The Roundtable

The Roundtable

Should he stay or should he go? – QB Tyrod Taylor

After a wild ride and the end of the drought, the Bills’ offseason began with an offensive coordinator change. Out is Rick Dennison and in is Western New York native Brian Daboll, back with the power running concept and a reputation of adjusting well and maximizing the talents of his players, and not forcing then into a poor scheme fit. Today, I’m starting the “Should he stay or should he go” series with QB Tyrod Taylor.  Tyrod finished his third season as the Bills’ starting QB with maybe his worst year in that role. But even in a down year he threw for, playoffs included, 2933 yards and 14 TDs to only 5 INTs (two coming from drops by his receivers), completed 61.3% of his passes, and finished with a solid 85.5 QB rating. His Pro Football Focus 79.7 passer rating was rock solid. He also added 446 yards and 4 TDs on the ground, with a very good 86.5 PFF rushing grade. His 83.0 PFF overall grade was good for the 14th-best QB in the league, in front of guys like Goff, Winston, Cousins, and Newton. The problem with Taylor is well documented; it’s not about the plays he makes, but the ones he refuses to attempt. He was sacked 47 times this season, always risk averse and ultra conservative. Media members and fans are more than ever ready to turn this page and go all in into a new QB plan, but after the hire of Daboll as the team’s new OC, I think Tyrod’s odds to come back for his 4th year with the Bills just got higher. Tyrod clearly wasn’t a fit for Dennison’s scheme since the beginning. His struggles with the quick 3- and 5-step dropback passes were clear from the preseason. Dennison made adjustments during the season, using a lot of play action roll out plays to put Tyrod in space, but his offense never fully worked with Taylor as the QB. Now with Daboll, everything seemingly changes. Daboll likes to run the ball with power concepts, has experience working with a top college dual-threat QB in Jalen Hurts, and will surely know how to maximize Taylor’s skill set. Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn showed the Bills can have a top-10 offense with Taylor at the helm, and Tyrod surely showed Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane that he’s a model of a pro, a true blue collar presence in the locker room, always working hard and being a good soldier, even when things didn’t go well for him. He can be a limited passer, but it’s obvious a rookie QB can benefit a lot having a true pro like Taylor around. To this regime character matters, and Tyrod is impeccable in this department. The Bills can cut ties with Taylor before the start of the new league year and save 10M in cap space, but this can put the Bills in a Kolb/Manuel situation all over again, with a less-than-ideal veteran and a rookie not ready to start right away. It’s not good to go to the draft pressured to draft a QB to play since day one, and they will need to pay a veteran in free agency to play the Tyrod role of mentor/bridge QB. But in this case, you’ll need to overpay for another flawed option. If you add the dead money of Tyrod’s deal to the veteran FA new deal, it looks even worse. The Bills need flexibility and have a lot of holes to fill. They can package some picks to trade up and get their guy at the QB position, but ideally they keep all their picks, draft a QB who falls to 21, and then fill the other holes. In this case, better have a solid plan until the rookie is ready. With his on and off the field work and demeanor, I think Tyrod earned this opportunity and should stay for at least one more year.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to Locked On Bills on iTunes Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Thank You, Kyle.

Since he was drafted to the Buffalo Bills as the 134th pick of the 2006 NFL draft, Kyle Williams has been the most consistent member of the Bills’ organization. The undersized defensive tackle has embodied everything Western New York is. He has made it through 12 years of constant head coaching changes, a plethora of coordinator changes, a change in ownership, and without ever playing a meaningful week 17 football game. He has endured this all while maintaining nothing but the utmost professionalism, optimism, and dedication to the team and fans. While the organization has been in flux during his entire tenure with the team, Kyle’s play and leadership have been rare constants. Year in and year out, Kyle has played at a top level. When new coaching staffs came in, and it seemed like he would no longer be a fit, Kyle proved the doubters (including me, on occasion) wrong by showing that passion and heart can trump “scheme fit”, especially when it’s Kyle. Yesterday, December 31st, 2017, the Bills went down to their division rival Miami Dolphins for the final game of the season with real playoff implications on the line. This was the first meaningful week 17 game in the 12-year career of our captain, the heart and soul of the team. Leading up to this game, there had been rumors swirling around that this may be Kyle’s last game in the NFL. While the 34-year-old Williams refused to address this with the media, no matter how hard they tried to pry it out of him, there has just been a feeling that we are watching his last hoorah in the NFL. Throughout the first half, Kyle played a very consistent game. He’s still got his best in class “get off”, and he managed to get in a few QB pressures — that same consistency that fans have come to expect over the decade-plus of watching Kyle play. Little did we fans know that the greatest play of the drought would come in this game, and that it would be an unlikely play by our Pro Bowl defensive tackle that would bring many to their feet in pure joy. In the 3rd quarter with the Bills up 13-0, the Bills had the ball — 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. With LeSean McCoy out, Mike Tolbert lined up in the backfield and the Bills were clearly looking to run on first down. What we (at least I) didn’t see right away was that #95 was lined up at fullback. The ball was snapped, and the offensive line got a push off the ball like I have never seen. With a wide open lane, Tyrod handed the ball to Kyle, who plowed the one yard for his first ever career rushing TD. After a great celebration with the offensive line, Kyle headed over to the sideline, where he was mobbed by his fellow teammates. A swarm of red, white, and blue surrounded the 12-year vet in utter jubilation for their leader. It was one of the most beautiful moments of the 17-year drought. We love you Kyle Williams!! Props to the staff for that playcall #OneBuffalo #Billsmafia #Bills pic.twitter.com/5W3KpXoZfk — Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) December 31, 2017 Kyle Williams touchdown? Kyle Williams touchdown!!!#BUFvsMIA #GoBills pic.twitter.com/iegyrXoFhL — Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 31, 2017 Seeing the love and respect the entire team and organization has for this 12-year vet, who has done all the right things on and off the field for over a decade, was a very special moment. Whoever made the decision to get Kyle in the game for this TD, kudos to them. It was an incredible moment in the biggest game of the last 17 years for the man who has been the only constant for the last dozen. The moment. #GoBills pic.twitter.com/0Ip76NCPF8 — Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018   Go Bills!       Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to Locked On Bills on iTunes Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Dion Dawkins is a Franchise Left Tackle

Left tackle wasn’t a position of need for the Bills during 2017 NFL Draft, but the team still used a 2nd round pick to bring former Temple offensive lineman Dion Dawkins on board. At first it looked like the plan was to have him switching sides and give him the opportunity to unseat veteran starter Jordan Mills at right tackle, but a problematic offseason for incumbent franchise LT Cordy Glenn opened the door to the rookie at his original position. With Glenn in and out of the line up and struggling with an ankle injury, Dawkins took advantage of his opportunity. To me, it’s clear the Bills need to keep him at LT moving forward. Ryan Ramczyk is the highest graded rookie OT this season pic.twitter.com/r9gXuUDRPQ — Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 30, 2017   Dion Dawkins is rated the 28th best OT in the league this season and the 2nd-best rookie OT, according Pro Football Focus, with an 77.2 overall grade. He’s showing promise protecting the QB (75.4 PFF pass block grade), but his forte is run blocking (80.5 PFF run block grade), where he is exceptionally powerful and finishes his blocks with aggression. Keep an eye on him and you’ll see him blocking his man 10 or even 15 yards down the field. Bills Xs and Os | Crack Toss Led by Glenn and Dawkins https://t.co/8p71kFqZAr via @Cover_1_ — Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) October 26, 2017   Dawkins is outplaying Glenn, but obviously the latter never played at full strength this season. Glenn still a top LT when healthy, but at this point it’s clear Dawkins need to play on the left side, and it’s unclear when (and if) Glenn’s injury will ever fully heal. Dawkins never looked comfortable playing on the right side, especially with his kick slide in pass protection. Dawkins, like Kouandjio before him, is a guy who plays his best at his natural LT position. He showed enough this year to justify his draft spot and his place in the starting line up going forward. Glenn can be moved to another spot on the line, but given his past success as a blind side protector, his cap hit next year ($14.45M), and some trade rumors from this season, I think Brandon Beane will work hard to find a nice deal for the Bills using Glenn as trade bait. With or without Cordy Glenn on the roster next season, Dawkins is the guy at LT going forward. He’s another really good find by McDermott in this past draft, and surely is looking like a building block for what appears to be a bright future.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to Locked On Bills on iTunes Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Bills Pass Rush the Key to Stopping the Patriots

The Bills will be playing for their playoff dreams this Sunday against the Patriots and, like the past 17 years, they will need to slow Tom Brady to have any shot. With the secondary playing great football, the pass rush, especially from the d-line, will be the key to finding any success against their division rivals. One player who will be counted on to make a difference in this game is the veteran all-time Bill, Kyle Williams. According Pro Football Focus’s pass rush grade, Kyle (-2.4) isn’t the force he previously was in this area of the game, but he still’s the Bills’ best inside rusher with 2 sacks, 6 QB hits, and 19 QB hurries. Kyle wins consistently with smarts, experience, a still impressive jump off the snap, and a motor that never stops. No player on the Bills’ roster knows Brady better, and Kyle is very capable of creating havoc inside the pocket, bringing pressure right to Brady’s face, forcing him to move off his spot. Another key guy to bring the heat at Brady is obviously Jerry Hughes (+1.0 PFF pass rush grade). The Bills’ best pass rusher since Mario Williams left developed into a elite run stopping DE, but he still can rush the passer with his speed and technique. The sacks numbers (3) aren’t there so far, but he leads the team with 25 QB hurries and has nine QB hits. The wildcard guy who will be very important to the Bills’ success in this game is the veteran pass rushing specialist Ryan Davis (+1.2 PFF PR grade). Since Shaq Lawson’s injury, Davis is rotating with Eddie Yarbrough at the left end spot, instead of with Hughes on the right side. This change has proven to be beneficial for him so far. With Yarbrough’s doing great against the run on early downs, Davis is taking advantage on passing downs. He has 15 QB hurries, 4 QB hits, and a team-leading 4 sacks. Davis is very dangerous rushing the passer because of his variety of moves and his smarts. He knows how to take advantage of one-on-one situations and is showing it in the last few weeks. Those three guys will lead this group, with the help of Lorenzo Alexander on inside rushes in clear passing situations and Yarbrough, Adolphus Washington, Cedric Thornton, and Cap Capi playing complementary roles. Their performances will determine the success of the defense in slowing down Brady and giving the improving but still inconsistent offense a chance to score enough points to steal this one at Foxborough and keep the playoff dream alive.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to Locked On Bills on iTunes Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Will the Bills play man coverage vs. the Patriots?

  Fifth round rookie linebacker Matt Milano has already become a fan favorite, and he has only averaged 46.2% of the defensive snaps this season. We have been calling for Milano to start for many weeks now, but looking back I like how they brought him along. Rather than throwing him in, they brought him along slowly. Milano was able to digest the playbook, and work on his technique and role within the defensive structure so that he was not just relying on his athleticism. I think this maturation process has set up the defense perfectly going into the week 16 matchup against the New England Patriots. Tom Brady has seen it all and, especially when defenses want to play zone coverage, he picks that strategy apart. But what teams have done against him as of late is play more man coverage. Playing man coverage is a lot easier with no Julian Edelman in the lineup, as Edelman is a guy that dominates the slot and the middle of the field. Amendola is a similar type of receiver, but he doesn’t offer the explosiveness that Edelman possesses in and out of his breaks or after the catch. Cooks has been the Patriots’ outside deep threat, and a good one at that, but he only has two games over 100 yards. The New England passing offense operates through their tight end Rob Gronkowski and running backs Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, and James White. If the Bills want to run man coverage like a lot of teams have versus the Patriots, then they cannot have LB Ramon Humber in coverage. With Milano on the field more, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier can disguise coverages more and drop into man coverage if needed without having to worry. Milano, unlike Humber, has the skills to run with the running backs of New England. In the week 13 matchup he only played in 31.4% of the snaps, but was on the field for several crucial plays when Brady targeted his running backs. I believe with Milano now the starter, Buffalo will be able to play more man coverage. Milano matched up against the Patriots’ running back and as a ‘Robber’ or underneath linebacker to help out vs. Gronk. This will force Brady to go elsewhere. The one-on-one matchups will be fun to watch. Do you believe these matchups fall in favor of the Bills? Do you think Brandin Cooks can win consistently against Tre’Davious White and EJ Gaines?     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to Locked On Bills on iTunes Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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A Legend’s Departure?

The current longest-tenured Buffalo Bill will most likely play his final home game at New Era Field this weekend. Defensive tackle and multi-time team captain Kyle Williams, after being swayed from retirement by teammates, returned for his 12th season with the Buffalo Bills this year.   At 34 years old, Williams has registered 607 defensive snaps this year, according to Pro Football Focus. Of his 353 passing snaps, Williams ranks 22nd among defensive tackles in pass rushing productivity with a 5.7 rating, which includes 26 total pressures, good for 14th overall.     In his 12th season Williams has played himself into a Pro Bowl ballot. If voted in, it will be his sixth appearance overall and second consecutive.   Williams’s return to the team was greatly influenced by the hiring of Sean McDermott this offseason. Solely based on his performance on the field, it is evident that Williams personifies what McDermott wants out his players; hard work, aggressiveness, leadership, grit, and consistency are all a part of the famous “process”. To be one of the few players not involved in the large overhaul just speaks to the reputation he has built over his career. He will most likely go down as one of the all-time great Buffalo Bills players, and without a doubt a huge fan favorite. The love that fans have for this team does not go unnoticed by Williams. Following the “Snowvertime Classic” last week against the Indianapolis Colts, Williams said, “Before I answer any questions, I want to say that our fans and the people here are the toughest damn people in the world. They’re why I’ve been here so long, and the reason I enjoy being here so much.” But for his long-time consistency and efficiency, his efforts have not rewarded him with meaningful games in late December. Williams has not seen a playoff game and has rarely seen a winning record with the Bills. In the past, with three games left in the regular season he and his teammates have been playing for pride. This year with three games left on the schedule and tied for a second wildcard spot, the team is playing to end one of the longest playoff droughts in all of sports. So, in what might be his final home game as a member of the Buffalo Bills, a matchup against division rival Miami Dolphins this week would be fitting. Although, for a player who could be considered one of the all-time great Buffalo Bills, a playoff appearance would be the perfect salute to cap-off a career.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to Locked On Bills on iTunes Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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