Phew....what a weekend it was fellas. The culmination of anticipation that started way back on December 28th when the Bills concluded their season in an anti-climatic game at the Ralph vs the NE Patriots. Since then so much has happened. And I'm not about to summarize it all here, but the culmination was yesterday with the NFL Draft. There is a possibility the Bills may go after Leroy Hill of Seattle, or as jri111 pointed out already this morning the Bills should take a gander at players like Tamba Hali of the KC Chiefs.
But for all intensive purposes our roster is set. God willing, no one will sustain a season-ending injury in any rookie OTA's or mini camps this summer, and the Bills will begin the 2009 season with a fully healthy roster....at least we can hope. On paper, there are a lot of things to get excited about, but I'm here to comment on the following thesis of my post here today:
Dick Jauron's whole goal of becoming better in 2009 is simple: Score more points, and have the lead in more games.
Bear with me as I try and lay out this theme I have recognized throughout the off-season as I've chartered every move the Bills have made and tried to read as much as possible from every source of information I have laid my hands on. I know I touched on this back in February but I'm too lazy to link it up right now and no one would read it anyways. But let me throw a few stats at you.
In 2008 the Bills Offense averaged 21 pts per game good for 23rd in the league. In 2008 the Bills Defense on average gave up 21.4 pts per game. For the season the Offense scored 336 pts the Defense gave up 342. Let's take a look at some playoff teams from last year and their Offensive pts per game:
Pittsburg - 21.7, Arizona - 26.7, NE 25.6, Minnesota 23.7, Titans 23.7, Dolphins 21.6
And the Top Defensive units:
Pittsburgh 13.9, Titans 14.6, Eagles 18.1, Ravens 15.2, Miami 19.8, etc
My point of this excercise is, your POINT DIFFERENTIAL needs to be at least +2 pts per game like the Dolphins but on average +3-6 pts for teams that win enough games to qualify for the playoffs. So what this tells me is the Bills are close, real close to getting over the hump as their point differential was only -0.4 pts so I believe this team is closer to becoming a 10-6 football team then they are to becoming a 5-11 team, especially if the Bills improve in 2009, which you think would with a QB entering his 3rd year and he sould be enough better to get this team over the hump if you believe in Trent Edwards as a legit NFL QB.
Dick Jauron's philosophy this entire off-season by going after T.O., drafting Shawn Nelson, signing Dominic Rhodes, drafting two nasty rookie OL and signing C, Geoff Hangartner, all says "we got to score more points." It's simple I know, but the flip side of this philosophy is by scoring points, and subsequently having more leads in football games, the Bills strengths will now come to the forefront in the eyes of Dick Jauron.
In the OBD post-draft presser, there are some great quotes that help me solidify my argument and point to what these guys are thinking at OBD. I believe what I'm about to disect below will allow all of us to understand the reason behind why we have gone after the type of personnel we have this off-season.
Dick Jauron on Shawn Nelson as blocker and his philosophy on having a much improved passing offense in 2009.
"I've always believed the better you are throwing the ball the better you are running it and the better you are running the better you are....they go together....so if we can run it effectively it will make him a better pass receiver and if we can throw it and make them fear the TE, use the TE in the offense that will make him a better blocker cuz they'll have to defend him and they'll be having to be thinking about defending him and you know that adds a lot to a guy's ability to block. It's hard to block anybody if they know it's coming."
I love this quote. Dick Jauron says again that they have to utilize these pass catchers. We must become a more potent passing team and by doing that we will keep defenses more off-balance. We are too predictable. This offense has to become proficient in the passing game to become a better team and increase that point differential from -0.4 to +3 pts to make the playoffs and it starts with the passing attack.
Dick Jauron here comments on a question regarding his team's outside linebacker competititon:
Keith has really played well for us whenever we've asked him to step up and play and we're happy where were at it. We're at the point where we got enough players to challenge him. It's a position just like every position on our football team and very much related to what I just said earlier about running the ball better and how it makes it easier to throw it.....when the whole thing works together when the offense scores more points there's not as much pressure on say the run defense there's more pressure on the pass defense. It'll be an interesting thing to watch develop. I like our guys I like our depth we have right now."
Here again Jauron reitierates his emphasis to score more points. By having more leads, and playing versus teams passing the ball, Dick Jauron thinks his football team will be better. The Bills gave up 122 yds per game in the run game good for 22nd in the NFL and gave up 204 yds per game in the passing game good for 13th in the NFL in 2008. Dick Jauron thinks his team will even be better against the pass in 2009 with development of Posluszny, McKelvin and now Maybin as well as a healthy Schobel and a stable of defensive backs to go up against New England. The Bills have tried so hard to address where the Bills pass offense and pass defense via free agency and the draft.
Of course ultimately it all comes down to the development of Trent Edwards and his ability to take advantage of the assortment of weapons he know possesses. Turk Schonert must be feeling the pressure. With Dick Jauron and the FO giving Schonert all of these weapons for him to use, the pressure now solely relies on Schonert coaching that offense and utilitzing the weapons appropriately so the Bills can become a top 15 offense for the first time in over 5 seasons. The dynamic backfield of Lynch, Jackson and Rhodes provides stability not just in the running game, but most importantly in the pass-protection game. Lynch is a solid blocker, jackson is always in the right place and Rhodes played in Indy, where pass blocking by running backs is their forte. The only major question mark is will the OL hold up to give Trent time? I think it may be a rough go at first, but the talent invested in that OL now is significant and I believe they will be good enough for Trent next season.
But you see Dick Jauron's building of this team, I think finally came to frutition when he got Maybin and Byrd on Saturday. An explosive playmaking DE, and a ball hawking Safety. For this defense to become top 15, it needed a DE that wasn't ok at rushing the passer, they needed to get a guy who was dominant as a pass rusher and Maybin is that guy. He can flat out beat you off the edge and for Kurupt and Bills Nation that is a dream come true.
So what are your thoughts on Buffalo's philosophy of off-season acquisitions? Pretty simple right? Score more points offensively and consequently play with more leads, so our defense can know what's coming and if we know what's coming we can stop it.
Do you think this was the right way to go about building this football team to win in 2009? What are your thoughts on where this team is now compared to 2006 when Dick Jauron & Marv Levy arrived? I think regardless of what you think of the philosophy, they have drafted some pretty good players lately and maybe if they get enough of "their" guys their scheme and philosophy will finally translate to 10-12 wins and a return the Bills to prominence. Cuz if they do, we will all be loving how great these guys are. That's what's on the line Brandon, Modrak & DJ....you have a chance to finally put a franchise back on the map. So for Bills Nation sake as well as yours I hope this huge off-season overhaul finally leads to an AFC East crown.