After a tumultuous two-year stretch where former head coach Rex Ryan refused to select permanent team captains, preferring to rotate them every week, Sean McDermott came in and quickly changed the way things are done. He installed a “leadership council” to help the communication between coaches and players, facilitating the installation of his methods and accelerating “the process”. The bond between players and coaches was created, resulting in an extremely hardworking team that played above its expectations and reached the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.
Entering the second year of his tenure, McDermott lost two members of this council: quarterback Tyrod Taylor, traded to the Browns, and longtime center Eric Wood, who unfortunately needed to retire due to a spinal injury. Both carried the “C” patch on their chests and were respected leaders on the offensive side of the ball. With Kyle Williams, Lorenzo Alexander, and Steven Hauschka returning as the defensive and special teams captains, respectively, who will be the guys stepping up and leading the offense in 2018? Here are the options, Bills fans:
Entering his 10th season in the league, the 30-year-old pro-bowler is the star of the team and the heart and soul of the Bills’ offense. Talent and experience-wise, Shady’s a natural choice to carry the “C” on his chest this season, but his outspoken nature, always being loud on social media about guys that he would like to see the team pursuing or not letting go, could hurt his chances. Maybe those are the reasons he was never a team captain before, and recent domestic violence allegations definitely don’t help his case.
Another core piece of the Bills’ offense, the eight-year veteran played his last three seasons with the Bills. Despite his quiet nature, Clay has lots of experience and looks like a hard-working guy who leads by example. Given his importance to the team’s offense, he’s another potential option to fill this role.
Benjamin is entering his first full season with the team, but the fifth-year veteran has a history with coach McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane from their Carolina days. They wouldn’t have traded for him if he wasn’t one of “their guys,” and he’s showing on the field why he will be the focal point of the team’s aerial attack. His recent episode badmouthing his former organization and quarterback Cam Newton notably displeased McDermott, though. Time will tell if it was enough to keep him away from the increased responsibility.
Ryan Groy / Russell Bodine / Vlad Ducasse / Jordan Mills
Eric Wood was very respected and a true leader throughout his entire Bills tenure. Without him on the roster, it’s natural to think the coaching staff would like to have another offensive lineman step up and fill that role. The above four guys are experienced and respected by their coaches. I can see the winner of the Groy/Bodine battle earning the captain badge, too. Groy was appointed as “one of our leaders” on the offensive line, and Bodine is coming from the Bengals with 64 career starts under his belt. Ducasse and Mills are guys the fanbase want to be replaced badly, but they’re also praised by their coaches for the type of professionalism they bring to the table.
Nathan Peterman / Josh Allen
The quarterback is the natural leader of the offense, given all his responsibilities on every play. It looks like Peterman and Allen are the last men standing in the competition, and both have nice leadership qualities you want in a team captain. It complicates things that if he’s able to win the job, Peterman’s role as a starter can be very short-lived. Fans will be calling for his head as soon as he commits a mistake, especially with Allen looking so ready this early. I don’t see the coaching staff naming Peterman a captain knowing he could be out of the lineup very early. It’s not a secret he will be holding the job just until Allen is ready to take over.
In Allen’s case, he’s showing great maturity, winning over his veteran teammates on and off the field. He’s also avoiding drama in the media, always saying the right things. The way he’s climbing the ranks is really encouraging, but even if he continues to trend up and win the starting job with a great performance versus the Bengals next Sunday, I don’t see McDermott giving his prized rookie yet another responsibility this year. With everything going well, perhaps next year, but not now.
Who will they pick?
If I were a betting man, my money would be in McCoy and Clay. I think they’re the most important players in this offense and natural leaders of the offensive unit. My runner-up is Ducasse, a well-respected veteran who has the coaching staff’s trust, despite the fans not always being able to see how he earned it.