, or you've wasted your resources. Allen is that guy. Similarly, if there's a really good free agent QB, like better than Fitzpatrick, the Bills aren't going to be willing to write the check that would be necessary to get him. So you're left with signing a second journeyman. Bills probably don't even want to do that, because the guy will cost $10 million a year or more. Plus, that guy isn't going to be interested in the Bills if he's coming into a competition with a presumptive franchise guy and another journeyman. What you ARE likely to see, if anything, is a late-round or undrafted free agent rookie. You may not like it, but that's almost certainly what you'll see.
  9. I think the fact that he's a rental is exactly why you play him a lot and push him to excel. You have the guy for six more weeks; it's like an extended tryout. Worst thing you can do is sit the guy or play him lightly, have him sign a one-year deal somewhere else and then blossom into the guy everyone thought they saw was a rookie. Much better to get everything out of him you can to give you as much information about him as you can, then decide what to do. If you don't play him, you sour the relationship and he's definitely gone. If you do play him, he appreciates it and you have a chance to re-sign him. Until you, as the coach, get to the conclusion that you just don't want him. Then you give the tryout to someone else.
  10. Yeah, I agree with what he was saying too. You know what made me feel best about where we are right now? Not saying it's proof of anything, just sayin it made me feel good? Someone posted or some friend sent me a link to something from Cleveland that said the Browns are likely to have some problems finding a head coach because the Haslams consistently ignore the football people in the organization. The football people said draft Bridgewater, the Haslams said we're taking Manziel. Then the football people said McDermott was by far the best HC candidate, the Haslams said hire Hue Jackson. It just felt good to hear that knowledgeable football people (albeit the Browns people) thought McDermott was the clear choice. I've been losing confidence in McDermott as the season has progressed, and I needed something to tell me to calm down, trust the process, let the guy build the team the way he plans to build the team. There are plenty of small signs that he's doing that, but there seem to be too few wins to go with the signs. Yesterday was a complete change in how they appeared to be playing. It was a surprise to me and to many. I'd like to think it wasn't a surprise to McDermott. I'd love to see them go 4-2 down the stretch.
  11. Thanks for writing this. It's nice to think that's what's going on, guys just making progress, understanding more, playing better. You point out several good examples. Milano, Lawson. Didn't name Taron Johnson, Edmunds. Jones. And, frankly, McDermott - HC is a different job for DC, and there's a learning curve there, just like for players. What has me so puzzled is that if this steady improvement, at different paces, but improvement, is going on, then one would expect some averaging effect going on, with the team gradually improving. Some guy makes a leap this week, another guy makes a leap last week - collectively there should be a generally improving team - a hiccup here or there, but generally improvement. That isn't what we've been seeing. Bills crush the Vikings and Jets, and in between there are some really ugly losses and some close wins and losses. And last season was the same. It's an unusual pattern. Maybe it just was the Jets yesterday, but the Bills looked like they could beat all but the top five teams. It isn't the picture of a steadily improving team. Frankly, what I was most please with yesterday was the pass route schemes. The Bills finally were running schemes that were giving the Bills favorable matchups somewhere. The receivers were getting open naturally - if you run the route correctly, you get open. And Barkley recognized where the open man was. Those schemes may have been workng in the beginning of the season but the QB didn't have time. Then, as the QB got time, the Bills may not have had the right QB pulling the trigger. Yesterday, it all seemed to work.
  12. I meant see them play someone other than the Jets NOW. The Vikings is ancient history, and it's almost certainly aberratrional. Until yesterday, I don't think anyone would have said the Bills would have been competitive with the Vikings in a rematch. But that way yesterday. Today, I don't know what to think about this team. I tend to agree about Benjamin, but I think the Bills need to be patient with him. I thought early in the season he was afraid to get hit. He seems to have gotten over that. Now it's almost as though he has to relearn holding on to the ball when he does get hit. Last week's drop in the end zone was forgivable - he got creamed by multiple players. Sunday's drop was nearly inexcusable. Catch it, hold on to it. Still, in recent weeks he's had some success getting separation AND catching the ball, so I wonder whether we're watching him slowly turn into a better receiver. I'd keep playing him to see what he does week after week; make the decision about him after the season ends.
  13. Yes, as a lot of people are saying, the Bills got better QB play than they've seen, but I don't think that's all of it. Take one example - receivers getting separation. The Bills have no - zero - receivers who can consistently get separation. Watch Amari Cooper last night, an exquisite combination of speed, strength and downright hard work changing direction - he gets separation. There are 10-15 guys in the league who do that, and the Bills don't have one of them. They get separation on scheme - catch the in tight man-to-man with single coverage on Foster, and he can get a step going deep. So can Ray-Ray McCloud, so why haven't we seen him get deep like Foster yesterday? What happened to Zay Jones? Open all over the field yesterday. Yes, Barkley did a nice job knowing where the open man was going to be and an equally nice job delivering the ball, but we just weren't seeing guys open like that in prior weeks. And what about the pass protection? It's been getting better, week by week, for a month now. Apparently Teller got more playing time yesterday, and people liked what they saw. But it wasn't one guy. Across the line yesterday, guys were holding their ground, staying with their man, keeping the defense off Barkley. I think this team responded again to adversity in much the same way they did last season, came out with a renewed commitment, and we saw it on the field. The important question is why is it necessary to renew commitment? Is it, as some suggest, just an emotional response to being led by a QB who actually knows what he's doing? It's nice to think so, but they responded last season with no change at QB. We have to see them play like this against someone other than the Jets.
  14. Here's the thing about Benjamin: He simply isn't a great athlete. He's a big, tall guy with decent enough foot speed to have been a serious threat in college and, when everything goes right, to be a decent wideout in the NFL. He isn't athletic enough or tough enough to be a good #1 receiver, but when things are going right, he can be useful. The 2018 Bills need him to be a legit number 1 guy, and he's showing, week after week, that he can't be that guy.
  15. “What Is It With This Team?” I had business in Florida last week and missed a chance to see the Bills and the Jets in the Meadowlands. Given how the season’s been going for the two teams, Fort Lauderdale seemed like the better option. Who’s not picking the beach over Matt Barkley? Sunday turned out to be a good day to be in New Jersey. I had to settle for lunch at Slackers in Fort Lauderdale, watching the Bills go up 24-0 before heading to the airport. (Slackers, by the way, is a great place to watch games – TVs everywhere, typical pub food. It’s a Packers bar, and there’s great memorabilia all over.) What is it with the Bills? How can they be so bad one week, and so good the next? Yes, Sunday it was the Jets, and the Jets look to be genuinely awful. Last Sunday, the Bills didn’t deserve to be on the field with the Bears, and the week before that they could do nothing against the Patriots. Maybe there’s just THAT much difference between the good and the bad teams. But that can’t be it, can’t be all of it. The Bills were flatter than flat at home against the Bears, and they were world beaters a week later on the road. It’s the same kind of emotional ups and downs this team displayed last season. Is it a characteristic of Sean McDermott teams? What else was different this week? Matt Barkley. Prior to Sunday, Barkley had started six games in the NFL, and he had a career passer rating of 63.7. Sunday he was 15-25 and two touchdowns for a passer rating over 117. He had the game of his career. When have we last seen a Buffalo QB so effective? So what changed for Matt Barkley? Was it Brian Daboll? McDermott? Or was it glue on Robert Foster’s hands when in earlier games Foster’s hands were slathered in 10W-30? Zay Jones continued emergence? Or was it just the Jets? How does everything change in a week? Holes for McCoy. Time for the quarterback to throw. Receivers open. Penalties under control. Special teams making plays. Had to be the Jets. Had to be the Jets are just that bad, or they’re tanking. Still, the Bills played well-executed NFL football on Sunday, something they seemed incapable of a month ago. They showed, as they have for the past few weeks, that they have an offensive line to build on, instead of one to dismantle totally. They showed the solid, disciplined defense we’ve seen most of the season. Let the quarterback controversy begin. Allen will be ready to go after the bye, but did Barkley just win the job? Does Barkley get to start until he returns to the form he showed in previous seasons? Is there a QB competition in the offing for training camp next season? I’d think the Bills would be, should be, all in on Allen. But can the Bills really turn their backs on the quarterbacking Barkley showed on Sunday? It’s an unusual season, to be sure. Wins over two pretty good, playoff-contending teams, a near win on the road against a third, a blowout win over a bad Jets team, and a few other glimpses of some good football, combined with several absolutely horrible showings and record-setting offensive futility. A different QB every week. Logic says the Bills should be all about losing this season, positioning themselves for the best possible rookie talent in the 2019 draft. But winning is so much more fun than losing. The Dolphins twice, the Jets again, the Jags and the Lions. The Patriots are the only winning team left on the Bills’ schedule. Bizarre as it sounds, the NFL’s laughingstock could end the season 8-8. Or 3-13. A week off, and then the roller coaster ride resumes. GO BILLS!!! The Rockpile Review is written to share the passion we have for the Buffalo Bills. That passion was born in the Rockpile; its parents were everyday people of western New York who translated their dedication to a full day’s hard work and simple pleasures into love for a pro football team.
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