Before we get to this week’s Bills Mailbag, let me start by wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including me, Dan, who I know is reading this.
Bills is a common bond between fathers and sons across western New York, and it’s no different in my family. My father consumes everything I write with passion, and bills are often a topic of conversation for us. The same goes for my son Elliot, who is developing a passion for the team.
With that, let’s move on to your questions…
Peter Wiley asks: Will you (and just about everyone else) ever ditch Devin Singletary, who is constantly called average-to-below average? Please consider the following yards for each average load: Jim Brown 5.2; Barry Sanders 5.0; O.J. Simpson 4.7; DEVIN SINGLETARY 4.7; Adrian Peterson 4.6; Walter Payton 4.4; Emmett Smith 4.2; Thurman Thomas 4.2. When you also consider that the Bills’ current offensive line isn’t nearly as good as the one that blocked Simpson, Thomas and Smith, I think the only fair conclusion is that Singletary is, at the very least, an above average run to the back.
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Jay: Peter, I know we don’t compare Devin Singletary to those who roll their backs, right?! Singletary’s career high in carry was 188. Every other rider on that roster regularly had over 200 carries a season and often topped the 300. It’s not exactly a fair comparison. However, your larger view on Singletary is a fair point. Not a bad player. I’m not sure I “knocked it in the trash”, but sometimes it was legitimate to ask for more of it. You’re also right in saying that playing a more consistent offensive line would help Singletary (and that’s true for every singlet of rollback). Whether we consider singles “average” or “above average” is a bit like a hair split.
The most important part of the conversation surrounding him is this: The Bills last season proved their offensive to the fullest when he plays a consistent role. They can win with him as their “lead” in the back, whatever form he takes.
Bill Kelly asks: Are we too optimistic about bills this year? I know we ended the year strong, but it wasn’t like we were a juggernaut all year long. The loss to the Colts and how the defense played against the bosses makes me anxious. The victory over the Patriots was great as we did in the playoffs, but they were a mediocre team at best. I guess I’m just looking for reassurance. Can you give me that, Jay?
Jay: I’ll put it this way: If you’re a fan of the Bengals or The Chiefs and spend a lot of time reading or listening to how the Bills are a Super Bowl favourite, you’ll probably be feeling a little baffled. After all, The Chiefs have wiped out bills in each of the past two seasons, although rolling out Tyreek Hill’s wide receiver looks like it could weaken their attack in a big way. In the meantime, the Bengals have reconstructed the weakest part of their attack from last season, which is the offensive line, and they have a legitimate right to be considered the favorite in the AFC, considering that they won the conference last season. This does not mean that Bills fans should apologize for an optimistic view of their team’s prospects in 2022.
As you mentioned, Bill, the team was playing its best in the playoffs – especially in attack. Quarterback Josh Allen seemed like an unstoppable force. Allen’s development of one of the two or three best quarterbacks on the planet last season fuels a lot of off-season optimism, which is fair. As for defense, he struggled to come up with an answer to centrist leader Patrick Mahomes, but you can’t say general manager Brandon Bean isn’t trying. Penn has spent a lot this season to address what he believes to be the team’s biggest shortcoming by signing stellar passing von Miller.
Michael Breer asks: The two of us were discussing Deshaun Watson’s secured $230 million contract. You might think that there was some kind of “behaviour” clause in the contract that would invalidate him if he had any trouble (like what happens now with all lawsuits). I haven’t seen this discussed in any of the news accounts I’ve read about the contract. Everything I see or hear is “totally guaranteed”. What do you think of all this?
Jay: Brown was well aware that Watson was facing more than 20 civil lawsuits for alleged sexual misconduct before they embarked on the trade. This did not deter them from closing the deal. They even framed Watson’s contract in such a way that his base salary in 2022 would be around $1 million only. The reason for this is that if Watson is suspended for this season, he will “only” lose his base salary – none of the signing bonus or any other bonuses. This is a particularly disgusting part of this entire great ordeal.
They say they “fully investigated” the situation before making the trade, but how this is possible without interviewing any of the women suing Watson is a question that no one in Brown’s organization seems prepared to answer. There is no “behaviour” clause in Watson’s contract – at least as far as we know – because Brown didn’t want to put one there. Like all players, Watson is subject to the league’s own personal conduct policy. As part of the NFL investigation, at least 11 of the women who accused Watson were interviewed, according to the Washington Post. He “never forced anyone to do anything,” Watson said.
However, it is clear that Brown was desperate enough to take possession of Watson as a quarterback that they were willing to overlook the allegations. The whole situation is a shocking look for Watson, Browns and the NFL.
Ed Helinsky asks: In terms of upcoming contract negotiations and extensions, will we see deals in training camps this year? The bills seem to have good depth in several areas and not everyone can get big increases. Or, in your estimation, has Brandon Bean kept this list intact this season?
Regarding bills, please settle this friendly dispute between me and my friend, Brain. The Brain claims that last season’s playoff loss to Kansas City was the most morale post-season loss in Bills history. However, I’d say there were many other players out there who ranked higher there, like Wide Right or another Super Bowl loss, Music City Miracle and other devastating playoff losses against Jacksonville, Houston and San Diego, as well as losing to The Chiefs. For the right to play in the first Super Bowl. In my opinion, the “broad right against the giants” is the most frustrating loss. Please judge this friendly feud, or define your own hot mess in the Bills Bills match history for this questionable distinction.
Jay: Trades at the end of the summer right before teams make their preliminary 53-player rosters is always a possibility. It makes sense for teams to call in if they have a player who isn’t making their roster, but who could be the subject of interest throughout the league, perhaps because of the position he plays. We’ve seen bills do this in the past. It didn’t work out in 2019 with White Teller, who became the first pro with Cleveland. It worked out when Beane somehow scored a draft pick for Russell Bodine in 2019 and reduced Darryl Johnson Jr. To the Panthers in their last off season. This year, the Bills seem to have good depth along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as in the wide receiver. If there is a player or players in those positions who may not be in the 53 men list, a trade is possible. However, I don’t expect Beane to trade with anyone who might contribute in any beneficial way into the 2022 season. The issue of raises for impending free agents doesn’t really influence this discussion much, as the likelihood of a player being traded with a big salary is slim.
As for painful playoff losses, nothing shocks me that Wide Right ranks first on that list. Missing a field goal for a chance to win the Super Bowl is a huge blow. It’s a flick of a coin between 13 seconds and the Music City Miracle for No. 2. The novelty bias at first got me leaning toward 13 seconds, but Music City’s unwillingness to expect a miracle outweighs the loss to chiefs on a pain scale. Unfortunately for Bills fans, there was no shortage of nightmarish playoff losses to qualify for this list.
Jim Revelos asks: I was glad to see that Bills brought Matt Barclay back. He seems to be one of the players in the middle room who lifts everyone up. Can you see him move into a coaching role with the Bills?
Jay: Barkley’s last year, spent with the Titans, Panthers and Falcons, showed he is determined to continue his football career. Given that, I’d be surprised if training was on his mind at the moment. Barkley has not been talked about as a potential future coach as was the case with the Bills coaching quarterback last year, Davis Webb. I haven’t had the opportunity to ask Barclay specifically about the topic, however, any answer would be speculation on my part. I’ll add this: training is a much different animal than playing. The hours are much longer, for starters. This is not for everyone. However, Jim’s biggest point about Barclay being good for the room based on his intangibles is a good one. He gets along with Allen and has good chemistry, especially in that room, which is important.
NT 75er asks: Do you think with the new offensive coordinator we will struggle at the beginning of the year due to lack of experience calling plays quickly in different situations? Would you rather play on Sunday afternoons every week as a coach instead of all these different days due to injuries and recovery or rest time late in the year?
Jay: Yes, until Ken Dorsey gets through these tough situations and establishes himself as a playboy, it’s fair to wonder how he would react in those moments of pressure. For this reason, it is reasonable to believe that some early season struggles are possible. This wouldn’t be the end of the world. Coach Sean McDermott talks frequently about how he wants his team to peak in December, January and February rather than September and October. Some growing pains of crime a possibility. As for the schedule, coaches – and therefore their teams – are creatures of routine. They’ll love that every game is at 1pm on Sundays. Incidentally, sports writers who stick to tight deadlines will be too. The number of primetime games the Bills have is a sign of respect, not to mention something fans have been clamoring for not too long ago. If that’s the cost of being a good team, it’s worth paying.
Thank you, as always, for the questions. As a reminder, it can be sent via Twitter, @JaySkurski, or to my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.