Owens makes Bills relevant in AFC East (AP Photo)
When a figure as polarizing as Terrell Owens becomes a part of your team, it's only natural that fans of your team's most hated rivals sound off on the issue. In case you journeyed to Mars (perhaps with Dr. Manhattan and/or Laurie Jupiter) over the weekend and only made your return journey this morning, Terrell Owens is a Buffalo Bill. Naturally, the vast majority of Bills fans are excited - and, just as naturally, the rest of the AFC East's fan base is either nonchalantly blowing the move off, rationalizing why it's a bad move or confidently proclaiming that their team will be able to shut down Buffalo's newest weapon.
The best part of being a member of SB Nation is that we have these opinions readily available at our fingertips. Matty I (The Phinsider), MaPatsFan (Pats Pulpit) and John B (Gang Green Nation) have all weighed in on T.O.-to-Buffalo. The majority of their varied thoughts center around an attitude that comes across as not impressed - and that's fine. My rebuttals and counter-points to their arguments follow.
Matty I doesn't care. Sweet.
SBN's resident chief Dolphins fan waited until Monday to respond to Owens' signing in Buffalo. Why? He doesn't care that T.O. is a Bill. That's why.
Why? Because I simply don't care. Owens will spend the year playing in Buffalo. I'm not sure who I feel worse for - Owens, for having to spend a year in Buffalo, or the Bills, who are probably going to regret signing Owens once he starts acting like the egomaniac that he is.
Hmm... if one is harboring sad feelings for a team, a city and a player - and trying to decide which party one has sadder feelings for - it sounds an awful lot like one does care. It's nice to know that the Bills are so close to Matty's heart.
I tend not to get too riled up with the whole smack talk game - just not my style. Dolphins fans are the boldest of AFC East fans at the moment, and with good reason - their team is the reigning division champion, after all. So I won't bother with their confident assertions that Owens won't matter if Trent Edwards can't develop and get him the ball - mostly because they happen to be right. I will, however, argue against strange logic.
And it's only a one year deal. So I don't see how this move benefits Buffalo - other than the extra tickets they will sell and the added media attention Owens will bring. The addition of Owens doesn't make Buffalo Super Bowl contenders; nor does it help them build for the future. So what's the point?
Maybe it's just me, but I thought the fact that this was a one-year deal was the benefit for the Bills. How stupid would we look if we'd given him a multi-year contract - and how desperate would Owens have looked had he accepted that multi-year contract? Let's be real - Owens probably doesn't want to end his career with the Bills. It's a one-year rental that will either have no effect on the team's on-field performance, or it will have a big effect on the team's on-field performance. When you're 7-9 three consecutive seasons, it's tough to get much more broken. There's this strange belief that Owens could make us worse - but how much worse can we actually get? (Don't answer that, Lions fans.)
The point to signing Owens is this - even if he doesn't make us Super Bowl contenders or isn't a long-term solution, he makes us a better football team right now. More importantly, if he plays well on the field, he'll accelerate progress toward the team answering the biggest question of all - is Trent Edwards the guy to lead this team for the long haul? In that way, it very much helps the team build for the future. Minimal risk; finding out what we have in Edwards; better product on the field in 2009. What's the point? There's more than one.
Head on in past the jump for observations and rebuttals from Pats fans and Jets fans.
MaPatsFan sees a little bit of Moss
Our resident Pats expert pointed out over the weekend that the Patriots took a similar risk in 2007 when they brought Randy Moss to New England.
Could this be a page from the Belichick signing of Moss? Take a disgruntled, jetisoned problem child, give him a decent deal, and see if he can be rehabilitated?
I'm going to go ahead and tell MaPatsFan right now that that probably isn't the Bills' plan. Set aside the fact that it's Terrell Owens, and that anybody who thinks that they can "rehabilitate" or "control" the receiver is probably certifiable. The beauty of the one-year deal is that the Bills don't have to rehabilitate him. They can let him play, and if he denigrates the team in any way, he's gone.
Dick Jauron is a lot of things, but one of them isn't stupid. He wouldn't have signed off on this deal, much less initiated the process (which he did), under the delusion that he could keep Owens under control for an entire year. It isn't going to happen, folks. There will be controversy. But Jauron is also coaching for his job. If the controversy comes alongside a playoff berth - the first in a decade for this team - who's going to give a rip in Buffalo how much controversy there is? It's a desperate team, a desperate player and a desperate city. Quite literally a match made in heaven.
MaPatsFan keeps it real, too, with an ominous note to his Pats fan readers:
If HC Dick Jauron can pull this off, the New England Patriots will have a problem. Why? As a divisional rival, we play Buffalo twice a year. We've all seen what OUR #81 can do when he's hot, so it's not a stretch to assume T.O. could do the same.
John B thinks T.O. has the power
Our newest AFC East blogger, John B the Jets fan, makes one of the more prudent points about Owens' presence in Buffalo.
There is no culture of winning with strong willed leaders that will demand Owens conform. The owner's unbridled courtship of T.O. has made the receiver the most important player in the franchise. Nobody has the credibility to demand anything from him. This player who has a reputation for selfish behavior, dividing locker rooms, and undermining coaches now has all the power.
John's absolutely right - that's the key to the whole situation. The man responsible for keeping this situation in check is Jauron. From the very first day of mini-camps straight through the entire season, it's Jauron's job to make sure that his locker room is fully aware that this is still Trent Edwards' team. As scary a proposition as that is, letting it become T.O.'s team is much, much more terrifying.
I'm not sure that any team with a "culture of winning", however, would be able to contain T.O. Haven't the Dallas Cowboys won five Super Bowls? Haven't the 49ers also won five Super Bowls? Owens has played on some of the more historically relevant and dominant franchises in NFL history, and had no problem ripping apart their locker rooms. It took him at least a year in each case. I'm not sure why Buffalo's locker room, which lacks a winning culture, is any more susceptible to Owens' behavioral issues than any other locker room in the league. In reality, it isn't.
John also points out that the Jets' secondary additions are now more important than ever.
The additions of Jim Leonhard and Lito Sheppard are now even bigger than they seemed at the time. The Jets already had to contend with Randy Moss and Wes Welker twice each season. Now there are two against Lee Evans and Owens... Watching a receiver as smart as T.O. work against the inexperience of Dwight Lowery would have been agony. Owens brings a lot of issues, but he undoubtedly is still a pain for opposing defenses.
Yeah, you know what? Sheppard should do fine against T.O.; he certainly has seen him before and knows what to expect. But I'm sorry if it offends that the presence of Jim Leonhard in the Jets' secondary is barely a blip on my radar. I love Leonhard - he's a versatile, smart guy that hustles and lays it all on the line for your team. But seriously, it's Jim Leonhard. If Leonhard draws a deep over assignment on either of our wideouts, I'm taking our wideout 100% of the time.
Bringing it back to Bills fans for a minute: smack talk is great, right? Before you go spouting off on these blogs, however, keep in mind two things: these bloggers are intelligent folks who have fine establishments, so keep it civil; and second, they kind of sort of maybe have a right to brag. I mean, all three of these teams did sweep the Bills last year.
As for me, I'll let the skepticism over T.O.'s signing in Buffalo play itself out. Nobody knows how it's going to work out. If it doesn't work out for the Bills, then very little changes in the landscape of the AFC East. If it does work out for Buffalo, however, I'm going to watch with a gleam in my eye and a smirk on my face as Buffalo's suddenly (potentially) potent offense eats these weak AFC East secondaries alive.