Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Nov 2010

Bills Claim Shawne Merriman

The Bills have claimed former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman off of waivers. Merriman is expected to report to the team later this week, although he will not play against the Bears on Sunday.

I haven't seen much of the Bills over the past couple of weeks, but haven't they been moving out of a 3-4?

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 03 Nov 2010

29 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2010, 7:54pm by Dave0

Comments

1
by Chocolate City (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:01pm

That'll teach him to be a pain in the ass... and trash his knee so being a pain in the ass isn't OK anymore.

2
by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:02pm

Hasn't Merriman been moving out of playing LB? (and moving into sitting on the bench?)

3
by Q (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:11pm

When do we find out about Moss

7
by ebongreen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:39pm

Titans got him.

4
by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:15pm

What's his expected impact? It seems an odd move for the Bills - don't they need a run stopper more than another one-dimensional (cue obligatory "no-dimensional post-steroid/injury" joke) pass defender?

5
by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:23pm

I'm willing to bet his expected impact is "jersey sales to clueless casual fans."

6
by lionsbob :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 4:36pm

The Bills were running a 3-4 look, but they gave up on it at the end of October and now are back to a 4-3 defense.

9
by Mike Elseroad (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 5:23pm

i didn't know that. I'm wondering why they changed for last year's Tony Dungy-styled defense that was actually fairly good last year to a 3-4 when they didn't have the players for such a change.

Ah, but that's why the Bills haven't made the playoffs in 11 years and counting.

25
by Gringo Starr :: Fri, 11/05/2010 - 1:26pm

If everyone on earth didn't think hiring Gailey was an idiotic move, his moving to the 3-4 without a single player who worked in the 3-4 should have set them straight. So, as of opening day, Gailey was high on Trent Edwards and the 3-4 defense, and now they're both long gone. He's just the man to turn this poorly-run franchise around!

I'm a lifelong Bills fan, but the only reason they're not the laughingstock of the NFL right now is that Al Davis still lives and breathes.

27
by Eddo :: Fri, 11/05/2010 - 2:17pm

I hate to break this to you, but Al Davis's team has outscored their opponents 92 to 17 the past two weeks...

8
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 5:18pm

The Bills have no LBs, right (other than Posluszny)?

10
by Dave0 :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 8:11pm

whatever the answer is, your statement is as true now as it was yesterday.

11
by Theo :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 8:34pm

To be honest. I can't name you 6 Bills.
Evans is playing receiver, catching balls from Fitzpatrick... really. I bet McGee is still there. Whitner and ehm... Byrd are safeties. Poluszny would be 6. Oh Youbouty is not in the UFL. That must make it 7.
Wait... they drafted Spiller at HB... 8. Moorman is still punting. 9.
Geez. I'm impressed by myself.

12
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 8:52pm

Fred Jackson. Aaron Maybin (though I know him as a bust). Roscoe Parrish still there? Steve Johnson's had a few good games.

But yeah, depressing pile of suck it is. And Merriman doesn't vaguely help that. Of course, I'm imagining the look on his face when he finds out he's going from living in San Diego to living in Buffalo.

13
by Dr. Mooch :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 9:16pm

Well, then, here's your roster rundown:

Evans, Johnson and Parrish could be a nearly respectable receiving trio if they were paired with anything resembling: a) a QB, b) a TE threat, or c) an effective running game.

Jackson is a capable journeyman rusher and Spiller would be the real deal given the proper scheme (presupposing that a scheme includes something similar to professional level OL play).

Corey McIntyre is a FB and manages to embarrass himself at a low rate for a Bills player.

There are no TE worth speaking of, although Shawn Nelson could have just enough potential to be a disappointment.

The OL is distinguished only by its claim to be better than the Bears'

The DL is populated by several talented players who have each been very effective in certain situations. Unfortunately, the four of them (Stroud, Dwan Edwards, Spencer Johnson, Kyle Williams) are rarely put in such situations, and they can't all be on the field at once.

One "OLB" is Chris Kelsay, whose inability to play OLB has managed to achieve a level of utter proof of fact once thought impossible by modern epistemologists. Bills' defensive coaches are thrilled with his contribution. The other OLB is a committee of rookies who share a jersey labeled 'NOT MAYBIN'.

ILB are Poz and some journeyman veterans whose names start with 'A'

The secondary, you may know, are good. McGee, McKelvin, Byrd, and Whitner, who's starting to understand how McNabb might have felt. Drayton Florence and George Wilson are also often allowed to play.

Rian Lindell continues to be one of the better kickers, and Moorman continues to be one of the very best punters, while occasionally competing in the NFL's fastest man competitions.

17
by prophetik (not verified) :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 9:31am

a few notes on this post, as a dedicated bills watcher (i know, i know).

fitzpatrick...well, what do i say about him? he actually has been playing surprisingly good football as of late. there have been worse QBs who went on to have decent careers after several years of playing backups. he's got a nice arm, but still throws these absolute joker balls every once and a while, like to the wrong half of the field.

our WRs are really doing some decent work with what they've got. we definitely don't have a definitive number 1 receiver, but we've got a hell of a lot of good no. 2 receivers =) considering we've got two UDFAs in this group who have also played well in the time they've had, that's not bad. this group was TRASH last year, and gailey's coached them up surprisingly well.

corey mcintyre is a surprisingly good and consistent fullback. he's also a monster on special teams, where he's been blowing up guys for years.

your o-line comment is almost correct - LT is bad, but not terrible, RT is terrible, and our interior line is surprisingly good. levitre and wood (the guards) have played excellent football as of late, and our C is a smart and strong player as well.

the d-line are struggling because they're *all* out of position, except for dwan edwards who is playing relatively well. stroud and williams are 4-3 DTs, not 3-4 DTs (for williams) or 3-4 DEs (for stroud). johnson actually has good length and size for a 3-4 DE position but is more in williams mold, a 4-3 DT with good block-slipping ability.

kelsay is terrible. the entire rest of our OLB squad are rookies (except for maybin, who has been a healthy scratch for two games now). they're showing some ability...but they're late-round rookies. one of them is undrafted.

poz is great as always. the rest are decent journeymen who are mainly supposed to teach all those rookies i talked about how to play football.

the secondary are playing poorly with the switch to the 3-4. this group was excellent as a tampa 2 secondary - mcgee's lost a step, but florence, mckelvin, and (to a lesser extent) corner are all playing well. whitner is a really steady player...who probably shouldn't have been drafted in the first round. byrd is playing in the box half the time, so he's unable to do the mid-field theatrics he did last year.

lindell continues to be automatic inside 40 yards, and has really developed a leg on him (missed a 62-yarder by about two or three yards in week 1, right down the middle). moorman is still our only pro bowler...and probably one of the best all-around kickers in the league.

20
by Dr. Mooch :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 4:03pm

I'll agree with your comment about the interior OL. I thought about saying the same thing, but then I got all caught up with the caveat: The interior running game has been very poor. Now, I don't actually think that's all the fault of the interior line - they seem to be setting some decent blocks there - but I wonder if they're explosive enough to really do it. Some of the trouble is the lack of a TE to occupy a second-level block, and the way the tackles fold up and lose the outside defenders on interior runs, but sometimes the interior guys are stuck doubling and never climb to the second level. And sometimes they pull and arrive at the hole just in time to follow the HB through it.

26
by Gringo Starr :: Fri, 11/05/2010 - 1:31pm

This is a great assessment top-to-bottom. And it just confirms my long-held theory that any reasonably-informed Bills fan would do a far, far better job at running the team than Ralph Wilson.

28
by big_jgke :: Fri, 11/05/2010 - 4:32pm

Unfortunately no reasonably-informed Bills fan has learned the occult mysteries of staying one step ahead of the icy grip of the Grim Reaper as well as Ralph Wilson has.

14
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 10:53pm

I'm impressed. While I recognized all the names you stated, I couldn't name any of the players off the top of my head besides Evans and (maybe) Fitzpatrick.

15
by the K :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:08am

And everyone forgot DVOA darling Keith Ellison, but he hasn't seen the field much this year due to injury.

16
by Dr. Mooch :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 1:05am

And very few people are less suited to play OLB in a 3-4. He'd have to convert back to S or play in nickel packages to be real.

18
by big_jgke :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:11pm

Is there any reason to think that Merriman could play a Dumervil/Freeney-style small-guy 4-3 DE?

19
by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 3:05pm

There's no reason to think he can still play the position his body was built (and enhanced) fo:, passing rushing LB in the 3-4... let alone change positions to one that requires a lot more technique and power.

21
by greybeard :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 4:36pm

"The position his body was built for" what do you mean by that? A lot of 3-4 teams take DEs and make them OLBs, so I am not sure what kind of body type requirements there is for playing pass rushing DE that an OLB would not have.

22
by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 5:50pm

You can't be serious, right? You might have noticed that there's a difference of about 20 pounds between most DE's and even 3-4 OLB's.

As for Merriman, I mean he's a guy with a lot of explosiveness derived from his lower body. He was fast, agile and powerful in his legs. DE's need the ability to take on blocks in a much more head-on fashion. They need the ability to go inside with some power, even if they are just being employed as 1 dimensional rushers. They have to use an entirely different technique that involves upper body strength that Merriman never had. Even as a rusher he needs the strength and bulk to control his blocker. It's whole reason small DE's from college get switched to LB's in the pros, the bulk matters at this level... and Merriman was always a guy who relied on explosiveness more than power. He's tall and lean, as opposed to Freeney who weighs about the same but is several inches shorter.

The idea of moving Merriman to safety makes more sense than DE. Although, they are both worthless ideas. But I also think expecting him to play at LB is probably a worthless idea, too.

23
by Dr. Mooch :: Thu, 11/04/2010 - 11:51pm

On the other hand, this is a team that's got three rookies sharing a starting role (because last year's first round pick is inept) at one of the most crucial positions in their defensive system. So even very worthless ideas suddenly seem relatively valuable.

24
by greybeard :: Fri, 11/05/2010 - 1:20am

Dwight Freeney (268lb) is listed as four pounds lighter than Merriman (272lb):
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/F/FreeDw00.htm
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MerrSh99.htm
NFL's website reports Merriman (265lb) as 3 pounds lighter than Freeney (272lb).
Robert Mathis (245lb) is reported as 20 pounds lighter than Merriman and 1 inch shorter.

29
by Dave0 :: Wed, 11/10/2010 - 7:54pm

This isn't accurate at all. Merriman ran 270 at his peak but it was a monster 270. Now you might argue that's not the physical makeup of a run-stuffing DE, and you'd be right, but there are plenty of pass-rushing DEs that are built like Merriman was*--Abraham, Freeney, Kearney, hell, Simeon Rice.

* I say 'was' because I haven't really seen him in years.