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  1. How do you know that the WR is not what he planned for? It's just that you don't like it, and you think where the Bills are is inadequate. I get that. To be honest, I'm not thrilled with it either. I don't completely understand how they will make a productive passing attack out of that room (plus the TEs and RBs). But the fact that I don't understand doesn't really matter. I think Beane and McDermott and Brady talked extensively about what they needed in the receiver room, and I think the reasonable assumption is that they got what they wanted. That is, they came out of the draft in a way that followed the plan. I think the two trades back tell it all. If the McBeane and Brady were so desperate for receivers, they either would have taken one at 28, or they would have traded back to get additional picks so they could get two receivers. In fact, they traded back, but then they didn't take the second receiver. Why not? Because they didn't think a second receiver was necessary. The receiver room looks the way it did because of conscious, intentional choices made at OBD. How it looks is part of a carefully considered plan. Whether the plan works is a different question, and I can't argue with you if you conclude it isn't likely to work. I don't know if it'll work.
  2. I think MVS at least replaces Davis, although I don't know how he measures up when asked to block. For me, they're both talented guys with good size who have demonstrated a level of inconsistency that means you can't make them the focus of your attack. (I also think Knox is one of those guys at his position, too.) However, both Davis and MSV have come through for their teams big-time from time to time, and for that reason they've been useful to their teams and worth keeping around. Once the price went up to keep Davis, he simply wasn't worth the money. So, the fact that MSV is at least in the same category and will play for less, it was a smart move. The problem is that demonstrated level of inconsistency makes neither of them is the guy you want on the field as a regular starter. Why? Because when you don't have stud #1, a guy who can give you something extra, when you've decided that receiver by committee is the best way to attack defenses, one of the basic requirements is that you execute at a high level. Over and over, you run the right route. Over and over, you catch the ball. Over and over, you make the block. This kind of passing attack is part of a philosophy that I believe strongly in: Get positive yardage on every play. Zero yardage on a play is a bad thing, and negative yardage is not even on the table. Throwing a 50-50 ball 30 yards downfield, is much worse than throwing an 80-20 ball 6 yards, even though over five plays the 50-50 ball gets you more yards. Inconsistency results in unnecessary zero-yardage plays, so this philosophy means that you don't want inconsistent receivers on the field. It's almost as though consistency is more important than greatness. I liked having Davis on the team, and I like having MSV for the same reasons, but I'm sure hoping Shakir, Samuel, and Coleman get the job done, because I don't want to have to depend on a steady diet of MSV.
  3. Ah, that makes a lot of sense. You're correct. That is, if I'm correct, in the rinse-wash-repeat sense of how to manage the receiver room, then you must be drafting to replenish the veteran departures. That does seem to be the way teams, including the Bills are running their running back room. Draft good running backs, and be prepared to let them walk when their contracts are up. Draft some more. And if that's correct, and I think it is, then the Bills should have drafted another receiver. Looking at it cold-heartedly, there's a good chance that one of Samuel, Shakir, or Coleman is going to let people down this season. I like to think that they'll all be good, but realistically, probably not. The veterans are only stopgaps, and just like the starter, one or more of MSV, Claypool, and Hollins going to wash out, more or less. There already should be someone else, waiting in the wings. Maybe they think Shorter is that guy.
  4. Excellent discussion. I agree with your concerns, particulalrly that the phulisiphy thw Bills folliw is greay for the regukar season but not so goos for the playoffs.
  5. This all makes sense. It's the argument on the other side. I don't think that's where things are going, but it makes sense. I will point out, however, that you stud receiver also might not show up in the playoffs, so the fact that team system may fail cuts both ways. And I think the Milano argument is incorrect. Milano, or Von Miller, play positions where although some teamwork is necessary, the positions are primarily about individual skills. They play off the players around them to some extent, but mostly it's about their individual makeup. The receivers are in part about choreography - the routes they run, the options they need to make, releases off the line out of bunch formations.
  6. That just isn't the point. The point is that the philosophy that I think is taking over is a philosophy that says, "a well functioning passing team will outproduce a group of receivers who have a perceived #1." That philosophy says that every receiver on a well functioning passing team will do multiple things well, and the offense will not depend on him to produce all that he is capable of producing individually. That is, the system may need him do more in the offense than go deep or whatever it is that makes him so special, and as he does those other things, his value based on his special skills drops. But from the team point of view, the production is better with the team approach. (And, by the way, this teamwork-is-better-than-individual-stars philosophy is very much, maybe completely in-tune with McDermott's approach. So, it seems quite plausible that McDermott's view of the receiver room is what I'm describing. He may be really excited about Kincaid, Samuel, Shakir, Coleman, Cook, Knox and whoever else steps up with contributions.) Again, what do I know? It just seems that way to me.
  7. This is really good. It's a good discussion of lots of technically relevant stuff. Thanks. Yes, as an example, Kupp has some special skill. And Kelce. Their special skill is that they play the game with supreme intelligence. They don't seem to have any physical skill that stands out; what makes them stand out is that running almost any route tree, they can perceive the correct options, thinking along with the QB, and they have good physical skills to move where they have to move and to catch the ball. And those guys are very valuable in a disciplined offensive environment, where smart coaches are actually creating circumstances for those guys to read and react. I am not saying Shakir or Samuel is about to become Kupp or St. Brown. I'm saying they all establish their value to the team by being committed to playing a team game - everyone blocks, everyone runs his routes professionally, everyone catches the ball as they should. That's the difference. Our view of Diggs was that he was and had to play like the lead dog. My view of the Bills' receiver room now is that it's full of team players, and a leader will emerge. And my view generally is that more teams play football with that style, the value of receivers in free agency will fall. Not their importance; receivers are always going to be important. But their value. I fully get that I could be partially or even completely wrong about this. It's just the way it looks to me.
  8. 6 feet, 195 pounds, 4.5 40. What physical talent does he have that makes him elite? He's elite because of his stats. How much of his stats is dependent on his physical abilities, and how much of it is dependent on the match of his particular athletic abilities with (1) a star offensive coordinator, (2) a solid, accurate veteran QB, (3) a high-performing tight end? No one projected St. Brown as a league-leading receiver.
  9. Thanks. Good stuff. Yes, I know it's not as simple as just giving them more targets. I think if you're trying to build a receiving as I've described, you don't put all your eggs in one basket. I think the Bills are taking a multiple approach. Do you think the Bills will have 4000 yards passing this season? Do you think they will have a 1000-yard receiver? I think the answer to both of those questions is yes. I don't know who the 1000-yard receiver will be, but I'm guessing that one of Kincaid, Shakir, Samuel, and Coleman will go over 1000. One of those guys is going to be productive in a way that resembles Kelce, St. Brown, Kupp and some others. They'll get more targets than they've gotten historically. Brady probably could tell us today which of those four is the one they think is most likely to be that guy, but I'd bet that even they would say they aren't sure. Yes, some guys are just low-target guys. I don't think it's been demonstrated yet that Shakir is one of those, nor has it been demonstrated with any of the others I named. They haven't historically had high targets, and that is in part because they aren't traditional-type stud #1s. They don't demand targets. My whole point is that there's nothing much about St. Brown or Kupp that allows them to demand targets, either. They just are good at taking advantage of opportunities. I think modern football is trending in the direction that will systematically afford targets to anyone who can take advantage. It's a more complicated way to run your offense, it stresses the defenses more, and it frees your offense from being dependent on one guy to create the opportunities for others. I know I'm not going to change you mind, and I also know that, at least as the league stands today, I'm overstating the case. However, I enjoy talking with you about it, because your opinions always are grounded in quality fact and analysis. Thanks.
  10. What I believe is that yours is the old-fashioned approach. I thin k the new, team approach is that collectively they all create space for all of them to eat. Your approach means you're aleays dependent on having that stud #1. Its not a sustainable model. Giants invrsted heavy apital in bo a running back and OBJ - doubly unsustainable.
  11. Because the model that is emerging depends on a couple of things the Bills haven't had: A creative passing scheme. It's why so many people here have argued for an offensive head coach. Shanahan, McVay, Reid, and the guy in Green Bay, all get it and all are doing it. If the guy is your head coach, he isn't going to get old or get injured. You can have him for 20 years, and he just keeps cycling through receivers. Dorsey clearly wasn't that guy. I think the Bills think Brady is, and one of the signs is that they seem to have been anxious to get Samuel, a Brady protege. The Bills were invested in the old model - that's why they got Diggs. The wanted a stud #1 and thought they had one. I have no hard evidence of this, but I've wondered whether Brady began implementing this approach last season and that is what led to Diggs's decline and emotional funk. Diggs thinks of himself as a stud #1, and Brady may have been asking him to be a yardage collector along with Shakir and Kincaid. The other thing you need is a QB smart enough to execute the scheme. I think that's Allen, but the scheme requires supreme discipline, and that hasn't always been Allen's forte. I think the Bills are trying to get on the wave after the innovators, but still early.
  12. My point was not that every guy can be a star receiver. My point is that the kind of guys who increasingly are putting up big numbers are yardage collection guys, not overwhelming physical talents. Kupp and St. Brown looked like Shakir until they more nicely into the system and started getting more targets. The Bills now have three guys - Shakir, Samuel, and Coleman - who could be yardage collectors. They all feature good route running, good hands, and good run after catch talent. These guys are all over the league, and they keep coming out of college. And they're better than Beasley. Beas, like Edelman, was exceptionally valuable less than ten yards off the line of scrimmage. They made plays downfield occasionally, but where they sparkled was with their ability to separate off the line. The yardage collectors are different in that they're more adept at running the entire route tree. Yardage collectors may not separate as well as Beas and Edelman, but they get open by being intelligent route runners. They're more valuable than Beas and Edelman. And the most important point about the yardage collectors is that the they don't have to be freak athletes, like a Justin Jefferson. They're freak athletes, to be sure, in terms of quickness, brains, etc., but they aren't physically dominant. That's important, because that makes them more easily replaceable. When the Patriots lost Welker, Edelman stepped right in. Now, it's not always the case that you'll have an equally good talent waiting in the wings, but you can always have a guy who fits the profile who can move into the role and you can see how he does. No team has a potential Justin Jefferson on the practice squad waiting to take the place of the real Justin Jefferson. It seems to be working in the same way for the Bills at running back. Draft a Singletary, then draft a Moss, then draft a Cook, then draft a Davis. If one works out, play him. If he doesn't, move on and get another one. Chiefs' running backs room looks the same. And their receiver room does, too. And, by the way, several people have said the Chiefs aren't using the dime-a-dozen approach because they have a Hall of Fame TE. That's true, but Kelce also is a yardage collector. Gronk overpowered defenses at tight end. Kelce doesn't. He's big and breaks some tackles occasionally, but he's not unguardable like Gronk was. Kelce is a smart route runner with good hands and some after the catch ability. He happened to come in a different body type than Kupp and St. Brown and Samuel (Curtis) and Samuel (Deebo), but he plays the same game. And that's what the Bills hope to have in Kincaid, too.
  13. This great. Thanks. I don't agree, but you may be right. Two things: 1. I'm not trying to rationalize what the Bills are doing, in order to say it's a good thing. But I think it's interesting that the Bills have put together this receiving room, and that's what's caused me to think about this. 2. I really didn't mean to denigrate St. Brown or Kupp. They're both great. But they're great in a different way. They simply do not, cannot, dominate physically. They are guys who we typically would think of as slot receivers. But they have what Kelce has, which is an almost uncanny ability to find and take advantage of what the defense is giving him. That's what I meant about their productivity. They aren't productive because their physical talents are special, like a Metcalf. They are productive because they have special ability to take advantage of the passing attack they're operating in. They don't so much "produce" their yardage as they collect yardage that is available. And they are among the very best collectors in in the league. I think that players are not quite so much the plug-and-play stars as they once may have been. When the Bills got Diggs, we got what we expected: a stud #1 who by his very presence on the field produces offense because of his combination of size, speed, and other physical talents. Now, the premier receivers are guys who are thriving in a system. So, for example, I would not necessarily expect that Kupp or St. Brown traded to most other teams would continue to be as productive - that is, they're 1500 yards might not be portable to their next team. If I'm right about that, we will start to see the free agency value of these guys begin to drop.
  14. I thought this would get some juices flowing! I haven't read all the comments yet. I will and will respond. One comment I've seen so far that has gotten me to think a little was the comment about how many receivers are being drafted in the first three rounds. That gave me pause, and there are a lot of potential responses to that idea. First, I agree with those who suggest that the transition to truly dime-a-dozen is still in process. And it's not to suggest that there won't be star receivers who are desirable. The real way we will know the transition is complete is when the free agent value of receivers begins dropping. I think we'll start to see receivers making the same complaint the running backs have made - that by the time their rookie deals are done, teams don't want to write big contracts for them, because they can just as easily draft a replacement. We aren't there yet. Second, I do wonder whether in a year or two from now we'll be thinking that some of these receivers have been over drafted. I don't look at the advanced stats, but I imagine some stats measure value-over-replacement, and I expect that the stats will show that the star is just not that much more valuable to team success. But most importantly, the answer to the question why are so many receivers being taken in the first through third rounds is because there are three starting receiver slots on every team, and the league is churning through receivers. Hopkins and OBJ are at the point in their careers where they are being plugged in here and plugged there, year after year, not unlike MVS and Claypool. A guy like Shakir is in that churn, Gabriel Davis is. There are a lot of guys who make a splash, show some promise, then move around. Just like Singletary. And there are other guys who flash for a year or two and then injuries, or changes on the team, or something shortens their career. There are all these sort of interchangeable players that keep coming into the league with size and/or speed and or RAC, etc., and teams are cycling through receivers. So, the teams need to draft a lot of receivers. Again, it's not that the very best guys are unimportant. And it's not even that the all the others who are drafted on e first two nights are unimportant. They're very important to modern NFL offenses, so they're getting taken on those nights. For example, I never thought, and I still don't think, that Singletary was unimportant. The point is that it's not so important to have the stud receiver in the same way it's not so important for the Bills to have the stud running back instead of Singletary. Teams all over the league are finding that they can access this surplus of receiver talent coming out of colleges and build complex passing offenses that are difficult to defend. The result is that , the special talents of a stud receiver just aren't as important to teams as they once were.
  15. Bills fans have spent the first five months of 2024 talking about receivers: Whom the Bills have and whom they should get. The longer I’ve listened to that discussion, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that fans haven’t really internalized what’s happening in pro football. In short, I think that receivers are following in the footsteps of their cousins, the running backs. Fans, and the New York Giants, were late to realize that in terms of team performance, there isn’t much difference between having a great running back and having a really good one. And you almost always can find a really good one. There’s always a Singletary, a Cook, a Pacheco, or someone else. In earlier eras, if you had a Jim Brown or an Earl Campbell or a Barry Sanders, you were a contender. Not now. Now, you can have a Derrick Henry and, well, you have some great highlights, but highlights don’t get it done any more. Why did that happen to running backs? Two reasons: First, young players keep closing the gap between what the great players can do and what the next level of really good players can do. They learn the moves of the great players, and they condition themselves to be nearly as strong and as powerful. Second, the defenses have matured – the players are bigger, stronger, faster, so that a guy with Jim-Brown talent now finds a defense full of big, strong, fast defenders, and the coaches have schemed their defenses in ways that allow their big, strong, fast defenders to close gaps and gang tackle in ways that just weren’t done in earlier generations. Maybe some 250-pound guy who runs like LaDainian Tomlinson will come along, but that’s unlikely. (As an aside, the same thing is happening in the NBA. In less than ten years, the league has filled up with guys who shoot threes like Steph Curry, guys who are bigger, stronger, and quicker than Steph. And the defenses have gotten smarter. The Warriors of five years ago would be good today, but not dominant in the way they were. (And, by the way, there’s a whole generation of pro golfers who have caught up to the greatness of the early Tiger Woods. They don’t stand out like Tiger because, well, there are a lot of them.) And now we see it happening to receivers. Again, the difference between truly great and very good has gotten smaller, the number of very good receivers has increased. It’s happened for the same reasons that it happened to running backs. Receivers have gotten about as big and fast as they are going to get. The difference in speed between a 4.3 guy and a 4.4 or even 4.5 guy just isn’t very important – 4.5 is plenty fast enough. Kids in high school practice catching balls one-handed, practice tucking the ball away after the catch, etc. By the time receivers have gotten out of college, a lot of them have speed, route-running technique, and catching skills that rival what some of the best NFL players had ten years ago. In other words, it’s become almost impossible to get better physically in a way that makes any one receiver a dominant player. In addition to the younger receivers closing the talent gap, the defenders and the defenses they run have improved, too, for the express purpose of stopping the physically dominant receivers. If you want to win in the NFL, you simply cannot let one player get 150+ yards against you, rushing or receiving, so you create defenses to stop them. You shadow running backs, you double cover receivers, and then you develop nuanced variations off your defenses to slow down the opponent’s star player. Quickly, other teams adopt your ideas. The result is that even the very best running backs and receivers are not stringing 150-yard games, back to back to back, all season long. Yes, every once in a while a Tyreek Hill comes along, a physical freak, and he does string great games for a while, but it’s just a matter of time before teams adjust. What about all the great young receivers out there? Well, I think there’s an important distinction to be made between great receivers and great production. A guy like Julian Edelman was not a great receiver, in the classic Hall of Fame sense. He had great production because of the circumstances he was in, and because he was the right guy to take advantage of those circumstanes. Cooper Kupp is another. Amon-Ra St. Brown is another. These guys are all over the league, guys with excellent speed, very good ball skills, and brains. They have great production, but it isn’t so much that they create the production – they just fit the scheme and get production because they have the skill to take advantage of the opportunities that their offenses create. I’m not saying those guys aren’t good football players. What I’m saying is that they are the Pachecos and Cooks and Singletarys of the receiving world. What I’m saying is that teams are discovering that the physical difference between OBJ and St. Brown does not translate into an important difference in production on the field, just like the difference between Saquon Barkley and Pacheco. What about the true studs, the OBJs and the DHops of the world? The guys who actually create their production? Well, both of those guys came to greatness on their original teams, were true sensations and great weapons, and then were somewhat surprisingly dealt to other teams, where they never recovered their initial luster. Now they’ve been reduced to hired guns that teams hope can somehow reclaim their greatness or at least be reliable 4th receivers. The bottom line is, I think, that the game has moved on from the days when the ideal was to have a true stud skill player on offense (other than your QB). If you had a true stud, you gave him the ball every time you could. In fact, teams have discovered that having a guy who is so good that he demands the ball is a negative, not a positive. When you have a Derrick Henry or an OBJ, they’re only useful if you give them the ball a lot, and that limits your offense. Having a guy like Stefon Diggs, who is prone to sulking if he doesn’t get a catch in your first series, is a liability. The Bills certainly seem to have adopted this thinking. 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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