The Buffalo Bills are reeling. They're preparing to take on the winless Cleveland Browns in a Week 5 game that could leave the Bills victorious, or dealing with a frothing-at-the-mouth fan base ready to turn words into action. I'm not completely sure "fun" is the word I'm looking for, but it should be a fun weekend.
Things aren't exactly rosy in Cleveland, either. For this week's up-close-and-personal perspective on all things Browns, please welcome Chris Pokorny of Dawgs By Nature to Rumblings today. He's here for our weekly Q and A with our opposing blogger; be sure to check out DBN throughout the weekend for the reciprocating interview.
Braylon Edwards is gone. He's had a bit of a rough go of it over the past two years. How do you feel as he departs? Relief? Worry?
I would be worried if I felt we were still able to contend this season, but with the way the team has looked and with having an 0-4 record, it makes the process a little easier to accept. Although he didn't make very many plays since his breakout 2007 season, he still drew the respect of opposing defenses. The problem was that we did not have any other receivers after 2007 to complement Edwards; nobody else could take advantage of their single coverage. But removing Edwards, we're definitely providing a way for three youngsters - Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, and Chansi Stuckey - to develop early on in their careers. If the trade-off ends up being three above average receiver in exchange for just one "potentially elite" receiver, I'll take it.
Derek Anderson is the starting quarterback du jour in Cleveland, and I've long felt that he's the better player between he and Brady Quinn. But the Browns also obviously have an investment in Quinn. Who would you rather see start?
Going on what I have seen, I'd like to see Derek Anderson start. He is prone to mistakes at the wrong time, but he has enough confidence to stand strong in the pocket even if pressure is getting close to him. Brady Quinn was not throwing the ball down the field, and any time any form of pressure came, it was like he wanted to crawl into a corner and die. I hate the fact that we weren't able to give Quinn a full season to develop, but on the other hand, how many other rookie or first-time quarterbacks have we seen step into the NFL and thrive right from the beginning?
Cleveland is obviously 0-4, but you've also played four teams who have a combined record of 14-2. The 1-3 Bills are by far your least daunting task to this point in the season. Is this week a must-win?
We're at the point now where we've pretty much given up on the season in terms of contention and are now focusing on development. So, rather than a "must-win", I would call it more of an "at least we CAN win" type of game. The Bills have obviously struggled clicking on all cylinders, which plays to the advantage of a Browns team that finally found a rhythm last week against the Bengals.
Playing from behind clearly doesn't help, but the Browns have struggled to run the football this season. Is the main culprit the age of Jamal Lewis and the inexperience of other runners, or are there other factors at play?
I really do think it has been a case of playing from behind. In the first week against the Vikings, Jamal Lewis ran the ball quite well, but then we had to give up on it after halftime. Against the Ravens, we always struggle to run the football, but Jerome Harrison didn't have a bad day. Again, though, it was a blowout quickly, so instead of running the ball we got to see four interceptions thrown by our quarterbacks. Last week against the Bengals, in our first "close game", Harrison cracked the 100-yard mark and almost broke a long touchdown run in several instances. We're not a dominating run team, but if the game is close, our ability to run the ball is at least average.
I'll make this harder for you by removing WR Mohamed Massaquoi's name from consideration: which unknown-to-Buffalo Browns player should Bills fans be worried about on Sunday?
We can't use Joshua Cribbs for this type of question anymore, because I think he's known by now after being the league's best all-around special teamer. I honestly don't know which unknown player the Bills should watch out for, because no rookies beyond Massaquoi have really received playing time to even be considered a "sleeper". I'll go with C Alex Mack, who was our first-round center. It's hard to measure his ability on a scale of "fans should be worried about him," but he has improved every week and had a near flawless game against the Bengals. If the Bills think they can attack the middle of the Browns' line for any reason, they should reconsider. It'd be better to focus on the weaker, right-side of the line.