Here’s the Bills news of note for March 17th.
1 – Hauschka taps into Lindell’s Buffalo expertise There were several factors that pushed Stephen Hauschka to sign in Buffalo, one of the biggest being his familiarity with the organization.
Hauschka is following a similar path as former Bills’ kicker Rian Lindell, who left Seattle after three seasons in 2003 to sign with the Bills.
Hauschka knows that kicking in Buffalo presents its own unique challenges, but he is eager for the opportunity.
“I love kicking, I love my job. I am excited to learn about the intricacies of (New Era Field),” Hauschka said. “And I also texted Rian (Lindell), he has been awesome. I knew him when he was playing for the Bills. He lives out in Seattle, outside of the Seattle area now. He is from Washington, so I have been texting with him. Great guy, obviously kind of following in his career footsteps I guess, which is a great thing.”
For a man who grew up in Boston and played college football in Vermont, Hauschka knows his fair share about winter weather, but still wants to bend the ear of Buffalo’s second all-time leading scorer to continue his standing as one of the NFL’s top kickers.
In addition to Lindell, Hauschka spent time with Leslie Frazier in Minnesota in 2008 and also spent a couple of months on Danny Crossman’s special teams unit with Detroit in 2010.
After going to the playoffs for the last five years with the Seahawks, Hauschka certainly knows what winning looks like, and looks forward to bringing that culture to Buffalo.
“A lot of it is about working hard, having fun, and keeping things positive,” Hauschka said. “I know I am just a kicker but if I can bring just a little part of that culture with me, I think that is a great thing. I just spoke with coach (Sean) McDermott and he seems like an awesome coach and I have heard amazing things from some people in Carolina I know. I am excited to see what kind of culture he builds here. The organization is hungry and the players are going to be hungry and man the fans are definitely hungry. I think that is a combination is set up for success in the future and I am looking forward to being a part of that.”
2 – PFF gives Bills high marks for free agent adds The Buffalo Bills have been one of the busiest teams in free agency, with a bevy of additions and subtractions since the period opened on March 9th.
Pro Footbal Focus graded every player acquisition made through Thursday, and gave the Bills a few high marks. The signing of former Atlanta fullback Patrick DiMarco was one of only 14 ‘A’ grades given out by the site, and only the second in the AFC East.
PFF explained its reasoning for giving DiMarco such high marks.
“Patrick DiMarco has been arguably the best blocking fullback over the past two seasons. He was comfortably the best in 2015, and in the mix this past year. The Bills have obviously decided the fullback is a significant part of their offense, so DiMarco makes good sense to bring on board.”
DiMarco spent the last four seasons in Atlanta, helping to lead the way for a top 10 rushing offense in each of the past two seasons.
PFF also thought highly of the Bills bringing back linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, giving the team a ‘B’ grade for that signing.
“A player that has been a defensive tackle, off-the-ball linebacker, core special-teamer and more throughout his career finally got an opportunity to start last year and notched 12.5 sacks and 50 total pressures while also grading well against the run and posting 44 defensive stops. Alexander is far from young, but he deserved this deal for last season alone.”
Alexander’s breakout 2016 campaign saw him finish tied for third in the league in sacks, gaining a Pro Bowl nod and second-team All-Pro selection in the process.
3 – WR Brown eager to compete with McDermott again Although they were on different sides of the ball in Carolina, Buffalo’s newest wide receiver knows exactly what he will be getting as a head coach in Sean McDermott.
Corey Brown, who signed with the Bills on Sunday, spent the first three years of his career with the Panthers. During that time, he developed a bond with McDermott, one that influenced his decision to sign with the Bills.
“Coach McDermott is a great dude,” Brown said. “Obviously getting to know him for the last three years has been good (for) my life. He has helped me grow as a player and as a man. He is from the same area I am from—the Philadelphia, Delaware country area. He coached at the high school we used to play against a lot. Me and him used to have a lot of talks and heated arguments about that. We have always had a good competitive relationship. He doesn’t coach any different than that—he is a competitive coach. He wants to win and he demands perfection. That is what makes him such a good coach.”
The competitive nature inside of Brown and McDermott led to some intense exchanges during practice, but it was one of the reasons Brown said that the culture surrounding the team was healthy and why the team was able to be so successful on game days.
“I look at myself as a leader so I’m very vocal. He’s just a guy that kind of wants the offensive guys to be quiet and not make plays on his defense, so when you make plays on his defense you kind of want to let him know because he’s such a fiery and competitive person that you know he’s going to snap back at you, he’s going to make some things up that aren’t on the practice script to get back at you. It’s all in fun and games and it’s all to make each other better. At the end of the day we’re competing and that’s basically what you want to see everybody doing.”
Brown was productive in his 43 games with the Panthers, hauling in 79 catches for 1,019 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 276 yards and two touchdowns in the postseason.