1. The Buffalo Bills are having one crazy offseason. There were reports that head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Doug Whaley were given an ultimatum: make the playoffs, or get fired.
RB LeSean McCoy was accused, but ultimately not charged, for his role in a bar fight in February. His back-up Karlos Williams was cut after showing up to camp weighing 261 pounds, roughly 30 pounds heavier than last season.
The Bills’ top two draft picks in ED Shaq Lawson and LB Reggie Ragland are expected to miss extended time with injuries. 3rd round DT Adolphus Washington was arrested in a prostitution sting in December, while 5th round RB Jonathan Williams was arrested for a DUI in July.
Franchise DT Marcell Dareus was suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and will enter rehab. Numerous starters on both sides of the ball are battling serious injuries.
I’m leaning “fired.”
Of course, it hasn’t been all bad. QB Tyrod Taylor deservedly received a big contract extension and has looked good in the preseason. WR Sammy Watkins is working his way back from a foot injury.
But this Bills team needs a successful year and they don’t appear to be in the best position to overtake the shorthanded Patriots. If Rex is fired, then the Bills will have to reboot yet again and the misery of their fans will continue in a downwards spiral. This is a far distance for a team that “won the offseason” according to their coach.
2. Speaking of Karlos Williams, do you think he’d be a good addition for the Patriots? He’s three weeks removed from Rex saying, “We’re not going to give up on Karlos Williams,” before ultimately giving up on Karlos Williams.
Williams claims he added the 30 pounds of weight because he was eating more with his pregnant fiancee. He’s also currently suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Williams averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season, including an incredible 2.9 yards after contact and a forced missed tackle every 4.9 carries. He also caught 11 passes out of the backfield. The 6’1, typically 230 pound back runs a 4.48 40 yard dash and is a physically imposing player on the field.
I just don’t think he’s worth the headache. In addition to the suspension, his history of interactions with police while at Florida State, including being named an associate to an armed robbery and possibly being linked to a domestic battery case, raises more red flags. He was not charged in either case (Florida State reportedly has a questionable relationship with local police).
Regardless, Williams doesn’t appear to be the type of player that fits into the Patriots system. Hard pass.
3. And so the AFC East looks to be at another tipping point. The Bills are on the brink of disaster. The Jets had one of the oldest rosters in the league in 2015. The Dolphins are working with a first-year head coach and the defense looked terrible against the Cowboys. The one year the Patriots look potentially vulnerable is when none of the other franchises in the division look particularly stable.
Jimmy Garoppolo quietly has a 105.6 passer rating this preseason on 39 attempts (the 6th most attempts so far) and his 349 passing yards lead all quarterbacks. While the Cardinals game still looks like a possible loss, the next three games at home against the Dolphins, Texans, and Bills look incredibly winnable.
4. I’m very curious to see how Garoppolo plays with the first team offense. Remember that he’s posting a very positive statline and is looking settled in the pocket with the likes of Aaron Dobson and A.J. Derby. Outside of a drive with rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, the only receivers that we can be confident will make the roster are tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Chris Hogan.
We have to imagine that Garoppolo will be even more effective with Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis.
5. Just think: Garoppolo has led 12 drives. Eight have made it to the red zone. For comparison, last year’s Patriots offense made it to the red zone on 33% of drives (and an additional 12% resulted in a score from outside the red zone). The drives resulted in 3 touchdowns, 3 field goals, 1 fumble, and 1 turnover on downs.
But the Patriots kind of took the ball out of Garoppolo’s hands once they made it into the red zone. New England ran 15 running plays versus 8 passing plays inside the red zone with Garoppolo, including 8 runs against 1 pass inside the 10 yard line- the only pass coming on the failed 4th and 2 attempt at the end of the half against the Saints.
We have to imagine that the Patriots would let Garoppolo throw to Gronkowski on the goal line during the regular season and that Garoppolo’s great preseason numbers would be even better if the team wasn’t trying to see if Tyler Gaffney can be a short-yardage back.
6. K Stephen Gostkowski has converted all seven of his scoring attempts- field goals and extra points- this preseason. He’s looking to continue as the best kicker in the NFL. I only point this out because I want to segue to the Buccaneers 2nd round pick Roberto Aguayo, who was selected because Tampa Bay wanted a Gostkowski of their own.
Aguayo has not lived up to his draft expectations. He has missed three of his 9 kicking attempts this preseason and is one of just three players to miss three. The others are the Jets Ross Martin, who is serving as a camp leg for actual starter Nick Folk, and the Bengals Mike Nugent.
This is definitely not what the Buccaneers were looking for after they traded up and leap-frogged to take Aguayo.