Buffalo’s Redux

*30 For 30 Voice*

What if I told you, that in a league full of action, excitement, lies, and testosterone, it got to a point, where nobody knew anything anymore.

*End 30 For 30 voice*

That’s how I felt about the NBA Trade Deadline, at first.  I was put in a stage of pure shock with this case, though.  What took place Tuesday night was monumental within the NFL.  A trade that changed the landscape and future of two teams.   Yes, I did say a trade.

I can guarantee you that you haven’t lost your mind.  Trades that actually make news never happen in the NFL.  If they do, they don’t involve players.  They are draft pick for draft pick.  Or a player for draft pick.

Trades never happen in the NFL.  Players are never exchanged for one another, unlike every other sport.  Why?  Because each and every position within the NFL is so dramatically different than the other.  You have to have such different skills than someone else to play a different position.  Players don’t just get plugged in to a system within football.  It doesn’t work that way, and perhaps it never will.

So, when the Eagles traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso Tuesday night, no one knew anything.  This stuff never happens.  Especially with players like those two.  Guys who are that good.

It was a complete shock to everyone.  McCoy is the second best running back in the league.  He’s been dominate the past two years, putting up career numbers in 2013.  Alonso is coming off of a torn ACL.  He’s still young at 24, but his price seemed way high coming from Buffalo.  Asking for McCoy seemed insane.

However this thing went down, it happened pretty fast.  As Michael Silver of NFL Network reported, the trade was proposed and finalized within 20 minutes.  20 minutes!  That’s less time than Draft Day’s trade scenes were!  And that’s says a lot!

That wasn’t the only crazy storyline/whatever you want to call it/nutty thing with this.  In a trade like this one, you’d expect for crazy stuff to go down.  It’s just what happens.

In case your wondering, this was a straight up trade.

Eagles get: Kiko Alonso

Bills get: LeSean McCoy

Nothing complicated.  The only thing complicated was trying to figure it out.  That’s where I’m going next.

Philadelphia’s thinking with this starts with head coach Chip Kelly.   Kelly coached Alonso in college at Oregon.  It’s been typical of Kelly to go grab who he wants and plug them into his system.  He thinks that way, and sometimes it’s not a great thing to do, as Solomon Wilcots pointed out on NFL Network.  Kelly feels, as I paraphrase Wilcots, that he can plug anyone into his system and it’ll fit.  Not everything works that way.  I guess it’s just positive thinking.

Kelly wanting to grab Alonso is fine.  I have nothing wrong with it.  He’s a fine player who hasn’t hit his prime.  Unfortunately, injuries have held him back early.   Alonso was taken 46th overall in the 2013 draft.  His first year was one to remember, and it raised his expectations dramatically.

A shift in the linebacking core was what Alonso had coming for him this past season, but the torn ACL kept him out for the whole year.

So far, Alonso has shown tons of talent and potential.  As I said above, he’s still very young.  He’s got a whole career ahead of him.  Switching teams isn’t something that’s totally recommended, but the situation he’s going to seems a bit more satisfying.

Going to play for an old coach has to be a great feeling, and a better one must be that he wanted you.  It shows that Kelly feels he can get Alonso going on a great career.

The Eagles are making over their linebacking core, and Alonso seems to be the starting point for it.

Where the Eagles side of this I start to disagree with begins here.  LeSean McCoy is the second best running back in the league, per my rankings.  McCoy is speedy, sheds tackles, and puts up huge stats.  He’s stayed relatively healthy, but usually has a minor issue once a year.

Sending McCoy to Buffalo has to be a risk for the Eagles.  Alonso is no sure bet, even with his potential.  Some think McCoy has already hit his prime, and his best seasons are behind him.  Let me remind  you, he’s 26.  He’s only been in the league since 2009.  While he’s a veteran, he sure isn’t old in any way.

Now whether McCoy’s best seasons are ahead of him or not remains to be seen, but as a fit in the Bills offense, he works perfectly.  A decent quarterback (stay tuned), in my opinion, is all this team needs to succeed this coming year, and that was before this trade.

Buffalo doesn’t have the offensive line the Eagles did, but as one of the best running backs in the league, that shouldn’t matter as much.  Yes, a good line is needed, but great running backs are supposed to be able to get through those limitations.  It’s what makes them great.

McCoy should transition fine to Buffalo.  It may be a rough year ahead, depending on what   happens under center.  If the newly acquired Matt Cassel (more on that later) can play well,  an offense with LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, and Robert Woods looks amazing.  The defense obviously loses Alonso, but still has Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams, and don’t forget, Rex Ryan as head coach.

With Rex Ryan at head coach, the loss of Alonso should be made up for quite well on the defensive end, no matter how well Alonso goes on and does in his career.  Rex Ryan is a defensive genius.  You’ll be fine Buffalo, at least on that end.

After this trade, the Bills weren’t done.  The very next day, the Bills went out and grabbed Matt Cassel from the Vikings.  The trade sent Cassel and a pick to Buffalo for other picks.  None of the picks have been released yet, making them undisclosed.

The trade was an interesting one to say the least.  Cassel is a backup, and that’s about it.  He did lead the Patriots to the playoffs when Tom Brady got hurt in 2008, but that’s been the highlight of his career, and he’s shown nothing even close to that since.

With Kyle Orton retiring after the season, the Bills were left with E.J. Manuel and Jeff Tuel.  Yea, that’s not exactly great.  Manuel since being drafted has been a disaster, and hit rock bottom this past year.  Tuel, well, no one has ever heard of, and hasn’t played nearly the amount of time the Bills would need to start him.

Really, they were desperate.  I guess Matt Cassel was their solution.  There’s no certainty that Cassel will start, but it seems likely that that was their mindset with this, giving what they currently have.

In no way is Cassel the decent QB they needed.  He hasn’t played well since 2008, and has bounced around the league since.  He’s a backup, and the Bills haven’t totally realized it.  They could try to develop him more, but where’s the offensive/QB guru there?  That’s a defensive team as of right now.  With no QB, the offense won’t be successful.

This second trade also gives a nudge to LeSean McCoy.  He’s gonna carry the ball like 500 times this year.  Without anyone decent at QB, he’s gonna be the workload.

After these moves, the Bills should improve this coming year.  Maybe not record wise, but from a continuity and confidence standpoint, they should improve.  Again, this isn’t a 10 win team with anyone on that current roster starting at QB.  I’d be very tempted to change that opinion if their options were different.

As for Chip Kelly and the Eagles, his system of coaching and management is a tad concerning, but also very unique.  It’s uniqueness might be why it’s concerning, though.

It seems that Kelly has a bit to much power within the organization.  He’s seems like the GM, and you know how I feel about that.

Guys that have to much power within their team usually screw up.  I’m not saying that this is Kelly, but his decisions in the past two years have been quite interesting.  DeSean Jackson was cut last summer, and now McCoy is traded.  The team was worried about Jackson’ role in the locker room and possible off the field relations.  McCoy’s deal had to do with his relationship with Chip Kelly.  They didn’t get along, ever.

According to Ladainian Tomlinson, who came on NFL Network after the trade broke, said he had talked to McCoy two weeks before the deal, and that he (McCoy) didn’t think he’d be on the team this coming season.  The issues were tied to Kelly, their relationship, and even as detailed and nitty-gritty as how practices were ran.

If this is the way Kelly operates, then we have issues.  Disagreements are going to happen, and they will drag out.  But that can’t decide how a team is ran.  There’s no way McCoy would be unhappy with his role.  Especially this upcoming year, where he’d probably be featured in an offense who might have a QB debate.

This trade is one that, when determining the winner, we’ll have to wait and see.  Since this stuff never happens in the NFL, it’ll be tough to do that.  Giving the timing of this, it’ll be one hot debate over the summer.

I was absolutely shocked when this news broke Tuesday night.  I was speechless.  This was the biggest trade in the NFL in 11 years.  To the day!  11 years ago March 3rd, Clinton Portis got swapped for Champ Bailey.  That was the biggest trade in the past  11 years.  This exceeds that. This was monumental.

Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler were traded for each other in 2009, but I try to forget that ever happened.  So do Bears and Broncos fans.  I’m sorry I even brought that up.

The Derrick Rose Injury And The Uncertain Future

As basketball fans, last Tuesday night’s news about Derrick Rose was absolutely devastating.  This was not supposed to happen.  I couldn’t believe we were here again.  It had been three years in a row that Rose had sustained some kind of serious knee injury.  This time, it was the same exact injury as last year: A torn meniscus in the right knee.

Last year, it occurred very early in the season, and kept him out the rest of it.  That was devastating when it occurred.  He had been out of basketball for a year and a half, and all the work he did to come back had been eliminated.

Then this year came, and Rose started to make strides.  We had to accept the fact that he would never be 2011 MVP Derrick Rose.  The Bulls understood that too.  After two knee surgeries, you can’t go full force like that ever again.

But, Derrick did as best he could to do it again.  And man, was he close.  Rose, in my opinion, was playing phenomenal this season.  Giving what he has gone through, he was outstanding.  I couldn’t believe how well he looked.  It wasn’t 2011 Derrick Rose, but it was sure close.

That’s why Tuesday’s injury was so devastating.  Everyone in the sports world could just not believe it.  We had been here before, and it was happening again.

The Bulls got great news though on Friday morning.  Many had speculated that Rose’s season was over.  Some thought he would be back.  That exact reason is why this column is going up now, and not last Friday afternoon.

Rose had surgery Friday morning, and doctors gave him a timetable of 4-6 weeks before he can return to basketball.  The timetable was much better than last year’s, and the Bulls had to feel relieved.

Still, 4-6 weeks is a decent amount of time.  The Bulls will have to figure out how to score without him.

In last year’s playoffs, the Bulls had lots of trouble scoring.  The issue was a bigger problem in the regular season, but it still allowed the Bulls to put up 69 points in a game against Washington in the first round.  Taj Gibson had to carry that team last year.  That’s not particularly the case anymore, but it could bring up the same issues.

I’m writing with the mindset that Derrick Rose will be back for the playoffs, but miss the rest of the regular season.

The Bulls have added Pau Gasol and Nikola Miortic.  It’s worked out great.  It’s worked so great that before this injury, my pick for the NBA Finals featured the Bulls.  They have played great this year (as I already talked about how good Rose has been).  I love this team, but scoring for them may become a problem.  Rose has provided much scoring this year.  He’s had huge games.  Not only does Rose score, but he knows where to go with the ball.  He knows who needs it at that specific time.

Chicago has depth.  That’s why they didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline.  They didn’t need to.  Now, that only looks smarter.  Taj Gibson is a great player for this Bulls team.  He’s not a great player overall in the league, but he works for the Bulls.  Trading him would have been a huge mistake, and now it looks super smart.

If Chicago is gonna have trouble scoring, then they will probably slip a bit within the Eastern Conference.  Not far, however.  The conference sucks.  We know that.  That’s a huge help for the  Bulls.  Without Rose, the farthest this team can fall is to the fifth seed.

Even without Derrick, the Bulls are a better team than Milwaukee, who sits at 6th in the East.  Milwaukee has a ton of young talent, and will definitely make the playoffs this year.  That young talent is still developing and is very raw.  A playoff experience will be great, but they won’t go far.

Since Chicago won’t fall past the 5th seed, they become super lucky.  The Wizards are in a free fall, having lost the past six games of seven games, including to Philadelphia. .  Washington seems to be missing Bradley Beal quite a bit.  He’s been in&out of the lineup, and when he’s healthy, the Wizards have one of the best backcourts in the league.

Washington’s free fall could give Chicago the 4th seed, but it probably won’t help the Bulls out too much.  If they fall to five, they would play the same team they would at fourth.

Chicago finds themselves lucky after Rose’s injury, well, sort of.  One, the fact that Rose will be back for the playoffs is huge.  If he had been out for the year, Chicago might not make it out of the first round.  Two, Washington’s free fall, that may continue until Beal comes back, gives them some help with seeding.

Luck though, fades, and it’s already starting to, unfortunately.  Just today, the Bulls announced that Jimmy Butler will be out 3-4 weeks with an elbow injury.  3-4 weeks will let him back well before the playoffs, but Chicago keeps losing guys.  Though Butler’s strength is defense, it leaves the Bulls without another scorer.

The Bulls not trading anyone and adding players this past Summer now looks genius though, and it will help deeply during this coming up stretch.

While the Bulls may be lucky now, the future is bleak for Derrick Rose and the Bulls.

Rose has made a ridiculous amount of money since his MVP year.  And he’s sat on the bench every year since then.  Cap hits of $16&$17 million have been what’s he collected over the past two years.  His salary this year totals $18.8 million.  And now, he’s not playing the final quarter of the season.

Rose’s contract the next two years only goes up.  He’s owed $20&$21 million the next two years.  That’s a crazy amount of money for a guy who can’t be trusted.  Chicago can’t trust Rose at this point to stay healthy.  They know, that after now three knee surgeries, he’ll never be the MVP Derrick Rose he once was.  And for $20 million, he’s not worth it.

Rose is untradeable.  With that contract and his health, no team would want to deal with him.  It puts the Bulls in tricky spot.  Most consider him their franchise player, but look at what Jimmy Butler has done so far this year!  He’s been phenomenal, in a contract year.  The Bulls have to re-sign him.  He’s definitely a max guy, but would Chicago have to get rid of Rose to make it happen.

If I’m the Bulls, I have to cut or restructure Rose.  Cutting him would result in a $41 million dead money cap hit.  That’s huge, but is it worth Jimmy Butler and the future of this team?

My main point here:  Rose is no longer the future of this team.  He’s too unreliable.  He’s too unreliable for any team.

If the Bulls are certain on keeping Rose, a restructure would have to take place.  There is no way he gets paid $20 million next year.

It’s too early to speculate what will happen, but the Bulls have a tough decision to make this Summer.  One that three years ago, seemed impossible.