The divisional round of the playoffs is here, and it was another week of reflection on the Bills 2018 campaign.
All of it was fodder for discussion on One Bills Live this week. Here’s a recap of five things you may have missed on the show:
1. NEW COACHES FEATURED ON BILLS 2019 SCHEDULE
The league’s new head coaching lineup is not complete yet — the Dolphins and the Bengals have yet to lock down their picks, but the Bills will face five new head coaches when they line-up in 2019.
In the AFC East, whomever the Dolphins pick, and the Jets Adam Gase will be in their first year with their teams. The Bills will also go up against Denver’s Vic Fangio (former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator), the Browns’ Freddie Kitchens (former Cleveland offensive coordinator) and whoever the Cincinnati Bengals hire. Reports say the team has settled on hiring Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. That’s a total of five new head coaches up (eight games) against the Bills in the upcoming season.
Last year, the Bills went head-to-head with four new head coaches – at Indianapolis and home against the Titans, the Bears and the Lions. The Bills were 2-2 in those games.
2. HOW TO HIRE A HEAD COACH
Outside Buffalo, eight other NFL teams spent the week interviewing and assessing candidates for their head coaching vacancy. But are they going about it the right way?
Former NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth appeared on One Bills Live this week, to talk about the process. He’s an NFL reporter for ‘The Undefeated’ website and a frequent contributor to ESPN.
Foxworth says the standard NFL Coaching search is flawed when teams focus on finding the hot young coordinators to become head coach.
“The logic behind the way we hire coaches is a little flawed in that we try to find the coordinator who is the best,” Foxworth said. “But the skills that are required to be a good coordinator are not the skills that are required to be a good head coach.”
“The head coach is the only person who can impact and cultivate a culture. That involves the ‘soft’ skills we don’t really think are that important — building relationships, building bridges between the coaches and the players, building bridges between the players and each other and the team and the fans. Those things are the things that drive teams to work harder than other teams and prepare better than other teams and win games. That’s how you have sustained success in this league.”
3. LORENZO ALEXANDER IS MAKING A BID FOR NFL’S MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is Buffalo’s nominee again this year for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. The award recognizes an NFL player for excellence on and off the field. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community, and the winner gets $500,000 to donate to charity.
Bills fans can enhance Alexander’s charitable position by participating in the Nationwide Charity Challenge. Fans are posting #WPMOYChallengeAlexander on social media, and the player who gets the most hashtag mentions gets an additional $25,000 for the charity of his choice. But the deadline for the Charity Challenge is this Sunday.
On One Bills Live this week, Alexander explained why winning the Man of the Year Award would be important for him.
“Obviously winning the award gives finances and resources that you can bring right here in Buffalo and there are a lot of worthy organizations that I've worked with – the Belle Center, obviously South Park High School – and many others,” he said. “At the end of the day that’s what it comes down to in my mind – providing resources and programs that impacts lives, kids’ lives, families’ lives and changes trajectories as far as whether people can overcome certain things that are out of their control in the first place.”
4. BILLS SECONDARY STANDOUTS
There were plenty of heroes on Buffalo’s second-ranked defense in the league this past season. But the play of the Bills young secondary may have been the biggest factor in the Bills strong defensive season.
Second year cornerback Tre’Davious White had a pro bowl caliber year with consistent lock-down play and two interceptions. The other corner, undrafted rookie Levi Wallace, allowed a league-low quarterback rating of 72.6 in his seven starts at the end of the year. Nickel cornerback Taron Johnson played well for 12 games before going on injured reserve with the shoulder that bothered him all year. His opponent’s passer rating of 64.0 led all rookie defenders when his season ended. And veteran safety Jordan Poyer was the only player in the league to finish the season with at least 95 tackles, one forced fumble, 2.0 sacks and four interceptions. With reliable veteran Micah Hyde manning the other safety spot, the Bills are set up well in the secondary going into this offseason.
5. GOOD LUCK VS. TOM BRADY
This just in — the Patriots are good in the playoffs, as if eight Super Bowl appearances in five championships since 2001 haven’t revealed that.
But how about this – none of the three other teams still alive in the AFC have quarterbacks who have ever beaten Tom Brady in a game.
The Chargers’ Philip Rivers, who will give it a shot Sunday in Foxboro, is 0-7 lifetime against Brady. The Colts Andrew Luck is 0-6. And young Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs is 0-1.
One Bills Live, a radio show hosted by John Murphy and Steve Tasker, airs from 12 pm - 3 pm on WGR 550 and MSG Western New York Monday-Friday.