The Bills brought in two new quarterbacks this offseason, trading for Matt Cassel and signing Tyrod Taylor. Most people figured Cassel was in line to start and Taylor was brought in to be a backup. But that may not be the case.
The Buffalo News reports that Bills coach Rex Ryan has shown greater enthusiasm for Taylor than for Cassel, that Ryan has wanted to coach Taylor for a long time and previously wanted the Jets to acquire him, and that Ryan says Taylor is the fastest quarterback in the NFL and can change games with his speed.
It's going to be a run-heavy offense, but if Taylor wins the job, he could become fantasy relevant thanks to his ability to run the ball. The Bills aren't lacking for receiving weapons, either.
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 1:51pm
Bills beat writer Vic Carucci answered a question about keeping struggling QB Matt Cassel because he's a veteran.
Carucci: [$4.75 million] is a whole lot of cap space to devote to a backup. I believe the Bills acquired Cassel in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings last March with the intention of making him their starter. Furthermore, I would fully expect the Bills to extend Cassel’s contract to provide cap relief if they are convinced he will have the job.
The fact that hasn’t happened and that there is no indication of it happening any time soon after his struggles through the offseason raise some legitimate questions about whether he will be on the roster if he isn’t starting.
Carucci said he thinks Cassel is wired to accept a backup role as a mentor to EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor or any younger starter, but doubts the Bills would devote that much to their cap. With a run-first plan of attack likely still in place, whoever the Bills starter is won't have a ton of week-to-week fantasy value.
Matt Cassel has brutal day.
There was one repetition during red zone 7-on-7s that displayed a good throw from Matt Cassel into the back of the end zone. That play, by itself, was the only redeeming quality of Cassel’s performance against defensive players on Wednesday. Right from the start, Cassel put too much air under his throws, resulting in a number of passes that could have been intercepted by the defense. He was late on throws, he was inaccurate, and missed a deep throw to Tobais Palmer by about 15 yards (and that isn’t an exaggeration). Cassel’s lackluster day was concluded by a fade throw on the right sideline, in which the receiver was covered by three defenders. Predictably, the throw was intercepted — this time by Ronald Darby. Of the other quarterbacks, EJ Manuel had the best day of the bunch, while Matt Simms was getting worked in a bit more after having one week on the job. As for the most interesting man at One Bills Drive, Tyrod Taylor, Wednesday was merely a ‘meh’ day for him.
We currently project Cassel to win the job, but we'll have to adjust our projections if he continues to struggle.
In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Bills QB E.J. Manuel said his commitment to the quarterback position has reached a point of singular fixation, and attributes it to the adversity he faced last season when he was benched after just four starts.
“I think what I went through that’s just what made me grow up. That was true adversity in my playing career,” Manuel said. “As far as the competitive edge I have now, it’s crazy. It’s almost an obsession now as far as mastering this position and mastering this offense and mainly the fundamentals and mechanics of the game. Why not spend all my time doing that? There’s really nothing else to do right now. The main thing is just being all in and investing in yourself.”
Manuel insists his throwing accuracy is much improved after working for four months this offseason with former NFL QB Steve DeBerg. He credits DeBerg with eliminating the wind up in his throwing motion that compromised his accuracy. His throwing motion is much more compact now and he feels his accuracy is much improved.
The team acquired Matt Cassel in the offseason and he's likely to start unless Manuel is able to make big strides. There are a lot of weapons in Buffalo, but under new OC Greg Roman the team is likely to utilize a run-heavy approach (with LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson) and rely on its defense to win games.
The NFL took deflate-gate very seriously, hammering the New England Patriots with unheard of punishment in the matter of deflated footballs.
The league announced Monday that quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, the team was fined $1 million and will lose its 2016 first-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in 2017.
If Brady doesn't win his (probable) appeal, his fantasy value will take a huge hit. The Patriots have a Week 4 bye, so he wouldn't be available to owners until Week 6. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely get the start in his place. One potential strategy would be to stream the position until his return, but it depends on how far his ADP falls. With a four game suspension, he won't be ranked in the top 25 in our initial projections. This will be a case of where his season-long ranking won't jibe with what he'll produce on a per game basis upon his return. The loss of Brady for four games will negatively impact the entire New England offense, though they have survived before without him (in 2008 with Matt Cassel). Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell all take a small hit.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 8:03pm
The Jets quarterback has spent time in California this offseason working out with former major-league pitcher-turned-quarterback tutor Tom House, who also has worked with Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Matt Cassel and former Jet Tim Tebow.
"It wasn't a thing where I needed to change things," said Smith, who is 11-18 in two seasons. "It was basically just going out there to work out and get better, and that's what we accomplished."
"As of right now, I'm just focusing on getting better every single day and relishing every single opportunity that I have," Smith said on a conference call Monday after the team's first day of voluntary workouts. "Today's only Day 1, Phase 1."
Smith said he is "very pleased" with the progress he's made, but it remains to be seen what his new coaching staff thinks of him compared with the other quarterbacks on the roster, the story added. The Jets traded for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and the team has hinted they may want to add another quarterback.
Sunday, April 5, 2015, 8:30pm
Rex Ryan has stressed all offseason that the quarterback position will be an open competition in training camp for the Buffalo Bills. Should we believe him?
After all, it was just last August that Ryan and the Jets staged a faux competition between Geno Smith and Michael Vick. The Jets stacked the deck so far in Smith's favor that Vick wouldn't even play along, publicly disagreeing with the coaching staff's notion that he was competing for a starting job.
Fast forward to present day, and Ryan is facing a familiar problem with a new team. EJ Manuel, like Smith, is a high 2013 draft pick who's struggled in his first two seasons and was benched in his second season. Matt Cassel, like Vick, is a 30-something veteran with past success.
"You look at Matt Cassel, obviously he's won in this league," said Ryan, according to The Buffalo News. "He's been a Pro Bowl-quarterback, so there's that experience that you have.
Ryan went on to say that he won't throw out Manuel after just two years and pointed out that Aaron Rodgers never took a snap for three years. From a coaching standpoint, Manuel may not have a lot of motivation if Cassel is named the starter at this point in the year, but it sure seems like that's where the team is heading.
It was a tale of two seasons for Watkins, who averaged 4.8 catches for 74 yards and 0.63 TD in the first eight games; he was the #12 fantasy WR going into his team's Week 9 bye. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 3.4 catches for 49 yards and 0.13 TD, and was the #48 WR from Week 10 to Week 17. The timing of his hip injury (Week 13 vs. CLE) is interesting, because Watkins was already in a slump, posting just 10 catches for 94 yards in the three previous games. Matt Cassel brings some stability at quarterback, but he's no better than Kyle Orton, so we're not expecting a huge jump for Watkins in OC Greg Roman's run-oriented offense.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer made that clear, as part of his season-ending press conference Tuesday at the team's practice facility. Zimmer said the team was fortunate to learn as much as it did about Bridgewater, and his improvement throughout the year should be a sign of encouragement. Zimmer was asked if he'd talked to veteran Matt Cassel, who has one year remaining on his contract, about the possibility of taking a backup role.
He said that he hadn't, and then he gave the rookie his endorsement.
"Teddy is the quarterback, there's no doubt in my mind," Zimmer said.
Bridgewater finished with the third-highest completion percentage for a rookie quarterback, surpassing Russell Wilson's strong 2012 rookie season. Bridgewater also finished 10th in the NFL in deep-pass accuracy. And more than 75 percent of his passes found their target when he was under pressure this season, the best rate in the league. Bridgewater will be on the QB2 radar when 2015 drafts come around.
Both suffered injuries during the 20-9 loss to the Saints on Sunday. Cassel fractured several bones in his left foot during the second quarter, while Fusco hurt his pectoral muscle in the second half.
The Teddy Bridgewater Era has begun in Minnesota. The Vikings will be shorthanded without Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia surgery), so Bridgewater's situation is not looking as favorable as it did in the preseason. Still, with Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson to throw to, he doesn't have a bad pair of receivers. He should be in the QB2/streaming mix if this go well.
NFL Media's Albert Breer reports, via a source apprised of the injury, that Kyle Rudolph will undergo sports hernia surgery and miss about six weeks.
The coaching staff had reasonable expectations of a career year for Rudolph in Norv Turner's tight end-friendly offense.
Rudolph's absence is especially disconcerting with RB Adrian Peterson and QB Matt Cassel out indefinitely. Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater could have used Rudolph as another target, which will now make defenses jobs easier when facing the Vikes. Rhett Ellison and MarQueis Gray are next up on the depth chart.
Cassel was quickly carted to the locker room for tests. After the game, head coach Mike Zimmer said that Cassel had "several fractured bones" in his foot.
Zimmer confirmed that rookie Teddy Bridgewater will start for the foreseeable future. Bridgewater did well in his debut and didn't turn the ball over. He'll bring a new, much-needed element to the Vikings offense to hopefully pair up for WR Cordarrelle Patterson. He could have some value in certain matchups either as a QB2 or in a committee.
"We throw an interception the first play of the game, I'm not going to yank him," Zimmer said.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 1:34pm
Fortunately for the Vikings' receiver depth, their offense has two things working in its favor. First, OC Norv Turner makes frequent use of two-tight end sets; the San Diego Chargers used more of them than all but one team while Turner was the head coach from 2007-12, and used the fewest three-receiver formations during that time. And second, the Vikings have another versatile wideout in third-year man Jarius Wright.
The 5-foot-11 Wright, who'd been cast as a slot receiver early in his rookie year, actually ran 192 of his 252 routes lined up wide last season, as Jennings and Patterson got more of the slot work. He caught 23 of his 26 passes lined up out wide, and clicked with quarterback Matt Cassel late in the season, catching 14 of his 26 passes from Cassel for 252 yards. Wright saw 30.7 percent of his routes from the slot during the preseason, and he's got plenty to prove in Year 3 as he tries to carve out a niche in the offense, so he should be ready and eager to fit into the Vikings' scheme while Simpson is out.
The story breaks it down in depth on how the team will move its WRs around this year based on the preseason: During their third preseason game in Kansas City, when the Vikings' starters played almost all of the first three quarters, they ran 18 plays out of three-receiver sets, displaying impressive variety in how they lined up their three wideouts. Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Simpson all saw time on both sides and in the slot. It's perhaps especially good news for Patterson owners that the team is trying to create mismatches for the talented WR.
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