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QB Carousel: Sal Capaccio, Buffalo Bills Sideline Reporter

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2023 9:44 pm

QB Carousel: Sal Capaccio, Buffalo Bills Sideline Reporter

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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March 30, 2023 9:44 pm

Sal Capaccio joined Zach to discuss if Josh Allen needs to protect himself better on the field and if Sean McDermott is the coach to get the Bills over the hump. 

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Step right up here.

Don't be shy. The Super Bowl is over, but the NFL quarterback carousel is just beginning. You've got to ask yourself a question.

Do I feel lucky? What does the future hold for all 32 NFL teams at the QB position? Now I'm going to give you an opportunity to spin this wheel right here. Let's spin the wheel and find out which teams we hit today. The Buffalo Bills. All right, time to talk a little bit about the Buffalo Bills.

Now joining us, longtime Bills sideline reporter does a great job for WGR. And that is Sal Cappaccio. Sal, appreciate the time as always. How you been? Been good, buddy. You know it. Good to talk to you.

I appreciate you coming on. So let me start things off with what Brandon Bean said the other day. I heard these comments before, so they're not new, but I guess just because they were said once again yesterday, they make the rounds again. He talked about Josh Allen, the need to take fewer hits.

How did you kind of react to that and process it, probably hearing it for more than just the first time? Well, in fact, this goes back to the end of the season where it was kind of brought up by Brandon, and then Sean McDermott said the same thing at the combine and then reiterated it. Really, he was even more forceful about it, I'd say, if you want to put it that way, before Brandon spoke at the owners meeting. We have both the GM and the head coach saying this about Josh Allen, and really, Sean said it right, which is, look, this isn't new.

He said, you guys have been asking me about this, and I've been saying it for six years. He said, as long as Josh is our quarterback, we're always going to have this conversation. I think the difference is, Zach, the Bills finally had that big scare last year. Look, it wasn't that Josh was running. He didn't get hurt by running. He got hurt in the pocket, but he had the elbow injury.

It definitely impacted him. In fact, Brandon told us it was really dicey playing that next week, and most people said that he probably couldn't, but the doctor said, take it easy. Don't take any unnecessary hits. They want to get to a point where that's really what it is for Josh.

Josh, he's so competitive, and he does everything he can on every play. Don't take the unnecessary hits. Don't put yourself in a position where you're going to be in harm's way when you don't have to be.

I think that's what the real message is. It's not, oh, my God, don't ever try to run. It's not, don't ever be Josh Allen.

It's know when you should have to dial it back a little bit to preserve yourself. And I think people also forget this, where Brandon Beaton comes from in Carolina. He's kind of seen it before with Cam. Yeah, and Sean, too, right? Because Sean was the defensive coordinator with the Panthers. You're right.

They brought up that. In fact, McDermott's comment was, here's how he said it. He said, it's undefeated in this league, but if you keep playing like that, you won't last that long.

That's really what he said, which is interesting. And look at Cam. Cam was so great for so many years, but he pretty much, you know, fell off a cliff as far as that was concerned pretty quickly because of the beating that he was taking. So, you know, Josh is going into his sixth year.

He's still a young quarterback, but the style of play could, you know, really impact him as he goes forward. He is going into right now his second contract. I mean, he got a little money last year from how they did it with the fifth year option and everything. But really now is when he's starting to get paid. So not only is it that you want to preserve this great player you have, but you're also paying him very handsomely. And it's hard to, you know, put the necessary pieces around you like it used to be by doing that.

So you want to make sure you continue to do whatever you can for that asset to be maximized. Let me ask you this. I don't know if it's a little bit of both. Do they keep on saying it just because they want to overly emphasize it because of its importance, or do they not trust Josh to play a little less recklessly?

I think it's a little of both. And when you say trust, I do think that's right. But even Sean said, look, it doesn't matter how much you tell him. He's going to, I think it was Brandon actually, he's going to be Josh Allen. He's going to do whatever it takes to win a football game. And he brought up there was a play.

There was an example of a play he used. And one of them was talking, I can't remember which guy said it, how Josh basically ran over a guy and whatever. He's like, hey, that's not what we need right now. Yeah, I know, but you know, it's not what he's thinking. And then he even said, Brandon said on an interview on Sirius XM, he said, we don't need him running over linebackers in the second quarter of week two, right?

I mean, that's really what they're trying to get to. But again, when you talk about the trust word, it's that I think they trust Josh to make great decisions. But you don't, you know that he's such a competitor that you have to keep hammering it and hammering it and hammering it to know Josh.

Because once we trust you, you got to know when not to do that. And the other part of it is, you know, look, they've gone out and they signed Connor McGovern and they signed David Edwards. They're known to be good pass blocking interior guys. And last year, Josh raised too much pressure from the interior.

That was said at the end of the year. Sean said, you know, it was too quickly. The pressure was getting to him. That forced him out of the pocket. Now he's taking more hits. Now he's got to run a little bit more. He's taking more hits. And then he gets hit in the pocket a little bit. So I think that what they've done here in the offseason, Zach, is they tried to also help him by just giving him a little bit more protection by having a little better interior pass blocking. And the other thing I'll say, maybe you take the decision out of his hand and run the ball a little bit more.

Yeah, and that's always been a thought, right? Look, I think that you go back to last year when they lost Brian Dable. He went to the Giants. And then Ken Dorsey comes in and there was this big thought, oh, my God, Sean McDermott, defensive coach, they're just going to be a run team and pounding the ball.

They didn't do that. They stayed with what works best, which is funneling through Josh Allen. But there are definitely times where this team has to run the ball better and more efficiently in those kinds of situations. We saw that in the playoffs, especially against Miami. Now, they won the game, but there were times where they needed to kind of grind it out a little bit, slow it down, and they really couldn't do it. So now you're relying on Josh, and all of a sudden you go three and out.

Now you're putting him in harm's way because you teeing off on him with a Miami team that's blitzing. So, yeah, that's for sure. And also, Zach, that's why every single year we live the life of everybody mocking running backs to the Bills in the first round, all right?

I mean, needless. Travis Etienne a few years ago, Greece Hall last year, Bijan Robinson this year. I'm here to tell you, I'd be stunned if the Bills did something like that. It's just not something the team believes in using an asset in because as much as they'd like to run the ball better or even more sometimes, it's never going to be to the level that you're going to justify spending a first round pick on. Do you think they have enough right now at the running back position with Damian Harris and James Cook? I think they have enough for what they want to do.

I think situationally is where I question if they have enough. Last year, they weren't that great on short yardage situations, and that brings Josh into play again. They got to be better there. You don't want your quarterback doing that. I think they're good enough to look, look at the stats last year. I don't think people realize the Bills were actually like top 10 in the league in yards per carry without Josh Allen being counted. With him, they were one of the best in the league in yards per carry so they can run the ball and they can run the ball efficiently. I think they get in situations where it hurts them, where they don't run the ball well enough on those short yards, those third and twos, right?

Even like a fourth down and short, they missed on a few of those. That's where they need some help. I think that's where Damian Harris comes in and they feel like he can be a guy that can really help in that regard. I know that they just restructured the contract of Stefan Diggs and maybe it was just stupid social media speculation off some of his tweets. Are there any issues with Stefan Diggs and the Bills organization?

No. Stefan is just very passionate. He had a sour taste like everyone did at the end of last season, the way the season ended. But there's nothing, even when all of that was going on and everybody was talking about, oh my God, he's forcing his way out, he doesn't want to be here, I kept saying the same thing on the radio every day, Zach, which is Stefan Diggs could literally walk into the office of Brandon Bean and say, I will never play for you again, trade me, and Brandon Bean would say, too bad, it would cost me $37 million of dead cap hit. We can't do that. I can't run a team like that. So it was never going to be an issue as far as that's concerned, as far as the Bills considering it. Now, are there things that, you know, maybe Stefan Diggs is upset about?

Sure. I mean, look what happened at the end of the year. He's yelling at Josh. He wants to be the guy. But at the end of the day, he'll tell you, like, he just wants to win. He has a great relationship with the organization. He has a great relationship with Josh Allen, but he's going to wear his emotions on his sleeve. And I think that's where some of that stuff comes out sometimes, obviously. What are the chances that DeAndre Hopkins is with the Bills?

I think it's less than what I probably thought a week and a half ago. I mean, you know, the guy puts the Buffalo Soldier stuff on his Instagram. And your question about Stefan Diggs, it's just, you know, stupid social media stuff. Maybe that's it. I don't know. It's weird, man.

I am always, I struggle, Zach. I struggle as a, I'll be 50 years old next week, and I struggle as a soon-to-be 50-year-old man with how to treat social media posts from athletes of this generation, because it's not old man yelling at clouds. It's just how people communicate. But I don't know what it means. So what does it mean?

I don't know. I mean, let's be honest. Stefan Diggs did get traded after tweeting some stuff when he was in Minnesota. I mean, it led to him being traded.

So I don't think he could completely dismiss it. Now, people, I will tell you, the bills, I think, can add to the wide receiver group still. They did sign a couple of guys, but right now Stefan Diggs is your number one, and I think they're comfortable with Gabe Davis as number two, but I think you need another 2A, 2B kind of guy. And what if something happened where Stefan Diggs misses some games? Could Gabe Davis carry the, you know, receiving group?

I don't think so. So I think it is something they're looking into, but Brandon Bean kind of threw some water on it the other day, and he said, look, social media, social media, some people take it too far. Also, the compensation, what they'd have to give up, and the contract if they have to even rework it, the bills do not have a lot of money on the cap. So they would have to be creative in a situation the bills were extremely comfortable with the price to make it happen.

Sal Cappaccio here with us, longtime Bill Sideline reporter. I know last year we talked about getting over the loss in the final 13 seconds of the game gets over to overtime. I actually think the loss this year was worse than the loss last year.

Would you agree with that? From a certain standpoint, I would agree with you because it was like they really just got their teeth kicked in immediately and throughout the whole game, and they never had a chance, but in the Kansas City game, you're at the peak of the mountain. You're probably going to go to the Super Bowl, you think. You're going to host the AFC Championship game, and who knows?

Maybe Cincinnati beats them like they beat Kansas City, and then it just gets ripped from you like that, and you're like, oh my God, what just happened? I think that the loss two years ago might be worse for this standpoint. People here still wonder, Zach, was that the best look this group is ever going to have at it? They were there.

Was this the best look they're ever going to have at it? But the loss and the manner it would happen last year against the Bengals, you could justify it was worse, but I would also say, look, it's not an excuse, but Zach, I am the sideline reporter, as you know. I'm on the team plane.

I'm in the hotel. I'm with this team all the time. Granted, I'm not playing a football game, but I will tell you, even for me, I hit such an emotional wall last year in my job because of what happened with everything that surrounded this team. You go back to the mass shooting in Buffalo in May. The owner in her medical situation, Kim Pagula, who we still know, is having a medical situation where she's not able to control the team. You go to the weather game that had to get moved out of Buffalo to Detroit, the snowstorm that killed 40-plus people here in Buffalo, literally people freezing to death in their cars. Damar Hamlin on the field, people watching their teammates die on the field.

It was a lot to take in, Zach, and it's not an excuse. It's a reality that I think this team just did not have anything left. I know this is a tough question, but what have people been telling you about Damar Hamlin's next steps? Like, is there any expectation that he'll be able to play next year? Yeah, and actually, it's actually a good question.

Now, it's not a tough question anymore because we have transparency from the organization. We have had Sean McDermott and Brandon Bean both tell us Damar Hamlin wants to play football again, and he's on the active roster, and they are open to him playing football again as long as everything checks out from the doctors, and he still is getting reports and going for his tests and evaluations, and I would say right now, my interpretation, Zach, is that he might be on track to play again and play this year. He wants to play. Now, they have signed a couple of safeties. They just signed Taylor Rapp last week.

They brought Jordan Poirier back. Maybe it doesn't work out. Maybe medically it doesn't work out. Maybe the organization says we're just not comfortable. Who knows at the end of the day, but right now, he is on the active roster.

He wants to play football, and he's going through that process. Last thing I'll ask you, Sal Cappaccio, and I do think it's a ridiculous question, but you know how fans work. Like you just said, they think if that loss from a few years ago was at this group's best chance, we know how long the Bills went without making the playoffs from 2000 all the way to 2017, then they have been a consistent mainstay in the postseason under McDermott has been phenomenal. Is anyone in Buffalo starting to question the coach? Are people starting to worry that maybe the coach did a great job getting them here, but they need someone else to get them over the hump?

There are people who do that, yes. We hear from them. They call our station.

They tweet at me. I get it all the time. I think people are frustrated with how the season ended two years ago. People are frustrated with how the season ended last year, the game plan on offense, on defense, how it looked now. Remember, Sean McDermott now is going to be calling defensive plays. Leslie Frazier has stepped down.

That's a change for him as well. There's people wondering and thinking that's a bad idea. There's some people who think it's a great idea.

Yes, that thought is around. And look, I mean, I lived near Tampa when Tony Dungy took the Buccaneers to a certain level, and they moved on from him. People said, Oh my God, what are you doing? And then Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl. You know what else happened? Tony Dungy won a Super Bowl after he went on to you know, the Indianapolis Colts. Same thing happened in Philadelphia with Andy Reid. You know, they got to a certain level after so many wins, so many playoff appearances. They moved on.

They felt they couldn't get past a certain level. But then Andy Reid went on and won a Super Bowl. So, you know, yes, there are people who believe that.

I'm not one of them. I also will tell you that this ownership loves Sean McDermott and Brandon Bean and what they built here. It would take a whole heck of a lot of disappointment, a lot more than we've had here for Terry and Kim Pegula to move on from Sean McDermott. I think he's a fantastic coach. I think it's very hard to win in this league.

I'm not saying he's perfect. I know he's made mistakes, but I think he's the right coach for this organization still. And the other thing that I'll say, and there's no way to say that last year was a good year because in my mind, and I said this to Brandon Bean when he refused to say it, I did think this was a Super Bowl or bus year for the Bills and everyone was picking the Bills. I feel as if, and I think this actually helped this group, going into this year, we all know they're still a really good team. They still win the AFCs. I feel like nationally, a lot of people will be jumping off the Bills bandwagon and picking them for the Super Bowl.

That could provide a little extra motivation for this group. 100%, 100%. You're right. And look, the reality is the gap is probably closing. Look at what the Dolphins have done. Look what they were last year. And you know, they've gotten better this year with the moves that they made and Jalen Ramsey coming over. And look at the Jets. If the Jets get Aaron Rodgers with all that talent, I mean, and they're going to get Aaron Rodgers, the gap there has closed.

The question is, how much has the gap closed? Because as trying as last season was, as frustrating and tough as it was all around, as much as those teams got a little better, it's still amazing to think this, Zach. The Bills still won the AFC East by more games than any team won their division last year. They had five less losses than the next team in the division, which is amazing.

That's how good they still were and how good they can still be. And let's remember, at the end of the year, at the end of the season, there was no Mica Hyde. There was a banged up Jordan Poyer.

There was no Von Miller. There was a recovering, just a few weeks, Tredavious White. All of them should be healthy and ready to play. And I think that makes them, you know, better now, or at the start of this season, than they were at the end of last season. But yeah, that gap is starting to close. The Bills are starting to get a little older. They lost Tremaine Edmonds. But I also agree with you, they don't have the same target on their back that they did last year. One other thing I'll say about this, you and I both know, Vegas does not build those big, incredible casinos because they lose. They do it because they win.

And they still have the Bills as the number three team and the odds to win the Super Bowl next year. Sal Capaccio does a tremendous job. Bill Silen reporter WGR out there in Buffalo. We always appreciate the time, Sal. Always. Thanks, buddy.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-01 13:24:30 / 2023-04-01 13:34:05 / 10

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