Buffalo didn’t have as big a splash in the off-season this year, but they’ve made some interesting moves.  Following along with our Penguatroll’s thoughts on the Browns, here are mine on the Bills.

Key Signings

  • LG Chris Williams.  Buffalo had a big hole at left guard last year, but Williams isn’t the guy to fill it.  At best, he’s shaky; at worst, he’s shaky and hurt.
  • CB Corey Graham.  He was a great nickel corner for the Ravens, and will fight Nickell Robey for the 3 spot, working with Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin.  Given that Buffalo plays New England twice a year, that’s a good pickup for them; it gives the Bills four solid cornerbacks.
  • LB Keith Rivers.  Rivers is a mid-level 4-3 linebacker.  There’s a good chance that he’ll start as strong-side linebacker in Buffalo due to how weak they are at the position.
  • MLB Brandon Spikes.  This is a big pickup for the Bills.  Kiko Alonso gets to move to weak-side linebacker and be the “guy who runs around making plays” type instead of the “guy who runs into a defensive tackle” type.  Spikes is an elite run defender on a team which has done terribly against the run for a while.  His signing should help a lot.
  • RB Anthony Dixon.  Dixon has potential, but he’ll be a #3 RB in Buffalo.  Not a bad signing by the Bills, but I’m surprised nobody wanted to give Dixon a chance at a starting committee job.
  • Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz.  Schwartz was overmatched as a head coach in Detroit, but is a good defensive coordinator.  Mike Pettine will be missed, but Schwartz will soften that blow.

Key Losses

  • FS Jairus Byrd.  Byrd has turned into a great free safety (if not the 9-interception ball hawk we originally saw).  His departure opens a role for Da’Norris Searcy at strong safety, moving Aaron Williams to free safety.  The Bills are looking okay there, but not as good as if they had Bird-Williams together.
  • DE Alex Carrington.  The Bills are going back to a 4-3, it seems, and Carrington is a 3-4/4-3 hybrid who wasn’t going to be quite good enough to crack Buffalo’s defensive line.  I could see him signing with the Browns and playing a similar role there.
  • QB Kevin Kolb.  He slipped on a mat and basically ended his career.  He might sign on somewhere, but Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb beater couldn’t beat Buffalo’s Donovan McNabb Lite.


Pre-free agency, I would have ranked Buffalo’s needs roughly in the order of:  SLB, LG, TE, RT, WLB.  They’ve solved the WLB problem by moving Alonso there and signing Spikes.  I don’t think they’ve really solved the SLB problem, as the combination of Rivers and Manny Lawson gives them two meh players at an important position.  The signing of Williams and re-signing Scott Chandler indicates to me that they probably aren’t going to fix either of those positions this year.  They might go after a tackle in the draft, if there are any good enough when they go on the clock.

A lot of people are down on EJ Manuel at quarterback.  I’m serious about the Donovan McNabb Lite comment:  his upside is basically McNabb, where he’ll wow you one game with two dozen perfect throws, and spend the next game tossing 7-yard worm-burners.  It’s frustrating, but everyone knew coming in that Manuel was a project quarterback with a lot of upside.  I’m not giving up on him yet.


2 thoughts on “Looking At Buffalo’s Off-Season

    1. Yeah, it is a fair comp. Manuel has a similar physical build and some scrambling skills–he hurt his knee doing just that.

      Like I mentioned, McNabb is the high end for Manuel: high quality overall but maddeningly frustrating.

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