Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bills continue making big moves; Goodell drops the hammer

Slow sports news day, huh?

Ah, hardly.

Let’s start in Buffalo, where the Bills took another Giant step toward respectability by signing free agent defensive end Mark Anderson. Anderson, who had 10 sacks for the New England Patriots last season, showed up in Buffalo Tuesday and decided not to leave.

Credit, in part, the recruiting efforts of Mario Williams, who showed up in Buffalo last week and decided not to leave after the Bills made him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history. Williams, a former teammate of Anderson’s in Houston talked up the Bills big-time. And that, along with a four-year, $27.5 million contract was enough to convince him to become part of Buffalo’s resurgence.

I used the word “Giant” in that third paragraph because the Bills clearly are following the New York Giants defensive model, which emphasizes fielding a defensive line capable of getting enough pressure on the quarterback that you don't have to blitz a lot. That frees up eight guys for pass coverage. That results in sacks and turnovers and incompletions and wins.

Williams is one of the league’s premier pass rushers. Anderson obviously is coming off a very productive year for a Super Bowl participant. Add them to a line that includes promising sophomore-to-be Marcell Dareus and Pro Bowler Kyle Williams, who’s healthy after missing all of last season with a foot injury, and you have, on paper, one of the best defensive lines in football.

And don’t forget that they’ll be able to throw Chris Kelsay and Shawne Merriman into the rotation.

I’m not surprised that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came down so hard on former Bills coach Gregg Williams. His involvement in “Bountygate” cost him an indefinite suspension, which will last at least a year. I think Williams, who oversaw these shenanigans while serving as the defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, won’t ever coach in the NFL again.

I was a little surprised that Goodell slapped a one-season suspension on Saints coach Sean Payton. I thought he'd get half a season. It’s obvious Goodell wants to send a powerful message to other coaches who consider doling out cash bonuses for injuring opposing players, particularly quarterbacks.

Early in the afternoon, I received a text from the New York Times that Tim Tebow had been traded to the Jets. But it appears the Times may have jumped the gun. The deal hit a snag and the Jacksonville Jaguars are back in the Tebow Sweepstakes with an offer the Denver Broncos might not be able to refuse. Tebow to the Jets makes no sense to me. Can you imagine the quarterback circus in New York his arrival will cause? After two incompletions, the fans will be calling for him to replace Mark Sanchez, whose psyche already is about as fragile as an egg shell.

I think Syracuse will eke out a close win in a low-scoring NCAA Sweet 16 game tomorrow night against Wisconsin. Call it: Orange 65, Badgers 59, setting up an Elite Eight meeting with Ohio State. You’ll be able to read my take on the game on WROC-TV’s website: not long after the game.

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