ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — You’ve got Buffalo Bills questions. I’ve got answers. Let’s do this.
Rick McGuire: Vic ... should the Bills either not make the playoffs this year or lose in the wild-card or divisional round, would that put Sean McDermott on the hot seat? I would hope not. However, Tony Dungy & Marty Schottenheimer were both fired after making the playoffs several times before then.
Vic Carucci: Though I don’t think a fourth consecutive early exit from the playoffs would or should cost McDermott his job, it also would be naïve to believe he wouldn’t feel an elevated level of heat.
McDermott understands better than anyone that this is a win-only business. His lone objective is to deliver a Super Bowl championship. Falling short of the big game once again would undoubtedly be seen as a failure by a good portion of the multitudes that consider the Bills a favorite to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.
I wouldn’t venture to predict how Terry and Kim Pegula would view it, but I doubt they’d have any appetite to hit the reset button. McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane continue to represent as competent a leadership duo as the Bills have ever had. Patience tends to be rare for owners of pro sports franchises. They’ve heard all of the complaints about coaching decisions that proved costly in the divisional-round loss at Kansas City last January, and certainly have their own opinions about what unfolded in those fateful final 13 seconds of regulation.
Nevertheless, I think the Pegulas understand the majority of what they have in place, from top to bottom, is exceptional and merits staying in place at least for one more season even if 2021 doesn’t end in the Super Bowl or with the franchise’s first Lombardi.
Joe Bad: Will the Jordan Poyer deal get done before camp, and will the next player to get an extension be Tremaine Edmunds or Dawson Knox?
VC: I’m not sure if Poyer’s contract will be extended before camp opens on July 23, but I do believe something gets done during camp or the preseason.
My sense is both sides continue to be motivated to reach an agreement. Judging from the way Poyer has handled things publicly, he seems fully on board with remaining a part of the Bills for the long haul. “I can’t really think of a better situation for me to be in than Buffalo right now,” Poyer said during a recent appearance on the “Inside the Garage” podcast.
Regarding the second part of your question, my best guess is that Knox would be the player next in line for a contract extension after Poyer. In my estimation, he’s trending more in the direction of the sort of progress that would lead to elite status. On the other hand, I think Edmunds’ play has yet to eliminate lingering questions about whether he’ll ever live up to his first-round pedigree.
Michael: What does Kaiir Elam need to do to secure the CB2 spot?
VC: The simple/obvious answer is that he needs to perform consistently well during training-camp practice repetitions and in preseason action.
More than anything, Elam must quickly gain the trust of the coaches if he’s to be a starter from the outset of the regular season. That would figure to be a fairly steep challenge, considering the quality and aggressiveness of the passing attack he’ll face on a regular basis in workouts.
Any cornerback, rookie or veteran, who holds his own against Stefon Diggs or Gabe Davis is going to merit being in the starting lineup.
Richard S.: Even if he’s super talented, wouldn’t it be a big risk for the Bills to start a rookie cornerback (Elam) at the very beginning of the season? Maybe pick up a veteran free agent if it’s fairly clear that Tre’Davious White won’t be ready yet? Or am I underestimating the Bills backup CBs?
VC: I think you might be underestimating the Bills’ depth at cornerback.
Dane Jackson is solid. I could see him stepping into a starting role at the beginning of the season if White isn’t recovered enough from his knee surgery to be deemed ready to go, or if the coaches don’t consider Elam ready enough to start opposite a healthy White.
I’m not sure if Jackson is who you would want starting for the entire season, but he’s more than capable of providing a cushion if needed.
Ed Helinski: Of this year’s Bills rookie class, who will make the biggest impact and contribution this season? And also, might there be any sleepers going into training camp?
VC: It would be hard for me to see anyone other than Elam making any sort of splash as a rookie, largely because he’s likely to receive the greatest amount of playing time as a rookie on a roster that figures to offer limited room for first-year player contributions.
James Cook’s presence should be felt, but mainly as a pass-catcher. I don’t see him taking significant snaps away from No. 1 running back Devin Singletary. For that matter, I’m not sure he’ll have a whole lot more carries than Zack Moss.
Considering Khalil Shakir is a fifth-round pick, he probably is the best sleeper candidate. I don’t envision him making a huge impact at receiver as a rookie, but he could move the needle on special teams.
Jeff: Vic, please rank the Bills road games to attend based on which would be most enjoyable taking into account location, quality of team and weather.
VC: Interesting question because of its originality.
I’ll go with Los Angeles first (mainly based on the quality of the team; weather isn’t much of a factor in early September and considering it a favorable location for visitors is more than slightly debatable).
After that, it’s Kansas City (another great team and cannot beat the barbecue), Baltimore (the team should be good, provided Lamar Jackson doesn’t hold out; the inner harbor is a fun place to eat, drink and be merry, and great sight lines at M&T Bank Stadium), New England (Bills fans will never get enough of seeing their team beat the Tom Brady-less Patriots at Gillette Stadium or anywhere else; cannot beat the seafood, and I’m a big fan of Boston as a city), Chicago (also high marks for eating, drinking and merriment), Cincinnati (solid social scene), Detroit (Lions could be a sleeper; the city is easy to get to from Western New York), Miami (I know it’s always a popular destination for Bills fans and I probably would have ranked it higher if the game were later than Sept. 25, but in general Miami doesn’t do a whole lot for me), and East Rutherford, N.J. (does putting this last need any explanation?).