Mailbag: Rochester Fans Questions Leading Into The 2014 Season

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This week, I decided to gather some questions from my fellow Rochesterian Buffalo Bills fans. Buffalo had yet another disappointing season in 2013, but there were still many positives to take away from their play. The defense looked more athletic and aggressive than it has in years, despite the drama that surrounded Jairus Byrd and his holdout. Let’s see what some of them had to say.

“Coach Pettine used the Bills defense in a way that made them more dominant than they have been in a long time. Previous coordinators stuck to the books which resulted in mediocre play and a swiss cheese run defense. Coach Pettine implemented a defense that set his players up for success compared to previous years, feeding off their strengths even if it meant being a little unorthodox sometimes. How will the addition of Brandon Spikes affect the on field play of Kiko Alonso? #thelegendofkiko Why fix what isn’t broke?”- Nick Lochner – Webster, NY

The sole responsibility for the MLB is to protect the middle of field, fill the gaps and make the run stuffing tackles. Kiko Alonso’s body took a beating his rookie season. From a fan perspective there was nothing but good things to say about Kiko and his play. But the fact is, with his size and skill set he may be more fit to play as an OLB in the NFL. With his speed and athleticism, cutting down on the need to be stuffing the middle of the field eating up all of those tackles he can now emphasize his strengths and support the longevity of his career. Although his tackle numbers may suffer, watch his on field presence. He WILL make himself known out there. #thelegenofkiko

“In regards to EJ Manuel’s rookie season, there were some inconsistencies. You simply didn’t know which EJ was going to show up each game, when he wasn’t nursing an injury and out of the lineup. Being the only quarterback to have been drafted in the first round in the 2013 NFL draft, there were established expectations prior to the season. His season was inconsistent more so due to injuries. His lack of experience as NFL quarterback may be what held him from having a full rookie campaign. If the Buffalo Bills go ‘all in’ and trust EJ as the starting quarterback, will he become a game changer or a game manager? Or does EJ’s success revolve more around the way that the Bills use CJ Spiller in 2014?”- Doug Graham – Rochester, NY

When EJ played, I took more positives away than I did negatives. We have to stop and consider though that in 2012 EJ Manuel was playing college football. College football has become cluttered with stud athletes that may not even end up playing the position in college that they do when they reach the NFL. Look at Denard Robinson with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Quarterback at Michigan, converted skat back with the Jaguars. He has had very few, if any snaps at the quarterback position. I believe the transition from college ball to pro ball is not as smooth as it used to be. Watching EJ play in 2013 I found positives in the way that he handled pressure. When he remained in the pocket he was able to avoid the rush, survey the field and still deliver a catchable ball.

CJ Spiller broke out in 2012 with the Bills running a lot of offensive plays with four wideouts. This kept the defense on edge and allowed for more space for CJ to locate a running lane. His agility and breakaway speed made him a threat every time he touched the ball. First year with head coach Doug Marrone, the Bills seemed to have implemented more of a power run game with two receivers. The Bills offensive success balanced on Spiller’s effectiveness. I feel that this hurt EJ in his pass game because it showed the lack of confidence the Bills staff had in Manuel.

Goodbye problematic Stevie, hello rookie Sammy Watkins and veteran Mike Williams. Haters…”Why so serious?” Seeing the improvement at the wide receiver position, the Bills may now have the weapons to run more four receiver sets in 2014. Fantasy owners, this may open the field back up and give CJ Spiller the opportunity to have a 2012 repeat season. Think twice before dropping him as a keeper. How does relate to EJ you ask? With more four receiver sets and CJ performing in top form, the pass game will be opened up as well. This will keep the defense on edge having to deal with four wideouts as well as the game changing Spiller. EJ will have more time, and more options downfield.

Not to mention the work ethic @ejmanuel displays. Standing 6’5” weighing 240lbs, with huge hands and this fast of feet, how can Bills fans not be excited? It could be argued that 2014 could technically be Manuel’s rookie season with his limited amount of play in 2013.


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