The Bills are still spending bills on free agents and here is probably the best one of the bunch they have signed. Brandon Spikes is a Bill and Nick St. Denis, publisher from AFC East Daily, joins us to dish the dirt on Spikes play in New England. Spikes seems to be the missing ingredient when it comes to helping the Bills stop the run.
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1) What makes Brandon Spikes such an affective run stuffer?
He's extremely aggressive off the snap because he anticipates timing well. He has good gap instincts and is a hard hitter. His attack-first attitude and size bodes well by nature against the run, though it can get him out of place easily against the pass, particularly in play-action.
2) What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Spikes is considered just a first- and second-down player simply because of his effectiveness against the run and his severe lack of coverage skills. So he's pretty much one extreme to the other in that regard, which is why his snaps in obvious passing downs had been reduced the past couple seasons.
3) There was a lot of talk in NE about Spikes' attitude with Belichick and how he was lazy. I also read he was ticked off coming into camp last year because he wanted to play a different position. Can you set the record straight about him there?
He supposedly had an incident or two in being late to meetings, which obviously is a sin under the Belichick regime. However, I'm not sure there's a lot to the "lazy" thing in terms of on-field work. He always seemed like an high-effort guy during games and has shown a lot of toughness playing hard through injury.
4) I know Spikes is a big run stuffer, but do you think he could go after the QB if say a team decided to blitz him more?
Belichick didn't really use Spikes in a pass-rushing role his first two years, though he found a little success in that regard in 2012. He notched his first and only sack that season and tallied seven quarterback hits and six hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will certainly try to get the most out of Spikes by trying him in many different ways, though he doesn't project to be one of the team's better rushers.
5) What is your reaction to the Bills signing him to a 1-year, 3-million dollar deal?
It's probably the right deal for both sides. Spikes has to prove he's not one-dimensional in a league that increasingly requires linebackers to cover running backs and tight ends running routes. The Bills needed to bolster their run defense, so they're getting good value — especially considering his motivation to earn a longer deal. Meanwhile, Spikes will pocket a few million. Not bad.
6) Anything else worth mentioning about his time in NE or any interesting stats?
The main thing to keep in mind is that he's only entering his fifth season. While many Patriots fans had given up on him due to his struggles against the pass and supposed attitude problems, a lot of people still think there is a place for an aggressive, run-minded linebacker. And there's still time for him to shore up his weaknesses.
For Q&A archives for Bills FA signings: