Buffalo Bills Bounty of Free Agents!

Analyzing the most recent Bills acquisitions & injury concerns moving forward into next season.

Whooo wee! What a week for the Buffalo Bills! 8 free agents total after the national media stated that Buffalo was not a place that free agents wanted to go? Where else would you rather be than Buffalo, NY?! The front office is building something special here, or they’re at least trying to. This has a totally different feel from past years where a free agent or two would show up and they were a piece that maybe fit part of the puzzle, but didn’t complete it. These most recent acquisitions are far from completing the puzzle, but the total picture is certainly coming together better than in past seasons. Today’s article will review the acquisitions and my thoughts on their injuries going into 2019.

First up is CB Kevin Johnson. The former 1st round pick recently released by Houston has had a litany of injuries during his short career in the NFL. To review, he has had Lisfranc and Jones fractures, wrist fracture, sprained MCL, and multiple concussions. In my article I wrote for Buffalo Rumblings, I dove into his injury history and my thoughts on the signing.  Make sure to check out the above linked article. He is overall a low risk, high reward signing due to his contract and has clearly demonstrated the ability to play when healthy. If he is able to avoid some of the seriousness of the injuries in the past, he could help resurrect his career and have a new start in Buffalo.

Next up is C Mitch Morse. The former starting center from Kansas City quickly found his way to Buffalo to become the NFL’s highest paid center. However, his arrival does not come without concern. During his also short career in the league, Morse has suffered 2 concussions which caused him to miss 3 games his rookie year, a foot injury costing him 10 total games with a trip to IR in 2017, and a concussion that caused him to miss 5 games in 2018. As with Kevin Johnson, I detailed my thoughts on Morse with Buffalo Rumblings.  While he is still young and highly talented, there is concern if he were to suffer another concussion at such a collision heavy position in the trenches with sub concussive hits nearly every play. The talent is there which makes the money worth it, but the Bills must have a contingency plan in place if injury occurs in order to ensure that the signing of Morse works in their favor.

Continuing to go down the list is WR’s Cole Beasley & WR John Brown. Both veteran receivers come via Dallas & Baltimore, respectively. Both have demonstrated effective play making abilities which appealed to both the front office and QB Josh Allen. After last year’s pitiful wide receiver production, significant upgrades at the position were a must. Injury wise, both look overall good. Beasley has only missed 1 game in his career due to illness and for the most part, manages to stay off the injury report only dealing with a knee & ankle injuries along with a concussion. As for Brown, most of his injury concerns involve hamstring strains along with a quad and toe injury that cost him 4 games in 2017. These are excellent signings by the Bills and really demonstrate the urgency to get the offense moving.

WR Andre Roberts comes to Buffalo after a season with the Jets in which he earned an All-Pro nod on special teams. Like Beasley & Brown, Roberts comes with several injuries, but minimal concerns. Roberts has saw time with Arizona, Washington, and the New York Jets suffering shoulder, ankle, and quad injuries missing only 3 games total as a result. He did suffer a knee injury that sent him to IR and prematurely ended his 2015 season with Washington. Other than a back injury in 2018 that he did not miss time with, Roberts will significantly upgrade the special teams group and provide a dynamic returner not seen since CB Terrance McGee.

Moving onto the offensive line depth, the Bills signed both OT Ty Nsekhe & OG Jon Feliciano from Washington & Oakland respectively. Nsekhe has had quite the journey to the NFL, starting his career in 2009 playing in Arena Football for several years before getting a crack at the NFL with the Colts. He then proceeded to bounce around in the CFL, more Arena Football, and cups of coffee with St. Louis and New Orleans before solidifying a job with Washington. I am unaware of his injury history during his time in other organized leagues, but his NFL injury list is short with foot/ankle injuries in 2016 along with a core muscle injury in 2017 that caused him to miss 5 games. Last season, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss 2 games but considering his age of 33, most guys are exiting the league, Nsekhe appears to continue improving. He has demonstrated the ability to play well when called up to start along with demonstrating the ability to play multiple positions, but understands how to be an effective backup.

Feliciano is cut from the same cloth as Nsekhe, however, not bouncing around from various professional leagues. The veteran guard has spent his entire career with Oakland before signing with Buffalo a few days ago. Along with moving across the country, Feliciano comes with several calf injuries and a concussion over his career. However, while he can start in spot situations, his ability to understand O-Line coach Bobby Johnson’s game plan allows him to fit in nicely and allow to be an effective piece moving forward in 2019.

TE Tyler Kroft comes from Cincinnatti after playing 4 years for the Bengals. Kroft began coming on as a tight end as TE Tyler Eifert began suffering injuries which limited his ability on the field. Unfortunately, Kroft had difficulty staying healthy at times, suffering a knee/ankle injury at the end of 2016 followed by a foot injury that caused him to miss 11 games with a trip to IR, ending his season prematurely. While he is a young player to help open up the offense, he is far from the answer moving forward and will complement any draft pick or future tight ends signed to the roster.

Finally, old man RB Frank Gore. This man has been playing so long, he predates the injury reporting on pro-football-reference.com. While his injury history may have a few blank spots, his career has been defined by his durability. After suffering two ACL tears in college, Gore was able to find a home in San Francisco for many productive years until 2014. He has had a smattering of injuries over the course of his productive career with most notably shoulder injuries during his rookie year, a broken bone in his hand a few ears after that, and a hip injury that sent him to IR and ended his 2010 season early. Other than the hip, he suffered a foot injury which ended his season in Miami 2 games early. Many consider Gore to be a future Hall of Famer with his dominance at the position and his overall stats. Despite going into his age-36 season, Gore has managed to keep injuries to a minimum and avoid some of the larger injuries that spell out shorter careers in an already high turnover position that is running back. While he will not be as productive in past seasons, he should be able to be an effective back up behind RB LeSean McCoy and provide leadership to a young team. I believe that he will show some of the younger players how to prepare mentally to maximize their skills on the field while also minimizing injuries in order to stay healthy.

Overall, I like most of these signings. I do not expect every once of these to be a slam dunk upgrade, some will simply not work out. Gore was an odd one considering the age, but if there is still something left in the tank, the Bills want to ride him until there’s fumes. I have concerns about the Johnson & Morse signings, but if both stay healthy, they could turn out to be lucrative in the long run. I like the offensive line depth that the front office focused on because no NFL team is immune from injury, it is imperative that the backups are able to play effectively until the starter returns. Nothing will torpedo the Bills 2019 season more than poor depth. Finally, the WR & TE signings signal that they are serious about taking QB Josh Allen to the next level and show everyone how he can throw it over them there mountains. I don’t believe the Bills are done in the free agency market; they are showing that they are willing to bring in anyone they feel that can upgrade the quality of play on the field. Just think, we still have 6 weeks before the NFL draft and me personally, I’m pumped!

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Offensive Tackle

Read the latest Bills injuries at the offensive tackle position from 2018 & how it affects 2019!

The 2018 Buffalo Bills offensive line took a significant step backwards after several successful seasons in which they led the NFL in rushing and appeared to continue this trend moving into 2018. Unfortunately, due to the forced retirement of C Eric Wood and the bizarre retirement/release of G Richie Incognitio, the loss of these two proved to be too great in order to protect rookie QB Josh Allen and as a result, was unable to open effective lanes up for RB LeSean McCoy, leading to his worst season of his career. Today’s post will identify injuries from the tackle position on the offensive line and how things will shape up in 2019.

First up is T Conor McDermott. The 2nd year player out of UCLA drafted by the Patriots before being picked up by the Bills saw him play sparingly, mostly during the last month of the season once they were out of the playoff race. Total, he played in 5 games with no penalties and did not suffer any injuries. From my vantage point, he is a player that is too good to keep on the practice squad, but not quite ready to play full time on the field. As he has been a part of this team the past 2 seasons, I expect that the coaching staff brings him back next season to continue his development.

T Marshall Newhouse is the next player to be assessed today. The veteran tackle had spent the early part of his career with the Packers before bouncing around to the Giants and Raiders. Newhouse was brought in to provide depth at a position that had some question marks going into 2018. Unfortunately, his time in Buffalo was short lived to just 3 games, eventually shipping out to the Panthers in exchange for a 2021 7th round pick. During his 3 game stretch, he did not suffer any injuries and had 1 holding penalty and 1 false start penalty. As he is an aging veteran who was moved for a low round draft pick 2 years from now, it is unlikely that Newhouse finds his way back to Buffalo.

T Jeremiah Sirles is another veteran tackle that has bounced around the league with stops at San Diego, Minnesota, Carolina, and Buffalo. During the 2018 season, Sirles saw action in 12 games, starting 5 with 1 false start penalty and 1 declined/offset penalty. In addition, Sirles managed to avoid the injury report and provided to be a solid depth option at the tackle position. While he is far from the long term answer at the position, his play this past season was rewarded with a one-year contact extension and I expect to see him on the field in 2019.

T Jordan Mills was an interesting player this year. The big man has been a part of the Bills since 2015; before that, he spent 2 seasons with the Bears. He appeared in and started all 16 games, recording 3 holding penalties and 2 false start penalties along with 2 penalties that were declined or offset. Mills was one of the few tackles this season to sustain injuries including a knee injury suffered in practice prior to the Colts game that did not force him to miss any games. He also suffered a left knee injury during the first Jets game that caused him to miss several plays but was able to return. He was one player this year that managed to sustain small injuries, require medical attention but never appeared to be anything serious. Most of his injuries may have been more contusions due to the brutal hits he has to endure but somehow he did not miss significant time. Mills is currently an unrestricted free agent and the team does not appear to be in any rush to re-sign him. I believe that his time in Buffalo has come to a close and it is possible that he could catch on with another team requiring veteran depth at the position.

Finally, T Dion Dawkins rounds out players at the tackle position. The 2nd year player managed to wow the coaching staff last year with his exceptional play as a rookie, but with losses to the offensive line due to Wood/Incognito, it appeared as though his flaws were exposed as a result. Dawkins managed to appear and start in all 16 games with 1 holding penalty, 3 false start penalties, 3 offset/declined penalties; a stark increase from 2017 in which he only sustained 3 total penalties. In addition to his tackle play, Dawkins got in on the passing game, hauling in 1 target for 1 reception for 7 yards and a TD during the win over the Jets. Injury wise, Dawkins only suffered what appeared to be a hip pointer injury during the preseason against the Bengals. Otherwise, Dawkins managed to avoid further injury and continued to provide stability at an ever changing offensive line. While I have heard some discussion that the coaching staff has fallen out of favor with him as he was not a guy they drafted, I would still keep him on the roster as he has shown he can play at a high level and his health issues are minimal. I expect to see him back in 2019 improving his play with new coaching along with experienced, more talented players added in allowing Dawkins to reduce the burden he was placed with this past season.

Overall, this is another position group that has to be addressed in both the draft and free agency. Outside of Dawkins, the rest of the players listed are merely depth players even with Mills starting the past few seasons. With the Bills picking at 9th overall, it appears as though they are going the best player available route which could dissuade them from going offensive tackle, but if that player happens to be a tackle, then they could certainly upgrade one side of the line and begin to re-solidify the offensive line.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

 

Bills Season Injury Review- Tight Ends

Bills season injury review at the TE position & how much the position will turn over in 2019!

The 2018 Buffalo Bills tight end position suffered mightily as the result of the anemic passing game and as a result, will lead to significant overhaul going into 2019. The overall stats for the tight end position were 89 targets for 61 receptions for 525 yards and 1 TD. Those stats alone aren’t fantastic for one player, let alone an entire platoon for a team. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained during the 2018 season and how this will affect 2019.

First up is TE Khari Lee. The veteran end has been in the league since 2015 in mostly a special teams role with Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo. Lee spent part of the 2017 season with Buffalo followed by 2 games during Week’s 3 & 4 in which he recorded 1 target for 1 reception for 5 yards and 0 TD’s. While his presence was more felt on special teams and as a blocking end, his offensive production did not warrant his continued presence on the roster. He did not suffer any injuries and depending how things shake out, he could be back in Buffalo if the front office sees any value in him.

Next player up is TE Logan Thomas. The converted QB to TE had his most productive season to date after entering the league in 2016 with Arizona. Thomas appeared in 12 games with 3 starts amassing 17 targets for 12 receptions and 77 yards with 0 TD’s. The converted tight end was able to stay relatively healthy all season minus a minor hamstring strain in practice prior to the Lions game which caused him to miss only one game which was more out of precaution due to the relatively acute nature of the injury. This is also an injury that should not carry over into next season. As Thomas is a restricted free agent, it will be curious whether the Bills retain his services going into 2019. Right now, the Bills have right of first refusal in the event that another team offers him a contract. If he gets a contract and the Bills refuse to match, they would receive a 4th round pick from that team in return for the upcoming draft. Knowing this information, I can certainly see why the Bills are in no rush to offer Thomas a contract, hoping that they can bait another team to offer him. If this plan does not work, I would strongly suspect that the Bills retain his services going into 2019.

The player who disappointed the most was TE Charles Clay. His stat line was as follows: 13 games, 12 starts, 36 targets, 21 receptions, 184 yards, 0 TD’s. I hate to be blunt, but this is terrible for any veteran player, regardless of contract status. For someone who has been in the league for 8 years, he has had his share of injuries, but he just failed to produce all together. He suffered ankle and shoulder injuries early in the season that landed him on the injury report but did not miss anytime. He did miss 2 games due to a hamstring string early in the loss to Chicago. Other than the hamstring, he was relatively healthy, just was far from productive. His defining moment of 2018 was missing the winning TD catch against the Dolphins in the end zone which summed up how things went this year.

Over Clay’s playing career, he has had a long history of knee and hamstring injuries that caused him to miss time nearly every season. He has also had a smattering of back and ankle injuries that do not appear to be recurring but even though Clay did not miss a lot of games during his career in Buffalo, it always seemed like there was a constant problem he was dealing with which aggravated fans. No one can play forever, but it will be curious to see whether Clay can rebound from the poor season he had in 2018 with a fresh start in Arizona, hoping the dry heat can help keep him healthier. Considering the Bills released him due to not living up to his contract, he will not be in a Bills uniform again anytime soon. He has shown the ability to be productive as evident by his first 3 seasons in Buffalo, but his time in the NFL may be ending unless he finds the fountain of youth.

Finally, the most productive tight end for the Bills in 2018 was TE Jason Croom. The converted wide receiver to tight end was able to put up decent numbers including 15 games, 3 starts, 35 targets, 22 receptions, 259 yards, 1 TD. While these are far from eye popping, they paced the tight end group in his first full year in the NFL. Injury wise, Croom suffered several injuries this season including a low ankle sprain in the preseason against the Browns, a knee injury during practice early in the season prior to the Vikings game, and a mild groin injury suffered in the loss to the Dolphins which caused him to miss one game. Groin injuries can linger if not dealt with properly but as he sat out and did not deal with it for the remaining games, it appears to be a non-issue going into 2019. Considering Croom is the only tight end under contract right now, it is strongly assumed that he will return. However, I do not believe that he will be the top option for the Bills going forward, but will continue to hopefully grow into the position.

Overall, I expect Croom and hopefully Thomas to return in 2019. I expect the Bills to address the position in both the draft and in free agency as there has been much talk regarding how OC Brian Daboll likes to work 2 TE sets in his offense. Considering the money the Bills have to spend this off-season, I expect them to pay a mid level player a decent contract to help give QB Josh Allen another weapon along with drafting some young talent in order to build towards the future. This is one position that will be nearly turned over, but one that is sorely needed.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

 

Bills Season Injury Review- Wide Receivers

2018 Bills season review at the Wide Receiver position including injuries & who is likely to make the roster in 2019.

The 2018 Buffalo Bills WR corps weren’t expected to light up the NFL in any fashion but did have several bright spots from young contributors from which the team can possibly build off of going into 2019. Today’s article will review all the injuries sustained during the 2018 season at the wide receiver position.

A total of 12 players suited up for the Bills throughout the season with varying degrees of success. The total wide receiver statistics were: 149 receptions on 290 targets for 1,989 yards and 11 TD’s. While these stats do not jump off the page, they do represent the wide variety of talent on the roster and will identify who is likely to come back next year.

The first players that will be addressed will be veteran players who suited up for the team but have since been released for a variety of reasons and are unlikely to see 2019 in a Bills uniform. Those included are: WR Jeremy Kerley, WR Terrelle Pryor, WR Andre Holmes, and WR Kelvin Benjamin. Starting off with Kerley, he saw action in one game for the Bills this season before his eventual release. He was initially released to provide DT depth moving forward with plans to bring him back into the fold, but that never materialized. Kerley’s stats were as follows: 1 game, 4 targets for 2 receptions and 7 yards and 0 TD’s. He did not suffer any injuries and is not a player that is expected back next season.

WR Terrelle Pryor spent the first part of the season with the NY Jets and was released due to a groin injury. Once healthy, he was quickly signed by Buffalo appearing in 2 games with 1 rushing attempt for -1 yard, 8 targets for 2 receptions for 17 yards and 0 TD’s. He is also another veteran that did not suffer any injuries while in Buffalo and will not find himself on the Buffalo sideline in 2019.

WR Andre Holmes spent the entire 2017 season with the Bills and part of 2018 until his release late in the season. In the 12 games he appeared in, he started 3 and was targeted 23 times for 12 receptions for 157 yards and 0 TD’s. He was eventually released and picked up by Denver and played sparingly for them until an ankle injury forced him to IR. During his time with the Bills, he did suffer a neck injury that did not force him to miss anytime this year but he has had neck injuries in the past; 2017 saw his season end due to a neck injury. It is possible the Bills could take a look at him during free agency, but unlikely as he is no longer productive and is getting older.

Finally, WR Kelvin Benjamin, the receiver that is one Popeye’s biscuit away from a TE according to Booger McFarland. The much maligned wideout suffered a knee injury and brutal hit to the head during this season that did not force him to miss any games. Despite being available every week, appearing in 12 games and starting 10, Benjamin was only able to amass 62 targets for 23 receptions for 354 yards and 1 TD. The overall lack of production along with many instances in where he did not go all out on plays or fight for contested balls led to his eventual release where he was quickly picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he was found to be a non-factor in the playoffs and his season ended in the AFC championship game not even seeing one snap. Unless the Bills build a Chick-Fil-A in the team facility, there is no way Benjamin will come back to Buffalo and as a result, the Bills are far better off without him.

Next up is young receivers who could make the roster based on strong training camps in 2019 who include: WR Cam Phillips, WR Da’Mari Scott, WR Victor Boldin, and WR Ray-Ray McCloud.

WR Cam Phillips appeared in 2 games hauling in his only target for 1 reception for 9 yards and 0 TD’s. While his playing time was severely limited this year, it appeared as though the coaching staff were enamored by his abilities which led them to keep him on the practice squad after his initial release from the active roster. He may be a quality depth/special teams player going into the 2019 season and as he did not have any injuries, makes for an attractive, cost effective option moving forward at WR.

WR Da’Mari Scott appeared in 3 games for the Bills after spending most of the season on the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns. While Scott did not record any stats during his time with the Bills, he did contribute to several offensive plays and special teams. Like Phillips, he may be a quality depth/special teams player that the front office wants to keep around going into next season if he has a strong training camp.

WR Victor Bolden was another late season addition to the roster after spending most of his season with the 49ers. Like Scott, he did not produce any offensive stats, only receiving 5 kick returns for a total of 116 yards. Based on what the front office sees in him, he could be another option on special teams moving forward until they find higher quality players.

WR Ray-Ray McCloud was a surprise addition to the roster at the beginning to the season following a knee sprain during the Bears preseason game that forced him to miss 2 games as a result. He was able to come back after fully healing and spent most of his time on special teams appearing in 10 games, starting 1. He had 2 attempts for 4 yards rushing to go along wit 6 targets for 5 receptions for 36 yards. As he was a 6th round pick that did not produce when it counted, he may be a player who has to fight in training camp in order to secure a job next season. I see him as a strong possibility to return but buried on the WR depth chart or relegated to primarily special teams.

Others that saw time at the WR position this season in a limited role was WR Deonte Thompson. The veteran receiver spent time with Buffalo last year before returning after a stint with the Dallas Cowboys. During his time in Buffalo, he appeared in 5 games, starting 2. He was targeted 10 times for 3 receptions and 37 yards with 0 TD’s. He dealt with an Achilles strain shortly after he rejoined the team that did not force him to miss any games. Unfortunately, he later suffered a toe injury in the loss to the Patriots in Week 16 which caused him to miss the season finale. I had suspected that he suffered turf toe or a plantar plate injury which would cause him to miss time but as it was the season finale, the team elected to not dress him and shut him down for the year. That injury moving forward would not affect him going into 2019, however, due to his veteran status and lack of production this year, he may be a candidate that the Bills let hit free agency knowing there’s cheaper options after the draft.

Next is the 3 players that made the most impact in the and are certain to make the roster next year. First up is WR Robert Foster. The UDFA burst onto the Bills roster after an up and down training camp appearing in 13 games with 3 starts garnering 44 targets for 27 receptions and 541 yards with 3 TD’s. Along with the unexpected production, Foster did suffer several injuries including very hard shots to the head/neck area and thigh region that thankfully were not serious.

The most significant injury Foster suffered was what appeared to be a thumb injury in the win over the Jets midway through the season which may have been a dislocated thumb. He exited the game briefly but was able to return with a possible thumb spica and gloves to finish the game. This thumb injury was most likely his most serious injury but should not have any long term impact going into next season. Considering the type of relationship that Foster developed with QB Josh Allen, he appears to be a lock on this roster moving forward.

WR Isaiah McKenzie was incredibly productive after being picked up on waivers from the Denver Broncos midway through the season. He appeared in 7 games with 1 start demonstrating versatility with 10 rushing attempts for 66 yards and 2 TD’s to go along with 30 targets for 18 receptions for 179 yards and 0 TD’s. McKenzie appeared to suffer several serious injuries that required the use of the gator to remove him from the field this season but none of the injuries were even remotely serious. He suffered a toe injury in practice back in December that did not appear to affect his mobility in anyway followed by minor ankle tweaks and cramping in his calf which brought on initial fears of an Achilles tear. Thankfully this was not the case, but due to the violent nature of the game, he got banged up pretty good. However, McKenzie should be able to rest up and prepare his body for another year of pro football and build off his excellent 2018 season.

Finally, the most productive receiver on the Bills this year, WR Zay Jones. He appeared in all 16 games for 15 starts with 102 targets, 56 receptions and 652 yards with 7 TD’s. While at times he was streaky with his production, he took a big step forward in both his statistics and health, avoiding the injury report all together this season after a trying off-season in which he got his labrum in his shoulder repaired along with a bizarre incident in LA which resulted in him cutting his knee open trying to kick through a glass window. That knee injury along with the resulting surgeries did slow his participation in the preseason but he quickly was able to come to form during the regular season. He began to show flashes of why he was able to leave college as the NCAA career leader in receptions and will hopefully be able to build off this going into 2019.

Overall, the wide receiver position will have significant turnover with only Jones, McKenzie, and Foster as locks to return in 2019. Phillips, Scott, Boldin, and McCloud are all practice squad or depth options moving forward, but we have seen every preseason someone make that next leap forward as in the case of Foster. In addition, the Bills signed WR Duke Williams out of the CFL to help shore up the WR corps going into training camp. I believe that the WR position is something that will be addressed somewhat in free agency but will be further addressed in the draft. While there are tempting targets early in the 1st round along with big fish in free agency with Antonio Brown and Golden Tate, I believe Brandon Beane when he says they will be judicious and avoid some of the flashy moves that have put the Bills in a bad spot in years past.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Bills Season Injury Review- Running Backs

Assessing the 2018 Bills injuries at running back & roster changes for 2019.

The 2018 Buffalo Bills running game didn’t scare people or dictate games as it did several years ago which led to the offense to be rather one dimensional and easy to game plan against. Without LeSean McCoy producing as the engine of the offense, this put the pressure on the passing game which was severely limited secondary to the lack of weapons available. As a result, the team finished 9th in the NFL with 1984 yards total, 15 TD’s, and 4 fumbles. Despite finishing in the top 10 in rushing, the Bills RB’s were oft injured throughout the season and along with an inefficient offensive line, stunted their production greatly. This lack of effectiveness may be a precursor to what is to come next season with how the stable of backs looks in Buffalo.

There were a total of 5 backs that suited up for Buffalo this season including: RB LeSean McCoy, RB Chris Ivory, RB Keith Ford, RB Marcus Murphy, and FB Patrick DiMarco. To note: Taiwan Jones is listed as a RB but nearly all of his contributions to the team came on special teams. As a result, he will be addressed at a later time. Despite so many backs that played for the Bills this season, the leading rusher was QB Josh Allen with 631 yards and 8 TD’s alone. Without Allen, the numbers look drastically different: 1353 yards and 7 TD’s which would have put them 31st in the league. It would be assumed that whoever was under center would have put up their own respective rushing yards, but nowhere near the number that Allen produced.

The first back to assess is RB Keith Ford. The rookie UDFA out of Texas A&M was signed to the active roster in mid December after spending all season on the practice squad. He appeared in 2 games, starting 1 while amassing 21 attempts for 79 yards for 0 TD’s along with 5 targets in the passing game for 3 catches and 21 yards. While Ford’s stats did not jump off the page, he also managed to stay healthy during his two game stretch. He did suffer what appeared to be a mild inversion sprain to his right ankle during the Lions game, but he was able to quickly return after getting taped up and had no ill effects the week after against the Patriots. Despite his limited play, he appears to have found a home in Buffalo next season pending his continued progression as a running back. I would like to see him either on the practice squad again or as a depth piece in the rushing game.

The next back is FB Patrick DiMarco. The 8th year back didn’t do much this season and as a result, did not suffer many injuries. His 2018 stats were as follows: 1 attempt for 9 yards, 4 targets for 3 catches and 62 yards with 0 TD’s. These aren’t exactly eye popping statistics for an offensive captain. Most of DiMarco’s playing came on special teams and he was able to appear in all 16 games as a result. The only injury he sustained was an ankle injury during a punt return in the win over the Lions. He did appear on the injury report later that week but did not miss any time. Despite his leadership role, one has to really wonder if the money that he is getting paid is worth his production. As the team has built their culture, he may be a cap casualty going into next season. He is fine injury wise but in my opinion, not worth the money.

RB Marcus Murphy made his mark as the 3rd down back and on special teams this season with a very strong preseason before coming back down to earth once the regular season started. Murphy struggled with punt and kick returns early on, lessening his role on special teams before his season ended prematurely due to injury. His stat line this year: 11 games with 1 start for 52 rushes for 250 yards, 19 targets for 11 catches and 26 yards with 1 fumble. He missed one game against the Packers due to a rib contusion sustained in the Vikings win. Murphy managed to stay healthy until the Lions game when he dislocated his left elbow late in the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately for him, his season was finished as a result. Normally, dislocated elbows are not season ending but as he only had 2 games left in the season, he would not have been ready to play. Had the Bills been in the playoff hunt, he would have probably stayed on the active roster, but this wasn’t the case this season. His elbow injury should heal fully and not have any complications moving forward. Overall, his injuries were minimal and are not going to have any lasting impact going into next season. He has a very good shot to make the team again, but he will have to fix the mistakes from 2018 in order to have a job in 2019.

RB Chris Ivory served as a back up to McCoy this season and overall did not produce at a level equal to his pay. His stat line is as follows: 13 games played, 1 game started, 115 rushes for 385 yards and 1 TD. In the passing game, he had 21 targets for 13 receptions for 205 yards and 1 fumble. In addition to the lack of production, Ivory suffered a mild foot sprain in the Colts game that did not force him to miss anytime but did affect his production shortly after.

However, the big injury appeared to his left shoulder injury. He suffered this injury during the Chicago Bears game during a failed goal line plunge. He suffered what I believed to be an AC joint sprain that game and was unable to return. As a result, he missed the next game against the Jets but was able to return the following week. During the 2nd Jets game in December, he appeared to re-injure the area when his arm got pulled behind him on a run. He left the field favoring his left shoulder and missed the following 2 games despite practicing in full. I believe that he was dealing with pain in the shoulder region which prevented him from absorbing the hits that comes with the position. He was questionable for the final game but did play, having one of his better games of the season. Considering the Bills were also out of the playoff hunt, he may have felt that it wasn’t worth rushing back as he knows that he is on the tail end of his career, having just finished his 8th season. Prior to the season ending, HC Sean McDermott noted that Ivory’s injury was something that required rest in the off season which indicates that this was an injury that was not serious to require surgery.

AC joint sprains typically take several weeks to heal based on the severity of the original injury. I believe what happened to Ivory was that he suffered the AC joint sprain, he was able to come back mostly healed and then re-injured the area, worsening the original injury. Typically AC joint sprains do not require surgery but will require rest and proper rehab. As for 2019, this is not something that will affect him next season and he should return as his contract is not terrible and he provides stability at a weak position.

Finally, the bell cow RB LeSean McCoy. The veteran back had the worst season of his career totaling 14 games played with 13 starts for 161 rushes for 514 yards and 3 TD’s. He also added 46 targets for 34 receptions and 238 yards through the air. McCoy’s struggles could be blamed on several factors such as the off field drama with his ex-girlfriend that is still working through the courts, a subpar offensive line, and playing in his age 30 season which we have seen many running backs take a step back in their production. McCoy also dealt with several injuries that slowed his effectiveness this year.

McCoy saw groin, broken rib cartilage, left ankle sprain, concussion, and hamstring injuries this year. None of these injuries were serious on their own but cumulatively added up. He injured his groin in the preseason but was able to be available for the season opener with no lasting effects. McCoy then cracked his rib cartilage due to C Ryan Groy falling on him towards the end of the play during the Chargers game forcing him to miss one game. This was an injury that was very slow to heal and forced him to play through pain with his production varying. He was able to then play 3 games without further injury before suffering an ankle sprain and concussion on the 2nd play in the loss to the Colts. He thankfully did not miss any games afterward due to having extra time to work through the concussion protocol to be cleared in time for the MNF game. McCoy’s final injury came early in the 2nd Jets game in which he pulled his hamstring and was unable to return. As a result, he missed the next game but was able to return for the final 2 games.

Looking at these injuries, he did not have effective blocking to move the ball as he had in past seasons. The small injuries accumulated throughout the season meant that he was never fully healthy which only made things more difficult to be effective. Fortunately, all these injuries will heal in the off season and should have no lingering issues going into 2019. While he did have the worst season of his career, I believe that he will have a bounce back year in 2019 with a rebuilt offensive line and show why he is still one of the top backs in the NFL. There are some rumblings that he could be a cap casualty but GM Brandon Beane has committed to him and I expect that he will keep his word unlike previous regime’s.

This is one position that needs some serious love over the next few seasons. The position itself chews and spits out players regularly with running backs having the shortest career’s in the NFL. While there is a veteran presence, turnover will be important for 2019 and beyond. I expect McCoy and Ivory to return with Ford staying on the roster in some capacity. Murphy has a shot to stay on the roster but will have to prove his worth and battle in preseason like he did last year. As a fan, I do not see any benefit to having DiMarco come back outside of the leadership role he has, but considering veteran presence leadership is thinning out, he may stick around. It is very possible that the front office spends some draft capital to find a running back to be the heir apparent to McCoy, allowing a rookie to develop. 2019 may very well be a bridge year to 2020 and beyond to reshape the running game and further develop the offense.

Continue to check back for the latest updates and news coming out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter @BangedUpBills, on Reddit at u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

 

 

 

Bills Season Injury Review- Quarterbacks

Bills positional injury review- Quarterbacks

The off-season has begun! With a record of 6-10 following the 2018 NFL season, the Bills are slated to pick 9th in the 2019 NFL draft. Fortunately, one position the Bills will not have to worry about is quarterback. The starting job and room for that matter has already been locked down and demonstrates one of the most stable positions on the roster. Today’s post begins a series of articles reviewing the 2018 regular season from an injury standpoint, players that were injured, their outlook, and whether they will come back in 2019. Today’s topic is quarterback.

There were a total of 4 starting quarterbacks to take a snap under center for the Bills in 2018 in the regular season. They were: QB Nathan Peterman, QB Matt Barkley, QB Derek Anderson, and QB Josh Allen. A fifth, QB AJ McCarron was slated to be the starter in preseason before an untimely injury derailed his chances. As a collective whole, the Bills passing game put up stats as follows: 271/499 for 54.3% completion for 2794 yards, 13 TD’s, 23 INT’s, and 41 sacks ranking 31st in the league.

Never making to the regular season for the Bills was QB AJ McCarron. He was signed from Cincinnati as a free agent in the off season, expected to be the starter and before his injury, was trending in that direction. Unfortunately, McCarron suffered an injury to his collarbone during a hard sack that was initially diagnosed as a hairline fracture against the Browns. However, he had a second opinion which reversed the original diagnosis and it was re-diagnosed as a contusion. He was able to return after several days, but as he was healing, this allowed Peterman to move forward and take the season opening job, leading to the trade of McCarron to Oakland for a 5th round pick in 2019.

QB Nathan Peterman began the season as the starter but quickly played himself out a job. The 2nd year player out of Pitt earned a second chance despite his inauspicious start to his career last year. His 2018 season stats were as follows: 44/81 for a 54.3% completion, 296 passing yards with 1 TD, 7 INT’s, and 7 sacks along with 2 starts. Peterman started the forgettable home opener, losing 47-3 to the Ravens followed by a Week 9 start, losing to the Bears 41-9. While Peterman was not injured during this season in Buffalo, he was wholly ineffective which led to his eventual release on November 13th. He eventually did find his way to Oakland Raiders practice squad but his release thankfully ended the Peterman experiment here in Buffalo.

Next is QB Matt Barkley. The veteran journeyman started the year with the Cincinnati Bengals before being released with an injury designation with a Grade 3 MCL sprain in the preseason. On October 31st, the Bills signed Barkley to a one year deal as insurance while Allen was recovering from his injury. Unfortunately, the starting QB at the time, Derek Anderson was unavailable due to injury and Peterman wasn’t trusted to play, leading to Barkley to start. He lit up the Jets defense in a 41-10 win with his stat line as follows: 15/25 for 60% completion, 232 yards, 2 TD’s, 0 INT’s, and 1 sack. With that performance, Barkley earned himself a 2-year contract as the backup to Allen going into next season. Overall, his injury risks appear minimal, his preseason injury will not be a concern moving forward, and he has shown he is a capable back up in spot starts.

QB Derek Anderson was able to come out of semi-retirement to help mentor Josh Allen as he progressed through his rookie season. Unfortunately for him, he was forced into playing several games including against the Colts and Patriots. His stat line was as follows: 42/70 for 60% completion, 465 yards with 0 TD’s, 4 INT’s, and 5 sacks. In addition to the rough stat line, Anderson suffered a back and calf injury against the Colts which appeared to be more bumps and bruises after not starting for several years. Regrettably, Anderson also suffered a concussion at the end of the MNF game against the Patriots after a sack from LB Kyle Van Noy which sidelined Anderson for 5 games.

While concussions are all too common in football, most resolve after a short amount of time. Each concussion is unique and has its own timeline for healing, it is concerning that Anderson took this long to recover from his injury. It is not uncommon to see concussions take that long to fully recover in the normal population, but considering that he was out that long during the NFL season makes me question his availability for the future. We already know that once a player sustains a concussion, that increases the chances that they suffer future concussions. Prior to this, he had one documented concussion during his time with Arizona. Normally, a concussion lasting that long would have forced him to the IR to clear up a roster spot. However, his role has been defined as assisting in developing Josh Allen into a franchise quarterback and that appeared to be the case which is why they avoided placing him on IR which would have prevented him from tutoring Allen. While he can play in spot starts and will be back on next year’ roster having signed a one year deal, he is far from the answer if a long term need is required. He is one player that I hope never sees the field next year. I hope he helps to continue to mentor/coach, and rides off into the sunset next year before another concussion or serious injury forces him to retire.

The big injury of the season was QB Josh Allen. As it has been widely reported, Allen suffered a sprained elbow, more commonly referred to as a UCL injury. He suffered the injury during the loss to the Houston Texans. To recap, this was the result of a bang bang play as Allen got hit from the left by Clowney, followed by Mercilus hit from the right, coming up underneath, hyperextending the rookie’s elbow. As a result, he missed 4 games with the injury but was able to return a more complete player and with bracing to the area to provide protection and support. This injury overall will not be something that will cause problems in the off season, it will not require surgery, and it will almost certainly not affect him as his career progresses.

At this point, the injured tissues in the elbow have mostly healed up and he should be asymptomatic with regards to all his throwing activities. With further rest and strengthening in the off season, he will come back 100% and should not have to wear a brace in the fall. It’s quite possible that this may become an injury that will be forgotten as his career progresses. How he injured his arm was unfortunate, but the recovery and response moving forward is calculated and ensure his long term health. Despite the injury, Allen still put up respectable stats for the season. Allen’s stat line for 2018 was as follows: 169/320 for 52.8% completion, 2074 yards with 10 TD’s, 12 INT’s, and 28 sacks. In addition, he had 89 rushes for 631 yards and 8 TD’s. Expect him to start next season, continue to grow as a quarterback, and eventually lead the Bills back to the playoffs.

Overall it was a very rough season for Bills quarterbacks for injuries. The QB carousel should stop next season with Allen, Anderson, and Barkley all under contract and the established starter in Allen. In addition to the stability at the quarterback position, there is a lot of optimism that the front office that they will shore up the offensive line to provide the protection that is desperately needed in order to help make the offense flourish along with some receiving weapons. This is the first time in a long time that things look good at the quarterback position for the Buffalo Bills.

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter at @BangedUpBills, on Reddit u/BangedUpBills, and online at www.bangedupbills.com. Look for off season position injury reviews, additions to the NFL Injury Series, any pressing injury news/surgeries, and anything else that Bills fans need to know. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!

Week 17 Bills Injury Review- Dolphins II

Read the latest Bills injury news following the Week 17 win over the Miami Dolphins & final thoughts going into the offseason!

The season is finally over. The Bills have finished 6-10 with a exciting win over the Miami Dolphins 42-17 and lots of hope going into the 2019 season. QB Josh Allen was recently named AFC Offensive player of the week, the first time a Buffalo QB has been given this honor since QB Drew Bledsoe in 2002. The front office has stability moving into the offseason with both coach and GM in place with a solid game plan stacked with draft picks and cap money to contend with a favorable schedule next year. The only downside to the season ending is the retirement of DT Kyle Williams. Sunday’s win marked the last game for him in a Buffalo uniform and he made the most of it. He was able to get in on several offensive plays including a reception and continued to be a force up front until his curtain call late in the 4th quarter. To make his retirement even more memorable, he proceeded to circle the entire stadium, giving thanks to everyone before entering the end zone tunnel one last time. While he didn’t win a Super Bowl or have the team accolades that veteran players can accumulate over time, he still was able to lay the foundation for potentially greater success in the coming seasons. Personally as a fan, I am happy to have seen him give everything he had in a Bills uniform and leave on his own terms.

With all the positivity coming out of that season finale win, the only injury noted on Sunday was CB Tre’Davious White (head). He suffered this injury with 1 minute left in the 2nd quarter during a collision with a Dolphins offensive player. This was right before the 2nd scoring play for the Dolphins which allowed them to even it up going into halftime. The Bills announced that White was later downgraded to out with a head injury which is typically reserved for concussion protocol. It was not announced that he suffered a concussion but as it was the season finale, there was no purpose to re-insert him back in the game with 2 quarters left. If White was indeed diagnosed with a concussion, this would be his 2nd documented NFL concussion after last season’s hit by Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. Regardless, the season is over; White will be able to go through the concussion protocol if needed and recover during the offseason with no long term concerns.

Overall, it was another decent year for injuries. We did lose a lot of man games due to injury with several starters lost late in the season, but major injuries such as ACL’s, Achilles, Bicep tears, and pectoral tears which could affect next season continued to avoid the Bills and allowed the team to grow further. It is expected to see the roster turn over considerably with a host of draft picks & free agents brought in along with several veterans moving on due to ineffective play or team unfriendly contracts. The 2019 Bills will come out guns blazing and begin to make some noise!

Continue to follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook, on Twitter at @BangedUpBills, on Reddit u/BangedUpBills, and online at http://www.bangedupbills.com. Look for offseason position injury reviews, additions to the NFL Injury Series, any pressing injury news/surgeries, and anything else that Bills fans need to know. Thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!