Throughout the next few weeks, #BillsMafia writers Rob Quinn (@RQuinn619) and Jason DeHart (@jaytdehart) will be joined by Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) of NFL.com and CBSSports.com to discuss the biggest story-lines surrounding the Buffalo Bills’ offseason.
Today, they offered their opinions on which players will be positively or negatively affected by the hiring of Rex Ryan, Greg Roman and Dennis Thurman.
As far as who will benefit the most from Buffalo’s new coaching staff, I think it’s a tie between Stephon Gilmore and Kiko Alonso. We all know about the success that Rex Ryan had with Darrelle Revis, and it’s not too far-fetched to say that Gilmore can have that type of impact on a defense. Gilmore is a long, physical corner that’s really refined his game over the past year and a half. He’s capable of locking down opposing No. 1 receivers and Ryan should have fun with him.
Alonso is another one, considering that the Bills added Preston Brown in last year’s draft. As a rookie, Alonso was the “Mike” linebacker, where his smaller frame caused him to get washed out against the run at times. Now, Kiko will likely play the weakside, where he’ll be able to be more of a “run and hit” player and not have to take on as many blocks.
I Tweeted it right when Ryan got hired – Stephon Gilmore is the biggest beneficiary. He was a stud press man corner at South Carolina, and has excelled in those physical, close-to-the-line situations with the Bills. He’s much more comfortable shadowing in man than he is being aware of a large part of the field in zone, where a corner is essentially asked to be more tentative. Ryan will likely give Gilmore the green light to play on an island against the opposition’s No. 1 wideout (no, I don’t think Revis would change these plans at all).
I’m going out on a limb and choosing EJ Manuel- It’s solely because Rex at this point has no other options, which isn’t to say that the team’s not exploring them. Manuel is now getting a new offense to learn, one that will look to take pressure off of him with a steady dose of running, and Roman has already developed a similarly athletic quarterback with accuracy issues into a winning one with Colin Kaepernick. Manuel gets a blank slate with this coaching change and is now given the opportunity to prove that he deserves to start.
But what about who’s negatively affected? I keep reading that Jerry Hughes isn’t a good fit for the 3-4!
This is a tough one, as the Bills already have most of the personnel in place for the philosophies on both sides of the ball, but if I had to choose, I’d say Nigel Bradham. Bradham was the Bills’ best linebacker in 2014 and he’s the prototypical every-down player defenses need. However, he plays the same position as Kiko Alonso, so in terms of snaps at an ideal position, Nigel Bradham is probably affected the most.
On offense, Chris Gragg or Marquise Goodwin will probably be miscast. Gragg is already playing from behind, as Marquies Gray flashed in his absence. Both are H-Backs, but Gragg is more of a linear athlete and doesn’t offer much as a blocker. Goodwin had only one catch in 2014, but with the 49ers, Greg Roman’s passing game was centered around short-to-intermediate throws. Goodwin’s playmaking ability is limited to vertical routes, so he probably won’t have a big role with the team.
As hard as it is today, I’m picking Sammy Watkins. Watkins’ rookie year was what fans hoped for, but there were stretches where he disappeared. We don’t know if that was game planned, poor coaching, bad quarterback play, or a combination of the three, but now with a run-centric offense being installed, Watkins faces the likely scenario of fewer passes coming his way. Roman may look to utilize Watkins more creatively with screens, jet sweeps, etc., but that has yet to be seen and with the likely outcome of fewer targets, it’s a possibility that Watkins’ effectiveness is diminished.
Maybe someone like MarQueis Gray…who’s more of an H-back than a tight end or fullback. Not that Roman won’t design some play-action rollout passes to the H-back, but it seems as though the Bills offensive coordinator will want two separate, discernibly different players at fullback and tight end.