I've never done my own FanPost (I feel like I should add a little "trademarked" symbol after that), but I got to workter getting jerked around by the NYC subway for an hour, and felt I needed to spread some positivity to myself and others. I was going to put this all on MARVelous's recent "3 Things" post, but I found I actually had a lot more positive things to say then I assumed I would. So in no particular order...
1) Trent Edwards. Like many of you, I've spent more than a little time in the last six weeks or so hurling ineffectual insults at our struggling QB (Note: Pointing out how poorly they're playing to your TV set seems to rarely make a difference. I keep doing it anyways). But what I've seen, in addition to endless dump passes, is a command of a lot of the little things you need to be good QB in this league. Trent uses his cadence and hard count very effectively (I'm specifically thinking about the Ravens game last year and the Chiefs game this year). As Jaworski likes to see, he processes information quickly (we saw the contrast sharply with Losman the last two weeks). Most importantly, we've seen Trent march the Bills down at the end of the game and put them in a position to win. We obviously didn't win all those games, but that says a lot about his calm and focus under pressure.
Lest anyone think that the process is taking too long for Edwards, let me direct you to the career of one Drew Brees. His second year as a starter he started 11 games, here's the pertinent stats:
2,108 yards, 5.9 yards per attempt, 57.6% completion percentage, 11 TDs, 15 INTs
2.378 yards, 7.3 yards per attempt, 66.0% completion percentage, 10 TDs, 10 INTs.
Am I approaching this scientifically? Wouldn't dream of it. I am however, pointing out that I'd be much happier with '08 Edwards than '03 Brees. And Brees turned out a little ok.
2) The Defense. We all know they've had some issues, but they've also made major progress in some areas. Let's throw a bunch of numbers at y'all:
3rd Down percentage: 36%. Aside from the Patriots game, we've actually gotten teams off of the field on 3rd down. We're 9th in the league and almost 10% better than last season.
20+ Yard Completions: 28. Generally, we don't get beaten deep. We're 4th in the NFL (although we're middle of the pack in 40+ yarders). We were dead last in 2007 (55).
Yards Per Carry: 4.0. Not a surprise probably, what with the acquistion of Stroud and the emergence of Kyle Williams, but important to point out nonetheless. We're only 16th in the league, but more importantly, we're giving up about half a yard less per carry from last year (4.4).
I might also add that we're significantly better in total yards per game (362.9 in '07 to 313.2 this year), passing yards per game (238.4 to 203.1) and rushing (124.6 to 110.2).
3) The Offense. As ugly as it has sometimes gotten here, we've made a lot of progress here too. Even more numbers:
Points: 21.5. Not exactly an awe-inspiring figure, and only 22nd in the league, however- we were 30th last year and are scoring almost a touchdown more (15.8). Huzzah!
Avg. Yards Per Pass Attempt: 7.3. Often touted as a real indicator of an effective passing game, currently we're comfortably over that magic number 7. We also happen to be 11th in the league up from 23rd last year (6.4). Even with all those check downs, our downfield passing game actually exists this year! Yippie! More proof: We have 37 passes of 20+ yards or more, which is 10th in the league and 4 more than last year with 3 games to go. Bueno!
Completion Percentage: 65.1%. Even though I'm skeptical at how much a completion percentage says about a passing game in the 21st century, this is much better than last year. We're 6th in the league, up from 23rd last year (59.1%). Combine that with the average per pass attempt, there's a lot to be optimistic about in the passing game.
4) Blake Costanzo. I had to give the man some love. Man has two forced fumbles on kickoff returns and a bunch of special teams tackles. All this while being saddled with unlikely name of "Blake Costanzo".
5) Youth. I know "potential" has become a dirty word, but we have a boatload of key players who are still learning/entering their prime. We have only 14 players older than 27, and only 7 players who are 30 or older (Stroud, Moorman, Whittle, Lindell, Schobel, Royal, and Denney).