Trading bonanza

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The Buffalo Bills kicked off the start of the new National Football League year with two trades. Since then the trades are still rolling in.

The Bills stunned the entire football world when they traded linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Philadelphia Eagles for running back Leseasn McCoy. The second trade came the very next day, which was surprising as well. In that trade the Bills sent two undisclosed draft picks for quarterback Matt Cassel and an undisclosed draft picks.

Those two trades may have triggered something as other teams have since gotten in the mix.

The next one was also a shocker by itself as the Seattle Seahawks sent a first round pick in the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft and center Max Unger to the New Orleans Saints. In return they received tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth round pick.

If that wasn’t enough, not even an hour later another big one came out.

This one saw the Eagles got active again trading quarterback Nick Foles, a fourth round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and a second round pick in the 2016 NFL draft to the Saint Louis Rams for quarterback Matt Stafford and a fifth round pick in 2015 NFL draft. According to NFL.com, there is one clause that if Bradford doesn’t start eight games they will receive a fourth round pick in the 2016 Draft, which could become a third if he is reinjured.

Then this past Friday three more trades were announced.

The first was the Kansas City Chiefs sending an undisclosed draft pick to the New Orleans Saints for offensive lineman Ben Grubbs. The next one was saw the Saints trading wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Miami Dolphins for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a 2015 third round pick. Finally the Dolphins then sent wide receiver Mike Wallace and seventh round pick in 2015 to the Minnesota Vikings for a fifth round selection.

Typically, most trades happen around the time of the Draft as teams look to move up near the top of the draft to get a player that they covet.  This many trades at the start of a new NFL season is unusual and should make the Draft very interesting

Western New Yorkers are Lucky

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The Buffalo Bills on Monday announced that they resigned Jerry Hughes, along with reports that the team is keeping running back Fred Jackson signifies one thing.  Those two moves signifies a new era in Bills history.

For many years the Bills under owner Ralph Wilson in his later years, key players would be let go on the grounds that they were older or not worth the money to keep on the roster, but that isn’t the case anymore.

On Monday morning the buzz in Buffalo was that Jackson would be release. That was the case until owner Terry Pegula got word of what team officials were thinking. According to the Buffalo News, via ProfootballTalk.com, Jackson isn’t going anywhere, which is a relief to many Bills fans.

If you live near Hamburg and drive on McKinley Parkway you will see a sign that reads We (the heart symbol) Fred Jackson.

Jackson is the epitome of what Western New York is. That is a community who work their rears off every day just to make ends meet.

What the move also means is that the NFL is lucky to have an owner like Pegula.

This past week it has been reported that long time Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson will be cut. On Monday that was made official by ESPN.

What this all means is that the residents of Western New York are lucky to have an owner like the Pegulas who have the common sense to get things done.

Why the Alonso trade makes sense

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Many people were stunned by the trade of Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Philadelphia Eagles from running back Lesean McCoy. Many have read and heard the various reasons why it was good or bad. However, you may have not read why they Bills did so.

The reason why Alonso was traded was for two reasons. One of which you have may already have heard. Those are he was expendable due to the defenses play in 2014 and the other, which you may have not, is that Alonso injury history is a big factor.

The first reason you heard various times due to the play of linebackers Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham. The second you haven’t unless your read the various articles on the internet when Alonso hurt his knee prior to the 2014 season.

The reason that Alonso injury history is a big concern is that the Anterior Cruciate Ligament tear is his second of his career. The first came in college in 2009 while in college with the Oregon Ducks that caused him to miss the entire 2009 season. So, what does this mean?

It means that going forward anymore knee injuries could cause a decline in his play. That means the Bills would be with a player that is a shadow of himself which would be a huge problem. The problem is that his contract expiring after the 2016 season which would make the offseason prior a huge headache.

So, why not trade a player who is a huge question mark going forward for a sure fire short-term answer with a defense that played well without him.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bills and Steelers to hold joint practice

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With training camps slated to start next month, word about teams holding joint practices is starting to trickle out. Two of those teams that will be practicing together are the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The two teams will meet on August 13th and 14th.  Practice on the 13th will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00p.m. On the 14th the teams will practice from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. This will culminate with the two teams playing against each other in week two of the preseason on August 6th at 7:30 p.m.