Tag:Buffalo Bills
Posted on: December 27, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 10:47 am

Tracking Tebow, Week 16: Defenses are catching on

We're Tracking Tebow … because it's impossible not to watch. 

By Ryan Wilson

First, the good news: the Broncos control their destiny. At this point in the season, that's all you can ask. Despite dropping their second game in a row in convincing fashion, Denver remains atop the AFC West, and if they beat the Chiefs Sunday, they're division champs, which will earn them the right to face either the Steelers or Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.

For now, though, the Broncos have to fix an offense that has developed a reputation this season with Tim Tebow as its starter of long stretches of ineptitude highlighted by improbable late-game comebacks (one that included a six-game winning streak). Two weeks ago, Denver was 8-5 and coming off an overtime win against the Bears. Now, after getting thoroughly outplayed by the Patriots and the Bills, the questions have returned. Namely: can Tebow be an NFL quarterback and the related: have teams figured out how to stop him and the college offense the Broncos now feature?

Too early to say on the former, but almost certainly yes on the latter.

A week after New England worked to contain Tebow in the pocket and forced him to win the game with his arm, Buffalo perfected the game plan. The Bills usually rushed four, dropped seven into coverage, made sure Tebow didn't break the pocket for long runs, and made him squeeze throws into tight windows, often with disastrous results.

Coming into the game, Tebow had three interceptions. By the time it was over, Tebow had thrown four more, two of the pick-six variety, and he looked flustered all afternoon.

"I think [defensive coordinator Georgge] Edwards did a great job as far as giving us different keys based on what personnel they had in the game and what type of plays they were gonna run," said Bills cornerback Drayton Florence, via the Buffalo News. "When they got in a regular set [two receivers, two backs], it was more traditional runs. When they got in two tight ends, it was more of the option game. So I think our defensive ends did a great job of being aware of that and knowing how they were going to attack us. …

"They just tell Tebow to go out there and run around and make something happen," Florence said. "Early in the game they were running the ball because they didn't have to throw it. He's just using his athletic ability, sort of like Michael Vick was doing early in his career. Just give him one side of the field to read. If it's not there, make something happen and scramble."

Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard added: "We were able to say ... when we're man to man, one of the backers lock the running back and the other one spies the quarterback. mean, it worked to perfection today. They were flushing him, and myself or Nick would go and wrap and contain. It was just a good day all-around."

So now the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments begin in earnest. Which Tebow will show up in Week 17, and God willing, the playoffs? No idea.

But don't mistake the Bills' game plan for Tebow reverting to the form that had him embarrassed by the Lions back in October. He continues to improve, even if incrementally. The problem: as defenses become more comfortable recognizing and attacking the Broncos' option scheme, Denver will need to find ways to adapt. And that will mean using Tebow in more conventional ways. Can they (he) do it? Well, we'll find out, won't we.

                                                   Play by Play

(Note: Below are the plays -- both running and passing -- involving Tebow. You can view the entire play-by-play breakdown here)


"First and foremost, I want to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Isn't it great that no matter what, win or lose, we have a chance to celebrate my lord and savior's birth tomorrow. That's pretty cool. It's something I'm very excited about, celebrating Christmas. It's going to be a lot of fun." - Tebow's opening remarks during his post-game press conference.

"We knew if we could make (Tebow) one dimensional by stopping the run, there was no way we were going to allow him to come out and throw the ball and beat us with his arm." - Bills safety George Wilson

"“We knew [facing Kyle Orton] was a possibility. So, here it is. We have to go out there and play well. It was best for the team, bottom line. We made that decision knowing this was a possibility. Now we have to do it.” - Broncos executive VP John Elway last Saturday


Moving pictures evidence that the Bills confused Tebow all day.

Broncos QB Tim Tebow throws four interceptions in a 40-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Frame-by-frame breakdown of Tebow's first interception. (In case it's not clear, you'll have to click on the individual images to get the larger view.)

Tebow's first interception of the game came late in the third quarter with the Broncos trailing 23-14. The Bills showed a single high safety (frame 1) pre-snap. After the snap, they dropped seven in coverage and rushed four. It was a five-receiver route. At the top of Tebow's drop, the three deep receivers were all covered (frame 2). Tebow rolled right to avoid the rush and with no running lanes due to good containment (frame 3), he forced a pass 25 yards downfield into triple-coverage (frame 4).

                                                   Eye on Tebow

Buffalo Bills' Chris Kelsay (90) and Arthur Moats (52) sack Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow (15) during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:43 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Posted by Will Brinson

Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Slightly condensed version this week as it's the holidays. No podcast, no picture of the week and only eight questions. Blame Mrs. Brinson if you're so inclined. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.

The Greatest Rookie Season Ever?

That's right. The greatest rookie season ever is precisely what Cam Newton's going to wrap up in Week 17 against the Saints a game of no real consequence when it comes to his legacy as the best rookie in NFL history.

There should be no argument that Cam's season, even without the final week, goes down as the greatest season by a rookie quarterback in history. He has the record for most passing yards in a season (again, with a week to go) by a rookie. He has the record for most passing yards in a game by a rookie. He has the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

Of the seven rookie quarterbacks with 3,000 passing yards, Newton doesn't have the most passing touchdowns, but he doesn't have the most interceptions either. There shouldn't be any question that his rookie year is the greatest by any quarterback.

As far as other rookies go, you could argue for Eric Dickerson (more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns in 1983), Dick Lane (14 interceptions, two pick sixes for Night Train in 1952), Randy Moss (17 touchdowns and 1,313 receiving yards in 1998) or Lawrence Taylor (9.5 sacks -- before they were even counted -- in 1981) if you want.

But none of those guys dealt with the complexities of running an offense. None of those guys dealt with a lockout-shortened offseason. None of those guys performed the way they did under the intense scrutiny of 2011 Twitteratiland. None of those guys carried the expectations of the No. 1 overall pick who was supposed to save a franchise ... or cost a GM his job simply because no one was sure how good they'd be. None of those guys inspired the fierce debate that Newton did leading up to being drafted.

Cam's rejuvenated a franchise that was dead in the water and he might be a top-10 quarterback in the NFL right now. It's been a marvel to watch him perform and it's insane to think that there was a debate as to whether or not the Panthers should take him.


Matthew Stafford: The Lions are in the playoffs. That's worthy of "winner inclusion" all by itself. But the Lions were secretly facing a pretty bad situation, with the white-hot Chargers and the very good Packers over the next two weeks. 9-7 and getting snuck out of the playoffs wasn't out of the question at all. Until Stafford got his surgical precision on and shredded the San Diego secondary, going 29 of 36 with 373 yards and three touchdowns. Stafford's next up for the "is he or isn't he elite" debate.

Pete Prisco
: Yes, my CBSSports.com colleague and former life coach (Pete doesn't know it, but I fired him when he suggested I not wear socks with my loafers). Prisco's the only guy that I know of who refused to budge off his negative stance of Tebow during the Broncos winning streak. There might be an argument that Pete's stubborn and you might be inclined to call him a "hater" but with the way that Tebow egged on Saturday, there are going to be a LOT of people ripping him over the next week. And Prisco's the only one of those people who's stood his ground the whole time.

Kevin Kolb:
The Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday and that means Kolb avoided his worst possible nightmare. That would be "John Skelton marching Arizona to an improbable postseason run and the team deciding to bail on Kolb's albatross of a contract." Instead, Arizona now plays out the string and regroups for 2012, likely with Kolb as the starting quarterback for at least another year.

Matt Forte
: What's that, you say? Forte didn't play on Saturday. Oh, I know that. I also know that if the Vikings hadn't handed Adrian Peterson a monster contract before the 2011 season, things would be awkward right about now. Over the past month, the Bears have collapsed without Forte and Jay Cutler, meaning he's beefed up his leverage as an important player for the franchise and, with the Peterson injury, justified his rationale for wanting a new contract.

Jerome Simpson: Did you see his touchdown catch?

Turner's time might be up in San Diego. (US Presswire)


Norv Turner: A lot of credit goes to the Lions for the way they played on Saturday. Detroit is a very good team and a formidable opponent. But how can the Chargers not show up, especially knowing that the Broncos lost and that they were either a Bengals/Jets pair of losses or a Broncos loss in Week 17 away from making the playoffs? That's still not "controlling your own destiny" but out of everyone who was gifted an early Christmas present during the early games on Sunday, Turner and the Chargers were probably the luckiest. A 24-0 halftime deficit in the most critical game of the season isn't going to inspire any Spanos family members to keep their pink slips tucked away.

Jason Garrett
: No one's going to blame him for losing to Philly. That's what happens with Stephen McGee under center. But holy cow does Garrett have the hardest decision -- and the most scrutiny -- of his short career coming up over the next week. The Giants and Cowboys will play in Week 17, with a trip to the postseason and a division championship on the line. Tony Romo will almost certainly play, but will he be effective? Can Garrett gameplan in order to play to Romo's injury? Will he cough up a shot at the postseason? These are the ways we will judge him after next week's game. And by "we" I obviously mean "Jerry Jones and his potentially angry family."

Adrian Peterson
: AP's leg injury on Sunday was so brutal that I even feel like a jerk putting him in the "losers" section. But if you saw the horrific nature of Peterson's injury, you know precisely why he's not feeling like a winner right now. The Vikings announced after the game that it was a sprained knee but -- all due respect to Minnesota -- that's just not believable at all. The multiple reports that it's a torn ACL (and potentially worse) make a lot more sense. It's just sad that Peterson could miss significant time because he was playing in a meaningless game for a three-win team.

Rex Ryan: Ryan spent all week running his mouth about the New York-New York rivalry and when push came to shove, his guy Mark Sanchez fumbled on the Giants goal line and threw a "pass" to an offensive lineman that resulted in a safety in a devastating loss on Saturday. The Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie combo got torched by Victor Cruz (that's his name, right?) and Brandon Jacobs got to say "It's time to shut up, fat boy." That's just embarrassing. Oh, right, and the Jets lost control of their own destiny with respect to the playoffs. It wouldn't be nearly as mortifying if Ryan hadn't run his mouth all week.

Pipedreams: Just like San Diego, the Eagles were very much a longshot to make the playoffs. But I'm telling you, there was a chance. Then the Giants killed that chance (adding to their winner-y-ness) with a win over the Jets. That means Week 17 is no longer a dream scenario for fans of long shots, because both early-season favorites are now removed from any chance of a postseason berth. You don't have to root for the Eagles or Chargers. In fact, you can root against them. But if you don't like ridiculous storylines and clowning around with playoff predictors then we're not friends.

The Big Questions

The new Tebow narrative could be awkward. (AP)

1. What's the new Tim Tebow narrative?
No, but it's on life support (and Prisco wants to pull the plug!). Look, Tebow can still win against Kansas City in Week 17, or even lose as long as the Chargers beat the Raiders. But think about how quickly this narrative could be absolutely flipped on its head: if Kyle Orton, the man Tebow replaced, beats Tebow in Week 17 because Tebow can't win late, and the Raiders beat the Chargers and make the playoffs, the Broncos new narrative will be as chokers. No, really, it will. And that is nuts when you consider where we were just two weeks ago.

2. Why does Leslie Frazier keep playing guys who are hurt?
NO CLUE. But this is a story that's flown under the radar for the past few weeks and it culminated with AP's injury against Washington, as well as the concussion that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder suffered on Saturday. The Vikings are 3-12 after winning on Christmas Eve, but they didn't even need Peterson or Ponder to put up points -- it was all Joe Webb against the Redskins. Of course, winning, at this point, should be secondary. Frazier's top priority should be the health of his franchise quarterback and running back. Instead, these guys keep getting trotted out with injuries late in a lost season. That's not the sort of thing that keeps a job safe for long.

3. Did Raheem Morris get fired on Saturday?

Almost certainly. The Panthers went out and walloped Tampa Bay 48-16 in Charlotte, meaning that the Bucs lost their eighth game in a row.  Worse than the losses is the way they've happened: over the last four games, the Buccaneers have been outscored 158-64. They've given up 40 points to the Panthers and Jaguars and have topped 20 points just once since their trip to London in late October when things really started to unravel. It's an embarrassing collapse down the stretch and it's hard to blame the Glazer family and GM Mark Dominik when (not if) they fire Morris.

4. Anyone else getting fired?
Gotta think that Turner's done in San Diego now and that Romeo Crennel's the only interim hanging around. I can't buy that Jim Caldwell's saving his job so I'd add him to the list too. But I think any questions about Chan Gailey can now be reserved for a while, given the way he dismantled the Broncos on Sunday.

5.  Why should Tom Brady be worried?
Because his offensive lineman are dropping like flies. And while the Patriots are going to continue being good because that's what the Patriots do, there's absolutely cause for concern in New England if Logan Mankins and Matt Light are hurt for any length of time. As you may be aware, this isn't a team predicated on playing any sort of defense, and if they can't protect Tom Brady, there's little chance of them advancing in the postseason.

5. How mad are the 49ers?
Furious. And it doesn't matter that they won, because they gave up a rushing touchdown to Marshawn Lynch. They might hold the record for most games without one, but you know they wanted to make it the entire season. They did not.

6. Am I going to have to watch Matt Flynn on Christmas night?
Not as much as you might have feared. The 49ers won against the Seahawks on Saturday, and that means Green Bay hasn't clinched the top seed yet. Which means that Aaron Rodgers will stay in the game against the Bears for the entire game, barring an absolute Packers blowout.

7. Was Simpson's catch the play of the year?
Yup, it sure was. Maybe not the "play of the century" or anything insane like people are saying, but it was an absolutely bananas catch and it deserves incredible props. Watch -- it's going to be the type of thing you talk with your relatives about on Christmas. That's the way you can truly judge the greatness of a play.

8. Should Ben Roethlisberger play next week?
No. There's just no need. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice handled the Browns just fine in Week 16, and Charlie Batch/Rashard Mendenhall can do the same in Week 17. Rest the guy, run the ball, cross your fingers that Cincy can summon the strength to beat the Ravens on the road and let Roethlisberger rest.


I mean duh. Did you notice I liked it?

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 5:04 pm

Broncos gives Raiders hope in AFC West

Tebow has hit a rough patch in recent weeks. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Follow all the Week 16 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:

4 p.m. ET games:

All the Broncos had to do was go to Buffalo and beat a team on a seven-game losing streak. Instead, Denver, who headed into the weekend as the favorites to win the AFC West and host a playoff game, were blown out, 40-14, in front of a sparsely attended get-together that was blacked out locally.

Losses happen -- it's the NFL -- but there's plenty to be concerned with if you're the Broncos: the defense was out of sorts all afternoon and the Bills would've scored more if not for Dave Rayner missing two field goals. And then there's Tim Tebow. It was in the 30s in Buffalo at kickoff, the coldest weather Tebow has ever faced as a starter (seriously), and he looked uncomfortable all day. We don't think it was the weather, just Tebow experiencing the ups and downs of a second-year NFL quarterback.

Despite all the concerns about his ability to throw the football, Tebow had been successful, in part, because he minimized turnovers. Against the Bills, he had four interceptions and a fumble. Those are Tyler Palko numbers, and the result confirmed as much.

Now the Broncos are 8-7 and they'll host the Chiefs next Sunday to determine their postseason fate. With Oakland beating Kansas City in overtime Saturday, Denver needs a victory next week to win the division. If they lose and the Raiders defeat the Chargers, Oakland would be AFC West champs.

So, yes, there's much to be decided.

Jairus Byrd and Spencer Johnson returned Tim Tebow interceptions for touchdowns to help the Bills snap a seven-game skid and seal a 40-14 win over the Broncos on Saturday. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms recap all the action from Ralph Wilson Stadium.

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: December 24, 2011 10:37 am

Tebow makes first cold-weather start in Buffalo

Denver players get in the holiday spirit on the charter plane. No word if Tebow will be wearing a Christmas sweater underneath his pads today. (via @D_Brut30)
By Ryan Wilson

The Broncos play in Buffalo Sunday where temperatures will be in the in the low 30s with a chance for flurries. Pretty mild for the region this time of year. But for Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and played in Gainesville, at the University of Florida, it will be the coldest game he's started in his tackle football career -- going back to his high school days.

"I've never worn sleeves, but I've been wearing sleeves in practice this week to try to get used to that," Tebow said according to the Denver Post's Jef Legwold and Tom Kensler. "I won't wear a glove, maybe on my right hand, but not on my (left) hand. I don't plan to, anyway."

Tebow thought he had played in lower temperatures in college when the Gators faced the Gamecocks in South Carolina. Turns out, it was in the 50s at kickoff before the mercury fell into the 40s by the time it was over.

"He's practiced out here for almost two years now, so I think he's had his share of inclement weather," Broncos coach John Fox said. "I don't foresee that being a problem."

A Denver win coupled with a Raiders loss against the Chiefs would secure the AFC West and most likely a home playoff game against the Steelers in the wild-card round. The Bills, meanwhile, are expecting an empty stadium (local blackouts are in effect), which is what happens when you're on a seven-game losing streak.

Follow all the Week 16 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:

4 p.m. ET games:

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:11 pm

For the gambler in you, Week 16


By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will Jason Babin tie or break the record of 22.5 sacks in a single regular season? 

Yes 5/1

Well, considering Babin doesn’t get to play against Brett Favre at all (“Thanks again, Brett,” says Michael Strahan), it’ll be tough to match Strahan’s record. Babin has 18 sacks and two more games to tie Strahan, and he’s be on fire recently, recording eight sacks in the past three games. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the Eagles finish the season with the Cowboys and Redskins -- which rank 20th and 10th, respectively, in sacks allowed this season. So, while it might be tempting to take the odds, I think I’d probably go ‘no.’

Will Bear GM Jerry Angelo be fired before Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     

Yes -140


Retired? Maybe.
Fired? No. While Caleb Hanie has been terrible since taking over for Jay Cutler, the Bears were on their way to the playoffs if their most important player didn’t get hurt. Now, if you’re asking Matt Forte, what he’d like to see happen, he might point toward a firing. But I don’t see it for now. That, however, doesn’t mean Angelo will be back next year.

Will Raheem Morris be the head coach of the Bucs for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     
Yes +110

No -150

I want to say yes, simply because the slide for the Buccaneers this season has been so steep. But I can’t stop thinking about last year’s surprising 10-6 finish that Morris helped orchestrate. I’d go no, but when Morris says things like this about his team, “You know, they’re not listening,” that’s certainly not a good sign.

Will either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Buffalo Bills win another game this season?

Yes -210

No +170

The Buccaneers play at Carolina and Atlanta; Buffalo plays host to Denver and then is at New England to end the season. Straight-up, I’d pick the Buccaneers and Bills to lose all of those games, but I think one team will end up winning one game. I’d bet ‘yes’ on this one, and cross my fingers.

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Posted on: December 18, 2011 5:16 pm

Video recap: Dolphins 30, Bills 23

Reggie Bush had a career-best 203 yards rushing in a 30-23 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday that made interim head coach Todd Bowles' debut a success. Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots recap all the action from Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Added bonus: Reggie Bush ran for a 76-yard score late in the fourth quarter to put the Dolphins up 30-13 over the Bills.

Follow all the Week 15 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

4 p.m. ET games: DET-OAK | CLE-ARI | NE-DEN | NYJ-PHI

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 4:41 pm

Five questions (or more) with Aaron Maybin

A. Maybin has six sacks on the season (Getty).By Josh Katzowitz

From the time he was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick by the Bills in 2009 until the beginning of this season – really, until Week 4 of this season – defensive end Aaron Maybin was one of the biggest draft busts of the past half-decade (even a Google search said so!). 

He had been a standout at Penn State, but by the end of 2010, he had been labeled a disappointment. That, of course, is what happens when you start just one game in your first two seasons and don’t record a single sack and make just 16 tackles in 27 games -- all the while having signed a five-year contract with $17 million guaranteed after a lengthy holdout. In training camp this year, Buffalo had seen enough of him and let him go, a surprising admission that the Bills had made a mistake.

But the mistake might not have been drafting Maybin in the first place. It might have been not giving him an opportunity to play, because this season, after signing with the Jets twice, he’s recorded six sacks and four forced fumbles. All while making $525,000. On Friday, we caught up with Maybin to talk about his time in Buffalo, his comeback season and why wearing sunglasses indoors doesn’t mean you’re a bad football player.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Sept. 16:
Actor/former Patriots DB Brian White

Sept. 30: Bills RB Fred Jackson

Oct. 7: Sweetness author Jeff Pearlman

Oct. 21: 49ers LB Aldon Smith

Nov. 4:
Chris Crocker

Nov. 18: Bum Phillips

1. CBSSports.com: You’ve had an interesting career to say the least. Well, definitely an interesting year. You go from being a guy whose name was always next to the word “bust,” and now you’re a major contender for comeback player of the year. What’s that been like?

Aaron Maybin: Honestly, the only thing I can say about is I’ve been extremely blessed. You know what I mean? It’s been a great year so far. It started off with a whole lot of diversity. At the end of the day, I’m with a team that I have an opportunity to go out and help win football games. That’s the position I wanted to be in.

CBS: Your years in Buffalo, they must have been bad for you and for the team. But always being referred to as a bust, how did you get through that emotionally?

Maybin: Really, this is the first time anybody asked me about that. I haven’t given it much thought. Really, it’s simple because in order for you think about it, you have to think “How am I going to get through this” or “Woe is me” or if you’re having a pity party. That doesn’t get anything accomplished. As bad as things were and as unhappy as I was, dealing with some of those things, the only response is I had to keep working hard. To continue trying new things. That was the only thing I could do.

A. Maybin has turned around his career with New York this season (Getty).2. CBS: Then, the Jets cut you earlier this year. At what point did you start to wonder, “Man, maybe the NFL just isn’t going to work out for me?”

Maybin: Even though they cut me after the preseason, I had a productive preseason. I knew I would catch on somewhere.

CBS: I read that when the Jets wanted to re-sign after Week 3, it was tough to get in touch with you. Your aunt had just died, and you were at her funeral, and nobody could make contact. How did that all down?

Maybin: It wasn’t a funeral. It was she had died that day, and I didn’t feel like talking to anybody. I didn’t have my phone on or around me.

3. CBS: What’s different about the time in Buffalo as compared to now?

Maybin: I’m getting the opportunity. You look at the number of plays I’ve gotten and the amount of pass rushes I’ve got. At the end of the day, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that before. If you watched me during the preseason or anytime I was getting significant snaps, you’ve seen this. There are a lot of things I need to work on, but the player you’re looking at is the same dude that’s been there the past few years. I’ve just blessed to be with a team that’s given me the chance.

That was really why I was frustrated before. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel as though I was going to get that there. I couldn’t understand why. As hard as I worked, I wanted to show them I could be the playmaker, and I couldn’t ever convince them. At the end of this day, like I said before, you can’t throw yourself a pity party. You can really just put your head down and keep on working as hard as you can. No matter what, that’s the only thing I know. That’s the only way I know how to get better.

4. CBS: How much better is life now?

Maybin: It doesn’t even compare. I haven’t been as happy as I am now or having as much as fun as I’ve had probably since I was in high school or college. For me to have been struggling for so long and to be as miserable as I was, I can’t even explain it in words. I realize how important this team has been to me and how important the game is. I’ve had it taken away.

CBS: It’s interesting that you said you were miserable. Most people would think that this guy is making a ton of money and he gets to play pro football, why is he miserable? But that’s a real thing.

Maybin: It’s not about the money. That’s just like them saying, “If you’re making money, regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, you should be happy.” No, you shouldn’t. l’m not a paycheck player. If I’m not having the opportunity to play that game, I’m not doing anything but collecting a check. I knew I couldn’t be happy until I was at least contributing to a win or a loss.

5. CBS: How much have you grown up since Buffalo, just in the last year? There were reports that you were referred to as Mr. Cool and wore sunglasses at meetings in Buffalo. How much have you changed?

Maybin: I’ve grown up a whole lot. But if that's what measures being grown or not, I don’t really know how to explain that. I’ve always put 110 percent of what I have into my job and what I do. There’s never been a day I haven’t taken my job seriously. I can’t really say I approach my work or my job with any more serious of a demeanor as I did before. I’ve always taken it seriously. If me wearing glasses is what kept me from being a good football player, that’s unfortunate. I doubt that anybody here cares about that.

CBS: That’s a fair point but …

Maybin: If somebody says something about why I’m not successful, like you just did, I  want to hear how I can’t play football or that I don’t work hard or that I don’t  sacrifice for his team. And I never heard anybody say anything about that. Whether I wore glasses, that to me doesn’t define me as a player. I’m a team player, and all I’ve cared about is winning.

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Posted on: December 4, 2011 11:27 am

Bills could choose to franchise WR Stevie Johnson

If Buffalo and Johnson don't agree on a long-term deal, he could be slapped with the franchise tag. (AP)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson is coming off a forgettable game against the Jets. Partly because of his touchdown-dance homage to Plaxico Burress' self-inflicted gunshot wound, but mostly because he dropped a Ryan Fitzpatrick (TD) pass that hit him right in the hands on Buffalo's last drive.

After a post-game apology from Johnson, and a sanctimonious finger-wagging sermon from Bob Costas, we're all ready to move on.

Earlier this season, Buffalo gave Fitzpatrick a $59 million contract extension. Next up on the team's to-do list: Johnson and running back Fred Jackson, who landed on injured reserve last month with a leg injury.

Even though the Bills haven't reached a long-term agreement with Johnson, it doesn't mean that he'll be playing elsewhere next season. The Buffalo News' Mark Gaughan provides details:
The time to get him at under market value was August or September, or maybe even immediately after quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his contract extension on Oct. 29. Early in the season, a player in his contract year still has some motivation to strike an under-market deal, because he's getting security in the event of a serious injury during the season. …

Does that mean Johnson is gone? Not necessarily. The Bills still have the franchise tag in their pocket. They could use it on Johnson if no extension can be worked out between now and February. The franchise tag would guarantee Johnson about $9.5 million in 2012 on a one-year deal.

Would the Bills actually let one of their best players, at age 25, walk into free agency without keeping him in the fold with the franchise tag? Who knows? If they're willing to commit $9.5 million to him for next season, one would think they would be able to reach an extension of his deal.
Gaughan writes that the going rate for top-20 wideouts on the open market is about $8 million.

"There are 14 wide receivers making $7.65 million a year or more. Johnson is one of a handful of quality starters who are in the final year of their contracts," Gaughan writes. "They include: Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson, New England's Wes Welker, Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe, San Diego's Vincent Jackson and New Orleans' Marques Colston. … All of those guys are going to be looking at recent deals signed by Dallas' Miles Austin and Seattle's Sidney Rice. Austin signed in 2010 for $8.1 million a year. Rice signed in July for $8.2 million a year."

Is Johnson worth that much? Relatively speaking, yeah.

He had 82 catches for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010. And through 11 games in 2011, he has 52 catches for 622 yards and five scores. According to Football Outsiders' metrics Johnson isn't quite a top-20 wideout this season; he's 31st in total value and 42nd in value per play. Last season, Johnson ranked 12th and 26th, respectively.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com