This week, I had the opportunity to sit down with freind and foe Joe Pinzone of Buffalo Wins, a Bloguin Buffalo Bills site. Joe's interview was informative and helpful for all Dolphins fans who would appreciate more insight on their bitter rival way back from the Marv Levy and Jim Kelly days. The 3-2 Dolphins face the 2-4 Bills on Sunday in their first division matchup which could set the tone for the rest of the season and competition within the division.
1. How has the injury of quarterback EJ Manuel hurt the Bills this season? Has the fan base rallied around this quarterback and is he a franchise quarterback?
Obviously, losing EJ was a major kick in the nuts. Bills fans have a very fragile mindset because of the losing and when adversity hits, they crash like a house of cards. EJ Manuel represents HOPE in trying to turn around a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in 13 years.
However, after you cry, you take a look at that stats and realize that I don't really consider EJ to be the end-all be-all for the Bills offense. His numbers have been decent for a rookie, but not exactly stellar for what you'd want in a starting QB (He's near the bottom 3rd in every QB category). So, I don't think there will be that big of a drop off with Thad Lewis starting. You would totally take a 3TD game against the Bengals from a undrafted 2nd year QB, right? Thad showed some nice touch on deep balls against the Bengals and has some nice mobility, albeit, he needs to handle the rush a little better. Just manage the game like EJ has done for the most part and let your defense and running game win.
2. Tell me about T/G Cordy Glenn, how has he been with the Bills? What are the plusses? What are the minuses?
Glenn has been very solid for the Bills. Right now, PFF has him ranked as the 5th best tackle in the league. He's very athletic for a guy his size and has incredibly long arms that help him whenever someone tries to speed rush him. He's only allowed 1 sack this season and when you consider the Bills have given up 19 in their last four games, it tells what part of the line isn't a weakness. Run blocking wise, I think he could do better. Right now, the Bills are averaging just about 4 yards a carry when they run to the left side. Overall, we love him.
3. Why is CJ Spiller impossible to contain? What makes Spiller so difficult to stop in this offense?
Speed and being more physical than people give him credit for. Last year, Spiller was 6th in the NFL in yards rushing after contact. He's not just a guy who can break ankles on just moves, he can actually throw a stiff arm or two. He's at his best when the Bills run out of the spread and can give him space to run. Right now, Spiller has struggled a bit over the last two weeks because he's been battling a leg injury and you can tell he's not at 100% when he runs. Hopefully, he'll be better this week for you guys.
4. Are the Bills a pretender or a contender this season? Who are the players that can take this team to the next level? Who are the future stars in the making?
Probably a pretender. I don't see the Bills making a run to the playoffs. They have one of the youngest rosters in the league to go along with a rookie QB, coach, offensive coordinator and GM. It is going to take some time for them to really take the next step. Now, they have been in every game this year and outside of a late pick 6 by the Browns two weeks ago, all their losses have been decided by 7 points or fewer. So, they are making progress. I think the future stars on this team start with Kiko Alonso. He's been amazing this year for us. Tackles tend to be overrated for ILB in my opinion because a lot of them can be made down the field. What separates a good ILB from a great one is where those tackles are made. Kiko has had a bunch of tackles behind the line of scrimmage and also has four interceptions. He has great instincts and a nose for the ball.
I think he's the most impressive rookie the Bills have had in quite sometime. As for future star..he's not a star yet, but the Bills need EJ Manuel to become one. The Bills are like the Dolphins when it comes to endless voyage of finding the "Next Dan Marino" or in our case the "Next Jim Kelly". I'm pretty sure both teams have had like 30 QBs start since both guys retired. Once we find that guy, we can talk playoffs.
5. Tell me about Robert Woods. How has he become a main threat in the Bills offense? What makes him so dangerous on deep throws? How does he matchup against this aggressive Dolphins secondary who already have 6 interceptions this season?
Woods is a jack of all trades type of WR. He's a great route runner and can stretch the field with his speed. He's been the Bills most targeted WR so far this year, albeit, he only had two catches for 9 yards against the Bengals. He's a good player, but I wouldn't say he's bypassed Stevie Johnson as far as the "Go to Guy".
6. The Bills have had annual games in Toronto. What needs to happen to get the Bills eight home games in Buffalo and what assurances has ownership given the citizens of Buffalo that their beloved Bills won't leave for Los Angeles or any other city?
Ugh. I hate addressing this. Pretty much I think the Toronto experiment is here to stay unless we get a new owner in who doesn't care about expanding the fan base to Toronto. That's what Russ Brandon (Team president) says is the reason we play one game there. He keeps preaching about regionalism for the franchise from Rochester to Buffalo to Toronto. It is shaped as a giant "L" on a map, which pretty much means loser. This is nothing more than a cash grab. I don't know how much the Bills are getting this time around since they announced the new deal, but before, they were getting paid twice the amount of gate revenue they'd make at RWS for having their games in Toronto. Sadly, they overpriced the tickets in Toronto (At one point, the cheapest were 100 bucks) and it really turned off Canadians. On top of that, the venue sucks and is about as charming as a morgue. Also, it doesn't help that the Bills are 1-4 in games up there and have scored 2TDs or less in 4 of the 5 games there.
As for leaving for LA, they just signed a 10-year lease that has a clause in it that if someone tries to move the team during the first 8 years, they'd have to pay the city like 400-million bucks. However, after the 8th year, that number goes down to like 34-million. Hmmmmmm. Pretty much when Ralph Wilson passes away, the team is said to go up for public auction which means anyone can bid on it. I think them staying is at 65%, but we all know there are some deep pockets in Hollywood and if they moved the team to LA, the team value would probably double.
7. What are your thoughts on head coach Doug Marrone? What is the general feeling of the job he has done for the 2-4 Bills?
Doug has been pretty cool so far. I mean, it is only 6 games, but he seems to really take a shine to both sides of the ball when it comes to attention to detail. We've had too many head coaches who were more geared towards one side of the ball and ignoring the other side. He lets his coordinators delegate and he helps both sides. Overall, we are happy with him because the Bills normally have gone the retread avenue with Chan Gailey and Dick Jauron, which were epic disasters. On a side note, I hope the hate for Gailey and Wannstedt is the same here as it is in South Florida. Wannstedt was more useless than **** on a boar.
What's your score prediction?
I'm going Miami, 19-14. I think coming off the bye will help to go along with having game film on Thad Lewis.
We thank Joe for the opportunity to chat Bills this week. Please follow Joe @BuffaloWins and visit his site at Buffalowins.com.