Local News

Thad Brown: Bills supporting cast could be Super

todayJanuary 16, 2024 2

share close

Even Kaiir Elam is making plays now.

The Bills have talked for weeks about finding an identity. Terrel Bernard spells it out for the defense on a regular basis almost from rote. Play fast. Affect the quarterback. Force turnovers. The offense is less clear, but lately it’s been more running, whether with Josh Allen or James Cook.

Really, the Bills identity is a roster that can contribute all the way from 1-53. This isn’t a new identity. It’s who the Bills have been for years under Sean McDermott.

Very few know that better than Micah Hyde. He’s one of five originals that came to Buffalo with McDermott and helped assemble the juggernaut that won four consecutive AFC East titles along with Jordan Poyer, Tre White, Matt Milano and Dion Dawkins.

The Bills success is more than collecting talent or clever X’s and O’s. It’s coaching. Development. As Hyde pointed out after the playoff win over the Steelers, the specific names and faces usually don’t matter.

“We created a foundation,” Hyde said. “We created a culture and way for guys to learn and also go out there and play fast, play free.”

The Bills of recent vintage rarely have any holes, especially on defense. There’s usually at least a B+ or A- player at every starting spot. This year, when the defense started losing some of those elite starters, the McDermott coaching machine simply spawned more.

There’s no replacing a Milano or a White, but Bernard turned into a dependable starter that racked up six sacks and three interceptions in the regular season. Tyrel Dodson was a preseason failure, but still became a dependable starter when pressed into service. Both players received multiple All-Pro votes.

Christian Benford is a 6th round pick from a very not major college who developed into a strong number two corner. Rasul Douglas was already a talented playmaker where very little coaching was needed, but the Bills certainly haven’t wasted him.

This is who the Bills are. Everybody can be good and, at some point, usually is. They are the team where the running game previously thought of as Plan B dominates a division leader. The next week, the second fiddle receiver and the star defensive tackle lead a road win. The week after that, it’s the corner added at midseason who blows up an opponent’s offense. Finally, the third safety, the fourth receiver and the fifth receiver were the heroes to seal a division title.

This week, the hero was the bust of a first round pick.

Kaiir Elam hasn’t had much go right in his first two seasons in Buffalo. He wasn’t a great fit for the defense and he’s had injury issues in year two. Against the Steelers, the first moments of notice were a blown tackle where he was little more than a Pat Freiermuth speed bump followed by a staple of the Elam Experience–the handsy penalty.

None of that mattered two plays later when Elam perfectly played a Diontae Johnson out route in the end zone for a high degree of difficulty interception. Elam said earlier in the season those two bad plays would have lodged too deeply in his psyche to make the good one. He’s grown stronger mentally. He gave credit to God, his teammates and his coaches for helping him through that adversity.

“Best version of themself” might sound like a cliche, but McDermott finds it more often than not with his players.

There’s no doubt having Josh Allen helps. A lot. That Elam interception doesn’t mean as much if Allen doesn’t use it to turn 3rd and 8 into his latest Bills team record. There’s no QB who has the same ridiculous combination of power, guile and deceptive speed as a runner. I’m not sure which is more laughable–that a QB now owns the Bills record for the longest postseason run by any player or the way Allen undressed pretty good safety Damontae Kazee in the open field.

This was not an elite offensive or Allen game, but he did complete 70% of his passes and threw three touchdowns. The deep seam ball to Dalton Kincaid was the perfect instant capitalization on the other turnover the Bills forced. Better yet, Allen played only his second game since week five without an interception (yay!).

The best offensive development from the win over Pittsburgh was the further use of Dalton Kincaid down the field. Over the first three months of the season, you could run most Kincaid routes in your living room. Not anymore. During the last three weeks, he’s had at least one catch of 29 yards in every game. He had a 50-yarder against the Patriots. There were two big chunk receptions in Miami. He nearly had a second 30-yard TD in wild card win.

Kincaid as a deep threat and a field stretcher certainly has the potential to open more things up underneath for Diggs, Khalil Shakir and even James Cook. It took most of the season, but Kincaid is finally the kind of weapon that you trade up in the first round to get. Better in the playoffs than never.

And let’s take a moment to, once again, send some flowers Shakir’s way. He just keeps making big plays. This time, it was shrugging off a violent looking tackle from former All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick and navigating into the end zone for a game sealing TD. Shakir’s after the catch ability is arguably the most underrated trait among the Bills. There’s a reason why Gabe Davis can continue doing his every other week disappearing act without continued complaint regarding the Bills lack of secondary receiving options. Kincaid and Shakir are, lately, providing exactly that.

The problem with the McDermott Way is that it has always come crashing down before the Bills reach the Super Bowl. It’s playoff caliber. It has not been championship caliber. The last two years, it’s good enough to win a wild card game and nothing more. I have a healthy skepticism that much will change this year.

Injuries sustained over the last two weeks could significantly change the equation for Sunday’s Episode III with the Chiefs. I think the Bills team that started the game in Miami beats KC. The one that finished the game against the Steelers probably does not.

Even if Buffalo gets past Pat Mahomes, likely the Ravens and 49ers await. The Bills haven’t lost, but also haven’t often distinguished themselves against the muckety-muck of the AFC during their end of season stretch run. It’s a fair question to ask how that same team beats the only two squads that have separated in a season of flawed contenders.

The answer might be in the muckety-muck. The moment the AFC turned dirty and grimy, that’s when the Bills started to rise. The Chiefs are good, but they’re not “The Chiefs” and this time, they must come to Orchard Park. The Ravens might be excellent, but no one will be confident Lamar Jackson can win a Super Bowl until they see it (fairly or otherwise).

Stars usually win championships and the Bills do have a few. Allen, for sure. Diggs is one most of the time and Ed Oliver certainly belongs in the conversation.

I don’t think that’s how a McDermott team will win a championship. They’ll do it with depth. They’ll do it with plays coming from all over the roster. It will be the sum of 53 1/11th’s.

Be skeptical about that plan if you want, but if McDermott can get playoff winning plays out of Kaiir Elam, there’s nothing this season that’s impossible.

​ Even Kaiir Elam is making plays now.

The Bills have talked for weeks about finding an identity. Terrel Bernard spells it out for the defense on a regular basis almost from rote. Play fast. Affect the quarterback. Force turnovers. The offense is less clear, but lately it’s been more running, whether with Josh Allen or James Cook.

Really, the Bills identity is a roster that can contribute all the way from 1-53. This isn’t a new identity. It’s who the Bills have been for years under Sean McDermott.

Very few know that better than Micah Hyde. He’s one of five originals that came to Buffalo with McDermott and helped assemble the juggernaut that won four consecutive AFC East titles along with Jordan Poyer, Tre White, Matt Milano and Dion Dawkins.

The Bills success is more than collecting talent or clever X’s and O’s. It’s coaching. Development. As Hyde pointed out after the playoff win over the Steelers, the specific names and faces usually don’t matter.

“We created a foundation,” Hyde said. “We created a culture and way for guys to learn and also go out there and play fast, play free.”

The Bills of recent vintage rarely have any holes, especially on defense. There’s usually at least a B+ or A- player at every starting spot. This year, when the defense started losing some of those elite starters, the McDermott coaching machine simply spawned more.

There’s no replacing a Milano or a White, but Bernard turned into a dependable starter that racked up six sacks and three interceptions in the regular season. Tyrel Dodson was a preseason failure, but still became a dependable starter when pressed into service. Both players received multiple All-Pro votes.

Christian Benford is a 6th round pick from a very not major college who developed into a strong number two corner. Rasul Douglas was already a talented playmaker where very little coaching was needed, but the Bills certainly haven’t wasted him.

This is who the Bills are. Everybody can be good and, at some point, usually is. They are the team where the running game previously thought of as Plan B dominates a division leader. The next week, the second fiddle receiver and the star defensive tackle lead a road win. The week after that, it’s the corner added at midseason who blows up an opponent’s offense. Finally, the third safety, the fourth receiver and the fifth receiver were the heroes to seal a division title.

This week, the hero was the bust of a first round pick.

Kaiir Elam hasn’t had much go right in his first two seasons in Buffalo. He wasn’t a great fit for the defense and he’s had injury issues in year two. Against the Steelers, the first moments of notice were a blown tackle where he was little more than a Pat Freiermuth speed bump followed by a staple of the Elam Experience–the handsy penalty.

None of that mattered two plays later when Elam perfectly played a Diontae Johnson out route in the end zone for a high degree of difficulty interception. Elam said earlier in the season those two bad plays would have lodged too deeply in his psyche to make the good one. He’s grown stronger mentally. He gave credit to God, his teammates and his coaches for helping him through that adversity.

“Best version of themself” might sound like a cliche, but McDermott finds it more often than not with his players.

There’s no doubt having Josh Allen helps. A lot. That Elam interception doesn’t mean as much if Allen doesn’t use it to turn 3rd and 8 into his latest Bills team record. There’s no QB who has the same ridiculous combination of power, guile and deceptive speed as a runner. I’m not sure which is more laughable–that a QB now owns the Bills record for the longest postseason run by any player or the way Allen undressed pretty good safety Damontae Kazee in the open field.

This was not an elite offensive or Allen game, but he did complete 70% of his passes and threw three touchdowns. The deep seam ball to Dalton Kincaid was the perfect instant capitalization on the other turnover the Bills forced. Better yet, Allen played only his second game since week five without an interception (yay!).

The best offensive development from the win over Pittsburgh was the further use of Dalton Kincaid down the field. Over the first three months of the season, you could run most Kincaid routes in your living room. Not anymore. During the last three weeks, he’s had at least one catch of 29 yards in every game. He had a 50-yarder against the Patriots. There were two big chunk receptions in Miami. He nearly had a second 30-yard TD in wild card win.

Kincaid as a deep threat and a field stretcher certainly has the potential to open more things up underneath for Diggs, Khalil Shakir and even James Cook. It took most of the season, but Kincaid is finally the kind of weapon that you trade up in the first round to get. Better in the playoffs than never.

And let’s take a moment to, once again, send some flowers Shakir’s way. He just keeps making big plays. This time, it was shrugging off a violent looking tackle from former All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick and navigating into the end zone for a game sealing TD. Shakir’s after the catch ability is arguably the most underrated trait among the Bills. There’s a reason why Gabe Davis can continue doing his every other week disappearing act without continued complaint regarding the Bills lack of secondary receiving options. Kincaid and Shakir are, lately, providing exactly that.

The problem with the McDermott Way is that it has always come crashing down before the Bills reach the Super Bowl. It’s playoff caliber. It has not been championship caliber. The last two years, it’s good enough to win a wild card game and nothing more. I have a healthy skepticism that much will change this year.

Injuries sustained over the last two weeks could significantly change the equation for Sunday’s Episode III with the Chiefs. I think the Bills team that started the game in Miami beats KC. The one that finished the game against the Steelers probably does not.

Even if Buffalo gets past Pat Mahomes, likely the Ravens and 49ers await. The Bills haven’t lost, but also haven’t often distinguished themselves against the muckety-muck of the AFC during their end of season stretch run. It’s a fair question to ask how that same team beats the only two squads that have separated in a season of flawed contenders.

The answer might be in the muckety-muck. The moment the AFC turned dirty and grimy, that’s when the Bills started to rise. The Chiefs are good, but they’re not “The Chiefs” and this time, they must come to Orchard Park. The Ravens might be excellent, but no one will be confident Lamar Jackson can win a Super Bowl until they see it (fairly or otherwise).

Stars usually win championships and the Bills do have a few. Allen, for sure. Diggs is one most of the time and Ed Oliver certainly belongs in the conversation.

I don’t think that’s how a McDermott team will win a championship. They’ll do it with depth. They’ll do it with plays coming from all over the roster. It will be the sum of 53 1/11th’s.

Be skeptical about that plan if you want, but if McDermott can get playoff winning plays out of Kaiir Elam, there’s nothing this season that’s impossible. Read More NFL BuffaloRochesterFirst  

Written by:

Rate it

Previous post

Local News

Sunrise Smart Start: Mental health in NY, Bills face Chiefs next

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today's Sunrise Smart Start for Tuesday, January 16, 2024. New information released in East Rochester shooting between police and suspect Man struck by bullet fired from nearby hotel room NY AG: Insurance companies need to update mental health provider directories Sushi Samba now open in old Tap & Mallet space in Rochester Buffalo Gameday Recap: Makeshift defense shines as Bills advance to face Chiefs Weather forecast: Tuesday […]

todayJanuary 16, 2024 2


Similar posts

Post comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Generated by Feedzy
0%