I don’t know about you but, it takes me a couple weeks to put the season behind me. Once the Super Bowl teams have been decided is usually when I start thinking about next year. It’s about this time that it dawns on me that I really don’t care who wins the Super Bowl because Buffalo isn’t in it, and then turn my attention to what’s next for the Bills.
And let me tell you, I really couldn’t care less who wins next Sunday. I am not one of those “fans of the NFL” who thinks it would be neat if Peyton Manning won another Super Bowl, or how great it would be for those wonderful fans in Seattle to get a championship. You know what I am rooting for? A snowstorm to barrel in on the greater New York and New Jersey area about noon and blanket METLIFE with tons of snow. Now for me, that would make for a must see Super Bowl. All of football’s royalty trying to figure out a way to play the premier game in the midst of a snowstorm? That would be awesome. Besides that, since Buffalo does not have its logo in one of the end zones, I really couldn’t care less who wins this game.
OK, on to the off season.
I started eyeballing a couple mock drafts and I actually watched a couple Senior Bowl practices on ESPN. Before I can get focused on the draft, I first have to (in my mind) purge the roster. Who are the players necessary to build a winner and who has shown themselves to be nothing more than a pretty good player on a pretty bad team? Who could start for any of the four teams who played last weekend and who couldn’t? ‘Cause let’s face it, last weekend is here we want to be.
In my mind there are five players who gotta stay and five that gotta go. And no, I am not going to list Mario Williams, or CJ Spiller or Eric Wood or the other 25 players who’s roster spot is assured. I am not going to list Jairus Byrd. But yes, the Bills need to sign him. I don’t know about you but, I am getting sick and tired of seeing former Bills playing in big games for other teams. Donte Whitner played in last year’s Super Bowl and Marshawn Lynch is playing in this year’s. Jason Peters played for the Eagles on wild card weekend and on and on and on. Let’s put last year’s stupidity (on both sides) behind us, get Byrd signed and move on.
The five that gotta stay. These five guys are the type of players really good teams keep at the bottom of their roster. These are the Steve Tasker’s, Mark Pike’s and Butch Rolle’s who make a dozen or so plays each year to win games.
Tops on my list is FB Frank Summers. Was it just me who noticed that every time Summers was on the field something good happened. Rather as a lead blocker or receiver out of the backfield, the Bills moved the ball when he was in the game.
S Jim Leonard. Buffalo signed Leonard right before the opener as a spot player until Byrd could get back on the field. Leonard turned out to be much more than a stop gap as he played a pretty good safety, returned punts and played well on special teams. This guy is worth a roster spot on a good team.
K Dan Carpenter. I thought he should have received a few more pro-bowl votes. I know we drafted Dustin Hopkins but it’s tough to envision anybody kicking better in Buffalo’s tough conditions than Carpenter. If I get a vote, then Carpenter is our kicker for the foreseeable future and Hopkins kick-starts his career elsewhere.
WR Marcus Easley. Yep, good teams have a guy whose whole purpose in life is special teams. Buffalo perfected the game-changing special teamer when Steve Tasker became a Bill. I am not putting Easley in Tasker class but, he makes plays on special teams and good teams win a game a two each year because their special teams’ guys are better. Easley stays in my book.
LB Jerry Hughes. I know Hughes is staying but, I list him because the Bills need to find ways to get him on the field more. For the first time in recent memory it was the Bills who got the better deal in a trade when they picked the Colts’ pocket on Hughes. Not only does Hughes make the team, he has got to see more snaps on defense.
Now who needs to go? And let the hate mail begin because tops on my list is WR Stevie Johnson. Let me write the twitter comment’s for you now – “You an idiot Pfeiffer, he had three 1,000 yard seasons!” Johnson??, you let Johnson go?? He catches 70+ passes a year!” “You can’t cut Johnson, he’s one of the best receivers in the AFC!” “Johnson has never had a decent quarterback throwing him the ball!” I got all that about right? OK then, save it. Here’s my response to all that – it was all meaningless. Johnson’s yards and catches have led to…wait for it…nothing!! How about the drops? How about disappearing in the big moments when games were on the line? Oh, and don’t forget the stupid on field antics that lead to penalties and kill drives. That’s fun now isn’t it? Johnson needs to go. Robert Woods made more big catches in his rookie year than Johnson has made in the last five years.
Johnson needs to take TE Scott Chandler with him. Chandler is big, strong, a huge target who can’t catch, can’t break tackles, has trouble getting open and does nothing as a blocker in the running game. Otherwise he’s a great tight end. Scott’s got to go! And Chandler needs to take TJ Graham with him. Graham was supposed to be this dangerous deep threat. Yeah he’s fast but that’s it. Plus he’s small and drops the ball.
OT Erik Pears. Why is Pears on the list? Because our offensive line needs an upgrade. Do you think Pears could start for the 49ers, Broncos or Seahawks? Or, how about the Bengals, Saints or Eagles? Neither do I. Does he have the ability to be a capable back-up on a good team? Yep. But, if Pears is starting then the Bills are probably not displacing one of the six teams who made the playoffs in the AFC.
Oh yeah, why is QB Jeff Tuel not already cut? I still have nightmares about the Cleveland Thursday night game.
OK with those five guys gone, we now know what we are looking for – A big wide receiver, an offensive lineman (or two), and a linebacker. Plus don’t forget the Bills are $15.9 million under the cap and Ravens Tackle Michael Oher is a free agent.