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Which Bills player needs to step up in the last six games?

 

Which player do you want to see more from in last six games?

Skurski: A lot of good choices here – a strong case can be made for Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds, Devin Singletary and plenty more – but Dawson Knox tops my list. The Bills’ second-year tight end has had an atrocious start to 2020, although not all of it has been his fault. Knox suffered a concussion in Week 2, then later went down with a calf injury. All of that was before going on the Covid-19 list. He’s healthy now, though, and needs to give the Bills something. Knox has just eight catches for 109 yards in six games. That’s troubling enough, but he’s hurt the Bills in other ways, too.

He lost a fumble in Week 2 against Miami, and his penalty for a block in the back last week against Arizona was a killer – there was no need for it and it erased what would have been a 21-yard gain. Knox has the physical tools you want, but at some point, very soon, potential needs to turn into production. If it doesn’t, his playing time may quickly diminish.

 

Carucci: This is a tough one, because it’s hard to name only one. My short list consists of Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds and Devin Singletary.

I’ll go with Oliver, because it could be argued that his lack of impact has had the most to do with the ineffectiveness of Edmunds and much of the rest of the defensive line and linebacking corps.

The most glaring problem is the lack of resistance Oliver provides against the run. Opposing backs consistently can look like All-Pros as they reach the second and third levels untouched. Additionally, he isn’t getting nearly enough inside pressure on quarterbacks, contributing to a lack of heat from the outside.

Brandon Beane allowed Jordan Phillips to depart in free agency because he believed Oliver, despite losing his starting job to Phillips for the final nine games of his rookie season last year and the playoff game against Houston, would raise his performance in 2020. He hasn’t.

Star Lotulelei’s opting out of the season because of the pandemic and the ineffectiveness of Harrison Phillips, who is attempting a comeback from major knee surgery, also factor into the problems with the interior of the defensive line. However, expectations for Oliver are as high as they should be for a ninth overall pick. He is not living up to them.

Gaughan: I’ll pick two, Devin Singletary and Dane Jackson. Actually, I don’t want to see more of Singletary, I just want to see better production from Singletary. On offense, I fully embrace Brian Daboll’s offensive identity. The Bills are a passing offense, riding on the shoulders of the quarterback. That’s who they are. They’re No. 2 in the NFL in third-down conversions. Where are the Bills’ best matchups virtually every week? At quarterback and wide receiver. Nevertheless, some more effective runs by Singletary would be welcome. At cornerback, Jackson’s play against the Jets and Cardinals has earned a percentage of snaps at cornerback. I say let him job share for a game or two with Levi Wallace and see how he does. Josh Norman will be back, too, so it will be interesting to see who the Bills’ coaches trust the most at that position.

Wolf: John Brown. I thought he was primed for a huge season, that he’d stretch the field all day, that he’d pile up long catches and touchdowns with opponents focused on stopping Stefon Diggs.

Brown started off the season well enough, with six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 and four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. But he's struggled with calf, knee and ankle injuries and hasn't scored since.

Brown nearly topped 100 receiving yards against the Seahawks, finishing with eight catches on 11 targets for 99 yards. And he was playing well against the Cardinals, catching six of eight targets for 72 yards before an ankle injury knocked him out of the game in the fourth quarter.

Here's hoping Brown is able to get healthy during the bye week and makes a significant impact down the stretch.

 

What's the biggest looming offseason decision?

Skurski: When (or) will Brandon Beane’s contract get extended? The longer that goes unanswered, the more uncertainty surrounds the situation. That’s how rumors get started (does Beane want out? Has there been a falling out between the head coach and general manager?). Terry and Kim Pegula should want to avoid that at all (reasonable) costs. Once Beane’s contract is taken care of, he can get to work making the many important decisions he’ll have this offseason. At the top of that list is what to do with impending free agents Matt Milano and Daryl Williams. After that, he’ll need to make a call on the fifth-year option for linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. All of that is even before considering free agency and the draft, crucial team-building moments for a team that believes its championship window is just starting to open. The Bills have stability in their front office right now. There is no reason to jeopardize that by waiting on a contract extension for the team’s general manager.

Carucci: Assuming this remains unsettled into the offseason, it would have to be a contract extension for Brandon Beane.

There doesn’t seem to be any good reason for this to be a lingering issue. The Bills did the right thing by extending Sean McDermott’s contract in the summer. At the time, there was a sense that team co-owners Terry and Kim Pegula would be doing the same with Beane soon thereafter.

We’re still waiting.

McDermott and Beane should be viewed as a package deal. They both arrived in Buffalo in 2017. Though Beane was hired after that year’s draft, he has been no less responsible for what has been built since in the way of a talented roster and a team-first culture. Making sure that he, too, is secured for the long haul is a no-brainer.

 

The Bills also have found the most important ingredient to their success on Beane’s watch: a franchise quarterback in Josh Allen. Additionally, Beane recognized that the Bills had a chance to land one of the NFL’s most dynamic wide receivers, Stefon Diggs, and pulled off the trade with the Minnesota Vikings to land him.

When McDermott received his new deal, he gave Beane a resounding endorsement, making it clear that Beane is every bit as responsible as McDermott for the Bills’ achievements. If the Pegulas are still looking for a reason to get something done with Beane, they only need to remind themselves of the blatant incompetence they’ve had at the coaching/GM levels of their NFL and NHL franchises.

Unless Beane doesn’t want to remain with the Bills and would rather be elsewhere, this needs to happen.

Gaughan: I’ll stick with re-signing Matt Milano. It’s speculative because we don’t know if the NFL salary cap is going to drop from $198.2 million this year all the way down to $175 million in 2021, as currently projected. That floor level for 2021 could go up between now and March 2021, when it gets set. That would open up more possibilities for teams relatively tight to the cap, like the Bills. I still think Daryl Williams is going to price himself out of Buffalo with his strong play. But it might turn out to be a bear market for free agents across the board. For instance, three of the top six teams with the most cap space for 2021 (Indianapolis, New England and Cincinnati) historically are not big free-agent spenders. We’ve been thinking Milano would be in the ballpark of coverage linebackers like Carolina’s Shaq Thompson and Tampa’s Kwon Alexander, who each got deals averaging $13.5 million. Both, however, had slightly better credentials than Milano when they signed, in my opinion. Brandon Beane’s MO is to check needs off his list. Maybe the cap uncertainty in 2021 will help the Bills sign Milano before March.

Wolf: What to do at the second cornerback position, opposite Tre’Davious White?

Josh Norman and Levi Wallace both have contracts that expire after this season. Norman, who turns 33 in December, isn’t the answer long term. And Wallace may not be either, though it won’t cost much for the Bills to resign the 25-year-old restricted free agent.

Will the Bills target a big-ticket free agent and pour even more money into the secondary after dropping a four-year, $69 million extension on White?

Veteran corners on expiring contracts include Arizona’s Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick and San Francisco’s Richard Sherman, who are all on the wrong side of 30, as well as Cincinnati’s Mackensie Alexander (who can play outside and in the slot) and Seattle’s Shaquill Griffin, who might make more sense, if they hit the open market.

Top options in the draft could be Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, Georgia’s Tyson Campbell, Ohio State’s Shaun Wade, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, Stanford’s Paulson Adebo and Oklahoma State’s Rodarius Williams, who are all projected as possible first-round picks.

Will the Bills target the position with a high draft pick?

 

How has the lack of fans impacted the Bills?

Skurski: The Bills are 4-1 at home this season, so it’s hard to see how the lack of fans has had much of an impact. The only defeat in that time is to the defending Super Bowl champions. Losing to the Chiefs is nothing to be ashamed of. The players and coaches have all said the same thing – they’re anxious for fans to be back – but the way they approach their job has not changed. One thing the players have consistently mentioned is how it falls to them to get energized and in the right frame of mind, since there is no crowd to provide that for them. The results have shown they’ve done a good job of that. The lack of fans will obviously impact league revenues, but it hasn’t changed the on-field product in any meaningful way. It’s still incredibly weird, though, to be in Bills Stadium with no fans. Here’s to hoping that the 2020 season is the only one in which we all collectively have to deal with it.

Carucci: The team’s 4-1 home record would strongly suggest no fans at Bills Stadium has had minimal impact.

There is a case to be made that a full house with full-throated roaring from the stands would have made a difference in the lone loss in Orchard Park, against Kansas City, on a Monday night. The Chiefs do so much communicating and adjusting at the line that it was fair to think the home crowd could have provided some disruption resulting in a mistake or two, a delay-of-game penalty or the wasting of a timeout.

Since the start of the season, players and coaches have said they miss the energy that crowds produce. The Bills and other teams probably had a larger issue with it earlier in the season, when it was more of a shock to the system. Still, there has been considerable discussion this year about flat performances at different times in games because players aren’t able to draw from cheers or even jeers when their on the road.

The Bills still are having their issues with pre-snap penalties, which could be a function of being able to hear snap counts too clearly and become more susceptible to the quarterback’s effort to draw offside penalties with his cadence.

For the most part, there is no true home-field advantage anywhere in the league. Stadiums have become glorified television studios and it looks as though that will remain the case at least for the balance of this season.

Gaughan: It has hurt the Bills, even though they’re 4-1 at home, with the lone loss to Kansas City. The fans in Orchard Park give the team a clear home-field advantage – when the team is good. The presence of fans would help the Bills over the last six weeks. There are two rookie quarterbacks coming to town in the Chargers’ Justin Herbert on Nov. 29 and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa on Jan. 3. The loud crowd, on the road, in the cold, is a challenge to deal with for quarterbacks. It’s particularly helpful to pass rushers, since it makes it harder for the offensive tackles to react to the snap as quickly. I think the defense gets a stop or two a game that is aided by the loud crowd. I don’t have clear statistical evidence to back that up. Opposing quarterbacks did poorer vs. the Bills’ defense in Orchard Park in 2017 and 2019 than they did at home. I think Denver is a hard place to play when the Broncos are good, so that benefits the Bills. I don’t think the Bills got a break by playing in Miami early because Miami hasn’t been a hard place to play in recent years.

Wolf: The lack of fans has had a positive effect on Josh Allen, whose game has grown by leaps and bounds this season.

Western New York quarterback guru Jim Kubiak, who analyzes Allen’s play each week for The News, said several technical aspects of Allen’s game have shown improvement this season, including his touch and timing versus man coverage, protections, coverage recognition and situational awareness, which all contributes to his improved production and fewer turnovers.

Allen agrees that the lack of crowd noise has been a boon.

“I definitely think it keeps your emotions in check,” Allen said last month, “because you don’t hear the crowd going crazy over a certain play, like if a guy goes up and makes a crazy grab, it’s just like, ‘Oh, OK, that was cool.’ But you hear the crowd kind of roar, it just kind of ignites something else in you, so I think it’s easier to keep your emotions in check.”

 

 

 

 

 


“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

 

Twitter: @HKTheResistance

 

HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

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