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Bills Today: Did we see future Bills in national title game?

Posted Jan 11, 2017

The national championship game between Alabama and Clemson was one for the ages, and if recent history is any indication, there might be a couple of future Bills who played in that game Monday night.


Here’s the Bills news of note for Jan. 11th.

1 - Did we see future Bills in national title game?
The Clemson-Alabama national championship game was great entertainment for fans as it went down to the last second with the Tigers emerging victorious. There was also a ton of top flight talent destined for the 2017 NFL draft. How many Bills might we have seen in that game?

If recent history is any indication there might have been a couple.

Since 2011, the Bills have drafted 13 players who have appeared in the national championship game during their college career. That’s more than two players per year. Almost a quarter of those picks (4) have come in the second round for Buffalo. Here’s a look at all the Bills draft choices since the 2011 NFL draft that appeared in a national title game.

Player

School

Title Game

W/L

How Bills Acquired

Marcell Dareus

Alabama

2010

W

2011 NFL Draft: Round 1, pick 3

Aaron Williams

Texas

2010

L

2011 NFL Draft: Round 2, pick 34

Ron Brooks

LSU

2012

L

2012 NFL Draft: Round 4, pick 124

Mark Asper

Oregon

2011

L

2012 NFL Draft: Round 6, pick 178

Marquise Goodwin

Texas

2010

L

2013 NFL Draft: Round 3, pick 78

Cyrus Kouandjio

Alabama

2012, 2013

W, W

2014 NFL Draft: Round 2, pick 44

Ronald Darby

Florida St.

2014

W

2015 NFL Draft: Round 2, pick 51

Karlos Williams

Florida St.

2014

W

2015 NFL Draft: Round 5, pick 155

Nick O'Leary

Florida St.

2014

W

2015 NFL Draft: Round 6, pick 194

Shaq Lawson

Clemson

2016

L

2016 NFL Draft: Round 1, pick 19

Reggie Ragland

Alabama

2013, 2016

W, W

2016 NFL Draft: Round 2, pick 41

Adolphus Washington

Ohio St.

2015

W

2016 NFL Draft: Round 3, pick 80

Cardale Jones

Ohio St.

2015

W

2016 NFL Draft: Round 4, pick 139

2 - Wolfley: Goodwin has bloody knuckle approach
One of Buffalo’s head coaching candidates is still a bit of an unknown quantity to most Bills fans. Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who interviewed last weekend with Buffalo, is seen around the league as an up and comer. Arizona Cardinals radio analyst and Western New York native, Ron Wolfley, believes it’s a matter of when, not if Goodwin becomes an NFL head coach.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week, Wolfley provided a telling example of the kind of approach Goodwin brings to a team.

“You would be getting a guy that brings this blood knuckle mentality to football,” said Wolfley of Goodwin. “In 2013, Bruce Arians’ first year in Arizona, and Harold Goodwin was the first-year offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, the Cardinals went up to play the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Russell Wilson had not yet lost a game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks were a Super Bowl caliber team. The Cardinals went up there and ran the ball 43 times against that great Seattle defense.

“Twenty-three of those times they ran a play called 22 and 23 Double. It’s a power play without the pull. You’re basically running the power, but you’re not pulling the uncovered lineman. They ran that play 23 times and they ran out of the same formation that same play and they pounded that Seattle defense. The ‘Legion of Boom’ got boomed. They beat them up there.”

Arizona only averaged 3.2 yards per carry against that Seattle defense, but they rolled up 139 yards on the ground and more importantly held the ball for almost 37 and a half minutes in what proved to be a 17-10 victory.

“The Cardinals over the last four years under Bruce Arians and with Goodwin as their offensive coordinator and offensive line coach are 3-1 up at CenturyLink Field,” said Wolfley. “They have more wins up there than the rest of the league combined. It’s because of that bloody knuckle approach that Harold Goodwin brings to the table.”

Goodwin is a former offensive lineman himself. He played guard at the University of Michigan before a knee injury prematurely ended his career.

3 - Top 10 in toxic differential
It hasn’t paid the dividends for the Bills the way it has for other NFL clubs, but once again Buffalo was in the top 10 in toxic differential in 2016.

Toxic differential is an advanced metric that takes a team’s turnover differential and their big play differential (pass play 25 , run play 10 ) and adds them together for a cumulative figure. It’s considered especially good when a team can put together a double-positive, meaning positive figures in both of those categories.

In 2016 the Bills finished 10th in toxic differential with a figure of plus-eight. They were plus-six in turnover margin and plus-two in big play differential. Last year Buffalo ranked fourth in the league in toxic differential with a mark of plus-35.

The Bills set a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a season in 2016 (12), which helped them achieve the positive turnover margin. Their league leading rushing attack was also instrumental in their positive big-play differential despite having the league’s 29th ranked run defense.

Over the last 15-plus seasons most of the teams that finish in the top 10 in toxic differential qualify for the playoffs. In 2016 seven of the top 10 teams in toxic differential qualified for the postseason. Unfortunately the Bills have again been one of the exceptions.

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