As training camp is something that us Bills fans love to be a part of many of us can’t always get there and have always had questions. Different questions I’ve heard people wondering about is life on campus, people saying what they would do if they were on the coaching staff and more. Luckily I was able to get some time with someone who fits this bill and covers this team 24/7. Joe Buscaglia sideline reporter for the Buffalo Bills radio network was kind enough to answer some questions in a Q and A. Five questions were asked and here you have it:
1. First off what does a typical day entail for you at St John Fisher on a Bills practice day?
– Well, I wake up whenever Howard Simon tells me to and stroll out of my dorm room over to the broadcast tent we have at St. John Fisher College for my daily morning hit. Then it’s all about prep for the next day of practice. I go over my hand-written notes, read the work of my peers and listen to whatever audio is available that could be a potential storyline. While I’m out on the practice field, you’ll usually see me standing by myself and talking to myself. It’s not because I’m anti-social and crazy (well, maybe a little of the latter), it’s because I try to focus on as many different things as I can on one play to provide something a little bit unique rather than canned interviews or just who threw the ball, who caught the ball, so on and so forth. Once practice is over, I get some interviews for the station and my perspective, and head back to the dorm room to compile (hopefully) easy-to-read practice notes along with a feature story if I’m the only WGR staffer covering practice that day. I’ll usually have another live hit with Schopp & the Bulldog at some point during their show as well.
2. Besides the quarterback position because we all know of its importance, what/who is something you have been keeping an eye on thus far ex. a player, coach, camp battle or a combination?
– It’a combination. I think this Da’Rick Rogers situation is one of the more fascinating that we’ve had in camp for some time. This is only my fourth year on the Bills beat full-time, but I don’t know that I’ve heard of more of a fervor from fans about an undrafted player as I have with Rogers. He’s immensely talented and quite immature. His potential is endearing, but how does a team try to deal with a “potential” player that may not be buying in to how the head coach wants his players to act? Right now, Rogers’ biggest enemy is himself. He’s been lined up incorrectly, he’s given up on plays, he’s forgotten to be on the field, he’s dropped big passes down the field and he’s always got something to say. However, he’s also made some impressive plays throughout training camp that makes the fans in attendance want to believe in him. It’s a tricky, yet enthralling topic that I can’t wait to see the result of. What Doug Marrone and the Bills decide to do with Rogers, who has been outplayed by both Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley in training camp, will be telling to their line of thinking. At this point, I think the potential might outweigh the risks — because if they waive him, there is no way he’s getting to the practice squad. Whereas the Bills will likely be able to sneak either Hogan or Easley on the practice squad.
3. If you were the coach what are some things you would do differently that you’ve seen so far if any?
– If I were the coach, I think I might tinker with different combinations along the top units if there is no set starter in place. They have been doing that at cornerback, but I’d give other players besides Colin Brown and Doug Legursky a look at left guard. I’d give Duke Williams some first-team reps because Da’Norris Searcy hasn’t performed well. From a positional standpoint, I’d probably get with the receivers and work on the technical side of being a wideout. Footwork, footwork and more footwork.
4. I know it’s still early but what does a successful season look like to you? Going beyond the record is it the quarterback play, the defense or anything else you think would make it a success?
– You hit the nail on the head on both accounts. The defense must be able to compensate for the lack of a true second cornerback, at least from what we’ve seen so far. If the pressure cannot get there soon enough, that could be a recurring theme all season long. The topic of quarterback is an obvious one. We likely won’t have the answer to the question “Is EJ the guy?” unless he leads them on a completely unexpected journey into the playoffs. If you’re a Bills fan, you just want to see some signs of future improvement.
5. Lastly I was high on Matt Barkley at the draft and was hoping the Bills would take him. I’m not upset with the Bills pick but I really didn’t see EJ coming out until the 3rd round at least. If we did take Barkley would you have been ok with it? Reading things on him I think he would’ve fit this offense pretty well and just wanted to get your take.
I think Barkley would have fit as well, and a big part of me was wondering if they would go for Barkley in the fourth round had he been on the board. That said, the read-option was a consistent part of Nathaniel Hackett’s offense at Syracuse and I think they looked at EJ Manuel (who is very talented at running the ball as a quarterback) and their mouths drooled. It’s the darling offensive principle in the NFL right now, and until teams can stop it, the Bills and many more will continue to run it. Barkley would not have been a fit for that. However, his quick-hitting style and better than advertised deep ball would have fit well with Hackett and the Bills.
I want to thank Joe for his time and some good stuff on the Bills. I hope the best during the preseason, season and keep up the good work.