1 - Panthers QB has high praise for new Bills coach
"I credit a lot of my success to Ken Dorsey," said Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
The Bills filled one of their coaching vacancies with the hire of Ken Dorsey as the new quarterbacks coach. Dorsey comes from the Carolina Panthers, where he spent 2013-17 in the same position, mentoring Cam Newton into the dual-threat quarterback he is today.
Dorsey and head coach Sean McDermott spent four years together on Carolina's coaching staff. Dorsey coached Newton as well as current Bills quarterback Derek Anderson.
Starting quarterback Josh Allen has drawn comparisons to Newton due to his size, arm strength, and athletic ability. Under Dorsey, Newton passed for over 3,000 yards every season and rushed for an average of 574.6 yards per season. Newton was named MVP in 2015, leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
Despite only starting 11 games this season, Allen managed to rush for 631 yards on just 89 rush attempts. By comparison, Newton rushed for 706 yards his rookie season on 126 attempts.
"I think extremely highly of Ken Dorsey," said Newton in 2018. "He is an extremely hard and efficient worker. My challenge was also to beat him to work. He made my life as easy as possible. Not only is he a hard worker, but he has a vibrant killer instinct. He's a known proven winner over the years"
2 - Center will be priority for Beane this offseason?
General manager Brandon Beane was thrown for a loop when Eric Wood suffered a neck injury forcing him into a premature retirement. Just a year before, Wood agreed to a two-year deal worth $16 million with $14.2 million guaranteed.
The Bills lost a key component in the locker room and on the field with Wood gone. His departure led to centers Ryan Groy and Russell Bodine splitting starts throughout the year. Most importantly, the departure of Wood left a rookie quarterback without a leader.
"The center is like the quarterback," Beane told Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic. "Like in baseball, we want to be strong up the middle. That guy is so important. He has to know and help the quarterback with protections, which way you're sliding and helping to identify things. He's the lead communicator up there. He has to be able to think fast and smart. A lot of guys go out there and just play their own position. The quarterback obviously has to know what everybody is doing. The center has to know what those other four are doing. It's super important to have a smart, tough leader that can hold his own at center. Otherwise you're going to have problems."
The Athletic believes that Beane and the Bills will look at centers in free agency and in the NFL draft.
Top free agent candidates include Broncos center Matt Paradis and Chief's center Mitch Morse headlining the class. The Athletic also feels that Beane should not be afraid to spend money for the right player.
In a defensive heavy top-half NFL draft there are still solid offensive linemen to be found. NC State's Garrett Bradbury and Mississippi State's Elgton Jenkins are ranked as the top two centers in the draft, according to CBSSports.com.
"Whoever becomes the Bills' next center will have a significant impact on Allen's long-term future, Fairburn wrote. "It's why Beane tried to ensure stability by signing Wood to that extension. When Wood retired, Beane found himself "held hostage" at that position, as [Bill] Parcells would say. He's hoping by the end of this offseason, he's secured the right person to snap the ball to his prized quarterback."
3 - Alexander one of "most versatile" players in the NFL
Wherever Leslie Frazier wanted Lorenzo Alexander to line up this season he did. The 13-year NFL vet played off the ball as much as he played at the line of scrimmage. Out of the handful of players utilized in that role, none were as effective as Alexander per Pro Football Focus.
In 257 run defense snaps, Alexander recorded a grade of 82.4, ninth among linebackers. In 238 pass-rush snaps he graded out to be a 70.7, 24th for linebackers. While playing 134 snaps in coverage he received the tenth highest grade for linebackers at 79.9.
Alexander also led all linebackers this past season with 38 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. In his 13 years, Alexander had one of his best seasons ever, finishing fourth on the team with 68 tackles and second in sacks with 6.5. He recorded two interceptions, nine pass breakups and was the Bills' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for his work in the community.
Bills fans will get to see him in action for one more season after he signed a one-year extension.