Sal Maiorana and Leo Roth talk about the importance of the Bills – Bronco match-up, Sunday, Sept. 24. (2017)
Sal Maiorana, Leo Roth, Virginia Butler
Sometimes, social media just makes me laugh out loud.
The other day, on a Buffalo Bills Reddit page, someone decided to pose this sublimely ridiculous question: What would you give up for Andrew Luck? As if the Indianapolis Colts would even think for a nanosecond of trading their franchise quarterback to the Bills, or any other team.
This apparently was fueled by the rumor, reported on by ESPN talking head Mike Greenberg, that Luck has become disenchanted with the Colts and is looking to get out, a report that was quickly debunked by those in the know, including ESPN’s own NFL insider Adam Schefter and Luck’s representatives who said the report was “simply false.”
Let’s start with this: Luck is 28 years old, in the prime of his career, and though he’s currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. You don’t trade a guy like that, no matter what the return.
Now, let’s factor in the five-year, $122.9 million contract extension he signed with the Colts in 2016, meaning Indianapolis would be committing financial suicide if it decided to deal away its franchise quarterback. The dead salary cap hit would be somewhere in the range of $35 million to $40 million this year, a little less in 2018.
MORE:What’s up with Andrew Luck?
MORE:LeSean McCoy defends Tyrod Taylor
MORE:Dareus could miss Broncos game
I know Bills fans are desperate for a real quarterback, but Andrew Luck, or anyone of his stature, is not coming to Buffalo.
So, with the Luck lunacy dealt with, are there any other veteran free agents the Bills could pursue in 2018? Yes, but as always, the list is not impressive.
Andrew Luck has played once at New Era Field, and the Bills beat the Colts 27-14 in Rex Ryan’s 2015 debut. (Photo: Jamie Germano/@jgermano1/, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Drew Brees will be a free agent, but he’ll also be 39 years old next year. It’s unlikely the Bills would invest capital in a guy that age, and it’s just as unlikely Brees would want to end his Hall of Fame career in Buffalo.
Kirk Cousins will be free, assuming the Redskins don’t try to lock him up with an extension while he’s playing, for the second year in a row, on a franchise tag one-year deal. If Cousins goes free, two things: Is he really worth it? And if he is, his ties to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan are very real and it seems logical San Francisco would make a big push.
Sam Bradford may come free, depending on what the Vikings think about the long-term viability of Teddy Bridgewater, who will also be eligible for free agency. Remember, Bridgewater was supposed to be Minnesota’s franchise QB before his serious knee injury last year. The Vikings traded for Bradford out of necessity and he has played very well, but he’ll be 30 next year, and he’s never taken a team to the playoffs. What he’s most known for is making an incredible amount of money without any true bang for the buck.
Jimmy Garoppolo could hit the market, but it seems to me that Bill Belichick won’t let it happen. The Patriots want him as insurance just in case anything happens to Tom Brady, even if they have to franchise-tag him next year at a cost of about $25 million. I seriously doubt Garoppolo gets a chance to test the waters in 2018.
Beyond those four (five counting Bridgewater), you have the usual litter of mediocrity: Jay Cutler (if he doesn’t retire again), Josh McCown, Drew Stanton, Chad Henne, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Brock Osweiler and on and on and on. Hey, E.J. Manuel will be back on the market, too.
Which leads me to this: The only place the Bills are going to find a franchise quarterback is through the draft, and even then, they would have to have several things go their way to finally end their quest. First, they’ll have to get somewhat lucky, depending on where they pick and who might be available.
Will they be able to stand pat in whatever slot they have — top 3, top 5, top 7? — or will they have to put together a package of valuable draft picks to move up to get the one they want? Second, they need to pick the right one, because while the class is said to be very talented, it’s always a crap shoot.
It’s fascinating stuff, but now — Week 3 of the 2017 season — isn’t the time to start worrying about it. Just know that Andrew Luck is not coming to Buffalo to play for the Bills this year, next year, and probably any year, no matter what you read on the world wide web.
Taking my shots
► Rex Ryan might have been right about one thing: Shaq Lawson has a chance to be very good. Last year’s first-round draft pick suffered through a lost season due to injury and trying to find his niche in Ryan’s ill-suited 3-4 defense. This year, Lawson has played well in the first two games and last week he made a sack and also blew up Jonathan Stewart in the backfield when Carolina was staring at first-and-goal at the 1. Wouldn’t it be nice if a Bills’ first-rounder turned out to be truly worth it?
► The Bills should consider sitting down left tackle Cordy Glenn for a couple weeks to see if his ailing feet get any better. He looked like a shell of the player he once was last week, and the best thing for everyone might be to deactivate him and let rookie Dion Dawkins play. Right now, Dawkins may be the equal of the injury-slowed Glenn.
New Broncos coach Vance Joseph is off to a 2-0 start. (Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
► Broncos rookie coach Vance Joseph should be commended for not letting his ego get in the way when he took a look at the talent he had on defense. Unlike Ryan, who refused to alter his defensive scheme to fit the skill sets of his players in Buffalo, Joseph did exactly that.
“I came up in this league with a lot of old school coaches in Mike Nolan and Wade Phillips and all those guys and Marvin Lewis,” Joseph said. “I was always taught, as a coordinator or as a head coach, you have to do what your players do best. I’m not opposed to running a 3-4 or a 4-3 or whatever makes our players successful. I’m not a coordinator that’s going to show up and just shove my defense down the players’ throat. I’m going to do what’s best for the personnel.” What a concept.
The Tyrod Taylor Report
Each week, I’m going to take a look back at how the Bills’ quarterback performed in the previous game, and give him a grade. In the loss to the Panthers, a D.
The hottest topic this past week was, whose fault was it on the last-play incompletion from Taylor to Zay Jones? I maintain that if Taylor had thrown a good ball to the sideline, which is where Jones was taking the route, Jones would have caught the ball and scooted into the end zone for a touchdown. Instead, the ball drifted to the inside, Jones had to turn his body, and in doing so he lost his balance and was going down as he was trying to make the catch.
Jones was behind the coverage. Watch the tape, there’s no denying this. Had Taylor put the ball on the money, it would have been a touchdown or, at the very least, Jones might have gotten pushed out of bounds inside the five.
In two games, Taylor has thrown only 12 passes that traveled at least 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, and only six of those have been completed. Against Carolina, NextGen Stats showed that the average number of yards the ball traveled on his 17 completions was 4.1 yards. That’s ridiculous.
I know the receivers aren’t getting open, but Taylor simply has to take more chances down the field. His receivers can’t make plays if they don’t get the chance.
More: McDermott: No plans to bench Taylor but questions are swirling
More: Bills’ McCoy lets it run: Hates whiners, loves his team, defends QB Taylor
If it were up to me …
More NFL coaches would take Ben McAdoo’s lead and call out players who performed poorly. The Giants coach has come under fire this week for speaking the truth Monday night regarding the play of quarterback Eli Manning. McAdoo minced no words and essentially said Manning did not play well. Guess what? Manning was brutal, as he was in Week 1, and it would have been an insult to Giants fans for McAdoo to not say he needs more from his veteran quarterback.
I found it refreshing, and even more refreshing was Manning’s response to the criticism. He was fine with it, saying he deserved it, and that there’s nothing wrong with a coach criticizing a player if it’s deserved, an opinion that not many of his fellow players share.
Most coaches — and I’ll include Buffalo’s Sean McDermott — would never do what McAdoo did, and I don’t know why. Not regularly, just once in a while. They praise their players up and down every day, many times just for doing what they’re supposed to do. Yet almost no one will point out when a player doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do. They make excuses, and say it isn’t one guy, it’s everyone.
Professional athletes are among the most coddled humans on the planet. Grow up, fellas. If you don’t earn your keep in a game like Manning the other night, why shouldn’t that be pointed out? Because their feelings might be hurt?
The Bills come back to New Era Field to take on the Broncos this Sunday, Sept. 24.
The numbers game: 39
That’s how many consecutive games the Bills had scored at least one touchdown, until the streak was snapped last week by the Panthers. Thirty-nine was also the number of net yards the Bills had in the first half at Carolina and, weirdly enough, that was the lowest total in a half since the 39 yards they managed in 2009 against, I’m not kidding, the Panthers, also at Carolina.
Games to watch this week
► Falcons (2-0) at Lions (2-0): Detroit has been a bit of a surprise, and it gets to host the defending NFC champs in the only game pitting two unbeaten teams. Matthew Stafford against Matt Ryan is a juicy quarterback game.
► Giants (0-2) at Eagles (1-1): It’s hard to believe in Week 3, but the Giants may be playing for their season. With their terrible offense, they really can’t afford to fall to 0-3, with what would be a second NFC East loss.
► Raiders (2-0) at Redskins (1-1): You never know what you’re going to get from the Redskins, a wildly inconsistent team. It will be interesting to see if Kirk Cousins can keep pace against Derek Carr and a Raiders offense that leads the NFL in scoring thus far.