Should Bills draft or look to trade for next QB?

The Buffalo News - - NFL - By Vic Carucci I think the bills should go all out to sign Cousins and use all the picks on ma­jor needs? Con­cur? Vic, my friend wants to know what­ever hap­pened to the rule that says block­ers can’t push run­ning backs for­wards in or­der to help them get ya

You have Buf­falo Bills ques­tions that you sub­mit­ted to me via Twit­ter @vic­carucci. I have an­swers: @jvzanghi asks:

Vic Carucci: I can’t say I nec­es­sar­ily hate the idea. Pay­ing Kirk Cousins top-end quar­ter­back money, eas­ily above $25 mil­lion per sea­son, would be a sub­stan­tial risk. But it could be ar­gued that it en­tails less un­cer­tainty than giv­ing up mul­ti­ple first-round picks to move up high enough to se­lect a quar­ter­back at or near the top of the draft.

As­sum­ing the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins don’t keep Cousins, he would rep­re­sent the con­sum­mate “win-now” move by the Bills. It would re­flect a be­lief that be­ing a play­off team last sea­son con­vinced coach Sean McDer­mott and Gen­eral Man­ager Bran­don Beane they’re closer to be­ing a con­tender than they’re will­ing to let on with their pub­lic com­ments or that other ob­servers (such as this one) be­lieve.

As you point out, Joe, there are other “ma­jor needs.” There are ac­tu­ally a lot of them, and I don’t be­lieve that they can all be suf­fi­ciently ad­dressed via the draft. If you tie up a whole lot of cap space at quar­ter­back, it ul­ti­mately will limit your abil­ity to build/re­build else­where in free agency.

That doesn’t sound like the way McDer­mott and Beane want to do busi­ness. I think they’d pre­fer to draft their long-term an­swer at quar­ter­back and de­velop him from scratch. I be­lieve they be­lieve that own­er­ship will give them ad­e­quate time to do so.

@WDX2BB asks:

VC: My un­der­stand­ing is that, while the rule still ex­ists, it’s rarely en­forced. If you look up the NFL’s play­ing rules for 2017, you’ll see a di­a­gram of how an of­fi­cial in­di­cates such a call, with a push­ing move­ment of his hands with his arms down.

@Gueril­laVanilla asks:

VC: I don’t see the Indianapolis Colts mak­ing him avail­able. If he is, it would be be­cause they have run out of pa­tience with his in­abil­ity to stay healthy. And if that’s the case, I wouldn’t see it as a risk the Bills should take, on the as­sump­tion the Colts would seek a fairly healthy batch of picks for a for­mer top over­all choice.

@mclen­non99 asks: con­cus­sion? It shocked me. He bounced back up & there was a penalty called but still it was a solid shot. He should have been pulled im­me­di­ately. Agree?

VC: I was a lit­tle sur­prised, yes, that Ty­rod Tay­lor wasn’t re­moved from last Sun­day’s wild-card play­off game at Jacksonville at that point, es­pe­cially given the height­ened aware­ness the NFL shows when it comes to head in­juries.

That is, gen­er­ally shows. There have, of course, been high-pro­file in­stances where the league has dropped the ball on this is­sue. One re­sulted in the Seat­tle Sea­hawks be­ing fined for their mis­han­dling of a se­vere blow to the head of Rus­sell Wil­son. The one to which you re­ferred might have been an­other. The NFL clearly needs to de­velop greater con­sis­tency in en­forc­ing its pro­tec­tion of play­ers suf­fer­ing ac­tual or po­ten­tial con­cus­sions.

@Boot­sie­jack­son asks: When it came to the pass­ing game was the re­ceivers not get­ting open or was ty­rod not see­ing them or was the pocket not hold­ing up?

VC: All of the above. It’s hardly a se­cret that the Bills have a sub-par group of re­ceivers. Kelvin Ben­jamin was ac­quired in a trade with the Carolina Pan­thers to change that, but his chronic knee trou­ble lim­ited his im­pact. He also doesn’t have the speed or elu­sive­ness to gain sep­a­ra­tion. Ben­jamin’s game is based on be­ing big­ger and stronger than most of the de­fen­sive backs he faces, and win­ning the bat­tle for 50-50, con­tested balls. For the most part, hav­ing a will­ing­ness to throw those isn’t a part of Tay­lor’s quar­ter­back­ing DNA.

Rookie Zay Jones usu­ally had prob­lems get­ting open. He isn’t ex­cep­tion­ally fast or an elite route-run­ner. Jones mainly re­lies on his smarts and in­stincts to get open, but his hands proved to be less than re­li­able. Deonte Thomp­son is plenty fast, but hardly spec­tac­u­lar.

Tay­lor doesn’t do a good enough job of mak­ing reads and find­ing the right spot to deliver throws. He tends to be too slow with his de­ci­sions and con­tin­u­ally waits for tar­gets to be wide open ... which is al­most al­ways too late, given the abil­ity of most NFL de­fen­sive backs to close those win­dows in a hurry.

Tay­lor’s pass pro­tec­tion tended to leave plenty to be de­sired. The Jaguars, who have the best de­fen­sive line in the league, over­whelmed the Bills’ O-line­men last Sun­day. The Carolina Pan­thers and other teams also had far too much suc­cess gen­er­at­ing pres­sure.

@AlanCHen­der­son asks: Who are your “un­der the radar” type guys that you think the Bills might tar­get in free agency? What UFA from the Bills ros­ter is their top pri­or­ity to keep?

VC: It’s hard to of­fer a de­fin­i­tive list of pos­si­ble free agents, es­pe­cially those of the un­der-the-radar va­ri­ety, that might in­ter­est the Bills be­cause there’s no true way of telling whether they’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to be avail­able.

I’d say cor­ner­back E.J. Gaines is the player headed for UFA the Bills would con­sider their top pri­or­ity to keep. Gaines went well be­yond his ini­tial la­bel as a throw-in af­ter the sec­on­dround draft pick the Bills re­ceived from the Los Angeles Rams in re­turn for wide re­ceiver Sammy Watkins. He es­tab­lished him­self as a solid starter, op­po­site stand­out rookie Tre’Davi­ous White.

With safeties Micah Hyde and Jor­dan Poyer, the Bills had as for­mi­da­ble a sec­ondary as any in the league. And Gaines’ ad­di­tion was a sig­nif­i­cant part of that. @got­ta­hava­java asks:

VC: I think they use the picks for a quar­ter­back. I firmly be­lieve they were gath­ered with that po­si­tion pretty much ex­clu­sively in mind.

I like Bridge­wa­ter. I just don’t know how ef­fec­tive he’ll be if and when he gets to play a full sea­son af­ter suf­fer­ing that dev­as­tat­ing knee in­jury. My sense is that the Bills want more a tra­di­tional pocket passer.

@mattcorey716 asks:

VC: I’m not big on hel­met fash­ion, so I’ll leave that to the de­sign­ers.

As for bring­ing in more edge-rush com­pe­ti­tion, I’m all for it. The Bills des­per­ately need all of the help they can get in that area.

@mykids­daad asks:

VC: Call­ing the de­fense a strength in 2017 is a bit of a stretch. The unit slipped in terms of yards al­lowed, although it did a de­cent job of keep­ing scor­ing in check and its sec­ondary does rank among the NFL’s best.

But, you’re right. There will be plenty of turnover, es­pe­cially in the lineback­ing corps and likely within the de­fen­sive line. A de­cline wouldn’t be shock­ing, although it’s more likely that it might not show dra­matic im­prove­ment.

@dee­jbob­bydee asks:

VC: It would be hard to be­lieve the Bills wouldn’t see some sort of bump in sea­son-ticket sales af­ter two years of de­cline that is be­lieved to have brought the record to­tal of 60,000 in 2015 down to some­where in the neigh­bor­hood of 54,000.

The end of the drought cre­ated a feel-good story un­like any the Bills have seen since, well, the 2014 pur­chase of the team by Terry and Kim Peg­ula. That, com­bined with the hir­ing of Rex Ryan, did the most to push the to­tal to 60,000, a level it hadn’t even seen dur­ing its Su­per Bowl run of the 1990s.

Given the ex­cite­ment over the play­off ap­pear­ance and gen­eral sense of con­fi­dence fans seem to have that the team is headed in the right di­rec­tion un­der McDer­mott and Beane, I wouldn’t be sur­prised if the Bills make up at least half of the ground they’ve lost since ‘15. What they do about ac­quir­ing a new quar­ter­back could also have a ma­jor im­pact on ticket sales.

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