1. Governor Cuomo on what's next for the Bills and pro sports in New York
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the media in Buffalo on Monday at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to announce that Western New York could begin Phase 1 of re-opening Tuesday evening. In addition to that announcement Cuomo also encouraged that major pro sports teams, including the Bills, begin to develop plans to play games without fans.
"I have been encouraging major sports teams to plan re-openings without fans, but the games could be televised," Cuomo said. "New York State will help those major sports franchises to do just that. Basketball, baseball, hockey and football, whoever can re-open we are a ready, willing and able partner."
The NFL and its teams have already begun the process of their re-opening plans as all 32 clubs had to present such a plan to the league last Friday.
Cuomo believes there must be a plan in place to conduct games without fans if the COVID-19 restrictions prevent fans from attending this fall.
"If they can economically have a game with no fans and the economics work because the TV revenue is enough, without the fan revenue, and that's a sport-by-sport determination, but if they can make the numbers work I say great," he said. "Come back to us, the state will work with you. Remember government rules could stop a team from coming back, depending on what's essential and not essential. So the state will work with them to come back. Any way we can help, we will help."
Under NFL guidelines provided in large part by League Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills, phase one of re-opening teams may have no more than 50 percent of their staff in their building, and that number cannot exceed 75 people.
No members of the coaching staff can return to the team facility under phase one to ensure equity among all 32 clubs, who are operating under different state protocols. And no players can be at the facility unless they are undergoing medical treatment or rehabilitation.
Personnel, football operations staff, equipment staff, medical staff, and nutritionists can go to work.
The governor also took a minute to mention his desire to see the Bills playing again.
"Personal disclosure, I want to watch the Buffalo Bills, but I'm still objective," he said. "I'm acting as governor. There's no personal agenda here. Yes, I do want to watch the Buffalo Bills, but I am not subverting my role as governor and what is in the best interest of all the people and the best interest of the state of New York.
"But if you can televise (games without fans) in the meantime great. It's not as good as going to a game, but people who are at home if you have a chance to watch sports – I'd rather watch current sports on TV if it works."
Bills owner Kim Pegula is on the state's re-opening board.
2. This Bills defender makes NFL.com's 'Most Underappreciated' list
NFL Network's Analytics Expert, Cynthia Frelund, put together a list of most underappreciated players in the AFC using her context model to do so. Making use of her total contribution metric, which measures productive value per snap and how it enhanced the team's win probability.
The Bills most underappreciated player was S Jordan Poyer. Here was Frelund's assessment.
I love safeties who can force turnovers. Poyer's five takeaways (two interceptions and three fumble recoveries; tied for 12th-most in the NFL) last season show impressive production in some traditional stat categories. However, some not-so-traditional stats show even more value. My favorite metric from his computer-vision-derived information is help in the run game, where he ranked eighth-best among safeties. Also, fun fact: The combination of Poyer and fellow Bills safety Micah Hyde increases the value of both players. When I put them on different teams (dorky things data scientists do), they don't drive as much individual value.
3. Former Bills offensive lineman, now agent, training his clients in Arizona
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of people to do things differently. NFL players are no different. As a handful of young offensive linemen try to navigate a virtual offseason, their agent, Joe Panos, has put it on himself to put on his coaching hat.
Panos, who played his last three NFL seasons as the starting right guard for the Bills (1998-00), wanted to help a handful of his young clients stay sharp with technique and be properly prepared for NFL play.
After researching states' rules under the pandemic, he chose to set up shop in Arizona.
His clients include two of Miami's top draft choices, Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt among five others. With all of them either first or second-year players, Panos told MMQB's Albert Breer they all jumped at the opportunity to get some quality work in.
"I absolutely love it because I know, without sounding like a jerk, they're going to get trained right," Panos said. "If they can't be with their coaches, I'd like to think I know what I'm doing here. I love the fact that I promised these kids and their parents that I'd take care of them to the best of my ability, that I'm going to go above and beyond, and get them ready for the season."
Panos has some coaching experience as he worked on Brad Childress' Minnesota staff in 2008 as an assistant offensive line coach and also worked with some players during the 2011 lockout.
Now an agent, Panos is just trying to give his clients the best chance to succeed.
They'll work all this week in Arizona, then all of them will fly to their respective homes before another session scheduled in June.
"I get a lot of gratitude watching these guys try to perfect their trade," said Panos. "I really, really, really do."