1 - Kyle Williams will receive this special recognition today
Throughout his 13 years as a Buffalo Bill, Kyle Williams has transcended the title of “athlete,” establishing himself as a role model for an entire generation of Buffalo fans. He taught Bills supporters the value of hard work and dedication by simply giving it his all each and every time he stepped on the field. His love for the city and Western New York community has been reciprocated, as he’s one of the most beloved Bills in franchise history.
It’s only fitting that a player of Williams’ stature will retire on a day that’s dedicated to him.
December 30, the day in which Williams will partake in his final NFL game, has been officially proclaimed as “Kyle Williams Day” in Erie County. County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced the honor on his Twitter page Friday afternoon.
The county’s decision to grant Williams his own day only reaffirms the impact he’s made in Western New York over the past 13 years. Hundreds of players have donned the Buffalo red, white, and blue over the past several years, but only a select few have ingrained themselves in the community, have adopted Buffalo as their own home.
Williams certainly has become a prominent figure in Buffalo, and thanks to “Kyle Williams Day,” his impact will continue to be felt in the region for years to come.
2 - Jordan Phillips won’t alter intensity in season finale
Shortly after arriving in Buffalo, Jordan Phillips said that he had two dates circled on his calendar - Dec. 2 and Dec. 30.
Those were the dates in which the Bills were scheduled to face off against the Dolphins, the team that waived the fourth-year defensive tackle after Week 4. Phillips has already had the opportunity to play against his former team once this season, a 21-17 loss in Week 13.
Phillips played well in the contest, tallying three tackles and one pass deflection. Some would argue, however, that Phillips allowed his emotions to get the better of him in the game, as he committed a late taunting foul. A self-described emotional player, Phillips does not plan on altering his intensity this weekend.
“No, I’m going to do the exact same thing I did in the first game,” Phillips said. “I’m not even worried about any calls or anything like that.”
Though in a losing effort, Buffalo arguably played better than Miami the last time the teams met. The Bills finished the game with 415 net yards compared to the Dolphins’ 175. Simply executing on a similar game plan will be a focus for Buffalo this Sunday, according to Phillips.
“We’re not going to do anything different,” Phillips said. “We’re a good team. We’ll just have to put everything together, that’s about it.”
This weekend’s season finale will have little impact on the standings, as both teams have already been eliminated from playoff contention. However, not one player on Buffalo’s roster is looking past the divisional matchup.
“At the end of the day, this is still a division game,” Phillips said. “The Dolphins hate us. We hate the Dolphins. It’s definitely not meaningless to anyone in this locker room. No one wants to go into 2019 with the feeling of, ‘you just lost the last game of the season.’ That’s a bad taste in your mouth for a whole offseason.”
3 - This Bills tight end has ‘made strides each week’
Over the past several weeks, there’s been a concerted effort on behalf of Buffalo’s coaching staff to give playing time to young players, providing them with the opportunity to prove that they should be on the roster for the foreseeable future.
Jason Croom is a player who has benefited from the team’s youth movement. The second-year tight end has seen his playing time steadily increase throughout the season, and he’s started three out of the last four games he’s played in. He played on a career-high 72 percent of Buffalo’s snaps in Week 16, reeling in four passes for 55 yards.
A college wide receiver, Croom is still relatively new to the tight end position. The fact that he’s already learned the ins and outs of the difficult position bodes well for his future, according to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
“I think that [tight ends coach] Rob Boras has done a really good job with him,” Daboll said. “And so has Jason. He’s put the time in. Again, you’re talking about a guy that played at the University of Tennessee and was really a receiver. Didn’t play last year, so it’s almost like you’re a rookie that’s coming in. He’s made strides each and every week. Athletic guy that can catch and has some run after catch ability.
“Still learning things, tight end is a tough position. Usually when you’re playing out on the perimeter, you see the game through one lens, then when you get in here, there’s a lot of different things that go on. I think that Jason’s improved since he’s been here. We’re going to have to have a good offseason with him.”