The Buffalo Bills are a little more than two days away from a big Week 3 home matchup against the San Diego Chargers, who are coming off of a 30-21 victory over defending champion Seattle. To help us preview this weekend's game, John Gennaro from Bolts From The Blue graciously answered a handful of questions from me about the Chargers.
Last year, the Bills beat the defending champions, Baltimore, 23-20 at home in Week 4. Obviously, San Diego just did the same thing, in slightly more convincing fashion (and against a significantly better Seattle team). How has that win adjusted fan expectations in San Diego, particularly after a Week 1 loss in Arizona?
Gennaro: Everyone was a bit uncertain after Week 1. There was a feeling that perhaps what the team had lost (Ken Whisenhunt) was what was most important in getting the team to the playoffs, and that Frank Reich wasn't ready to call plays as the new offensive coordinator. After Week 2, it would appear that our fears have been calmed and the offense is just as good as it was in 2013, after a bumpy start.
Wasn't Antonio Gates supposed to over the hill, or losing looks to Ladarius Green, or something? He's still the top target in a very good passing attack, right?
Gennaro: He is over the hill! By that I mean he's on the downslope of his career. Antonio Gates is no longer a big-play guy, nor is he completely unguardable. That role falls to Ladarius Green, who hasn't done much of anything this year but is still freaking out defensive coordinators with his mix of size and speed. What Gates does have is a ton of veteran savvy, and he can almost always find a way to get open on an in-route six yards downfield. That makes him a top target in a very good passing attack that is much more concerned with moving the chains and keeping the drive going than getting big plays.
We should expect Donald Brown to assume most of Ryan Mathews' workload, correct? With notorious Bills-killer Danny Woodhead staying in a complementary role?
Gennaro: Probably, yes. Branden Oliver, former Buffalo Bull, might get a chunk of it. It all depends on how much success they have early on.
Frank Reich is a legend in Buffalo, for obvious reasons. What are your early impressions of him as the Chargers' offensive coordinator?
Gennaro: I don't know that we have any. It's hard to differentiate if the failures and successes of the offense lay at his feet or are Mike McCoy's doing. After the team groomed him to take over for Whisenhunt, they certainly seem to love him and have faith in him.
Lost in the wake of all of the talk surrounding San Diego's offense is a seemingly-improved, if not just excellent defense. What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of that unit?
Gennaro: Last year, the defense was terrible and the weaknesses were the secondary and pass rush. So far this year, the defense looks really good and the strengths are the secondary and pass rush. That's no real surprise though, as one generally affects the other. Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett being added to the secondary have been huge improvements, so far, and the pass-rush has been relentless behind Dwight Freeney, Melvin Ingram, and rookie Jerry Attaochu.