This offseason, the Bills spent >$100 million on their defensive line. And they spent <$1 million drafting a couple of linebackers, one of whom they cut. The game yesterday could not have shown a more stark contrast between two teams' positional groupings. On one side, there were a couple of players absolutely dominating the field of play, covering tight ends, knifing through the line making tackles, and generally disrupting everything the offense tried to do. On the other side was a positional group that got pushed all over the place, had trouble securing tackles, and consistently gave up 10 yard chunks on rushes (most frustratingly on 3rd and long).
It leaves me with a couple of questions that people might be able to answer:
- Is Nic Barnett over the hill? People have talked about how small he is. I don't think I've noticed him make one impact play this entire season. Is the problem that he's playing too much? He plays nearly every down. However, he seems more of a detriment at this point than help. I wonder whether we wouldn't have been better off keeping Tank Carder.
- What do we have in the young guys? Shep seems to be a very high spirited guy and when he was in, the 49ers did marginally less well running the ball than when he was out. Can he really not be an every down linebacker? Can he seriously not keep up to cover tight ends? Doesn't that make him not a real starter?
- Young guys 2: Based on the performance of the teams yesterday, it seems obvious that we need to make a serious investment in a linebacker. It seems unavoidable that we have to use our first round pick on one assuming one is available. It just seems like the real stud LBs assert themselves very early in their careers, and none of our guys seems to be doing that.
- Young guys 3: Are the other young linebackers worth keeping around and developing? It seemed like Moats could kind of run with Vernon Davis. He's been improving a lot and seems like a nice guy. It just seems like a taking an undersized pass rushing specialist and taking several years to convert him to LB is a strange way to develop LB talent.
- The secondary problems. It seems like it's a coaching/scheme problem. They like to keep their safeties deep and keep their young corners in man. Sometimes there is confusion. Are the schemes too complicated?
- And then there's the QB issues: The thing I can't get out of my head is that Nix hired Gailey because he is someone who could develop QBs. The only long term QB under Gailey has regressed. As has been well-documented here, it seems kind of crazy that they wouldn't have selected a QB in any draft during Gailey's time here.
- It seems clear that not enough attention is getting paid to the defense. The schemes they run are extremely vanilla and young players do not seem to be able to fit in very quickly. So many fingers point back to the coaches. I think I wouldn't mind having Jauron as DC and Gailey as OC, and someone young and energetic as HC.
- I can't tell whether the 49ers had all the pieces in place for Harbaugh to take over or whether Harbaugh is just that much better of a coach than Gailey. Probably some of both.
- I'm really hoping the Bills can bond and get stuff together this next week in Arizona. I really hope someone stands up and leads this franchise. I'm just not sure who it will be. The coach seems to mostly have his nose in a playbook. I think Fitzy is too nice. This was one of my major concerns when they got rid of Merriman. He really seemed able to get the team jacked up. There's Meatball. It seems like this past week has got to be the bottom of the barrel. It seems like it has to get better from here. But, wow, there's a lot of work for the Bills to do.