Maybe Maybin’s not finished

February 25th, 2011 at 12:27 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Some interesting comments yesterday from Bills GM Buddy Nix regarding Aaron Maybin’s future with the club.  Many fans have already written off the 2009 first round draft pick as a bust, after very little production in his first two seasons.  But not Nix.

“We’re going to keep working with Aaron Maybin,” Nix told us Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.  “He shows signs of doing what he needs to do. If he can be consistent with that we’re going to find something that he can do to help us.”

When asked specifically if the Bills are giving up on Maybin, Nix answered simply, “No.”

Nix faith in Maybin may impact the Bills drafting decisions in the weeks and months ahead.   Texas A-and-M outside linebacker Von Miller has been mentioned as a possible pass rush specialist that could help the Bills.  But if the Bills are committed to Maybin, maybe they look elsewhere.

Wannstedt’s role with the Bills

February 25th, 2011 at 11:51 am by under 4 Warn Weather

Lots of leftover items from our conversation with Bills Coach Chan Gailey Thursday, at day one of the NFL Scouting Combine.  It was the first chance we had to talk to Gailey about the hiring of former Dolphins and Pitt Head Coach Dave Wannstedt earlier this year.

Wannstedt’s been named the Bills new Assistant Head Coach and Inside Linebackers Coach, reuniting him with Gailey.  Wannstedt was the Head Coach on the Dolphins staff when Gailey was offensive coordinator in 2000 and 2001.

As we expected. Gailey views Wannstedt as an invaluable resource to the team, especially on game days, when Gailey is calling offensive plays. 

“The thing that can happen now,” Gailey told us” is that when the offense  is off the field, I can go back and talk to the quarterbacks and Dave is there if we need to make a decision about penalties or something like that, if my head’s stuck back with the photographs with the quarterbacks.  I feel freer to do that now.”

We also talked to Gailey about the Bills primary defensive philosophy.  They made a painful conversion to a 3/4 front last year, but Wannstedt’s defensive experience is primarily in 4/3 defenses.  Gailey says the Bills will incorporate elements of both defensive fronts and morph into a hybrid-style defense, as they started to do in the second half of the 2010 season.

“I think we are a hybrid,” Gailey says.  ” I think we are going to play just enough 3/4 to make them honest and make them mad because they have to prepare for it.  But it may take playing a little bit more four man front, because of what we’re facing–running game, to be able to stop the running game.”

Whatever defensive front they play, and whether Wannstedt is on board with the defense, Gailey says improvement on defense is his number one offseason goal.

“We have to improve our defense, particularly our run defense, whether it’s personnel, scheme, blitz alignment, whatever.  We have to improve our defense and particularly, our run defense.”

Day one of NFL combine

February 24th, 2011 at 5:15 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

It’s a hectic day at the NFL combine for us.  Photographer Scott Swenson and I hit the ground running at around 1130sam when we arrived in Indianapolis.  We did a one-on-one interview with Bills Coach Chan Gailey at the Bills hotel, then moved over to the Combine Media room at Lucas Oil Field to set up shop and talk to some of the offensive line prospects.  In the middle of that, we sat down with Bills GM Buddy Nix to try to get a better idea on Buffalo’s draft plans.

Needless to say, the Bills are not going to preview their draft plans, especially with their premium first round pick at #3.  There’s been plenty of speculation lately about Buffalo drafting Auburn QB Cam Newton with that pick, but Nix told us today “Anybody who says they know we’re going to pick a QB in the first round,  absolutely does not know what they’re talking about.”

I guess that settles that.  Or does it?

If the Bills are interested in Newton, or any other first round QB, it would behoove them not to say much about it right now.  Carolina and Denver, both picking ahead of Buffalo, could also reasonably be in the market for a rookie QB, even though both teams used picks for QBs last year (Clausen to Carolina, Tebow to Denver).

But from the Bills standpoint, I get the sense they’re really not sure whether to go QB in the first round yet.  There are so many good options on the defensive line, with players like Auburn’s Nick Failey,  Alabama’s Marcell Dareus, and Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers available, the Bills have to have players like that in consideration.

What is also key is the commitment the Bills brain trust has to Ryan Fitzpatrick.  “We can win with him,” Gailey and Nix told me today.  They have to balance that consideration, against the fact that they are drafting number three overall, and they may not get a shot at a true franchise QB again in the near future.

The quarterbacks meet with us in the media room tomorrow (today was offensive linemen–not anyone very impressive). We’ll talk more about the QB prospects as combine week continues.

At Midweek, Friday looks like a Nail Biter

February 23rd, 2011 at 2:41 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

There is still a “wide spread” among models and ensemble members as to the path of Friday’s storm system.  But there does seem to be more of a tendency to either snow or mixed precipitation  turning to snow, with fewer indicators today of rain. The European model brings the 850 mb zero isotherm close enough to introduce the possibility of sleet mixing in during the morning, while the GFS is colder with less total precip (but what there is would be all snow). The NAM is more gung ho for mainly snow and stronger NE winds.

The majority of winter storms have a fair to large amount of uncertainty attached to them, and this storm is no exception. The Monday storm looks more likely to be entirely rain for the bulk of it s heavier precipitation with a changeover to snow following a cold frontal passage. The GFS depiction would even put us in a favorable setup for some convection in the warm sector ahead of the cold front, with a favorable jet structure and placement for thunder. This storm will be followed by a sharp but brief cooldown for the start of March.

Weather Settles Down for a Few Days before Things Get Unsettled (Again)

February 21st, 2011 at 1:15 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

After a storm which left stripes of heavy, moderate, and light snow (from south to north), wintry cold has returned for a couple of days. Temperatures will moderate more noticeably by Thursday, but not get so warm as late last week. Once again, considerable uncertainty exists as of this posting on a storm system which may impact us Thursday night into Friday. There is too much spread among models and ensembles to have much confidence on precipitation type or amounts with that system. Another storm system may bring us additional snow by Sunday. There is higher confidence that early March will get off to a Cold start, with temperatures running below average. The storm track looks to be active again by week’s end and into next week.

Deadline Decisions

February 20th, 2011 at 10:56 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Darcy Regier (AP Photo)

Tuesday, Terry Pegula will officially become Darcy Regier’s boss.  It won’t take long for the two to establish a relationship, and for Pegula to put some kind of stamp on the team.  The NHL trade deadline is next Monday, February 28th.  What the Sabres do will give us some insight into how Pegula will run the team, and what Regier does will give Pegula some insight into whether he stays as general manager.

Now, I don’t believe that there will be noticable changes this quickly.  Pegula needs time to assess the organization and find his way as an owner.  But we may be able to pull some hints based on how active the Sabres are next Monday.  Do they dump some vets with expiring contracts, like Connolly, Montador or Regier?  That would signify a more conservative approach of building from within.  Do they acquire any new players with existing contracts?  That would be a good sign of agressiveness and loosened budgets.  Do that acquire players in expiring contracts, despite comments from Regier to the contrary.  That would indicate a loss of power for the GM. 
     I don’t have a problem not playing the free agent to be game.  That hasn’t worked here, and barely anywhere.  I would like the team to be agressive and bring in a player who can help them now and next year.  Even if he costs some cash.  That will bring on a new attitude, and tell us that Pegula means business.  Anybody who wants Connolly or Rivet can have them.  That’s just smart use of useless parts.  Montador? A nice, but aging player.  I don’t know that I want to build around him, but he’s worth keeping at the right price. 
      Ultimately, I think Pegula’s impact will be seen in how much the Sabres move to re-sign existing players like Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers.  We learned the hard lesson about letting good players walk. I want my owner to never let that happen again.
     So don’t make any conclusions based on next Monday.  But it will start to paint the picture of the new owner/fan/savior of the Sabres.

Report cards issued for schools in NYS

February 17th, 2011 at 3:59 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

How is your school educating its students, and at what cost?

The State Education Department has issued its annual school report cards. They cover three key areas: educational accountability, test results for proficiency exams, and fiscal accountability.

You can look up the report cards here.

Pillow fight invades San Fran

February 15th, 2011 at 8:07 am by under 4 Warn Weather

The annual “Feathers of Fury” pillow fight invaded San Francisco’s waterfront over the weekend.

Hundreds gathered to pelt and smack their closest bedfellows with the weapon of choice, pillows!

The pillow party is an underground movement that can be followed online.

You’ll Need a Scorecard to Follow the Temperatures

February 14th, 2011 at 10:29 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

around here for the next couple of weeks, that is. While the blocking pattern near Greenland has drifted far off, the flow of milder Pacific air across the lower 48 will be interrupted at irregular intervals by a train of vigorous waves in the mid-level flow and low pressure/storm systems at the surface. Each time one of these waves approaches, temperatures will get pumped up on a brisk southerly or SWly flow, and then dragged down behind each wave, following the passage of a cold front. In other words, ups and downs. The downs will bring quick hits of seasonably cold temperatures, but nothing with the persistence we experienced for nearly all of December, January, and the first week and a half of February. At this point, the average storm track for these vigorous waves will not be bringing any heavier precip this week. But it’s possible we’ll see increased precipitation next week.

Bottom line: with all the ups and downs I’ve mentioned, when all is said and done temperatures averaged out over the next 16 day period will be milder than they were during the last 16 day period. Not exactly an early spring (sorry, ground hog), but a far cry from what we’ve been through.

Gronk Nation at the 2011 Auto Show

February 11th, 2011 at 7:42 pm by under Jacquie Walker's Newsroom Notebook

Rob Ray along with Dan, Rob, and Chris Gronkowski at the Buffalo Auto Show

It was like standing in the land of giants Thursday night at the Buffalo Auto Show. I ran into Dan, Rob and Chris Gronkowski just after they had taped a segment of “The Enforcers,” hosted by Rob Ray and Reuben Brown. Reuben was not there when we snapped this photo, but that was one less giant in the picture! Dan, Rob, and Chris, of East Amherst, made some history this season as three brothers playing for three different NFL teams.

The cars are the stars drawing crowds at the Buffalo Auto Show

There was a noticeable increase in the number of people we spotted at the Buffalo Convention Center this year. That always begs the question, are folks buying or just looking? Paul Stasiak, President of the Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers Association, tells me the dealers are re-energized this year. He says: “I think people have older cars, credit is a little easier to get, the rates are very, very attractive, and the stock market is coming back. So, there’s a little bit more optimism.”