I've heard this over and over, from the "experts" to our own fans (which is sad). "The Bills will be terrible", "It's about time they sank to the bottom", "Number one overall pick", etc. Sorry doubters, but it won't happen.
- One of the main complaints is that we don't have a quarterback, so obviously we're doomed. Last I checked, we haven't had a quarterback that could be considered anything more than serviceable in the last five years.
Prior to the '05 season, we
suffered held our breath through three years of Drew Bledsoe, hoping he would right the ship. Unfortunately, there was a reason he was only here for three years.
So what if we don't have a great quarterback this year; We've had decent seasons with the same quarterbacks that people say are now worthless as starters. At quarterback, we've maintained status quo (or improved if Brohm surprises us all and wins the starting job convincingly).
- Quarterback is closely followed by left tackle. "Demetrius Bell is awful." "Who is Jamon Meredith?" You guys have lost any spark of optimism. While I know that some are high on Bell, Meredith, or both (like myself), most aren't convinced and are already placing bets on how many sacks our quarterback(s) will take this year.
Has our left tackle position, or the entire offensive line in general (because talking about the LT always leads to the line) taken a step back, somehow, this offseason? I can't agree with that. Not only was our line the greenest in the NFL last year, it was also the most varied, as the Bills fielded 11 starters within 9 different starting line combinations (over half the season). That's nowhere near enough time for a line to jell and gain functional experience, not to mention the league's youngest starting offensive line.
Forget the fact that Brad Butler retired. While Cornell Green may have an affinity for the color yellow, he's every bit as talented as Butler was, and I mean that strictly athletically. Throw in the fact that Green has more than double Butler's experience and we're breaking even, to be conservative. With the rest of the line gaining a full year of experience, and being afforded a whole offseason to work together, they might not be the lead weights that many expect them to be. At left tackle / offensive line, we've improved.
- The pass rush is nonexistent.
I'm not going to lie here - this really is the one portion of the team that is a true unknown. While the stats (or lack thereof) are a terrifying sight, it's not time to hit the panic button.
Edwards has coached in 3-4 defenses for a few years now, having been on board for Miami's crossover from the 4-3. He not only has a good knowledge of the defense, but he also has a good knowledge of how to transition to it, which is invaluable for the 2010 Bills team.
Aaron Maybin has the potential to be an absolute star in this defense. I know I'm just repeating what's been said before, but I believe it. Maybin was a player that many projected to 3-4 outside linebacker when he came out of college, but with Jauron & Co. desperately trying to find that shimmer of star power, they drafted the ridiculously undersized Maybin to play right end. As a natural pass rusher, he should get a lot of chances to show off the talent that made him a first round prospect in the first place. Add in a promising rookie named Danny Batten and veteran Chris Kelsay (who is an intelligent and hard working player, no matter how you slice it.......sorry Kurupt), and at the very least, the Bills can make their pass rush serviceable.
Every year we complain about the pass rush and it's lack of production. If we can get the same production this year as we have the last few years, that's a victory in it's own right. Every offseason we hope to address the problem. Now, it's happening, and the defense is taking steps in the right direction. In the pass rush, we've maintained status quo.
- Addition by subtraction? (I don't even need to discuss Jauron here).
A lot of fans are pretty upset that T.O. was one and done. I'm sorry, but I really don't share your disappointment.
T.O. was one of the biggest bums I've ever seen play for the Bills. It's really too bad, because of the fact that he is such a star as a football player. He was the classic case of an athlete with an ego too big for his game. The Bills weren't playing good enough to meet his standards, so why should he give maximum effort? Too many times did I see him give up on routes, jog when he should have sprinted, or play pattycake with defenders. I can't count how many times I felt the need to choke the guy through the TV because he would jog up to a defender, give him a couple casual pops, and then let him go. The worst part of this is the fact that half the time, T.O.'s defender would go make the tackle! In trimming their roster, the Bills have improved.
- More conventionally, addition by, well, addition?
Again, I heard a lot of complaints about the Bills' head coach hire, Chan Gailey. Yeah, he's not Cowher or Shanahan, but he's every bit as welcome to me.
Gailey brings in a proven track record for conducting an offensive attack. While he's only been a head coach for four years at the NFL level, he went to the playoffs twice, both in his two year stint in Dallas. Jerry Jones, to this day, still regrets not giving Gailey more time to settle in with his team.
Team Ranks in various categories, Lower ALWAYS indicates better performance.
|Overall||Offense||Rushing Off||Passing Off||Defense||Rushing Def||Passing Def|
Let's focus in on Gailey's two years in Dallas, because there's a few stats that I would really like to highlight.
First off, let's look at the overall. In '98 and '99, Dallas ranked 3rd and 6th, respectively. That must mean the offense was darn good at hanging onto the ball. Sure enough, if you look at the offense, the '98 and '99 teams were 1st and 5th, respectively, in giveaways. More importantly, his passing offenses ranked 1st in interceptions in '98 and 2nd in '99. This could spell the end of the road for our overly charitable quarterbacks. (Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com). Within the coaching staff, we've drastically improved.
- We have a lot of constants on our team that we seem to overlook whenever the negatives are addressed. The secondary will still cause opponents to gameplan for us every week, and even then, they'll still get their picks. The runningbacks will still rush for 1,000+ yards, a total that will only increase with offensive dynamo C.J. Spiller now in the fold. The ever-forgotten special teams will still pin opponents back, take away field position, and score those points that the offense couldn't. On the rest of the roster, we've maintained status quo or improved.
Case and point: The Bills will not fall to the bottom of the barrel this year. We have a lot more talent than we are given credit for, and our so called "question marks" are either resolved or are the same ones we've had for years now.