Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Buffalo Bills fans would still like to see a legitimate "No. 2" receiver opposite Stevie Johnson, but right now, Donald Jones and T.J. Graham are producing in Chan Gailey's offense.
On a daily basis, I get emails from Buffalo Bills fans that still insist that the team should be exploring well-known receiving options (Plaxico Burress chief among them) to complement the team's top receiving target, Stevie Johnson. This, by and large, is an extension of an off-season-long conversation we had when it looked like the Bills might spend a high draft pick on a wideout.
My question for the masses today is simply this: why?
Through four games, Buffalo's slew of secondary receiving targets have been performing quite well. Donald Jones and T.J. Graham have been playing the receiver spots alongside Johnson for most of the season, and they've combined for 21 receptions, 237 yards and three touchdowns. Maybe it's just me, but that seems to have complemented Johnson (15 grabs, 195 yards, three scores) just fine to this point.
Add in a running game that can still be considered a team strength and a trio of excellent non-receiver receiving threats in tight end Scott Chandler and running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson (who have been outstanding as receivers thus far, combining for 24 receptions, 344 yards and five touchdowns), and it becomes clear that defenses have enough to prepare for without throwing all of their resources at Johnson.
It's not as if Johnson isn't getting open, either; as Jeremy White of WGR 550 pointed out this week, Johnson has had plenty of opportunities this season and is open far more often than he's covered. At least for now, Buffalo does not appear to need a "threat" for the sole purpose of keeping defenses honest with Johnson. That is already happening.
The bigger point here is that Jones and Graham - the two most unproven threats that the team uses in its offense - have performed well. Neither is particularly flashy, but they're capable of executing what Chan Gailey gives them and making plays in space. Gailey is able to scheme for both players and set up others with plays to these guys; see Chandler's first touchdown against New England, for example, which came on a faked receiver screen to Graham.
Buffalo's passing offense is having its issues right now, but most of them rest on the inconsistent and aggravating right arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's got enough productive weapons to be getting on with. Fitzpatrick needs to step up - and if anyone out of his skill players needs to follow suit, one could argue that that player is Johnson. At least for now, my Inbox needs to be mercifully freed of Plaxico Burress' name.