I'll start with something I found by accident. I'm not sure if people have ever seen this, but pro-football reference has a list of the Bills' starters by year and also gives their record each season. It goes way back and looks accurate. It's worth a quick glance for amusement and stashing in your favorites for later reference.
So I was thinking about the sack numbers that Mark Gaughan writes about in a Buffalo News article that you can read HERE that Kurupt discussed in a fanpost HERE. In the article, Gaughan claims that the Bills blitzed on 32% of pass plays and that 17 of their 24 sacks came on plays where they blitzed. So if you figure that the Bills opponents threw the ball 516 times (and that doesn't include plays where a QB felt the pressure and took off) and Buffalo blitzed on 32% of those plays, then there were 350 plays where the opponent threw the ball and Buffalo didn't blitz. 7 sacks on 350 plays is exactly 2%. When Buffalo rushed 4 players, they got a sack one out of every 50 pass attempts. Maybin is a fine start to rebuilding the defensive line, but don't expect me to stop asking for more help anytime soon.
And more on the pass rush, I really like the duo of Stroud and Williams, Johnson is decent and I feel like I'm one of the few who has never completely given up on McCargo, but don't expect the Bills' DTs to be part of the solution to a better pass rush. Stroud and Williams are both good for a few sacks a season which is very respectable for 310ish pounders who are better run stoppers than pass rushers. I was hoping that Spencer Johnson would be able to come in and provide a few sacks situationally, but that doesn't seem likely after watching him play last year. McCargo wasn't a good pass rusher in college and probably profiles better as a two gap player than he does in this defense. That is why I wanted Buffalo to draft a pass rushing DT and would have taken Jarron Gilbert with the 42nd pick. Buffalo should have done everything they could to improve the pass rush. They didn't and it's going to show again this season.
I have every intention on doing some some film study of Buffalo's defense this year. My intentions are more about compiling numbers then analyzing who is doing good and who isn't. I'm trying to keep it as objective as possible and don't feel expert enough to do grades like Ron does. I'm thinking about trying to keep notes on: How often the team blitzes, how many players they blitz and what players do the blitzing. How many yards the opposing team gains when we blitz vs. when we don't blitz. Who is getting double teamed on pass and run plays. Which CBs and safeties generally cover which players and who gives up the completions and maybe how bad the coverage was. Where players record tackles (something like close to line, 4 or more yards away from line and way down field). Anyone have other ideas? I can only do so much so what do people want to see the most? Anyone planning anything similiar?
Part of being a fan is being optimistic and getting excited. One unfortunate result of that is that players regularly don't live up to the expectations of the fans. I'm getting worried that TO is going to be one of those players that dissapoints. I think he'll have a really good season here, but he's not the top 10 WR that he has been for his entire career. The fanpost about Steve Johnson supplanting Reed in the slot got me thinking about this. If Reed's drops are still fresh in peoples' memories, then what are they going to do when TO starts dropping a ball every other week? Here is a stat for you: TO has dropped 35 passes over the last three seasons. It's easy to rip on someone like Braylon Edwards for his struggles last year, but he only dropped a few more passes last year than TO drops every season.
And to continue on TO, what kind of production are people really expecting? Dallas threw the ball at TO 140 times last year. It was the 8th most of any WR. For the sake of camparison, Buffalo threw at Evans 102 times. TO caught 69 passes which is actually a pretty pathetic 50% catch rate. That basically means that dropping 10 passes per season is bad news and that Dallas forced some balls at Owens. The WR with the next most catches to also have a rate lower than 50% was Braylon Edwards and his 55 catches. What are the odds that TO goes the whole season without complaining about not getting the ball enough? My guess is somewhere around 1 in 4.
I don't want to sound pessimistic about TO because I thought the signing was the perfect decision. So I'll throw out some things to be excited about: Lee Evans is the obvious one. Teams are going to have to play a lot of two deep zone or else they are really going to be relying on the FS to cover more ground than most guys can handle. As long as Trent can read those safeties and is willing to trust his instinct and take some shots downfield, Evans could have more big plays than ever. The next thing to be excited about is that Terrell Owens has the single greatest middle name ever. I'll give you 1,000 guesses ..... Nope it's Eldorado. How awesome is that? And the best thing about TO is TDs. TO can beat you on every route in the playbook and his big physical frame and style make him the perfect addition for a team that has really struggled in the red zone.
I know it's early for fantasy football, but after looking at Yahoo's rankings, I'm already worried about how to rank the top 25 or so players this year. I'm in a very deep, very competitive money league with some friends. It's a touchdown league and we start 2 QBs, so they go really fast. When you figure that there are 7 QBs who should go really high in my league (Brees, Manning, Brady, Romo, Warner, Rivers, Rodgers), 4 STUD WRs (Fitz, Moss, A.Johnson, C.Johnson) and 15 or so RBs that could be put in a million different orders, I'm already sweating out the first few rounds of the draft. Is Tomlinson in the top 3 or out of the top 10? Is Peterson really worth the number one pick? DeAngelo Williams had 20 TDs last year? What about time share guys like Chris Johnson? Can Steve Slaton or Jones-Drew hold up to a full season at their size? These rankings might literally push me over the edge into insanity.
The trend for hiring head coaches has been to go with the hot coordinator. But so many teams have done that, there aren't many names left out there. I'm sure we will see some former HCs get some jobs next offseason, but I'll throw Leslie Frazier's name out there as my guess as to who the Bills will hire if Jauron can't do better than 7-9 again.
Alright Rumblers, there's a lot in there and I know you've all got some thoughts. We've got little else to talk about for the next few weeks, so let's hear what you're thinking.