The Intangibles: ‘Wyobabbling’ Bills’ first week of OTAs

Photo from crowdfunder.co.uk.com.

You knew it was coming. After reading and watching every video clip I could find covering this week’s OTAs at One Bills Drive, I noticed a few ‘intangible’ issues that might be worth mentioning. Here’s a few of my more twisted observations.

QB competition just got very interesting.

Photo of QB AJ McCarron from buffalobills.com.

Along with equal reps shared by AJ McCarron, Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen, there was equal time provided at the podium for each quarterback to speak to the media this week. Since they rarely say anything substantial about scheme, my eyeballs are on their behavior at the podium and how they respond to questions from reporters. So what did I see?

  • AJ McCarron looks like a guy who just realized there will arguably be more pressure on him to win the starting job than he may have anticipated. Most comments from reporters regarding Josh Allen’s performance this week praised his raw talent. It’s one thing to see it on film. It’s quite another to witness Allen up close and personal. It will be interesting to see how McCarron’s mood changes throughout the off-season as he fights to become the Bills’ starting quarterback. He certainly appeared to be a guy who realized the ride to the starting job isn’t going to be easy-peasy.
  • Nathan Peterman is as steady a guy in terms of emotion as you’ll find anywhere. This is a young man mature beyond his years and wise enough to appreciate the benefits of getting paid handsomely to toss around footballs for a living. Having the time to grow into another offensive scheme and learn without pressure definitely has its benefits and Peterman gets it. If anyone was looking for him to fold mentally after his disastrous debut against the Chargers last year, forget about it. It’s already long forgotten by him.
  • Josh Allen did not look like a deer in the headlights during his first week with the vets. He handled himself with aplomb answering reporters questions and deftly shifting any snark being tossed his way. He’s definitely a newbie with the media, but one thing I noted was his ability to think quickly on his feet when lobbed a tough question. He still seems a tad nervous with the media, but I suspect that will ease as the summer goes on. No one can deny his elite physical skill set, that’s for sure. But I’m also impressed with his humble demeanor and how he handles being buried on the depth chart.

Rookie MLB Tremaine Edmunds might be the steal of the draft

Photo of MLB Tremaine Edmunds from roanoke.com.

How in the world did Edmunds fall in the draft to a place where Brandon Beane could snatch him? This guy is not only a physical freak, but has the right mindset from being raised in an NFL family as well. First week of OTAs and he’s out there looking like a giant California sequoia tree barking out plays for the defense. Steady, mature and looks like he’s ready to take the NFL by storm. I’ll burn my rosary beads all summer praying Edmunds stays healthy just to see the look on Tom Brady’s face when he shout’s out “49’s the MIKE” this fall. Can you say “heat seeking missile”?

A couple of players decided to go ahead and drink the kool-aid

Photo of RG John Miller from buffalobills.com.
  • RG John Miller looks like he spent the entire off season redefining more than just his physique. As lead journalist Chris Brown recently noted, Miller was not happy being benched last season in favor of Vlad Ducasse. He not only cleaned up his diet and trained like crazy during the offseason, he also found the burn to reclaim his starting job. After a solid 2016, getting benched was obviously a humbling experience he’s vowed not to let happen again. The Bills will need him to regain his game on the right side, especially with the RT position up for grabs.
  • DE Shaq Lawson got his wake up call in the off season when the Bills spent some precious cap space signing Trent Murphy. Murphy is already one of my favorite guys on the team with his workmanlike attitude and unique personality. He will push Shaq to prove his first-round draft status wasn’t another bad call by the ‘old’ Bills. Lawson is one of the few players left on the squad since McBeane rode into town. Shaq says he’s ready to roll. And we’re ready to see it happen!

CB Tre’Davious White has a reason to burn

Photo of CB Tre’Davious White from buffalonews.com.

After being snubbed for a Pro-Bowl bid after his rookie season, the reasons for White to burn hot this season just keep coming. White was also snubbed as AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year (CB Marshon Lattimore won). It’s pretty clear this doesn’t sit well with White, who seems to take these things personally. I have a feeling Mr. White won’t be ignored much longer.

With wily veteran Vontae Davis opposite White, I expect both will blow up this season if they stay healthy. Davis is out to prove he’s still an elite corner and he will get every chance to prove that because White’s performance will force plays to Davis’ side.

Expect White to come out of the gate on fire this season, and establishing himself even more as a leader on defense. Along with the rest of the secondary, White will be pivotal in helping MLB Tremaine Edmunds adjust to his workload as QB of the defense. If White makes a jump in his play like many players do in their second season, the media and his peers won’t be able to deny him some hard earned accolades.

It’s anybody’s guess how the OL will be configured at opener

Photo of LT Dion Dawkins from nflplayerengagement.com.

LT Dion Dawkins looks like the only solid starter on Buffalo’s offensive line. Between Eric Wood’s early retirement and Richie Incognito’s unexpected retirement, there’s no doubt the line positions are up for grabs. Hard to tell from reports that Groy worked at both C/G positions which one he’ll end up with, but it seems reasonable to think he will be a starter at one or the other.

Because the line scheme is also changing, it’s anybody’s guess how the line will perform this year. The good news is the scheme appears to favor the strengths of this group of players, unlike the mismatched mess we saw the first half of last season when Dennison and company ran a zone-based scheme. We’ll have plenty of time to obsess about each position and which player will end up starting.

Conclusion

There are no conclusions that can be made after the first week of OTAs. However, what we did see was a sneak peek at how players interacted with the media, coaches and each other. High attendance, positive comments from reporters about the pace of workouts and participation bodes well as we head into the second week of OTAs.

Editor’s babble: While many pine away for the off season to move along and get on with playing football games that count, I relish the opportunity to be totally delusional about the Bills for the entire months of May and June. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.

*Views expressed by authors are not necessarily the same as the owners of the BillsMafia.com website.

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BillsMafia.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the glorious Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @robynmundyWYO.

9 Replies to “The Intangibles: ‘Wyobabbling’ Bills’ first week of OTAs”

  1. Thank you for another fine article…

    I’m glad to see Miller back in the fold as he was progressing then unceremonious benched with Dennison’s offensive scheme…

    This is a big year for Shaq to prove he is above average instead of just being another reserve rotational player on the D-line… Murphy is going to bring personality to the defense and help give them an identity…

    White got skunked last year and should have at least made the pro-bowl, Lattimore was very good and every splash play he made ended up on WESPN’s top plays—not so much with White. The biggest play for White on ESPN is when Gronk mugged him !!

    I can’t stand on social media (Buffalo Bills Fans Only—FB) when fans call players trash or garbage… Peterman takes a lot of heat because of 1 half of football… He could still develop into a starter or end up being a Reich type of back-up…

    I like to hear how the LB unit was performing as a whole as depth is a concern.

  2. “Peterman takes a lot of heat because of 1 half of football… He could still develop into a starter or end up being a Reich type of back-up…”

    Based on what? He most likely isn’t as bad as his horrific half suggests…but it was a stretch he was anything special before that so I don’t know why anyone would be any more optimistic about him now. Maybe he’ll develop into an okay backup…but even if, who cares? If Peterman is in your plans in any significant way, you’re not likely to have a very good season.

  3. Interesting early observations Robyn.
    Mccarron has every right to hear footsteps. The pressure will make or break him. The better he plays the longer Allen is the understudy. I don’t think the Bills staff or fans will be screaming for him as long as AJMC is winning.

  4. Joma, my take on Peterman is that it is too early to give up on him… Players take time to develop Peterman may or may not hit a higher level, look at how long it took Case Keenum, Cousins, Gannon, Plunkett and even Johnny Unitas was cut…

    If if he turns out to be a capable back-up so what we watched it with Lamonica and Reich in Buffalo and last year Foles won a SB with the Eagles…

    An yes Peterman can be in the plans as a potential long range back-up who could come in and play a string of games.

  5. Don’t necessarily need to give up on him, but he’s mostly irrelevant. If he can be a solid career backup, good for him…but again, who cares? Your ideal scenario is he never sees the field, and if he sees significant playing time, you’re going to be in trouble.. And he’s no Foles. Foles is a borderline decent starter which makes him a great backup.

  6. Thanks for the new article Robyn!

    I’m not down on Peterman at all. He’s a 5th round draft pick that had to start a couple of games (1 because of Taylor’s awful play; the other due to injury). After hearing comments made during the Chargers game (“He didn’t even block me,”) I think some members of the O-line were P.O.’d that Taylor was benched and fed Peterman to the wolves (so to speak). I’m glad there’s a QB competition as it will push these guys to try and out work the other. Considering Taylor usually gave the Bills 150-200 yards passing a week, plus only scored three points in four separate games, it’s hard to imagine someone from the McCarron/Peterman/Allen group not being able to put better numbers than what Taylor did.

    I can see the defense taking steps forward with another year in the system, plus all the offseason additions. I hope guys like Lawson and Miller will take steps forward in their positions, especially with seeing other guys starting ahead of them. Hopefully that will add fuel to the fire and those guys will step up their games.

    Off topic, I hope the Capitals win the Stanley Cup. I have nothing against either team, but I’d hate to see a brand new team win the Stanley Cup, especially since the NHL had a special lottery for them. That would make it seem that if you have $500 million dollars, you can buy a team and a championship in the same year. Vegas had their pick of players from 30 different teams…how fair is that?!

  7. “I’m not down on Peterman at all.”

    I’m only down on Peterman if he has to play a lot. Then again, the Bills are likely going to be bad regardless of who starts…so I suppose what does it matter?

    “Considering Taylor usually gave the Bills 150-200 yards passing a week, plus only scored three points in four separate games, it’s hard to imagine someone from the McCarron/Peterman/Allen group not being able to put better numbers than what Taylor did.”

    Yes and no. It shouldn’t be too hard to get 150-200 passing yards, but you probably don’t get many more TDs and you almost certainly will get far more INTs. The Bills scored pretty well previously. I’m not big on Tyrod, but last year was way more on the coaching, game plan, and front office than it was Tyrod. They got rid of a lot of offensive talent and went to a game plan that went against Tyrod’s strengths, and they ruined the running game. What could you possibly expect from the guy? I don’t have high hopes for the offense or the QB this year either as they again looked to be set up to fail.

    “Vegas had their pick of players from 30 different teams…how fair is that?!”

    Vegas still deserves a lot of credit. Did anyone think they’d be any good before the season, even after their team was set? Sure, they were set up much better than previous expansion teams, but they still had to make a lot of good moves to accomplish all they have. I don’t really like that a team can come in and win a championship right off the bat without paying any dues, but I don’t think they were handed a championship team. They were handed a mediocre team and made a bunch of smart moves to make it a championship caliber team.

    • You’re right about the offense not being set up to Tyrod’s strengths. Tyrod had to sink or swim in Dennison’s system. Tyrod is not good at being a drop back/in the pocket QB, he has to rollout and see half the field at a time in order to be an effective passer and Dennison rarely did that. I don’t think the new offense is setting anyone up to fail. People are making the Bills offense to be the worst in the league this year and IMO, it’s way too early to make that determination, especially since we don’t know how Daboll’s system is set up. The Bills still have McCoy, Clay, Benjamin and O’Leary.

      I do have to give Vegas’ GM credit for making the right moves, but he had a blank canvas to start from, no bad salaries from previous players, no bad cap hits, no bad draft picks from previous years, etc…

  8. ” People are making the Bills offense to be the worst in the league this year and IMO, it’s way too early to make that determination, especially since we don’t know how Daboll’s system is set up. The Bills still have McCoy, Clay, Benjamin and O’Leary.”

    Maybe not worst, but bottom 5 seems a good bet. They likely have the worst QB situation in the league, probably the worst WR situation, and the OL is a question mark at best with the ‘potential’ to also be one of the worst. McCoy is probably still great, but he is 30 and his supporting cast is somewhere between lacking and terrible.

    Daboll…who knows, but I highly doubt he’s a miracle worker, and in previous NFL stops with crappy talent, his track record is unimpressive. There’s little to be excited about on paper. And even if you think Allen might not suck and will see the field, good luck with all those question marks. Dude made it painfully obvious he can’t do it on his own.