Playoffs still a long shot

Standard

The Buffalo Bills haven’t gone to the playoffs since the 1999, which ended in the Music City Miracle. The team has some talent, but they are still going to be a long shot to make the playoffs.

The simple reason is their division rival New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady’s rookie year was in 2000, which also happens to be the first season of the drought. It’s not a coincidence that the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since then. There is one problem this year for Bills fans.

That is Brady isn’t slowing down at 39-years-old.

Most quarterbacks by now are beat up, suffered numerous injuries and are tired of the daily NFL grind. However, that isn’t Brady as he is planning to play a lot longer.

“I’d like to play until my mid-forties,” Brady told Peter King of Sports Illustrated in an interview. “Then I’ll make a decision. If I’m still feeling like I’m feeling today, who knows? Now those things can always change. You do need long-term goals too. I know next year is not going to be my last year.”

Until Brady retires or his performance drops dramatically; the playoffs most likely will be a pipe dream for Bills fans.

 

McDermott must show decisiveness

Standard

The Buffalo Bills introduced Sean McDermott as their new head coach. McDermott displayed a hard working methodical manner. While that is all well and good Monday thru Saturday, McDermott must show decisiveness on Sunday.

The second question McDermott was given, who was WGR 550 reporter Sal Cappacio, which came from why he decided on coming to Buffalo.

“Yeah, you know Sal when I looked at this job I had done my research and you will get to know me soon enough here, I am a pretty meticulous and thorough guy,” McDermott started. “In my opinion this was the best job on the market. Some people may not agree with it, but it is important how I feel.”

We have heard that a lot of times, but what made it true was what he continued with.

“I say it was the best job on the market for a couple reasons namely the ownership of Terry and Kim (Pegula),” he continued. “I have seen what great ownership looks like and we have two great owners in Terry and Kim who are willing to give anything to this football team and this organization, and the city of Buffalo. Secondly when you talk about a fan base I have been up here and I have played here before and I have seen those fans, capacity crowd hanging over that railing screaming while we were trying to do something on the other sideline and that is what I want to be apart of.”

Mc Dermott’s methodical nature was overwhelminglying clear when he asked what kind of defense he would run.

“Whether we’ll be a 4-3 or a 3-4, I come from a 4-3 background,” he answered. “I’ve worked with a 3-4 as well. Again, strategically right now I’m not going to say we’re going to be– I don’t want to get into that right now. I’m going to put the players in position to be successful.”

As for calling the plays, McDermott stated he will be involved in all facets of the game. So everything will fall onto him.

In the end, McDermott has the all the the old of making the Bills great. The question is can he do it on Sunday when it matters the most.

 

 

Bills drought could get over 20-years-old

Standard

Many Buffalo Bills fans are about to come to the age where they are legally eligible to vote. At the same time they have never seen their team in the playoffs as it’s been 17 seasons since they last were. The way things are going they will be legally able to drink before they do.

Things change in the National Football every year, but one thing remains the same. In order to win in the NFL you need a franchise quarterback.

The Bills haven’t had one since Jim Kelly retired.

They don’t have one from lack of trying. In the first round of the 2003 and 2013 NFL Draft the Bills took J.P. Losman and E.J. Manuel. Both have turned out to be major busts.

That leads up to their current dilemma.

For the past two seasons their starter has been Tyrod Taylor. A quarterback that has been their best since the drought started as he thrown for 3,058 yds, 37 tds, 12 int and rush for 1,148 yds and 10 tds. That is beside the fact that his best wide receiver Sammy Watkins was out half the year!

The problem is the team is built for right now. Many of their star player like defensive end/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes is in the their upper 20s. So, what it means is this.

The Bills have a three year window with their current roster. I say that based that Bills General Manager Doug Whaley is on his last chance. So, if the coach he hires in the coming weeks don’t work out three years then the team will have to go through a major rebuild.

A major rebuild happens whenever a new general manager comes aboard.

From there he hires a head coach has similar ideals as he has in a roster. Then the head coach fills out his staff based on his ideals.

From there the GM will purge the roster of players he doesn’t want. In the Bills case it will be players like Hughes, left tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Marcel Dareus. That will fetch draft picks in return that they will need to fill the roster.

From there the GM conducts the draft and right after hires a new scouting staff. The reason is the Draft is the end of their year for the scouting staff and it would be too much work to hire a new one midway through the year.

In the end, the Bills have a three year window to get to the playoffs with their current roster. So, pray they make the playoffs in the next three years. Cause if they don’t god knows when they will after a major rebuild.

Bills Media has Fallen a long way

Standard

As a teenager in the 1990s when it came to quality sports coverage in Western New York, WGR 550’s Chuck Dickerson, who was a former Bills Defensive Line coach until after Super Bowl XXVI, and Art Wander, who was known as “The Tiny Tot of the Kilowatt,” ruled the air. It’s been over a decade since the two were on air at the station together and it’s obvious the station has fallen a long way since then.

In the summer of 2006 I interned at WGR and worked in the news room along with former WNSA and WGR reporter Jeff Morrison and then WGR Program Director Andy Roth. It was well known within WGR’s staff that Roth was a hothead that blew up on anyone that made a mistake. I know learned that personally as Morrison asked me to write an article on the contract extension of Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, who at the time was the Buffalo Bills right tackle and rookie contract ran out.

I was subsequently called in to Roth’s office and ripped for the quality of it. For those at home journalism writing is different than regular English writing, which I wrote the article like.

However, that wasn’t the end of it as while the station was off air Roth ripped me a second time for it, which I will swear on the bible in a court of law as true.

The one thing that I will complement WGR is the quality of coverage by Sabres studio host John Koziel and Sabres beat reporter Paul Hamilton. Hamilton knows his hockey as he played for the University of Iowa and actually tried out for the Miracle on Ice U.S.A. Team hockey team, according to a comment by him that won the Gold Medal during the Winter Olympics in February of 1980.

 

The fact of the matter is the people at WGR don’t know their football. Their life could depend on it and they still wouldn’t. The proof is in an email exchange between me and WGR’s Jeremy White based on his All-22 Review Bills/Titans White wrote this.

“In the next clip ( Bills defensive tackle Marcell) Dareus is lined up over the guard, but taken by the center,” White wrote.  “Dareus has the ability to maintain his blocker, with head up to see the runner.  Running backs occasionally read a block or lane based on the helmet of the defensive lineman.  Watch as Dareus holds left side, and then darts back right to make the play.:

Anyone who has ever played a down of organized football in high school knows that this is completely wrong. On the play the Titans right guard, number 79 pulls to trap Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, but for whatever reason the left guard, number 76, didn’t release straight to the linebacker like the play is supposed to and block Williams. The running back recognized this right away and cut to his right immediately.

That leads me to the game against the Cincinatti Bengals.

The one thing that bugged me going into this game was the Bills inability to do anything outside of their first scripted drive. For those who haven’t played, typically the first 15-20 plays are predetermined on what coaches see in their opponent’s game film. The Bills are good at this, but have been terrible adjusting after.

The evidence are in the stats at NFL.com,  prior to the Bengals game the Bills lost games where they passed more and won where they ran more. That was the case against the Bengals as the Bills passed more than ran.

So, what does it mean?

What it means is that Bills head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Gregg Roman isn’t good when it comes to offense. Also, it means that Roman’s reputations is due to former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbuagh’s offensive prowess as he was formerly a quarterback in the NFL as Roman was the offensive coordinator under Harbaugh. All one has to do is look at current 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kapernick.

Under Harbaugh and Roman, Kaepernick had a 2:1touchdown to interception ratio, but without them Kaepernick is 1:1 as it’s his first year without the pair. Also, his predecessor Alex Smith, who starts for the Kansas City Chiefs, had a 1:1 touchdown to interception ration until Harbaugh was hired by the 49ers in 2011.

I didn’t like the hire of Ryan from the very start.

In fact, I totally hate it to this day. The Bills, prior to hiring Ryan, had Jim Schwartz as a defensive coordinator that proved he still had it defensively in 2014. Also, they had the ability to hire the former Bills backup quarterback to Jim Kelly in Frank Reich who led the team to the “Greatest Comeback” on January 3rd, 1993.

On most other bad teams, Riech would’ve started, but due to the fact that he was drafted by the Bills in the NFL where there was no free agency, Reich was relegated to backup behind Kelly, but the fans knew they had two special quarterbacks. The reason being in 1989, Reich filled in for an injured Kelly and led the Bills to two straight wins, one of which was against the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.

My first year of watching and studying football was Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas rookie year in 1988. That was the year in an overtime win against the Houston Oilers the behind the Bills offensive Hall of Famers trio in Kelly, Thomas and wide receiver Andre Reed, perfected the “No Huddle Offense” which is a staple today and used by current NFL greats like Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and New England Patriots Tom Brady.

Don’t get me wrong, because the quarterback position is changing according to The Wall Street Journal.

 “Bills general manager Doug Whaley said he had the same results when he asked prospects a question about defenses shifting from a common scheme called “cover 2” to an equally mundane tactic called “cover 3,” the Wall Street Journal wrote.  “Hue Jackson, the offensive coordinator from the Bengals, said he had to dumb down his questions, while Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said some QBs failed to grasp things as basic as understanding a common play call. “You have to teach these kids the absolute basics,” he said.”

For those who never played, “Cover Whatever” simply refers to the deepest line to the defense, which are typically the safeties. Cover Zero means all the defensive backs are locked up in man coverage, Cover one means that there is one safety covering the deepest parts of the field and Cover two means there are two safeties back deep.

The sad part to me is this is stuff I learned in seventh grade modified football on defense.

In the end, most of the outside of the Buffalo News don’t know their football as some reporters like Mark Gaughan sits with players and break down film with them. This is in spite to the fact that he has an ailing child. I know this personally as in September 2012, while my son was in the last months of his life at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, I saw Gaughan in the PICU there and talked to him outside of Tim Horton’s in the hospital lobby.

The evidence is in the clamoring of current Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor who makes plays with his legs. Previous Bills quarterbacks like J.P. Losman and Ryan Fitzpatrick could run as well, but flamed out due to their inability to pass, but that has been lost by the media cause of WGR’s corporate stance, which they took when Dickerson was still there.

That being saying enough criticism while not aggravating the powers to be on the Bills and Buffalo Sabres.

At Cheektowaga Central there is a saying that everyone says entering the locker room after practice that I take to heart today. “Cheektowaga Central Football; a commitment to excellence.” WGR has shown their committed to pleasing corporations and the Bills coaching staff to their and their players egos.

 

Bills lucky in week one of 2015

Standard

Many Buffalo Bills fans will refer to how great the defense was in their week one win over the Indianapolis Colts. The fact of the matter is the Bills defense was lucky they weren’t playing Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, because if they did it would’ve been a different story.

 

The one thing that stood out throughout the first half of the game was the fact how the Bills cornerbacks were playing five yards off the line of scrimmage.  In the NFL today you cannot do that as great quarterbacks like Manning and Brady will audible all day long to take advantage of it.  A decade ago I was at a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium where I watched then Indianapolis Colts quarterback Manning audible all game long and pick apart the Bills defense that day.

 

On various downs throughout Colts offensive drives I was in disbelief of how quarterback Andrew Luck didn’t take advantage of the cushion Bills cornerbacks were giving him.

 

The Colts first drive of the second half was no different as on the Colts first drive in the second half they went 4-5 on third downs. The only incomplete pass came on 3rd-2 from the Bills two yard line Luck threw an incomplete pass.  However, on fourth down the Colts scored and then completed the two point conversion to make the score 24-8 Bills.

 

The other thing that I can take away from this game is that Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a long ways to go to be a great quarterback in the NFL. On the Bills first drive with the offense facing a 3rd and 5 from their 46 yard line; Taylor scrambled for one yard after feeling immediate pressure. Part of the problem was Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s calling for run plays on first down.

In the second half it was different as the first two 1st-10 for the Bills were passes that were complete. The point being in the NFL you need to mix things up in the NFL in order to succeed.

However, the Bills are basic old school as they rely on their defense to make plays and their offense to control the clock and score the occasional points.

The problem with that is that great teams like the Patriots and the Broncos will exploit the Bills’ weaknesses. They will then rack up the score and make the team look silly.  That’s unless the Bills take their heads out of their rears and do what is right.

In the end, unless the Bills realize that Tayor isn;’t the answer and backup quarterback E.J. Manuel is their best option, the Bills will make it 16 straight years without making the playoffs.

A public relations perspective to new Spygate article

Standard

Many people were shocked by the bombshell report by ESPN rocked the football world Tuesday as it was confirmed that Spygate was indeed much larger than what National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell told the media, U.S. Senator Arlen Spector and other NFL owners. So, here is a look from a public relations perspective.

NFL owners support for Goodell has been eroding since Spygate and definitely took a hit when U.S. Federal Judge Richard Berman ruled against the NFL in regards to the suspension for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The problem is that Goodell’s contract is through March 2019. So, it will be very costly to replace Goodell, which means that the two will have to find some way to coexist for the time being.

As for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, he was a coach that was renowned for his defenses, but now will be known as the greatest cheater in all of professional sports and will most unlikely get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Things will get tricky when it comes to Brady. The selection committee for the Hall of Fame will be debating this question for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, because Brady has performed great after Spygate broke.

So, is Brady worthy of the Hall of Fame?

It’s pretty clear that the Patriots won the three Super Bowls from 2000-2008 by cheating. All one has to look is at the three Super Bowls since. In three games they lost twice to the New York Giants and should have lost a third as we all know.

When it comes to statistics one could make a case for him. After Spygate Brady has thrown for 4,000 yards five times where before he only had two and secondly threw more than 30 touchdowns four times where before he only did once.

The biggest question of all is would Brady be Brady if he was on any other team?

There is a good possibility that Brady would be a starter for another team, but there’s serious doubt about that. Brady got a clear advantage as a starter in his second year as Belichick was able to minimize some of his mistakes by knowing what the defense was going to do. What I mean by that is if the Patriots didn’t know what the defense was doing, there is a good that Brady could have made some key mistakes in his first year as a starter that could have changed the course of it dramatically.

As for Specter, his instincts proved to be correct. Spygate was much bigger than what anyone was led to believe, but will congress call for a congressional inquiry?

There is a good chance this could happen. We are in the middle of Presidential nomination cycle and so far billionaire businessman Donald Trump is in front of his fellow republicans. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if one of them jump on this piece of news.

In the end, until Belichick fesses up publicly to what type of cheating he has engaged in, this will be an ongoing issue for a long time.

A plan to bring NASCAR and PGA to WNY

Standard

For my Master of Science final project, I was asked to come up a project for a nonprofit organization. I’m a unique person who takes up tough projects and there was only one organization that I felt was worthwhile and that is the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Like many of you, my knowledge of the parks was limited to what I heard in the media, which was one of the historic systems in all of America.

Through my own research this proved to be very true. Fredrick Law Olmsted teamed up with Calvert Vaux to come up with a design for a new park in New York City. They were picked for the project and currently the park is one of the most renowned parks in America as it’s known as New York City’s Central Park.

From there Olmsted was asked to come to Buffalo, N.Y. and design a three park system. He did that in Delaware Park, Front Park and Martin Luther King Park. However, what is notable about this is what he didn’t accomplish.

Olmsted was asked to come back a decade later by the leaders of the City of Buffalo. His first recommendation was a park on the waterfront, but the city rejected the idea. Instead, Olmsted came up with three more parks in Cazenovia Park, South Park and Riverside Park, which brought the total up to six, but is still the oldest park system of all of the United States.

The one thing that links all of these parks together is that four of the six parks have a golf course system and each park is connected by a series of specific roads. The only park to not have one is Riverside and Front Park. With help of the City of Buffalo, Erie County and the PGA; the Olmsted Parks can be redesigned to be able to host a PGA tour event every year.

Yes, an event like this would require the closure of the roads that connect the parks, but it would present a unique situation to professional golfers that they wouldn’t get anywhere on the planet Earth and a needed boost to the economy of Western New York.

My other idea is a race track for NASCAR. The closest NASCAR race is held in Watkins Glen, N.Y., which is several hours away to the Southeast. However, this idea as it’s very realistic if you have followed the proposed sites for a new stadium for a new Buffalo Bills.

Outside a major renovation for Ralph Wilson Stadium, it’s been proposed that a new stadium should be built in downtown Buffalo and along Buffalo’s waterfront. Currently, there is one affiliated NASCAR track in Holland, N.Y. and another that isn’t in Lancaster National Speedway in Lancaster, N.Y.

To see the evidence of how big NASCAR, visit the McKinley Mall where not even feet from Footlocker is a stand that advertises Holland Motor Speedway. The thing that will make both of these projects work is another work by Olmsted that is in WNY. That work is in Niagara Falls State Park.

My biggest surprise in my research was that Olmsted later designed Niagara Falls State Park. Millions of tourists world wide visit the parks and an expansion of the Olmsted Park system to include Niagara Falls is common sense.  The logistics of who takes care of what will have be worked out, but a good marketing plan touting NASCAR as the second biggest racing league to Formula One will bring tourists visiting the Niagara Falls to the City of Buffalo.

n the end, Western New York has been looking to bolster its economy through the tourism industry. A solid marketing plan including these ideas would bring millions of dollars to the Western New York Economy.

Eichel Sabres good no matter what

Standard

With the Buffalo Sabres having the second overall pick in June’s NHL Draft, many people have Boston University’s Jack Eichel being selected by the Sabres. No matter what decision Eichel makes, both he and the Sabres will benefit any which way.

Boston University came close to winning the NCAA Championship as it reached the Frozen Four. According to the Buffalo News Eichel was already selected as an assistant captain for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. So, if Eichel were to stay he would be the man on the team, expected to lead them to a NCAA Championship and have a ton of pressure on him, which is experience that he wouldn’t get this season with the Sabres.

Before the Sabres gutted their core players, they earned a reputation as a soft team that crumbled when under pressure. The teams that win the Stanley Cup are teams that can deal with the pressure and persevere under it.

Now, don’t get me wrong as I’m not saying leaving Boston University wouldn’t be good for him either.

If Eichel were to leave for the Sabres he would be immediately paired with a certain player that is already on the roster. That player is nobody other than Brian Gionta.

Gionta in college won the NCAA Championship as captain of Boston College for the 2000-2001 season. He then won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003 and just last year led the Montreal Canadiens to the Easter Conference Finals where they lost to the New York Rangers in six games. So, if Eichel were to leave he would be in good hands either which way.

As for the Sabres, if they were to get Eichel they obvious get a top notch player ready for the NFL that would vault the team towards making the NHL Playoffs. If Eichel were to stay at Boston University, then they would get to find out about some other prospects.

Forwards Johan Larsson and Mikhail Grigorenko have been languishing in the AHL for the last several seasons. With the trades the Sabres made at the deadline, along with injuries, both players got significant playing time with the team. Grigorenko scored two goals and two assists in the last 10 games while Larson had two goals and five assists.

Those aren’t great numbers, but they don’t account for the numerous opportunities that they created for their teammates that they didn’t capitalize on.

Let’s not forget 2014 second overall pick Sam Reinhart. The only thing that is keeping Reinhart from the NHL is his strength. However, with the season over Reinhart should have no trouble improving on that before the next season comes.

The NHL is a team sport and if one man could improve a whole team then the Edmonton Oilers would have won the Stanley Cup multiple times as they had the first overall pick from 2010-2012. The last time they were in the playoffs was the 2005-2006 season when they went to the Stanley Cup finals. Let’s not forget about the Pittsburgh Penguins who have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and still not made the playoffs this year.

In the end, Eichel is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

Woods still has a chance

Standard

The National Hockey League and National Basketball Association seasons are about to come to a close, and Major League Baseball season has just gotten under way. That means all eyes are  on Augusta, GA and Tiger Woods as he makes his comeback.

It’s Woods first tournament since February and even though he finished a one over par at the Masters it doesn’t mean he is out of it.

Golf is different than most sports. Popular leagues like the NFL, NBA and NHL are team based sports, However, the game of golf is different as it’s a individual performance based sport, which means Woods still has a chance as even though he finished a one over par he still has a chance as there are still three rounds to go.

Woods has been known for making remarkable comebacks in the past. Down multiple shots he still made comebacks to win tournaments in the past.

A lot of people will discount Woods with all his injuries, but that doesn’t mean anything/

The evidence is in the hole in one par three tournament that preceded the Masters. One of golf’s legends in Jack Nicklaus at 75-years-old made a hole in one prior to the tournament.

In the end, Nicklaus’s hole in one shows that in golf it’s not about one’s age, but about consistency.

Williams supports Incognito

Standard

The Buffalo Bills started their offseason workout program on Monday and of course the longest tenured Bills is there in defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Like always it’s interesting to hear what he has to say.

Of course Bills reporters asked everyone and anyone about guard Richie Incognito, which of course Williams answered.

“Yeah I saw him,” Williams replied to a question. “And one thing, when we signed him, I was happy. He was a great teammate. Obviously a good player and when he was here he was a fantastic teammate and I wasn’t down when all that junk went down in Miami. So, I tend to base my opinions on my firsthand experiences with people and I had a great time with him as a teammate and I’m glad he’s here.”

The Bills already have a leader on the offensive line in center Eric Wood. According to Rotoworld.com, Wood signed a contract extension prior to the 2013 season, which runs thru 2017 and means that what happened with the Miami Dolphins won’t happen again.

Incognito was asked to take a leadership position with the team, and failed miserably at it.

However, this is a country that believes in second chances. Numerous athletes through the professional level of sports have been given a second chance, and Incognito is no different.

Another factor for Incognito is his age. As of July 5th, Incognito will be 32-years-old. That’s getting up there in age for a professional football player as most players are retired by their mid-30s.

In the end, Incognito will be on his best behavior as a Bills player, but if he doesn’t he will be done in the NFL,