Jairus Byrd has flown the coop and moved on to join the Saints. The departure has Bills fans panicking about who will replace him. Judging from the posts I read on the message board at buffalobills.com, as well as other web sites, it seems as if there are a lot of fans in Bills nation who are falling into the old pattern of ignoring what is right in front of their faces.
Many Bills fans are quick to complain about losing “home grown” talent to other teams after they have fulfilled their rookie contract. Yet, many of these same fans base their opinion on a rush to judgment without looking at a particular situation regarding a particular player in greater detail.
Sometimes fans seem too quick to form a judgment about a player based upon what other people say or write about them. For example, I’ve read numerous posts complaining about how Da’Norris Searcy isn’t the “answer.”
Many fear he won’t be an adequate starter at strong safety if Aaron Williams is moved to free safety, as many expect. Despite the limited number of starts Mr. Searcy has had over the last three seasons, his performance arguably disputes the notion that he can’t “fit the BILL” for several reasons.
First of all, Searcy has had a different defensive coordinator every season since entering the NFL as the 100th overall selection in the 2011 draft. He is now entering his fourth defensive scheme in as many years. That involves a tremendous amount of transition time every year. It was obvious that Searcy had to make a lot of adjustments during training camp and the preseason last year when Pettine installed his amoeba-hybrid attacking scheme.
Despite having to constantly adjust to a new scheme, Searcy somehow found a way to post solid numbers after going through three different defensive schemes:
Last season, Searcy struggled during the preseason to adjust to the culture shock of jumping from a ‘never blitz’ Wannstedt defense to the wild and wooly scheme of Pettine’s crazy attack mode (which will be sadly missed by this Bills fan).
Yet as last season progressed, Searcy continuously improved. His pick-six against the Jets last season was a thing of beauty. Also, 3.5 sacks in ten games (starting) is nothing to sneeze at either.
How different will the role of strong safety be in Schwartz’s defense? Once again, I suspect there will be some necessary adjustments made regarding the responsibilities of the strong safety under this “tinkered but not nuked” defensive scheme.
Searcy remained a lynchpin on each squad through a variety of defensive coordinators. This will be his greatest opportunity to seize the starting strong safety role, and I have little doubt he will succeed if given the right kind of support.
There are windows of opportunity that are presented to each of us at certain times in life. The window is now wide open for Searcy to have a breakout year and prove the doubters that he can pair up with Aaron Williams. This duo could be a formidable combination in the backfield for years to come.
There seems to be a pattern where some Bills fans complain when the team does not go out and pick up every high priced free agent on the market. Furthermore, when the Bills are not able to re-sign players, fans complain about that as well.
So here we have a solid guy with limited starting experience that is about to survive his fourth defensive coordinator, and some Bills fans are whining that he’s “no good in coverage,” or that he had a lousy preseason last year and therefore is forever branded as a “second-tier” player.
How many times have we seen players seemingly emerge out of nowhere that catch us by surprise after riding the pine for several years? Look no further than Fred Jackson to see how talented guys get overlooked and waste away on a roster for several years. How about Stevie Johnson, who Chan Gailey took out of Jauron’s scrap heap and turned him into a solid starter?
Fans can’t have it both ways. It’s not fair to whine about players who don’t get re-signed after their rookie contract, while at the same time write off players already on the roster. These are players who could blossom, but have not been put in the best position to succeed in the first place.
With all the hoopla that surrounded the Jairus Byrd saga, you would think that most fans would have the good sense to look objectively at players already on the roster who have yet to be given a proper opportunity to reveal their true potential.
Da’Norris Searcy has every reason to “grind dem Gs,” as he and his wife Kiki often tweet regarding his constant striving for excellence. The window of opportunity is there for Searcy. Aaron Williams will thrive at the free safety position, and Brandon Spikes will no doubt anchor the linebackers, allowing guys like Searcy to thrive in the defensive backfield.
Bottom line, Bills fans: Don’t miss the answer to the question about who can be the “next man up” after Jairus Byrd. The answer might just be “grinding dem G’s” right under our collective noses. Just ask Freddie and Stevie how that works.