AFC East: George Edwards

Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix said during Monday's season-ending news conference that the team intends to keep No. 1 receiver Steve Johnson. That will be the biggest offseason story to watch in Buffalo.

The interest between Buffalo (6-10) and Johnson appears mutual. But the two sides cut off negotiations during the season because they were too far apart and will have to re-start talks before free agency begins in March.

Johnson caught 76 passes for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns this past season. But his antics at times hurt the team and overshadowed his production. Reportedly Johnson is seeking upwards of $8 million per season. The Bills want to extend Johnson but at a salary they are more comfortable with.

"I think he would like to stay here, and he said that," Nix told reporters in Buffalo Monday. "If he was willing to hit the market, he would say he was willing to hit the market. Or if he wanted to go somewhere else, he would have said that. I take him at his word. He says he wants to be here. I think if we’re fair and it seems fair to him, I think we will get a deal done."

Here are some other news and notes from Nix:
  • One of the biggest things that stood out is Nix says Buffalo will be aggressive in free agency. The Bills have plenty of cap room and are notorious for not using it to sign big-money free agents. Nix says he believes the team is ready to take a big step next year and he will look to improve the team via free agency in addition to the draft. "We can spend the cap and we will," Nix said.
  • Nix also wants to extend running back Fred Jackson's contract before the start of the 2012 season. Buffalo told Jackson during the regular season that the team will take care of him. He is under contract for another year but was one of the NFL's most underpaid players, considering his production. Backup C.J. Spiller filled in well for Jackson, but it appears the Bills are committed to bringing Jackson back as the starter. "Fred and I have talked, and we want to extend Fred," Nix said. "I'd like for Fred to finish his career as a Bill. He's meant a lot to us and I have great respect for him."
  • Nix wasn't as stern about the return of outside linebacker Shawne Merriman. His status is up in the air after two consecutive season-ending Achilles injuries. Merriman is rehabbing, and Nix said if Merriman is healthy and can pass a physical, he would remain in Buffalo. Merriman also is under contract next season.
  • Finally, the Bills plan to stick to a 3-4 defense. There's been a lot of talk in Buffalo since the team fired former defensive coordinator George Edwards. Nix said the 3-4 is not as big an issue as people think. Buffalo's priority in the offseason, according to Nix, is to continue to add more players to fit the 3-4 scheme.

Bills fire DC George Edwards

January, 2, 2012
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The Buffalo Bills fired defensive coordinator George Edwards, head coach Chan Gailey said in his Monday news conference. Veteran coach Dave Wannstedt will take over the position.

Buffalo's defense struggled consistently throughout the season. The Bills (6-10) finished 28th against the run and 19th against the pass. They also were 30th in points allowed.

Look for the Bills to address and improve the defense via free agency and the draft this offseason.

AFC East links: Shonn Greene set to shine

August, 4, 2011
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Buffalo Bills

Defensive coordinator George Edwards is feeling better about his unit than he was this time last year.

The Ralph C. Wilson Foundation has given a $2.5 million gift to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to assist in an expansion project.

Miami Dolphins

Kory Sheets is out to prove that he can be an every-down running back.

Vernon Carey has agreed to take a pay cut and will move from right tackle to right guard.

New England Patriots

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald: "The persona and identity of the Patriots' defense has started to change. Almost in one fell swoop, the unit, and front seven in particular, has adopted a new attitude."

Matt Light is happy to still be in New England, but he admits he had his doubts during the offseason.

New York Jets

The Jets are reportedly targeting former Ravens receiver Derrick Mason.

Running back Shonn Greene says he is ready to step up and carry the workload.

Bills back-to-work FYI

July, 25, 2011
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NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Unrestricted FAs

Readiness factor: The Bills will need every moment they can find to prepare for the season. Their offensive skill players gathered at quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's home in April. A larger contingent convened in Western New York for casual workouts in May.

Biggest challenge: Buffalo must find a defensive identity quickly. The Bills switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 with bad results last year. As it became obvious they had the NFL's worst run defense, they mixed their fronts. Head coach Chan Gailey has said that they will be a hybrid defense leaning toward a 3-4 base. Then he hired longtime 4-3 mastermind Dave Wannstedt -- not to replace defensive coordinator George Edwards, but as assistant head coach and linebackers coach.

Line in the sand: The Bills have a tenuous offensive line, although all the late-season starters are back. The line mostly has been mediocre and often riddled with injuries. Demetrius Bell has been a bargain at left tackle, but far from dominant. Right guard Eric Wood could eventually shift to center.

Key players without contracts for 2011: Inside linebacker Paul Posluszny and safety Donte Whitner have been two of the Bills' most prolific tacklers. Cornerback Drayton Florence is an overlooked free agent who could be popular on the open market. Disappointing former first-round pick John McCargo is a goner.

AFC East wire: Miami not keen on Plaxico

June, 8, 2011
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Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots
New York Jets

Draft Watch: AFC East

March, 24, 2011
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: schemes and themes.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills went through a defensive overhaul last year under new head coach Chan Gailey and coordinator George Edwards. They morphed from Dick Jauron's 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme to a traditional 3-4 set. The Bills drafted accordingly, but as the season wore on and they failed to stop the run -- they ranked dead last in the league in rushing yards allowed per carry and per game -- they sunk back into a 4-3 mindset and frequently added another defender to the line. They've also hired Dave Wannstedt as assistant head coach and linebackers assistant. Wannstedt is a 4-3 devotee. All of this adds up to the Bills being interested in the best available defenders they can find, regardless of whether or not they fit into a preconceived scheme.

Miami Dolphins

Rightly or wrongly, the Dolphins' offensive identity the past three seasons has been the Wildcat. Those days would appear to be over. Offensive coordinator Dan Henning and quarterbacks coach David Lee (the man who introduced the Wildcat) are gone. Wildcat trigger man Ronnie Brown and speed-motion back Ricky Williams don't have contracts, and both could be on other teams. The one player the Dolphins drafted specifically to enhance the Wildcat, quarterback Pat White, was released after one season. Miami's new offensive identity has yet to be determined under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Nobody can say for sure what he'll be looking for, but the run game must be strengthened. Head coach Tony Sparano said this week the Dolphins will remain a power rushing team. Brown and/or Williams will need to be replaced, and reliable interior linemen must be found.

New England Patriots

The Patriots are the NFL's most flexible club entering the draft. They own two picks in each of the first three rounds and in three of the top 33 slots. Bill Belichick can go any direction he chooses and certainly will have his staff working the phones for trade possibilities. The Patriots have a rich history of trading back to accumulate more picks, but they might be more open to trading up this year. They have decent youth on the roster, so when you consider the possibility of adding six more players drafted no later than the third round -- plus their picks in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds -- you have to wonder if there will be room for them all on the 53-man roster. The glut of picks also allows the Patriots to select the best available player and not fret about specific needs with any given pick.

New York Jets

The Jets made it to the AFC Championship Game again and will draft 30th. Head coach Rex Ryan has playfully groused about the late position and the fact the Jets will have to rummage for the best player still on the board. The Jets drafted cornerback Kyle Wilson 29th last year and immediately named him the team's starting nickelback and punt returner. That didn't work out. Wilson started six games, made 19 tackles, defensed five passes and returned 15 punts. While that negative experience could entice the Jets to return to their usual ways and move up in the draft for a prospect they truly covet -- as they did with cornerback Darrelle Revis, linebacker David Harris and quarterback Mark Sanchez -- an inability to trade players until there's a new collective bargaining agreement might make that difficult.

Gailey calls out first-rounder Aaron Maybin

March, 22, 2011
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MaybinAP Photo/Ann HeisenfeltBills head coach Chan Gailey says 2009 first-round choice Aaron Maybin has "got to get his own fire going."
NEW ORLEANS -- Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey appeared to gather himself when talking about 2009 first-round draft choice Aaron Maybin.

Gailey sat up a little straighter in his chair, cleared his throat, narrowed his eyes and spoke a little more sharply.

He's a straight shooter. And you could almost see Gailey inserting verbal bullets into the revolver.

Gailey delivered strong words Tuesday morning at the NFL coaches' media breakfast, a traditional event during the annual owners meeting. Gailey declared it was put-up-or-shut-up time for Maybin, an alleged edge rusher who "hasn't shown it in practice or in games."

Maybin knows what's expected of him, Gailey insisted. The kid just hasn't done it.

To be clear, I asked whether the failure came down to Maybin not trying hard enough or simply not being good enough.

"I think he wants to. I think he wants to," Gailey said, leaving pauses between each sentence. "He works at it. I'm glad you [asked that]. I don't want anybody to think he doesn't work at it."

Another pause.

So that must mean he's not good enough, I deduced aloud.

Gailey didn't blink.

"I don't want anybody to think he doesn't work at it," Gailey replied with a raised-brow expression that confirmed the unspoken point had found its bull's-eye.

Gailey's frustration is obvious when it comes to Maybin. Bills fans aren't too pleased either.

Maybin, the 11th overall selection in 2009, has started one NFL game. He was selected to chase quarterbacks, yet has zero sacks. Other prospects still on the draft board when the Bills took Maybin included Brian Orakpo and Clay Matthews.

The Bills were enamored with Maybin's one good season at Penn State. He didn't become Joe Paterno's starter at left defensive end until the third game but recorded 12 sacks and 20 tackles for losses. Maybin was named an All-American and was one of three finalists for the Bednarik Award.

"We all know his speed," Gailey said. "He tried to get bigger as the season went on to handle the run better. But it's more than just getting bigger."

Maybin entered the draft with two years of eligibility left. His game hasn't translated.

Since Maybin entered the NFL, 797 players have recorded at least a half-sack. Of that group, 132 weren't drafted.

"I don't think I've lit very many fires," Gailey said. "We might provide a spark, but he's got to get his own fire going.

"He's got to understand where he is. I always talk to guys about 'This is where we are. This is where we want to be, and this is how we get there.' Individually, guys have got to do that. 'This is where I am. This is where I want to be. Now, how do I get there?'

"We tell him all the time how to get there. He's got to do it. Talking's over. You've got to go get it done."

Maybin was a healthy scratch fives times last year, watching in street clothes. The Bills credited him with four solo tackles. So he must have competed on special teams, right? No, he had zero tackles there.

Bills general manager Buddy Nix said at the NFL scouting combine last month the Bills won't cut Maybin. Nix insisted they will find a way to use him somehow, somewhere.

What Maybin might have going for him is he has considerable room to mature. He turns 23 in two weeks. His progress was stunted by missing his entire rookie training camp, eventually signing a five-year deal worth as much as $25 million. He quickly needed to absorb Dick Jauron's 4-3 defensive system and then had to switch to 3-4 outside linebacker last year under new defensive coordinator George Edwards.

"Right now all it is is potential because he hasn't shown it in practice or in games," Gailey said. "He's got to understand about pass-rush. He's got to understand about leverage and changing direction and not running past the quarterback and all those little things that go into a great pass-rusher's feel for beating an offensive tackle and getting to the passer. He's got to be a better special-teams player. He's got to be better versus the run."

That pretty much covers it.

Donte Whitner monitoring job speculation

February, 21, 2011
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Donte Whitner seems intrigued by speculation the Buffalo Bills might be interested in newly unattached safeties Bob Sanders and O.J. Atogwe.

Whitner has been retweeting links to stories that wonder if the Bills would chase either free agent as a replacement for him. Whitner's contract is about to expire, and he hasn't played up to his draft position. The Bills used the eighth overall pick on him in 2006.

Whitner, one of the NFL's more media-aware players, has retweeted five links so far Monday, including a BuffaloRumblings.com poll that asks fans to choose their ideal starting strong safety: Atogwe, Sanders, Whinter or George Wilson, also a free-agent-to-be.

Another story Whitner linked was from National Football Post writer Matt Bowen, a seven-year NFL safety whose last year was spent in Buffalo when Whitner was a rookie.

Bowen named Buffalo the team that should most hotly pursue Sanders.

Bowen writes:
There is some interest on the part of the Bills. Buffalo has a player in safety Jarius Byrd who will go after the football, but they need another impact player at the position. Donte Whitner wasn't the play maker Buffalo envisioned when they made him a first round pick, and with his contract up, the Bills could look at Sanders to possibly slide into the secondary in 2011. The question for defensive coordinator George Edwards would be where to play him: at free or strong.

Buffalo's interest level, of course, will be commensurate with Sanders' -- or Atogwe's or anybody else's -- price tag. Sanders was a first-team All-Pro for the Indianapolis Colts in 2005 and 2007, but he has played only nine games the past three years.

Buffalo already has taken a gamble on outside linebacker Shawne Merriman with a contract predicated on whether he returns from the Achilles injury that ended his season. If the Bills were to roll the dice with Sanders, then they still should re-sign Wilson or another reliable veteran who can be trusted to play long stretches.

Leading Questions: AFC East

February, 16, 2011
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With the offseason in full swing, let's take a look at one major question facing each AFC East team as it begins preparations for the 2011 season:

BUFFALO BILLS

Can the defense become a difference-maker?

That abysmal 0-8 start and a record meager enough to lock down the third overall pick in the draft suggest the Bills were an utter mess in 2010. Statistically, they were on both sides of the ball.

Yet there's an unquestionably different vibe about the Bills' offense despite ranking 28th in points, 25th in yards, 18th in rushing offense and 24th in passing offense. Bills fans debate whether Ryan Fitzpatrick is an adequate starter. Running back Fred Jackson and wide receiver Steve Johnson are fan favorites.

There's a general belief head coach Chan Gailey has his young offense trending upward.

Buffalo's defense generates no such sentiment despite similar rankings: 28th in points, 24th in yards, 32nd in run defense and a misleading third in pass defense -- because opponents didn't need to throw. Opposing quarterbacks still recorded the league's fifth-highest passer rating against the Bills.

Buffalo needs an overhaul on defense, and they appear willing to try. Gailey brought in old pal Dave Wannstedt as assistant head coach and linebackers assistant. Wannstedt's influence is uncertain at the moment, but he has better credentials than defensive coordinator George Edwards, who oversaw a switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and, in the end, mashed them together.

The Bills also re-signed outside linebacker Shawne Merriman. He's a reclamation project. But who knows? At least they're trying.

Much more must be done. The Bills have a foundation player in defensive tackle Kyle Williams, but he's surrounded by flotsam. Inside linebacker and leading tackler Paul Posluszny is a free agent. Merriman was worth the gamble because the Bills are desperate for pass-rushers with 2009 first-round pick Aaron Maybin looking like a bust and a half.

The draft won't solve all their problems, and general manager Buddy Nix is averse to patching holes with free agents. Unless the Bills strike big in the draft and Merriman turns out to be worth the risk, expect the defense to cost them more games in 2011.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Will Chad Henne be their long-term quarterback?

The Dolphins revealed a lack of faith in Henne in 2010. They benched him twice.

The first time was an out-and-out demotion. In Week 10 -- with Tom Brady performing like an MVP, Mark Sanchez well on his way to the playoffs again and Fitzpatrick giving Bills fans something to cheer about -- the desperate Dolphins replaced Henne with Chad Pennington. There's no telling how long Henne would have remained on the sideline if Pennington didn't reinjure his throwing shoulder shortly after kickoff.

The next time Tony Sparano pulled Henne was in the season finale, a blowout loss to a Patriots squad that rested some of its best players and had nothing to play for. Henne completed six of his 16 passes, threw an interception and had a 25.8 passer rating. Not the way any quarterback wants to enter the offseason.

Henne was the Dolphins' supposed quarterback of the future. They drafted him in the second round in 2008, the year they took his Michigan teammate Jake Long first overall. Henne hasn't worked out yet. He studied under Pennington for a season and then took over in 2009, when Pennington got hurt two games into the season.

In his two nearly full seasons, Henne, at best, has looked decent. Great games have been rare. He has frustrated Dolfans more often than not. Henne has a career 75.3 passer rating. He has thrown six more interceptions than touchdown passes.

There are no guarantees Henne will remain Miami's starter, although the prediction here is that he will be in 2011. A new infrastructure is in place, and whenever a young quarterback has new idea men around, there's a tendency to extend opportunities -- especially when owner Stephen Ross, a Michigan man himself, has promoted Henne as a future Dolphins legend.

The Dolphins said goodbye to offensive coordinator Dan Henning and hired Brian Daboll, formerly of the Cleveland Browns. Henne's position coach, David Lee, left to be offensive coordinator at Mississippi. Receivers coach Karl Dorrell was switched to quarterbacks.

Will new voices be enough to inspire Henne to another level? I'm skeptical. While it's easy to scapegoat Henning -- and to an extent Lee -- for the offense's struggles, it should be noted Henning and Lee were considered geniuses when Pennington ran the offense and the Wildcat became an NFL trend. I doubt Henning and Lee turned vapid when Henne became quarterback.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Will the defense remain a weakness?

Week by week, the Patriots' defense evolved into a commendable unit. In four of their last five regular-season games, they allowed 20 combined points. Two of those opponents were playoff teams.

They sent four defensive players to the Pro Bowl: nose tackle Vince Wilfork, inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, cornerback Devin McCourty and safety Brandon Meriweather. Three of them were starters.

Not bad.

The numbers tell a different story. The Patriots ranked eighth in points allowed, but 25th in yards allowed, 11th in run defense and 30th in pass defense. The Patriots were dead last in third-down efficiency. They let opponents move the chains 47 percent of the time. They improved over the final few games, but in December they were on track to record the fifth-worst defense on third down since the NFL-AFL merger.

The Patriots gave up 34 points to the Browns, 30 points to the Bills and 24 points each to the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals.

Bill Belichick's defense can improve simply with another year of experience and the return of a couple of key contributors who missed 2010 with injuries.

The Patriots were young on defense. They started four rookies a couple of times. Their top secondary -- cornerbacks McCourty and Kyle Arrington, safeties Meriweather and Patrick Chung -- went into the season with four combined NFL seasons.

Not only will the defense improve by being another year older and wiser, but they'll also be reinforced when defensive end Ty Warren and cornerback Leigh Bodden come back.

Hip surgery wiped out Warren's season. Warren was a fixture at left end and forced the Patriots to juggle their line continually. A shoulder injury sidelined Bodden, and while McCourty emerged as a Pro Bowler, Bodden's presence over undrafted sophomore Arrington would have given the Patriots a much more formidable secondary.

New England's obvious need is a pass-rusher. With two draft choices in each of the first two rounds and the wherewithal to lure a free agent, there are plenty of reasons to expect New England's defense to upgrade in 2011.

NEW YORK JETS

Can the Jets retain their loaded receiving corps?

The Jets are in a bad spot when it comes to free agency in general, but particularly in regard to their wide receivers.

Contracts are up for Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith. They accounted for 17 of the club's 39 touchdowns.

Holmes spent the first four games on suspension, but he and Edwards combined for 105 receptions, 1,591 yards and 12 touchdowns. Smith was less of a threat in the receiving game, but he lined up as an option quarterback. He threw a touchdown pass and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum declared his intentions to re-sign them all, but he added the plan was in pencil and expressed considerable doubt he would hammer out any deals before March 3, when the collective bargaining agreement is expected to expire.

Until there's a new CBA, nobody knows what free agency will look like. When will the signing period commence? How many seasons of NFL experience will determine restricted or unrestricted free agency? What will salary-cap parameters be?

That's why bringing back all three receivers will be unlikely. Once they hit the open market, the Jets will have to compete with the rest of the league for three players who will be coveted.

The Jets acquired Holmes and Edwards because they had baggage, but they have enhanced their reputations immensely. Holmes served his suspension and was on his best behavior. Edwards defied his rap as a habitual ball-dropper.

The always-respected Smith once again proved to be a versatile weapon at a time when such players are in high demand.

The Jets must keep at least two of them. They can't afford to give Sanchez less to work with. The young quarterback has many admirable traits, but he has shown little capacity to carry the offense himself. Sanchez requires a strong support staff.

The Jets might be able to get away with losing one of these receivers. Tight end Dustin Keller was sensational while Holmes was suspended. Through the first four games, Keller had 19 receptions for 234 yards and five touchdowns. Then Keller got lost in the offense and didn't score another TD.

Bills land Dave Wannstedt as assistant

January, 21, 2011
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Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey's defensive coaching staff has gotten a lot better.

FoxSports.com senior writer Alex Marvez reports Dave Wannstedt will join Gailey's staff as assistant head coach and inside linebackers assistant.

The move is an offseason victory for the Bills, an organization that struggled to attract top free agents because they haven't reached the playoffs in a decade. Wannstedt becomes the biggest name to join the Bills as an assistant coach since future Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau served on Gregg Williams' defensive staff in 2003 or since Sam Wyche was quarterbacks coach under Mike Mularkey in 2004.

It will be interesting to see how big a voice Wannstedt has on defensive game planning.

Gailey retained defensive coordinator George Edwards, who oversaw a slapdash unit that switched from Dick Jauron's 4-3 scheme to a 3-4. By the end of the season, the Bills were running multi-front schemes.

They ranked 24th in total defense, 32nd in run defense and third in pass defense (because opponents ran so much).

The Bills had an opening because Gailey fired inside linebackers coach DeMontie Cross.

Wannstedt agreed with the Bills after drawing interest from several other teams. He was available because he resigned as head coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

He was Miami Dolphins head coach from 2000 through 2004, taking them to the playoffs his first two seasons with Gailey as offensive coordinator. Wannstedt led the Chicago Bears from 1993 through 1998, reaching the postseason once.

Wannstedt gained notice as a sharp defensive mind under Jimmy Johnson with the Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys. He was Cowboys defensive coordinator in Super Bowl XXVII, holding the Bills to 17 points.

Landing Wannstedt would be a Buffalo coup

January, 13, 2011
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Dave Wannstedt met with the Buffalo Bills on Thursday to discuss how he might fit in with their defensive coaching staff.

Head coach Chan Gailey welcomed Wannstedt to One Bills Drive to see what job his old friend would be willing to do. Gailey previously stated his support of defensive coordinator George Edwards.

Wannstedt has been head coach of the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins and recently resigned under pressure as University of Pittsburgh head coach.

He's overqualified for the Bills' only apparent vacancy, inside linebackers assistant. But tack on the title of assistant head coach and the pay that goes along with it, and that might work.

"I think he would be a very good fit, but it remains to be seen if this is something he would like to do or not," Gailey said to BuffaloBills.com. "So he'll have to think about it and see what direction he wants to go."

Gailey was Miami's offensive coordinator for two seasons while Wannstedt was head coach.

Before Wannstedt became a head coach, he was Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator under Jimmy Johnson, winning a Super Bowl.

"He's extremely knowledgeable," Gailey said of Wannstedt. "He's a great human being, a great team guy, and he would bring some intensity to our team because I know what burns inside of him."

The Bills probably will have to compete with other teams for Wannstedt's services.

ESPN's Adam Schefter previously reported Wannstedt also was expected to speak with the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers.

Gailey likes his D staff, not a Maybin fan

January, 3, 2011
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The Buffalo Bills fielded perhaps the NFL's worst defense.

They'll certainly undergo notable changes, but head coach Chan Gailey suggested the coaching staff won't be among them.

Gailey expressed support of defensive coordinator George Edwards and his assistants at Monday's season-ending news conference.

"I feel good about our coaching staff," Gailey said. "We're always evaluating. We'll evaluate the rest of this week about what we need to do at every position. They had a tough go of it this year, but I feel good about the people that are on that side of the ball."

The Bills transitioned from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme and then settled into multiple fronts. They ranked 24th in total defense, 32nd in run defense and (mainly because opponents didn't need to throw) third in pass defense. Quarterbacks still had a 92.6 rating against the Bills. Only four other teams allowed higher ratings.

Gailey was skeptical about the futures of safety Donte Whitner and outside linebacker Aaron Maybin, the 11th overall draft choice in 2009.

Whitner, an unrestricted free agent, has publicly bemoaned his unsuccessful contract negotiations. When reporters showed up Monday, his locker already had been cleared out.

"I didn’t realize that until I was told that a few minutes ago that that had happened," Gailey said of Whitner's empty stall. "He's a really good player. You'd love to have him on your football team, but we're in a business where that doesn't happen every time. So we'll wait and see what happens."

Gailey didn't sound bullish on Maybin's future. Maybin had trouble getting on the field in his second pro season. He played 10 games, started just one and still hasn't recorded an NFL sack.

"Right now, he's on the outside looking in," Gailey said. "That's where he is. If he improves, he'll improve his status. But if he doesn't improve his status, he won't find playing time on this football team."

Torbor expects Dolphins to keep on running

September, 10, 2010
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Miami Dolphins fans have been eager to see what kind of aerial fury their team will unleash.

The first chance to see how the Dolphins intend to conduct their offense will be Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Bills outside linebacker Reggie Torbor chuckled when asked what to expect from the Dolphins. He has a little intel, having played every game for the Dolphins over the past two years.

"Everybody's so caught up in Brandon Marshall and Chad Henne," Torbor said, "but if you don't stop their run game, you can put whoever you want on Marshall because Henne's just going to turn around and hand the ball off. That's the way they play football.

"They'll pound you and pound you. And when they think you've had enough, they'll pound you some more."

There are various reasons to expect the Dolphins will emphasize the run Sunday. The Bills have an opportunistic secondary the Dolphins might not have to test. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams against the Bills' front seven looks favorable enough.

The Bills have switched to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator George Edwards, a Dolphins assistant the past five years. Kyle Williams is an undersized nose tackle. The Bills have many linebackers who were drafted or previously signed to play a 4-3, meaning they're smaller and sleeker than you'd see in a traditional 3-4.

And they're a bit banged up. Torbor isn't a wise bet to play. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a chest injury. The Bills placed inside linebacker Kawika Mitchell on season-ending injured reserve Friday with a bad foot.

"The O-line is physical," Torbor said of the Dolphins. "In this day and age, people go so much zone scheme. They believe in blowing people off the ball. I guess you can't make a tackle if you're lying on your back.

"Then you have the physical running backs that complement that. They don't have 200-pound scatbacks back there. It's not enough to beat the O-line and beat the fullback. You still got to bring down Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams."

Torbor, released by the Dolphins in May, didn't get a chance to learn much from new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. But he can speak about the impact new inside linebacker Karlos Dansby can make for Miami. Torbor and Dansby were teammates at Auburn.

"He's a game-changer," Torbor said. "He's the type of guy who will not make many plays, it seems like. But about middle of the second quarter, third quarter, all of a sudden -- boom! He does that week in, week out. He's just known for it."
Big East injury report

Bills better off if Aaron Schobel stays away

July, 30, 2010
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Aaron Schobel's status with the Buffalo Bills is a lot like "Passions," a soap opera nobody cares to follow.

But it's a storyline, and it's happening.

[+] EnlargeAaron Schobel
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesThe Bills would be better off if Aaron Schobel did not rejoin the team, even though the nine-year veteran has 78 sacks.
Schobel, a pass-rusher who has been selected for two Pro Bowls, can't seem to decide whether he wants to keep playing football. He said in June he was leaning toward retirement. Now signs point to his possible return a week or so into training camp.

Yay for Buffalo, right?

I don't see it that way. If I'm the Bills' front office, I'd rather Schobel stay away at this point. And maybe that's why Schobel is changing his mind. Perhaps it's a cute ploy to force the Bills into a trade.

Either way, the Bills would be better off without him.

Yes, Schobel would improve Buffalo's defense. Every team could use a pass-rusher. He has recorded 78 sacks in nine NFL seasons.

But the circumstances make him not worth it. Buffalo is in a rebuilding phase. Schobel would receive a base salary of roughly $6 million this year if he plays. His cap hit is about $8.3 million, highest on the team.

Schobel will be 33 years old in September and has earned a certain degree of respect, but do the Bills, who are trying to lay a new foundation, need a player who didn't commit himself to work alongside his teammates for several months?

He missed every offseason workout, including mandatory minicamp. He has been a 4-3 defensive end his entire career, but the Bills have switched to a 3-4 defense under new head coach Chan Gailey and new coordinator George Edwards.

Jason Taylor, a player who has accomplished substantially more than Schobel, drew the ire of new Miami Dolphins boss Bill Parcells in 2008 for choosing not to participate in offseason workouts following a 1-15 season. Parcells wanted to establish a new culture and eventually catapulted Taylor off the roster, trading him to the Washington Redskins for a second-round draft pick.

Edwards was Miami's inside linebackers coach at the time.

If Schobel isn't bluffing about a return to Buffalo, there's no telling what kind of shape he would report in. He hasn't been working out under the watch of Buffalo's new strength-and-conditioning crew.

Buffalo's legendary coach, Marv Levy, once noted that when a player starts thinking about retirement he already has retired. I have a hard time imagining that a man leaning toward retirement pushed himself to stay in top shape.

Plus, there's no guarantee Schobel will return next year either. The Bills could bring back Schobel for a season in which they finish fourth and then watch him walk away in 2011 with $6 million of their money and nothing to show for it.

Save the cash and give the snaps to younger players who want to be around for a while.

Aaron Schobel reconsidering retirement

July, 27, 2010
7/27/10
7:06
PM ET
Who does this guy think he is? Brett Favre?

Buffalo Bills pass-rusher Aaron Schobel might not be thinking retirement anymore.

The two-time Pro Bowler skipped every summer workout and previously suggested he was done with football. But Schobel told Buffalo's ABC affiliate he may return to the Bills after all.

"I would say I'm leaning more towards [playing] than I was a month ago," Schobel told WKBW sports director Jeff Russo on Tuesday. "At this point I'm thinking about it. At that point [a month ago] I didn't want to even consider it. I wanted to enjoy my life like I was done with football. Lately, both me and my wife have decided we have to do something."

The report adds Schobel hasn't spoken to the Bills over the past month but would like to make a decision within the next 10 days.

Veterans are supposed to report for Bills training camp on Wednesday. The first practice will be Thursday.

"I don't know how much time they'd give me," Schobel said. "If I decide I want to come back, and they'd be willing to take me back, we will figure out what we need to do from there."

Schobel is at a disadvantage. He has played 4-3 defensive end since he entered the NFL as a second-round pick in 2001, but the Bills spent the summer installing a 3-4 defense under new head coach Chan Gailey and new defensive coordinator George Edwards.

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