Report Card for all of Buffalo Sports: Volume II

John McCargo
Can somebody tell me why this guy is still on the team? First off, I don’t even know what position he would play in the Bills new 3-4 defense. Secondly, the dude got traded two seasons ago and was deemed as damage goods by the Colts. So, that makes two teams that pretty much said go F$#k yourself to McCargo. Look, McCargo did show some flashes during his first two seasons with the Bills and looked to be a player on the rise. However, since 2008, the dude hasn’t been seen or heard from. Part of the problem has to do with the Bills hardly putting the guy on the field, which I think has to do with the coaching staff being worried about getting him hurt.

Remember last year when McCargo was thrilled because defensive line coach, Bill Kollar, left the team for the Houston Texans? It was insinuated by some members of the press and fan base that McCargo would breakout since Kollar defected. Well, it didn’t really work out that way. McCargo did next to nothing last year and the only reason he’s still with the team has to do with the organization being desperate to justify his first round status with the club. Sorry, but if you have a new head guy in personnel like Buddy Nix, shouldn’t he decide to do away with the previous regime’s left over garbage? Bottom line: McCargo is lucky as hell to still have a job with the Bills. It also doesn’t help matters that he’s too small to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Furthermore, he’s considered a bust in my book.

Grade: F

CJ Spiller
Obviously, I can’t give a legit grade to CJ Spiller because he hasn’t even played a down for the Bills. However, I can still talk about what I would like to see him do during his rookie year. Look, I like the idea of the Bills going out and finding a “water bug” at running back. Hell, I even wrote about picking up one in my “GM for a day” pieces. However, I didn’t like the idea of them using a first round pick on one. Here’s what you need to know about Spiller. If you think he’s going to come in here and carry the ball 20-25 times a game, you are surly mistaken. The guy is a change of pace back and is too small to deal with those types of carries. That’s one of the reasons the Bills have decided not to trade Marshawn Lynch…yet.

Spiller is going to touch the ball 10-15 times a game via running and receiving. Those kind of numbers make me a little queasy to think that he cost the Bills the 9th pick in the draft. Of course, I’ve been proven wrong before and if the Bills can make Spiller into their version of Chris Johnson, then he’ll be worth the high pick. Personally, I think the Bills need production from all three of their running backs to have a legit chance of doing something productive with their offense. I know most fans will think that three running backs are too much for the Bills to deal with, but don’t forget what the Giants did during their 2008 season. Remember, the trio of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward gained almost 2,500 yards in rushing and helped the Giants to a 13-3 record. Of course, having a legit quarterback in Eli Manning helped matters. Spiller will be an important part in that scenario, especially since the Bills don’t really have a 2nd legit receiving threat on the team. The pressure is going to be on Gailey to find ways to utilize Spiller in the passing attack.

Grade: Incomplete

Ryan Fitzpatrick
You know, I kind of feel bad for Ryan Fitzpatrick. No one has really given him a shot to take the starting job for the Bills. If you really think about it, he deserves to be starting over the two guys he’s in competition with. People want Brian Brohm because he represents the unknown and at one point was being touted as being the first pick in the NFL draft. However, if you just watched him play his one and only career game from last year, you wouldn’t want him to be starting. Others want Trent Edwards, actually, scratch that, no one wants Trent Edwards. However, he seems to be the odds on favorite to be the starter.

However, when you are talking about Fitzpatrick, he’s the same guy who outplayed Edwards last year and gained the confidence of his teammates throughout the season. He’s the same guy who also got T.O. and Lee Evans 100-yard receiving games, which was something Trentative couldn’t do. Of course, Fitzpatrick also started a game where he passed for less than 100 yards. So, he’s not very good, but in comparison to Brohm and Edwards from last year, it’s he, who should be in the driver seat to be the starter. However, what is working against Fitzpatrick is that he’s labeled as a lifelong back-up. He’d be a decent stop-gap quarterback for a game or two, but as a 16-game starter? Eh…not going to happen. As a back-up quarterback, Fitzpatrick would get a B. However, I’m grading the player as a whole.

Grade: C-

Thomas Vanek
I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Vanek. Without question, Vanek is the most talented offensive player for the Sabres. He has 40 goal seasons on his resume and has really been a force to be reckon with since his arrival in Buffalo. However, he’s making a nice chunk of change and because of his bank account, his standards for performing are deemed to be at a superstar level. Sorry, but last season wasn’t anything to write home about. His 28 goals were his lowest goal total since his rookie year. Honestly, Vanek should thank his lucky stars that he finished the season on a high note. If Vanek struggled for his final 3 or 4 games, fans would be putting him in the same category as Tim Connolly and Derek Roy as guys they would like to jettison down Lake Erie.

I think most fans feel sorry for Vanek because he seems to really care about how well/bad he is playing for the Sabres. It’s sometimes hard for fans to vilify a player when they seem to hurt just as much as the fans do when he fails. Well, I most certainly can vilify Vanek. The guy needs to play better and I know if he believes in himself, he can be the Sabres best offensive weapon. Here’s the bottom line: Vanek needs to get back to what he did when he first walked into the NHL in 2006. That’s being creative with the puck and being aggressive. Too many times last year I saw Vanek not believe in himself and just plant himself in front of net and try and chip in rebounds. That’s not his game. Be creative, Thomas. Because if you play next year like you did this year, fans aren’t going to feel bad for you anymore.

Grade: B
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