Training Camp Preview: Billz Edition


Training Camp Preview: Billz Edition
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We return from the 3 month dead period since the draft and finally teams are showing up to Training Camp meaning real football (not Canadian) is a month away.  For this preview we head North to the land of always winter, Buffalo. The Bills yet again continue to circle the wagons and after their most disappointing season in over a decade, look to rebound and finally break the curse.  There are a couple of important storylines to look at as we approach actual football.



The Defense


Last year Rex failed to adapt his scheme to the players on hand which ended up creating a Jackson Pollack painting of a defense. They had Dareus lining up as a nose tackle and taking up blockers, Mario Williams playing contain instead of pass rushing, and focusing more on appearing like they were generating pressure then actually generating pressure. The sort of good news is Rex will no longer try to pretend like he is adapting his scheme to the players, the players will be forced to adapt to his scheme and they got players who fit his scheme. The defense will look more like the 4-3 under Rex actually runs and that means the players with the big salaries on the front seven (Dareus and Hughes) will be used like they got paid to do.


The interesting storyline will be how the defense looks and particularly who is starting on defense. The key battles will be for nickel CB as Robey will be facing 7th round Kevon Seymour and free agent signings Corey White and Sterling Moore. The other battle will be for who replaces Shaq Lawson and for now I expect them to try to use two players instead of one. Adolphous Washington is a very good pass rushing threat from the 5 technique and would be very useful in passing downs when Rex wants to generate interior pressure with him, Kyle and Dareus. However you also have Manny Lawson who is very solid against the run and the best cover linebacker on the Bills. I think the by committee will be what they use and it will be interesting to see if IK and his fist of fury will be used for anything other than punching life into the defense. Those two positions on defense will be of keen interest as the winner of those competitions will be contributing at least 50% of the snaps this year


The Blinding Side


Last year the Bills offensive line was a very dominant threat in the run game and probably the best line in the AFC East last year (that’s not saying much). The left side of Glenn and Incognito was a dominating duo and that along with a revived Eric Wood gave the Bills an offensive line that was a key part of them being the #1 rushing attack in the NFL. For as great as the left side was, the right side left a lot to be desired. While John Miller was leaps and bounds better than Erik Pears at right guard, he wasn’t a big reason for the success of the line last year. He is finally healthy and needs to step up or will be replaced Fernando Velasco. So that situation will be very important to monitor.


The bigger competition that will have the largest affect on the offense will be the right tackle position. Last year they used three guys and yet again those three guys will be battling it out. Seantrel Henderson is suffering through Crohn’s disease and has lost a lot of weight and how effective he will be will be something to monitor. If he is unable to play the competition will be between Jordan Mills and Cyrus the “Virus”. Last year Jordan Mills became the starter when Henderson went out mainly due to his connection with Kromer from their Chicago days. He wasn’t as bad as many thought and the good news is he actually played his best the last two games of the year. Cyrus has been in the dog house his first two years as last year despite playing well when actually playing (at LT and RT), he seemed to never get to start long-term due to being in the dog house because of his knees. Maybe the Bills coaching will finally stop treating Cyrus like someone they will have long-term and let him compete for the job. Either way this will be a battle to watch as the RT spot has been a rough spot the past few years and to have even serviceable play would be welcome.


Overall this Bills camp will be nice as for the first time in a while, the media won’t be obsessing about the QB position (hopefully). Instead the real focus can be about the defense as that will determine whether the Bills make or miss the playoffs. That and all the soundbites Rex and Rob Ryan give will hopefully be the bulk of the coverage we get.


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