What we learned from Bills free agent signees

Posted Mar 10, 2017

The Bills signed five free agents in the early stages of free agency. On Friday, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer and Mike Tolbert spoke to the media for the first time in Buffalo. Here’s what we learned.

1 - Respect matters
Both Mike Tolbert and Micah Hyde referenced respect in their initial comments and how it was instrumental in their decision to sign with Buffalo. For Tolbert it was his personal respect for head coach Sean McDermott having played in Carolina the past five seasons. Even though they were on opposite sides of the ball, he had frequent interaction with McDermott.

“He’s one of the sole influential reasons why I decided to come here,” said Tolbert of McDermott. “He’s a great guy. I know his mentality, his mindset. I know the type of coach he is and the type of man he is. I like being around positive things and he’s a positive guy.”

For Hyde it was about the respect that coach McDermott and GM Doug Whaley showed him.

“I think first off just talking through my agent, the respect that coach McDermott and Mr. Whaley had for me… I’ve always said that once I had the opportunity to get into free agency that I would want to be respected and put the numbers aside. The felt that from Buffalo and it’s a blessing to be here.”


2 - Tolbert knows LeSean
Veteran FB Mike Tolbert has been in the league 10 years, so he’s crossed paths with a lot of players, particularly running backs and fullbacks. And LeSean McCoy is in that group.

“I’ve hung out with him a couple of times,” said Tolbert of McCoy. “My wife is from San Diego so I’ve met him in L.A. a few times and played with him in the Pro Bowl. One of my really good friends is from Philadelphia and they’re really good friends together. We’ve been around each other enough to know what ticks we each have so I think I know how to push him.”

3 - Changing the situation through a dedicated approach
There have been many coaches who have come through Buffalo trying to change the culture that has kept the team down and out of the postseason for the last 17 years. Tolbert who knows McDermott very well believes his design for changing the atmosphere at One Bills Drive into a winning one will be rooted in his mentality and approach to that goal on a daily basis.

“I think from talking to coach and Mr. Whaley it’s more of a mentality thing,” said Tolbert. “Coach McDermott brings a certain kind of grit and mentality and I think that’s going to filter down to the players and make us fight that much harder. It’s going to make us appreciate that moment all the more because you never know when your time is up.”

Tolbert admitted playing for coach McDermott won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.

“He’s a guy that says what he believes and believes what he says,” Tolbert said. “He makes sure that you feel it when he’s talking to you. You’re going to know from the passion and emotion that he brings out that he really wants the best for everybody around him. That’s something I have tremendous respect for. As a coach he’s tough, he’s hard-nosed. He’s a very tough coach, but at the same time he knows what he’s doing.”

4 - Expectations rooted in versatility
The two free agent safeties that signed with Buffalo have a lot in common both on and off the field. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer both come from small towns. Both were multi-sport athletes, both have played a multitude of roles as defensive backs and both have some return experience. For Hyde and Poyer it’s provided a glimpse into what’s expected of them within the scope of coach McDermott’s defense.

“Just talking to coach briefly and being able to play different positions is key in this defense that we’re trying to put into place this season,” said Hyde. “You might be lined up at one position like safety, but you might be playing different techniques and you’ve got to be able to do that. And that’s my game. That’s what I’ve done throughout the years.”

The two safeties have the unique opportunity with their shared skill sets to learn the scheme together knowing they’re both likely to have very varied roles.

“We can learn from each other,” said Hyde. “That’s the best thing. I make mistakes, he’ll learn from them and if he makes mistakes I’ll learn from them. I look forward to playing with him.”

The two multi-faceted defensive backs even share a mutual friend in Cleveland LB Christian Kirksey. Poyer played with him in Cleveland, while Hyde played with Kirksey in college at Iowa.

“Micah and I, it’s weird how we met because Christian Kirksey was my teammate out in Cleveland and they both went to Iowa together so I had flown out to San Diego two off-seasons ago and I met Micah out there,” said Poyer. “He’s a great dude, great football player and I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited to play alongside him. I think we can both learn a lot from each other. I’ve watched a lot of his tape. I think both of us (are) versatile players. He’s a great athlete, he’s a great player and he’s going to help this team win football games.”