The boys of fall are back as the Buffalo Bills begin Training Camp on Sunday, July 28. Football season is here. Optimism (and pessimism) is in the air. So without further ado, I introduce our first Bills Mailbag of the 2013 season.
Each week, Bills fans will send in their questions (via Twitter: @JonahJavad or e-mail: Jonah.Javad@wgrz.com). Then every Friday morning, I'll post the Q&A aptly named: Friday Morning Mailbag.
Here we go!
Q: Does EJ Manuel have any chance of starting? (@ajbutter3)
A: Short answer: Yes. The Bills have three scenarios: 1) EJ starts Week 1, 2) EJ starts midseason if team struggles or Kevin Kolb gets hurt (both likely), or 3) EJ takes over at the start of next year. But, there's no way the Bills shelve their 1st Round pick for a whole season. It would a complete and utter waste. (Anyway, that's a different rant for a different day.) Head coach Doug Marrone says he'll wait to make his decision until one of the quarterbacks separate himself. The tone I get from the coaching staff is that Manuel needs some time to develop. So, Scenario 2 seems the most likely at this point. Personally, I'm not a big believer in benching a rookie QB to "learn." It worked for Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, but he backed-up future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Kevin Kolb is not Brett Favre.
Q: Any rumblings on if [Jairus] Byrd will report or not? (@moose_carmody)
A: Byrd had no reason to attend voluntary workouts. He had no reason to attend mini-camp. And, he certainly has no reason to attend training camp. Byrd is the most notable holdout of the offseason after he (and his agent Eugene Parker) and the Bills could not reach a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline. Back in April, Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon said signing Byrd was a "priority." It's now almost August. Byrd reportedly wanted top safety money, which the Bills were unwilling to offer. I would not expect to see Byrd join the team until some time after training camp and before Week 1. Yeah. Not good.
Q: What is the overall biggest difference between this coaching staff and last years? (@ronm29)
A: Attitude. The Bills have a first-time NFL head coach (Marrone) joined by a 30-something first-time NFL offensive coordinator (Nathaniel Hackett) and a gritty, NFL-experienced defensive coordinator (Mike Pettine). A far cry from the last several coaching tenures in Buffalo. After years of retread, the Bills have a coaching staff that will be boom or bust. And, they know it. Like an eager intern on his or her first day, the Bills coaching staff is involved, attentive and enthusiastic. How many coaches line up at center during individual QB drills? The answer is not Chan Gailey. While being engaged does not guarantee wins, you have to appreciate the attitude and mindset that these guys are happy to be here, especially when you see it on their faces.
Q: Who do you see as a solid #2 receiver? (@cp382)
A: Robert Woods. T.J. Graham is a serviceable wideout, but his rookie season left a lot to be desired. Dropped balls and incorrect route running (See: This game) didn't help his cause. Woods, a 2nd Round draft pick out of USC, was the best route runner in the NFL Draft. And from what I've seen of him at OTA's and mini-camp, he's every bit as advertised. Woods reminds me of fellow Bills WR Stevie Johnson. Not the fastest dude out there, but his ability to get open is all that matters. Woods is also a natural spread-wide receiver, so he'll rarely be in the slot.
Q: Who will get the most carries at the RB position? (@Bogey320)
Q: Do you think Alex Carrington has a legit chance to start over #99? I love [Marcell] Dareus and in a few games, have seen flashes of the strength/dominance he possesses. Or, do you see Dareus getting it all together this year and busting the hell out like the Round 1 pick he is? (@billsguy34)
A: Hint: His SpongeBob analysis is spot on. No question C.J. Spiller will get the bulk of the load this season. If there's anything the current coaching staff learned from the last one, it's give C.J. the ball and get out of the damn way. Limited by touches in 2012, Spiller still managed to have a Pro Bowl season. Fred Jackson will be productive, but his chronic injuries are a concern and he's not as dynamic as #28. Both will be imperative as the Bills workout their issues at QB.
A: A legit chance? Sure. Carrington maximized his limited reps last year, including four blocked kicks. And with Pettine's multiple formation defense, anything is possible. Tough to anoint starters considering the Bills defensive line includes Carrington, Dareus, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Alan Branch. Don't forget the Bills will likely use LB Jerry Hughes on the defensive line as an edge rusher. Talk about options. Carrington has shown he can be productive, but the "1st Round Pick" allure of Dareus will probably give him the edge over AC. Dareus' second season was almost identical to his rookie campaign, but neither were much to write home about (5.5 sacks, under 45 tackles each year).
Q: How much do you think the change from OLB to MLB will affect the veteran, Sherman Kidmarks? (@jbrez12)
A: (Ok, rewind. Back in college, we had a six-member Madden League at the ole fraternity. Madden 2006 for PS2. Franchise mode. We played multiple seasons, so every offseason, we re-named our "game-created" draft picks. Needless to say, we weren't the most eloquent with the renaming. Examples: Boris Oobs, Felix Oreskin, you get the idea. Well, one of my stud outside linebackers was prominently named Sherman Kidmarks. Got it? Cool.)
Given Kidmarks's athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, he has the skills to make the transition. However, his awareness is only a 76 and his instincts are below average, so he will not translate well to the middle linebacker position.
Q: How many colors will [Bleacher Report writer] @ChrisTrapasso's outfits display on average? (@RyanTalbotQCS)
A: Not enough. IT'S A *PASTEL* PARKING LOT PARTY.
FACEBOOK SNARK SECTION: The classiest place on the internet.
John W. - How soon 'til the team moves to LA?
R.I.P. Buffalo Braves
Paul W. - Wonder if they will win 2 games this year????
You must be looking for the Jaguars Mailbag.
Steven M. - Are they going to win or are we going to waste more money to keep watching them loose?
A lot of ways to waste money. Luckily, spell check is free.