The chase for a spot in the Super Bowl is the dominant story in the NFL. At One Bills Drive, the Bills re-signed a team captain and veteran leader, added a new offensive line coach and special teams coordinator.
Here are some of the topics you may have missed on One Bills Live this past week:
1. ‘ZO ALREADY LOOKING FOR IMPROVEMENT IN 2019
He’s getting set for his fourth season with the Bills – his 13th in the NFL. And linebacker Lorenzo Alexander shows no signs of slowing down.
Alexander will be 36 years old when the Bills go to camp in July. But after signing a one-year contract extension Wednesday, Alexander told One Bills Live he’s already making a list of how the Buffalo defense needs to improve next season.
“I think the biggest thing is red zone efficiency,” he said. “We were the No. 2 defense but in the red zone we were probably low 20s if I had to guess off the top of my head. We need to be able to prevent teams from scoring touchdowns and minimizing them to three points.”
“Another thing is finding a way to score on defense, to help our offense and just really to create that momentum change. That’s what the elite defenses have done, at least this past year or really probably throughout history.”
2. O-LINE MOVES MAY BE COMING – SIRLES MAY HAVE A ROLE
The Bills also re-signed offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles to a one-year contract extension this week. He showed up in September and went on to play in 12 games for the Bills, starting five of them. Much of his work was done as the tackle eligible, but he also backed-up at center and started the game at Miami at right guard.
The Bills have three 2018 starters from the offensive linemen eligible to hit free agency this spring: T Jordan Mills, G John Miller, and C Ryan Groy. The team will add some more offensive linemen to the mix through free agency or the draft.
But Sirles is versatile and the Bills brain trust may view him as an early insurance policy for some of the offensive line moves they want to make.
“They told me, ‘we don’t really know what free agency and the draft look like this year for that o-line room.’ So, there’s a good opportunity for me to come in this year and compete,” he told One Bills Live.
“I’m not real sure where I’ll be playing yet but I’m sure I’ll find a spot real soon,” he continued. “I finished the year as the backup center last year. I started one game at right guard and I played at right tackle. I’m kind of all over the place and that’s one of the reasons why I felt good about coming back here. They know my versatility. They know where I can play so I’m sure I’ll find a home.”
3. A FAMILIAR FACE RETURNS TO LEAD THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Sirles and the rest of Buffalo’s 2019 offensive line will answer to new offensive line coach Bobby Johnson when they report for work in April. Johnson returns to Buffalo, where he was assistant offensive coach in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Former Bills Center Eric Wood worked under Johnson back then.
“I did learn a lot from him and I really enjoyed working with him.” Wood said this week. “A lot of times with an offensive line you’ll split up the tackles and the interior guys or maybe the centers will go off and do their own thing or the guards and tackles will work combinations, so there is value in having two guys in the room that can contribute and Bobby was definitely one of those types.”
4. BILLS LOOKING TO TAP INTO SENIOR BOWL TALENT POOL
Bills scouts and some coaches will be on the scene in Mobile, Alabama next week for the Reese’s Senior Bowl. It’s a collection of some of the top draft-eligible talent in the country. And the Senior Bowl has produced a rich harvest of draft picks for Buffalo in the last two years.
Last year, the Bills drafted Senior Bowl alums Josh Allen, Harrison Phillips, Taron Johnson, Wyatt Teller and Siran Neal. In 2017, the Bills drafted Tre’Davious White, Zay Jones, Dion Dawkins, and Nathan Peterman after watching them in the Senior Bowl.
5. FAMILIAR NAMES, FACES IN CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
Bills fans won’t need much help deciding for whom to root this Sunday, in the NFC and AFC Championship games. But one player to watch in the NFC game is Rams wide receiver Robert Woods.
Buffalo’s second round pick in 2013, Woods was consistent and productive in his four years in Buffalo, averaging 51 catches per season. This season, his second with the Rams, he exploded finishing the regular season with 86 catches, six of them for touchdowns.
NFL Network reporter and analyst Steve Wyche says Woods is better than Rams nominal number one target Brandin Cooks.
“He is the best wide receiver on the Rams roster, even though Brandin Cooks is getting paid the big money,” Wyche told One Bills Live. “Robert Woods has been fantastic. You talk about a chain-mover, you talk about a go-to guy. He’s been fantastic on the jet sweeps. He doesn’t lose the ball, he doesn’t turn the ball over. He always seems to be a clutch player when the Rams need somebody to make a play. He has been fantastic, and I think he is someone who could have a big game.”
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.