by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert

The Buffalo Bills not only suffered their second straight embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Chargers yesterday by a 31 – 21 margin, but they also had a starting defensive back “retire” at halftime in a move that I have never seen before. Vontae Davis, who the Bills signed as a veteran free agent this off-season, decided to “retire’ at halftime when the Bills were down 28 – 6. Retire is not the correct word, but rather “quit” is.

This is not the first time that Davis has had an abrupt end with an NFL team. Last year, in early November, the Indianapolis Colts severed ties with Davis over a groin injury. Davis had been playing poorly and the Colts demoted him. Davis’ excuse was that he had a groin injury that hampered his play.  The Colts felt different and cut him. After seeing Davis walkout on his teammates yesterday, we have to believe that the Colts were indeed correct with their evaluation.

Playing For the Money

From the outside, its looks as if Davis was playing purely for the money and when that happens a player can’t be trusted. To be a successful NFL player that player has to have a passion for the game and a desire to be a great player. It has become obvious that Davis has neither and I would imagine he will never get another shot at playing in the NFL again.

Now the question is can the Bill get any monetary relief from the contract that Davis signed this past spring?. Under NFL rules, a vested veteran is guaranteed his salary for the season if he is on the 53 man roster for the opening game. Davis was on the roster last week and so his contract is guaranteed for the season. Because Davis, “retired” or quit may mean that he forfeits the rest of the salary for the rest of the year. He was not cut and so the Bills may have no recourse.

According to Spotrac,  Davis was given a $1.5M signing bonus, a $312,000 roster bonus and a $250,000 workout bonus along with his salary of $2.25M. The Bills may be able to recoup some of the signing bonus as well as the rest of the guaranteed salary. I doubt they will get back any of the roster or workout bonuses. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks.

The Play of the Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds

As we all know, the Bills traded up twice in the first round of last April’s Draft in order to select quarterback Josh Allen and Mike linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Allen was getting his first NFL start yesterday and struggled as you would expect a rookie quarterback getting his first start would.

Allen finished the game completing 18 of 22 throws for 245 yards, one touchdown and one interception. If you just look at the numbers, you would say he played fairly well. The numbers are not indicative of his overall play.

In fairness to Allen, he did not get much of any help from the offensive line as he was under constant pressure all game and was sacked five times. The rushing game was also poor as is accounted for only 84 total yards.

Allen had trouble reading the defense and making quick decisions. At least some of the sacks were because he held on to the ball too long. Like most rookies, he was slow going through the progression and finding an open target. Often there were open receivers, Allen just couldn’t find them. When he did throw his accuracy was off. His accuracy was actually worse than his completion percentage as his ball placement on many throws was off. Putting the ball in the right place can be the difference between just a completed pass or a completion and a good run after the catch.

All told, I would give Allen a “C” for his performance. He did some good things but he has to improve. The problem he has is next week he faces perhaps the best defense in the NFL in the Minnesota Vikings and if he thinks the Chargers blitzes were tough to handle, just wait until he sees what the Vikings throw at him.

Looking at the schedule, we knew this was going to be the case. The Bills first four games were going to be tough and that has proven to be the case.

While Edmunds played fairly well a week ago, he struggled badly yesterday especially in coverage. The Chargers did an excellent job isolating both backs and wide receivers on linebackers. Edmunds wasn’t the only “victim” but the Chargers went to him quite often and were very successful.

When in college, Edmunds showed good zone coverage skills but didn’t have to cover man to man that often. Yesterday he did and got exposed. He gave too much cushion and played too softly giving Chargers QB Phillip Rivers easy receptions. This is an area that Edmunds is going to have to work on daily in practice. Other clubs will see this on tape and try to do the same. Edmunds has the talent to be a good cover linebacker, it’s a matter of being confident in what he has to do.

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

Leave a Reply