We’re starting a series at Buffalo Sports Daily, highlighting the five biggest bright spots… and dark clouds on the 2011 Buffalo Bills season. Since there’s been so much doom and gloom with the team over the last nine weeks of the regular season, let’s start things off in a positive tone with our fifth biggest bright spot— the sudden emergence of tight end Scott Chandler.
Much like folk music, handwriting and critical thinking, the tight end position in Buffalo is a lost art form. To call production from the position sparse would be a flat-out lie around these parts. Frankly, it’s been non-existent.
That changed in 2011 thanks to the most unlikeliest of candidates. Most didn’t even know if Scott Chandler would make the team coming out of an abbreviated training camp and preseason schedule. All he did is quickly become one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s most reliable weapons.
On their very first offensive possession of the Bills season in Kansas City, Fitzpatrick found Chandler in the end zone for a four-yard score. He later found Chandler in the middle of the field for another 11-yard touchdown. When the opener was over Chandler would have five catches for 63 yards.
In Buffalo, that’s nearly a season’s worth. For Chandler’s campaign, it was merely the beginning.
Chandler went on to finish the season with 39 receptions for 389 yards. It was the most catches and yards by a Bills tight end since Jay Riemersma grabbed 53 passes for 590 yards back exactly a decade ago. He also finished with six touchdown receptions, tying him for the all-time single-season with Riemersma (1998) and Pete Metzelaars (1992.)
That’s despite missing nearly three games because of a knee injury near the end of the season.
It’s quite the accomplishment for the unheralded tight end working on his fourth team in five years in the league. Drafted in fourth-round by San Diego in 2007, Chandler was waived two years later and spent time with the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys before Buddy Nix signed him to Buffalo in December 2010.
Chandler was happy at the time and happier to get a starting opportunity this season.
“Personally it was great to get the opportunity to go out and play,” Chandler said. ”Just to get out there and show what I can do. Obviously we started out in the beginning of the season was a blast. We would have liked to finish a lot stronger but hopefully we can come back from that next year and put a good full season together.”
Chandler was not only a pleasant surprise, but had his breakout season and at the right time—a contract year. Chandler enters this winter an unrestricted free agent and surely will attract interest around the league if the Bill don’t reach an agreement with him before free agency. Nix said he’d definitely like to re-sign Chandler, but at the right price.
For the time being, Chandler has nothing to say about free agency.
“I don’t really have much comment as far as that goes,” he said. ”That kind of stuff will work itself out.”
We’re not sure exactly what Nix’s price is, but this bright spot seemingly overnight transformed himself into a vital part of the Buffalo offense, especially in the red zone. The Bills would be foolish not to bring him back.
Could anyone have said that with confidence six months ago?