D-Days for Marrone

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Bills head coach Doug Marrone is on the hot seat this year

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is on the hot seat this year

Last Sunday the Buffalo Bills suffered a huge loss at the hands of the New England Patriots which made their record 3-3 and on the outside looking in at the NFL Playoffs. That means the next two weeks are D-Days for Marrone.

The two wild card teams right now are the Denver Broncos with a 4-1 record and the Baltimore Ravens with a 4-2 record. Marrone has to lead his team to victory the next two weeks for one reason. The Bills bye week is week nine which is midway through the season.

Changes are typically made during the bye week, so if the Bills don’t have 5-3 record going into their bye week you can expect some.

The reason is that Bills President Russ Brandon and General Manager Doug Whaley have both stated that they feel that the current roster is capable of making the playoffs.  That statement can be argued to be true as the defense is currently 11th overall in the NFL and the team last year was second in the NFL in rushing.

So, what is the problem?

That is simple which is the offensive line. Marrone for some reason hates guard Kraig Urbik who was last year’s starting right guard. Instead they moved Eric Pears from right tackle to right guard and made Sentrel Henderson the starting right tackle which hasn’t worked out very well.

The evidence is the fact that the Bills last year average 144.2 yards rushing a game. This year they are averaging 101.0 yards per a game.

Don’t think the front office hasn’t noticed this. There were reports that Marrone and front office personnel got into a heated exchange over player use. Now, just this week Bills wide receiver Mike Williams’ agent asked to seek a trade for his player due to the way they are using him.

So, Marrone definitely knows that if he doesn’t win the next two weeks he will be fired on Monday October 20th.

Pegula may have no choice

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With Terry and Kim Pegula officially taking over the team, the whole organization from top to bottom is going to be evaluated. However, with the way the season is going the Pegulas may have no choice but to clean house.

Word is that the Pegulas have come to form a close relationship with Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon and will keep him on. Many fans won’t care how much he likes Brandon they will want him gone for one reason. The reason is that Brandon and General Manager Doug Whaley stated that they believe they are going to be a playoff team.

“They should. We haven’t done anything. We’ve got a lot to prove,” Whaley said back in July. “It is what it is. Like Russ said, ‘We won’t hide from it.’ We haven’t been in the playoffs in a long time and we owe it to the fans, our late Hall of Fame owner and everybody in this business to show that we’re not the Bills anymore. We want to be a playoff team. We’re planning to be a playoff team and that’s our goal.”

Buffalo isn’t a town that will tolerate people in power not delivering on promises. We heard former Buffalo Sabres owner John Rigas state that he was going to give the team the tools to finish the job after they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Dallas Stars. Rigas never delivered on that promise and fans haven’t forgotten it.

There are two other reasons that will make it hard to keep people on which is the team’s inability to find a franchise quarterback and the terrible drafting in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Brandon has been with the Bills since 1997 and every year since then the team hasn’t had a franchise quarterback. Of the 19 first round draft picks taken by the Bills since 1997, only four players have made the Pro Bowl as a Bill. More than half of those have been while he has been the main person in charge since 2006 which is 11.

Now, of those 11 only two have made the Pro Bowl in running back C.J. Spiller and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Spiller’s play since making the Pro Bowl has gone downhill to the point where the Bills will unlikely resign him.

So, if the Bills don’t win both of the next two games you can expect some drastic measures to be taken by the front office in order to save their jobs.

An inside look into a major injury

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For many years I wondered why athletes that suffered major injuries weren’t always on the sideline. Well the past week I got a firsthand taste of what life is like with someone that suffered a major injury.

It was a little over a week ago when my wife and son were outside running around in the rain. My wife stopped, but my 10-year-old son didn’t see that she did and ran into her. That little bump caused my wife’s left Achilles tendon to rupture.

Now, live in a garden level apartment so there three steps going to the front door and there are around a dozen stairs to manage on the inside from the front entrance. After a week it’s clear that even one stair with someone on crutches is hard.

To get up the stairs from our house my wife has to sit and scoot up the stairs. From there she can lift herself up onto a wheelchair, but it’s very hard to do so. From there I can do the rest to get her to the car.

Going into the house is a much different story.

When we go inside I wheel her up to the first step from there I put the brakes on the wheelchair.  Then she gets up, leans on one foot. Then she puts her left arm around me and hops up the stairs, which is repeated several times to get inside.

Now you may think that this story is done, but you would be wrong.

When we went to the doctors I fully expected to hear the doctor say that she will need surgery. That was far from the case, but not for good reasons.

The reason the doctor advised against surgery was the fact that the rupture was where the tendon and the calf muscle meet. That is a point on the Achilles where it narrows, so there isn’t much there to work with. If my wife were an athlete the doctor would have advised surgery, but the risk of rerputure would have been higher.

In the end, where a rupture occurred on the Achilles tendon is the upmost importance.

Bills Training Camp will be intense

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With Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nate Hackett installing all of the playbook prior to training camp and quarterback E.J. Manuel going into his second year Bills fans can expect one thing.  That is an intense training camp that has been seen since the 1990s.

In an article one WGR 550, something stuck me in this quote.

“We were a little frustrated, I know I was, a little bit throughout OTA’s, but I like the fact that he’s putting more on us, especially because we’ve got young guys in skill positions,” Manuel said.  “It’s really put more of the onus on us to put the time in and study. This week’s easier because we pretty much know all the plays, we’ve done it a bunch of times, so there’s not going to be any new surprises as far as play calling goes.”

Being a person who has actually played the game I can tell you there is a learning curve when it comes to learning new plays. Some remember them quicker than others. With the majority of Bills being veterans, training camp will be about perfection.

Manuel knows it’s his offense and success starts and ends with him. So, it isn’t surprising that he is taking control of his own destiny, which includes plays in the playbook.

“I think it’s having the rapport with your coach.” Manuel said about talking about plays with Hackett, “Sometimes there may be plays I don’t like and I’ll tell him. Honestly there were a few plays we came into this week of minicamp and I just wanted to be clean, I wanted to have sharp reads and I told him, ‘I don’t like that play, I don’t like that play and he took it out.”

For a second year player to be able to say that to his head coach tells you one thing about Manuel. Manuel knows his football and it will be only a matter of time before he perfects his craft.

So, don’t be surprised if you see an animated Bills Training Camp this year. One filled with the whole ball of wax when it comes to emotions.

Bills selling naming rights a clear change

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The Buffalo Bills today made an announcement that is clear change from the way business was conducted under Ralph Wilson. The announcement being that then Field House is now known as the Adpro Sports Training Center.

“ADPRO Sports is a long-time partner of the Bills and we are proud to be associated with such a strong Buffalo-based company,” said Bills Chief Revenue Officer Bruce Popko via the team’s official website.

It’s a clear change in business as previously Wilson has stated that it wouldn’t be worthwhile to sell the naming rights as a deal wouldn’t bring in enough money. The selling of the naming rights to the Field House clearly shows that what Wilson said wasn’t true. The truth is he didn’t, because he didn’t have to as the team was making money under him.

Now the question is why all of a sudden a change in philosophy?

The simple answer is the team is going up for sale and selling the naming rights to the Field House will only increase the selling price of the team. This is a telling sign for what is come into the future.

That is Ralph Wilson Stadium will have a new name in the near future.

Sabres bid is hard to say no to

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Anyone who has been to a Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center has seen firsthand the rivalry between the two teams. Well the rivalry has been taken to a whole new level with the latest news from the Sabres.

According to the Associated Press, the Sabres have submitted a bid to the National Hockey League for the Harbor Center to be host of the NHL Combine for the next three years.

“We’re very confident that this is where it should be,” Black said about the combine. “I believe that we’ve probably put in the most work and are the most prepared to host this in less than a year.”

The Harbor Center has two rinks, stands for fans to attend, meeting rooms, training center, the ability to do on and off-ice testing and it will be hard to say no to the Sabres for one very important reason.

Privacy is a very important thing to players at times. They are human beings and don’t like to be mobbed by fans whenever they go somewhere. The Harbor Center provides this anonymity as it will also house a hotel as well.

Also, there is more than enough space within walking distance to the Harbor Center as the Phillips Lytle Building is next door and houses the Courtyard by Marriott and the Adams Mark Hotel which is only a few blocks away.  Let’s not forget the fact that there will be a Tim Hortons within the facility and who doesn’t like Tim Horton’s.

For evidence all one has to look at the fact that USA Hockey announced that the facility will host both the Under-18 women’s and sledge hockey world championships next year. Also, they will play host to USA Hockey’s annual All-American Prospects game over the next two years.

In the end, the Sabres will win, because the Harbor Center has too many features that will benefit everyone that is involved with the combine.

Pegula will be next owner

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According to WGRZ, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula is interested in buying the Buffalo Bills.  With that news it’s pretty clear that Pegula is now the favorite to become the next owner of the Bills.

The reason that Pegula is the clear favorite isn’t what you think. No, it’s not due to the fact that Pegula that the company he founded in East Resources, Inc. sold 75,000 acres of land for $1.75 billion. Don’t get me wrong that does help his case, but what will clinch it for him is something much more simple.

What I’m talking about is the four members of the trust that was established  when Ralph Wilson died. The four members are Mary Wilson, Jeff Littman, Mary Owen and Attorney Eugene Driker, which was first reported by All Sports WNY. Two of them are still employed by the Bills in Littman who’s the Bills CFO and Treasurer of the Ralph Wilson Equity Fund and Owen who’s the Vice President of Strategic Planning.

Seriously, who in their right mind is going to hand over ownership of the team to someone that is just going to turn around and fire them?

What’s going to happen is that the trust will find an owner who is going to keep the team here, won’t clean house and keep business as usual. That owner is clearly Pegula who demonstrated just that when he bought the Sabres as the only change he made then was the hiring of Ted Black as president since the position was vacated when ownership changed to his control.

People forget that Wilson, Littman and Owen have been a part of this community for many years and have established friends and relationships with others in the community. Many of their friends are also Bills fans as well. So, you’re telling me that they will just take the highest bidder and turn around to their friends, look them in the eye and say sorry after the next owner takes control and announce they are moving the team.

In the end what will happen is that Pegula will be sold the team and the Bills will then spin the announcement as a great day for WNY as the team is staying and its business as usual.

Broncos and Texans to hold joint practice

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In an earlier post I mentioned that teams were announcing joint practices for training camp. Well two more have announced that they will hold joint practices in the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans.

The practices will be held between August 19th and 21st.  The two will then meet for their preseason game on August 23rd at 7:00 p.m. at Sport Authority Field at Mile High.

Fred Jackson to visit North Park Junior Highschool

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On Thursday June 12th from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson will be visiting North Park Junior High School in Lockport, NY.  Jackson will visit the classroom of Jeff Dinse who was the winner of the 2014 M&T Touchdown for Teachers contest.

Dinse teaches Social Studies in the 7th grade at North Park Junior High School. The program honors teachers for their outstanding service to their schools, communities and commitment to education.  Dinse also will receive a $2,000 grant for North Park Junior High School.

Cowboys host camp for underserved

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(The following is from a press release from the Dallas Cowboys)

The Dallas Cowboys will host the third annual Dallas Cowboys U high school football camp for 160 underserved student-athletes at their Valley Ranch training facility on Thursday, June 12 from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM (media availability starting at 10:00 AM).

The entire Dallas Cowboys roster and coaching staff will work with the youth to provide football instruction and discuss important off-the-field life-skills topics. Cowboys players will coach the high school athletes in round robin 6-on-6 games, while the team’s coaching staff are scheduled to consult the players as they coach.

The student athletes were selected to participate by their high school football coaches. The students represent more than 20 North Texas high schools from 10 different school districts. For several years, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett has hosted a similar football camp at his alma mater, Princeton University.

“We hope that the camp will provide an impactful experience for deserving student-athletes who will remember the event for years to come,” said Garrett. “This camp offers a unique opportunity for our players and coaches to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these young men.”

To start the camp, the student-athletes will be divided into eight teams, each led by a Dallas Cowboys player – Tony Romo, Brandon Carr, Tyron Smith, Barry Church, Jason Witten, Sean Lee, Dez Bryant and Doug Free. The remaining Cowboys roster will be allocated as assistant coaches to each of the eight teams to help install and instruct the game plan for the 6-on-6 tournament.

Prior to concluding the camp, Cowboys players and Garrett are scheduled to address the participants in a life skills discussion.

During the day, the high school chaperones and high school coaches in attendance will receive information from the Taylor Hooton Foundation (www.TaylorHooton.org) – a non-profit whose mission is to raise awareness and educate youth and parents on the dangers of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. They will also receive hydration information from Gatorade and Heads Up player safety information from USA Football.

Underwritten by Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities and proudly supported by Paragon Healthcare, the camp will provide each youth with a camp t-shirt, athletic shorts, a Nike cinch sack and a New Era cap. Breakfast and lunch are provided courtesy of Cowboys partners Albertsons, Papa John’s, Pepsi, Gatorade, Dr Pepper, Dairy Max and Dunkin Donuts.