With the end of minicamp this week, the Buffalo Bills will now go into hiding for the next six weeks. Until late July, there will be no football-related activities happening with the team — and they’re likely looking to stay out of the news, too.
So before summer vacation begins for the Bills, (and for me, too — Harry Potter World, here I come) I wanted to bring you a few of my thoughts about the team. Seven of them, to be exact. And I threw in three other non-Billsy, random thoughts, too.
Hope you enjoy:
7 Bills Thoughts
1) Tyrod is receiving some hype, and it’s deserved
- Listen, as far as OTAs and minicamps go, we’ve all fallen into the trap of being fooled by standout play. The truth of the matter is this: offseason practices are a watered down version of football. There isn’t any hitting and contact is minimal, which allows some players to shine through. But with Tyrod Taylor, his offseason matters, and here’s why: Even in these few workouts, Taylor just looks different. The separation between him and the other quarterbacks is notable, and he’s doing so many things that the Bills wanted him to progress with in the offseason. Listen, I know, he’s not getting hit and there will be times where he leaves the pocket instead of standing tall like he did during these practices. In terms of dispersing the ball over the middle of the field, trusting his receivers more, and trying/completing some more daring throws for bigger gains, Taylor has been outstanding this spring. That’s why he deserves the hype.
2) The “win the offseason” mantra heard ‘round the world
- This story kind of took off yesterday, and while a little misconstrued, I understand why it did get as big as it did. Some will accuse of ‘click baiting’ the story, but Rex had numerous opportunities to quell the story after his initial “we won the offseason” claim. He even doubled down by saying that he believes they won the offseason over the other teams in the NFL — which is a bit of a ridiculous claim, considering there’s no way to quantify who had a “successful” offseason. To be that forceful with the claim, it’s notable because it gets people talking. However, I get what Rex Ryan was trying to say, he just went about it poorly. He was really happy with how far they’ve come on the practice field and in meeting rooms over the four weeks of practices. He just chose to do it with his typical bravado and created a stir because of it. Rex gonn Rex.
3) Gilmore digging in, but should he?
- The more that’s leaking out about the ongoing negotiations — or lack thereof — between the Bills and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the less promising it looks. Gilmore showed up to minicamp, but the extent of his practicing was stretching, and a few jogging trips back from sideline to sideline. He then hinted he’ll hold out from the start of training camp with the always ominous “We’ll see.” Gilmore is a good player that could propel to great in the next couple of seasons, that is quite clear. But if he truly is looking for Josh Norman money, as Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reported, he’s not being realistic at this point. One of the best tools available to football fans is Spotrac.com, and their ‘Market Value’ calculator. Considering Gilmore’s age, value, and the money landscape in the NFL, Spotrac projects him of earning an annual contract of $12.9 million — well short of the $15 million per year Norman received from Washington. If Gilmore comes in and plays well, and proves that he can also be more impactful and force more turnovers, then maybe he gets that at the end of the season. However, the simple fact is this: he’s under contract and getting well-compensated for 2016 as it is. An extended holdout for a player who’s on the cusp of great, but not quite there just yet, doesn’t make sense in the long run.
4) Ed Reed is an awfully impressive human
- Believe it or not, the 2016 season will mark my seventh season on the Bills beat, and I’ve seen a great deal of these press conferences over that time. And in those years, I can firmly state this: Ed Reed is one of the most captivating humans in a press conference setting that I’ve personally participated in. We all know about Reed, one of the best safeties in NFL history, but until Thursday all we’ve heard is Rex Ryan’s normal optimistically-based talk about Reed’s potential in coaching. Reed just commands attention, and you know he feels every word of what he’s saying. His genuine approach is evident, and for him to command a room of media types like he did on Thursday, just imagine what he’s doing with players that work with him on a daily basis. Reed certainly comes across as a ‘leader of men,’ and if he can coach as well as he speaks with the media, his future is extremely bright.
5) If Goodwin makes the Olympic games…
- If Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin makes it to the Olympic Games in Rio, I think the writing may just be on the wall for his Bills career. It’s not an outright certainty, but it’s the likeliest event to occur. The timetable is pretty clear for Goodwin. If he qualifies for The Olympics, and then gets to the long jump finals, that event is scheduled to conclude on August 13 — already more than halfway through training camp. Then, you have to add in travel time, and then time to condition and get back on the field. Before you know it, it might not be until August 15-16 before he’s able to practice with the Bills for the first time in 2016. Plus, there’s this: Goodwin’s body is in track condition, not football. Already possessing a smaller frame, Goodwin said his body has transformed and is now much more lean, which for the injury-plagued Goodwin, could mean he’s even more susceptible to getting hurt than before. With all of these wide receivers earning time and taking advantage of the opportunity, Goodwin may just be swimming upstream by the time he gets back. However, this is a clear once in a lifetime opportunity for him, and while he still has time to turn his football career around, this Olympic run will be on that he’ll never forget. If you were in his shoes, who wouldn’t do what he’s doing?
6) Ranking the Bills WRs after minicamp
- Speaking of those wide receivers, we saw plenty from the men that were actually on the field during minicamp. Past Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, and without Marcus Easley, Marquise Goodwin, Kolby Listenbee, and Davonte Allen (all of whom didn’t participate in team drills during minicamp), this is how I’d rank the wide receivers at this point in time:
1) Dez Lewis
2) Leonard Hankerson
3) Greg Salas
4) Greg Little
5) Walt Powell
6) Jarrett Boykin
7) Gary Chambers
Obviously these are subject to change with the entire summer to go, but that’s how I’ve got them for the time being.
7) The defensive starters are talented, but…
- Judging it off the final two days of minicamp, if there is a rash of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, the depth is thin. I mean, really thin. At outside linebacker, Manny Lawson, IK Enemkpali, and Lorenzo Alexander would be the main competitors for playing time, but would be an immense drop-off from Jerry Hughes. At inside linebacker, the top reserve is Zach Brown, and he failed to discern himself during minicamp. In the defensive backfield, if any of the top four go down, the Bills would either be trusting a rookie, or a player brought to Buffalo on a one-year, veteran minimum contract. The Bills have a ton of talent with their starting group and can win with them. However, the depth is a concern at this point in time.
And 3 Random Thoughts, Too
1) This is not the Golden State we’ve come to know
- I don’t advertise it much, but I’m a huge NBA guy. And this version of the Golden State Warriors that we’ve seen in Game 5 and 6 is not anything like what they were in the regular season — and I think it’s a bit of a perfect storm of events. That knee injury of Curry’s has taken the magic out of his offensive abilities, and most notably, his ability to work without the ball to get an open shot. That quick little shake he had all season long is gone, and he physically can’t do anything about it. As a result, the Warriors are thinking too much, over-passing, and have lost the harmony they’ve played with all year. Combine all of that with this: the Cavaliers made the decision to beat the crap out of the Warriors on the court. Golden State players have been hesitant to drive the lane and finish, instead opting to pass it out for a three. Over the last two games, Cleveland has been miles ahead of Golden State, and the Warriors may not have the lineup capabilities to catch up. On a side note, this series has been awesome. Everything I’ve wanted, and more.
2) Sunday is the ultimate TV conundrum
- On the heels of that, there’s this: Game 7 of the NBA Finals is butted against what is likely to be the most memorable episode of Game of Thrones this season. The ‘Battle of the Bastards’ is set to commence, and it’s got me feeling some type of way. However, what’s the play here? I know some will say “get two TVs and watch them both!” But that’s not how I roll. Some others will say, “just record GoT and watch it later!” The fatal flaw there is that watching a big sports event with Twitter is one of the reasons it makes it so fun, which also creates the possibility of having the Thrones episode spoiled by some errant tweeting. Yeah, I know, I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too. But I’m betting I’m not the only one in this boat.
3) My Euro 2016 pitch
- Not a ton of you are soccer fans, but the UEFA Euro 2016 has been fantastic through the first two weeks of action. The drama has been high, the matches have been thrilling, and even the favorites have had their own struggles through the first two games of pool play. Take Iceland, for example. They went up against Portugal, who has one of the biggest soccer stars in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo, and they forced a draw — a colossal upset. Then there was England, who has on the verge of elimination and of their manager being fired, and they fired back in the closing moments to secure a victory over Wales. It’s all been wide open with the exception of a handful of matches. There’s still time to dive head first into the event with another week of pool play and then the Round of 16 starting shortly after that. Get it while the gettin’s good.
Album I can’t stop listening to: Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
Until next time, Bills fans.