Current Bills

Does The Defense Measure Up?

Buffalo Bills Defense, a new look...
Last week I posted an article on my blog at stating five very good reasons to be optimistic about our offense. And I still believe all of those are true. I am very excited about the offense next year for those five (and MORE) reasons!

But what about the defense?

London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes... Gone!When you hear people talk about how the Bills are at best a long shot to make the playoffs in 2007, it mostly revolves around the loss of three key veteran players – all from the defensive side of the ball. Nate Clements, London Fletcher, and Takeo Spikes. Those three guys have had some serious impact for the Buffalo Bills over the past several years.

Fletcher has led the team in tackles (being named the 2006 Buffalo Bills Review Season MVP, and a closer runner up in 2007!) and was a leader in the locker room.

Spikes was another emotional team leader whom all the players respected and looked up to. His play on the field was mostly absent for 2006, even when he was dressed and playing. He wasn’t the same TKO.

Clements is probably a different story. He will be missed to be sure. But the fact that the Bills did not go out and get another CB of similar ability… makes you think they must be at least somewhat satisfied with who they have now.

All three of those guys contributed while they were here in big, big ways. They were great Buffalo Bills, and we cheered for all of them. But now they’re gone, and it’s someone else’s turn to step up. And if you really look at it, we’re losing a player who was mostly gone (Spikes), a player that didn’t fit the Bills’ defensive scheme (Fletcher), and an overpriced DB ($80Million?!??!) When you look at it that way, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Let’s take a look at a few things that we can really look forward to this season on defense.

A Great, Young Defensive Line
Will a healthy John McCargo make a difference?Well, the first DL you might think of on our team is not really so young… but he is great. Pro Bowl DE, Aaron Schobel, returns to anchor the right side of our line, as does his bookend Chris Kelsay. Rumblings of grumblings regarding the contract Kelsay signed this off-season were likely a bit overblown as Schobel was at the mini-camps, and doesn’t seem to have as much of a problem with his salary as everyone else does. Add to those guys Ryan Denney (similar player to Kelsay), a decent DE in Anthony Hargrove, and then a couple other guys for depth during training camp… and we’re pretty good at DE.

Darwin Walker Acquired via TradeThe biggest problem last year was stopping the run consistently. That usually is up to your big ol’ fat guys in the middle. Problem is, we don’t have too many of those. In comes Darwin Walker via trade with the Eagles. Or, does he? Walker (as you all know) has not reported to the Bills yet, and it’s looking like he never will. This was the one big move the Bills made to add depth to what most feel is a sorely lacking position, and so far it has not gone through.

Who does that leave them with? Well, a pretty good stable of guys, actually. Veteran Larry Triplett returns, along with youngsters Kyle Williams, a repaired John McCargo, and Tim Anderson. McCargo was a first-round choice last year, so if he’s healthy, we could expect some great play from him. The other guys seem to be good enough that the coaching staff is happy with them. They all fit the mold of the light-but-quick DL the Bills scheme calls for.

Question is, with mostly no additions to this group, what will allow them to improve on a very bad run-stopping defense last year? One more year of experience, a healthy McCargo, and being more comfortable/familiar with the scheme may help… but again, will it be enough?

Great youth and talent at LB
Bills Draft Pick Paul PoslusznyBills fans rejoiced when their team moved up in the second round to get Paul Posluszny from Penn State. Many hoped he would be our first round choice, but after landing Marshawn Lynch with that pick, perhaps gave up hope. After the trade, most Bills fans were elated beyond words. Lynch & Poz are an exciting start to the 2007 Buffalo Bills draft! And from the film I have seen of him, including interviews on, he seems like the real deal. He was definitely worth trading up.

Beyond “Poz”, the Bills have some great young depth at LB. Angelo Crowell returns along with Keith Ellison, both of whom played well as starters last season. Crowell now (by default) assumes the role of “leader” as he has the most experience of the group – going into his FIFTH season.

Add to those three (likely) starters Josh Stamer and John DiGiorgio, and a handful more for training camp, and there is some pretty raw talent in the linebacking corp for the Bills this coming season. The problem is they are SO green. We have no idea till they get out on the field whether that will help or not. Time will tell…

Great youth and talent at DB
Donte WhitnerBut… I thought we lost our best DB? How can we still have “great youth and talent” at DB?

Remember last year’s draft? The Bills picked SS Donte Whiter with the 8th overall pick. Donte Whitner??!? And then they picked Ko Simpson and Ashton Youboty. THREE DBs in the TOP FOUR PICKS? That seemed insane. But after watching Whitner and Simpson play together as perhaps one of the better safety tandems in the league last year – one has to be at least slightly optimistic. And add to those two this year’s 6th round pick, John Wendling. Apparently quite the player himself.

But what about CB? With Nate gone… and McGee a bit suspect last year, aren’t Tom Brady and Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Ben Watson, Wes Welker, and even Kyle Brady going to eat us alive??? Maybe. But maybe not.

(SIDENOTE: Do you think if Tom connects with Kyle more than once this season they might start calling the Pats the “Brady Bunch”?) 🙂

If the Bills felt there was a hole at the CB spot for them, they sure didn’t try very hard to fill it. We brought in Jason Webster from Atlanta, who has starting experience, but is relatively unknown. I guess we’re expecting Ashton Youboty to step in and play well despite no NFL starts. Beyond that we have some depth returning from last season in Jabari Greer and Kiwaukee Thomas. Most of the other guys are complete unknowns.

This position (defensive backfield) seems to me to be the weakest spot on the D. (Perhaps rivaled by defensive tackle.) While our starting safeties seem great (and that rookie we drafted!) I can’t help but wonder who’s going to step up and take on the other team’s number one receiver. Who’s going to step up?

I’m not sure… but I am sure there are going to be a lot of guys trying!

There are certainly less reasons to be optimistic about the defense this year – at least, fewer proven reasons. This season is all about potential. Mostly on offense. Perhaps the team pulls it together and surprises everyone. Perhaps we make the playoffs on the backs of some very young, as yet unproven talent that will prove itself for the first time this season.


Until we see them on the field, against other players in full pads and hitting full-on, we can only take our best guess. And if that’s what we’re doing, why would we not BILLieve? 🙂


BBR @ [UNDER CONSTRUCTION] has been hosting my regular Bills column for the past year or so (I think I started writing just before the season began), but it was hosted on the message boards, and yesterday those received a (greatly anticipated) overhaul. What that also means is… my column there is (at least temporarily) gone.

Earlier this year, ALL of my posts prior to February (I believe) we automatically deleted by a script that was purging old posts!!! That was extremely frustrating, sad, etc… but I realized if I wanted to keep the stuff I was writing for posterity (or even just to link back to…) I would need to stash it somewhere else!

I created a page that has heretofore not been publicly linked, but since the other site is down (for an indefinite amount of time) I thought I’d link it for you.

To read my BBR @ column (what I have saved since February…) just go to:

Once I hear from, I’ll update the link in the main navigation above. For now, the back-up copy will have to do 🙂

Categories Schedule

Training Camp Schedule Released

Seven night practices, all in full pads, highlight the 2007 Bills training camp schedule at St John Fisher College. The Bills will open camp on July 26th with three straight two-a-day practices! Things are ramping up… football season is around the corner! Check out for more.

Training Camp Daily Practice Schedule


Five Reasons To Be Optimistic About Our Offense

I know it’s early to be talking specifics about this year’s Bills.  We haven’t really seen them play yet.  We’ve seen a mini camp highlight or two, and heard lots of great in-depth reports from Chris Brown, but it’s not close to the real deal yet.  (You know, sometimes it seems like even pre-season is not the “real deal”… you never know what’s going to happen until they get out there, put the pads on and bang heads!)

That said, I am feeling more excited than recent years about our offense!  I can’t wait to see them in (real) action!  I’ve come up with at least five reasons to be optimistic about the 2007 Buffalo Bills offense.

1.  New Offensive Line
Jason Peters with JP LosmanA lot of folks want to bash the moves the Bills made this off-season.  I have heard many complaints that either the Bills overpaid, or just got average guys, or both.  In fact, heard it yesterday on ESPN’s NFL Live.  But if Bills fans will remember … after Dick Jauron and co. switched up the entire O-line last season at the bye week, our line steadily – and vastly? – improved.  Allowing WAY fewer sacks, giving JP time to hit the deep ball, even opening holes for the running game.

The addition of a big tackle, Langston Walker, and a big – and the Bills staff feels, talented – left guard in Derrick Dockery, we’ve certainly solidified an already improving, and I’d say a decent line.  So now (according to the depth chart here at we have from left to right, Jason Peters, Derrick Dockery, Melvin Fowler, Duke Preston, and Langston Walker.  And for depth we have Terrance Pennington, who did a great job at RT last year as a rookie, and the new guy Jason Whittle, who is apparently a “utility” player (able to play many different positions.)

Add to those guys some players we got last year who will likely be improved this season, Brad Butler and Aaron Merz, and the line seems pretty strong to me.  Granted it’s unproven, and I believe that’s where the “experts” see our line as a weakness.  Of the five starters listed above, Walker and Fowler have the most NFL experience at 6 years.  So it’s definitely a young line.

But it’s a beefy line.  Look at these stats!

  • LT – Jason Peters: 6’4″ 340lbs
  • LG – Derrick Dockery: 6’6″ 330lbs
  • C – Melvin Fowler: 6’3″ 310lbs
  • RG – Duke Preston: 6’5″ 326lbs
  • RT – Langston Walker: 6’8″ 366lbs

Holy cow!  That’s a lot of beef!!!  And throw in Terrance Pennington off the bench at 6’7″ 331 lbs just for more pummeling.

With supposedly one of the best OL coaches in the league, a strong finish to last season (constant improvement) and a few solid additions to the line, I think this is one great reason for offensive optimism this coming season.

2.  New, More Open Scheme
Steve FairchildFrom a few Chris Brown reports from OBD, as well as a confirming report on NFL Live yesterday, all signs point to a wide open, perhaps even no-huddle, very “Rams-like” offense from one of their former coaches.  Fairchild seems very happy with the acquisition of Marshawn Lynch, who seems to fit the mold of Marshall Faulk very well.  Very shifty, great moves, and even better… great hands out of the backfield.

We saw the offense open up a bit (I think in conjunction with the improved O-line) last season.  Losman to Evans was a fun combination.  But let’s not discount the other receivers so quickly.  Price and Reed made some clutch catches last season.  (Remember that play where Reed caught one fairly deep down the middle and just blasted through three Dolphin defenders into the endzone!??)  And Roscoe Parrish is obviously explosive when we can get him the ball.  Add to that a decent core of TEs (the coaches seem very happy with these guys…) and we’ve got a good amount of weaponry at Losman’s disposal.

3.  Consistency From Last Season
Lee EvansNow I know I just finished saying that the #2 reason for optimism is our new offensive scheme, but one thing I keep hearing the players say (and it makes complete sense to me) is that a big reason to be optimistic is that most everything is the same.

If you’ll recall, Bills fans, we have not seen much of that in the past several years.  From revolving free agent players, to revolving coordinators, coaches, and even the GM… the Bills have seen MORE than their share of “turn over”.  But this upcoming season the only real difference is at RB, where it seems to me we’ve made an improvement.

The offensive system is familiar.  “The players know what to expect,” said Coach Jauron, “and they know what we expect from them.”  All of the coaches are returning.  Most of the players have been here now through last year’s transition.  There is a great level of consistency, and I think, a great sense of team. (Maybe even akin to the Buffalo Sabres, who have done very well with a young, unproven cohesive team.)

As the system has become more familiar, the players can just do what they do.  And probably that has opened up the full throttle offense as well.  This is a very good reason for optimism, in my opinion!

4.  Marshawn Lynch vs Willis McGahee
Marshawn LynchAs I mentioned above, I do believe we have made an improvement at the RB position.  I really have nothing against Willis.  I don’t recall ever publicly bashing him here or anywhere.  I definitely thought he had great potential, and as I said in my last article, when you wear the uniform, you’re a Buffalo Bill.  Period.  So I cheered for Willis, as for everyone else.

That said, I am so glad he’s gone, and we seem to have a kid in here who is ready to work hard to help the Buffalo Bills.

The one detractor (in my opinion) for Willis was that (even if it’s not true) it seemed that he was always taking plays off.  Always.  I don’t remember a game where I thought, “Wow, Willis played a complete game that time!”  Maybe in 2004, when he made his debut?  All I know is that he was certainly characterized by a less-than-100% effort.  At least by all appearances.

Bring in Marshawn Lynch.  Compared already to Marshall Faulk (and I’ll throw in Thurman Thomas?) he is a bit of a different runner.  And, he’s a great pass catcher.  AND… he’s at mini camp!  🙂  Coach Fairchild said on that NFL Live piece that it helps so much having Lynch here, able to fit into the passing scheme more.  From what I’ve seen of Lynch, he definitely seems committed to being the best he can be for the team.  That’s a big improvement.

With the improved offensive line, involvement in the passing game, and a confident QB… I’d say Lynch could bring perhaps a significant improvement over the running game from last year.  I think he only needs to average 3.9 yards/carry to top last year’s production from Willis.  🙂

5.  J.P. Losman
JP LosmanI left this one for last, but maybe it’s the most important one.  Flashback with me to 2005.  In the off-season, Drew Bledsoe is let go, and JP Losman is named the starter.  Just like that.  Never played… he’s just the starter.  They bring in Kelly Holcomb for back up, and “competition”.  Losman starts and wins his first game… against Houston.  Then the wheels fall off.  Mularkey’s job is in trouble, so he benches Losman… playing with his head.

Skip ahead to 2006.  This new year brings an entirely new front office and coaching staff.  Losman and Holcomb and Nall compete for the starting job.  (At least, he wasn’t just handed the job.)  Losman wins the job, and starts every game.  He was shaky at the beginning, but not horrible.  Then, after the bye… kept steadily improving.

By the end of last year (minus a poor showing in the finale in Baltimore) Losman had become an entirely different QB.  He finished the season with the 11th best QB rating in the NFL at 84.9.  Perhaps it was that game in Houston where he not only hit those TWO 83 yard bombs to Evans… but came from behind to win it in the waning seconds of the game on a pass to Peerless Price?  Perhaps it was just growing comfortable with the system, or himself as an NFL QB.  Whatever it was, it started working.  Losman began believing in himself (as did the rest of the Bills, and Bills fans) and now he has that momentum coming into this season.

He ended the year a bit miffed at not making the playoffs.  One detractor from Losman’s play to end the year was how he quit after the Tennessee game.  He was not mentally/emotionally in the game in Baltimore.  But right after that game was over, he was ready for 2007.  He took a little time off, but has been hard at work this off-season, prepping for the upcoming football year.

Another great thing about JP is that he is a team guy.  His teammates seem to love him, and he loves them right back.  He engages everyone, and seems from my vantage point to be a willing and capable leader.  Isn’t that what we want from our QB?

I believe one of the best reasons for optimism regarding the 2007 rendition of the Buffalo Bills offense is J.P. Losman.  He’s entering his 4th season – second as a full-time starter.  There’s consistency from last year, but a more open approach.  A new weapon in Marshawn Lynch.  And carry-over confidence from a steady improvement through the end of last season.

Look out NFL defenses… here come the Bills!

Categories Players

Fun Weekend With Some Buffalo Bills

Who You Callin' No Foot?
Hey folks!

I just posted a lengthy article over at the BBR @ Blog about some Bills-related fun and frivolity from this weekend. We got to meet three Buffalo Bills players, and hang out and even play football with one of them! Check out the article for the full story.

As for the photo above… that is a scan of the autographed piece of paper I am sending to Uncle Josh, of Buffalo Bills Review fame. 🙂

For those of you who have been with us from the beginning… you know the story of how Rian Lindell became “No Foot”. Josh was calling him out in PRESEASON!!! Crazy. Anyway, turns out Lindell had a phenomenal year, and an even better one last season. So we have weekly “No Foot” tallys during the season, even made a “No Foot for Pro Bowl” shirt!!! (Available at the BBR Store!)

Anyway… I had the opportunity to explain the story to Lindell on Saturday, and he thought it was hilarious. So I asked him to send a note to Uncle Josh… the creator of that moniker, and … the above is what he wrote.

Hilarious! Thanks No Foot!! 🙂

Can’t wait to do the first show of season three! Training camp is coming soon! We’ll have some interviews with players, reports from camp, and all sorts of fun things!



One Weekend, Three Buffalo Bills

If you’ll permit me, I’d like to share some football stories from the weekend.  They are certainly Bills-related, but not the norm for my column here. I really wanted to write this article last night.  But I just couldn’t.  I was exhausted.  The weekend was packed full of greatness, and a good bit of it included Buffalo Bills, or at least former Buffalo Bills.  It was a Bills fan’s dream!

We headed into the weekend knowing we’d be having dinner with Kelly Holcomb and family.  They have been part of my in-laws’ church since moving to the Buffalo area a couple years ago.  My in-laws had them over for dinner once and asked them if they’d come back so we could meet them.  We have kids about the same age, and as you know from me writing here… I am a Big Bills Fan.  So, they’re leaving town soon, and the only time that worked for everyone was a family birthday/graduation party we had planned for this weekend.  The Holcombs happily agreed to join us.

As I was making my part of the meal for the weekend I thought to myself, “I’m making this Skyline Chili for Kelly Holcomb!!!” Needless to say… I was excited.

So were my boys.  We play football all the time, and they couldn’t wait to catch some passes from Mr. Holcomb!

But the bonus event happened on Saturday.

Brian Moorman posing with our boysIf you read the boards here, you’ll recall that Brian Moorman had a Family Fun Event to raise money for his PUNT foundation (I forgot to ask him what that stands for….) 🙂  We were given some tickets to that, and were more than happy to squeeze that into our already busy weekend.  And it paid off!

We arrived several hours into the event, and got to see some fun stuff for our boys (ages 8 and 5).  There were lots of inflatable football fun things (like you would see at Bills’ training camp at St. John Fisher starting in late July) as well as some other events, like an exotic animals show.  That was great!

But the best part was as we were strolling through the Fair, we noticed a volleyball game happening, and Mr. Hawaii was out there, along with some of the staff for the event.  In fact, as I was scanning his side of the court, I recognized another familiar face… Rian Lindell!  So we headed over to check it out.

Almost the instant we arrived, the game was over, and they began to break up and go separate ways.  A small crowd (really small… like 8-10 people) formed around Brian, so the four of us headed over to join it and meet our Pro Bowl punter.  He graciously signed some stuff for our boys, and we chatted briefly, but it was not really any different than any other public gathering where you meet someone that everyone else knows.  It was over quickly, and we were going to move on.

Rian Lindell Signing AutographsAs we were leaving, I noticed the Bills’ place kicker standing out on the volleyball court still, juggling the volleyball with his feet, much like a pro soccer player might.  I asked my family, “You guys want to go meet Rian Lindell???”  (silly question…) to which they excitedly replied, “YEAH!!!!”  🙂  So we headed over to say hello.

As we approached him, some friends of his were also heading out to say hello, but with us being the strangers, he looked up and just introduced himself.  He chatted with me, and our boys, but didn’t have a pen, so no autographs. (Until some more fans joined us, and loaned us their marker!)  The best part was that it was so relaxed!  There was no line… it felt like there should have been, but there wasn’t.  So we just got to hang out for a bit.  Our oldest son was wearing his Travis Henry jersey, so Rian told him he needs to get a new one before next season… “Get a #9 jersey!”  🙂  Ian will be turning 9 this year…. so…  🙂

Well, we hung out for a bit more fun.  Ended up meeting Kevin Jobity, as our boys were playing with his son (he’s a former Niagara Univ basketball player, and now plays in Dubai).  But before we left we thought we’d chat with Brian Moorman a bit more, just for fun!  He was standing right near our table, so we went over for a photo and just to chat. 

The thing that was so great about both these Buffalo Bills kickers was that we met was just how easy it was to chat with them.  They were happy to spend time talking with us, though we’d never met.  They weren’t in a rush to be somewhere else.  It was a blast.

I had one more opportunity to chat with Rian Lindell, so I told him that he’s pretty much a legend on our show.  On our very first show in 2005, my then co-host decided to rip into Lindell for missing a kick, giving him the nickname “No Foot”.  Well, it was hilarious, and it stuck, despite Lindell having a pretty good season that year.  In fact, we made up some “No Foot for the Pro Bowl” t-shirts!  He hasn’t made it yet, despite an even better season last year… but we keep the weekly “No Foot” Tally on our show.  So I told him all of this and he got a kick out of it.  (Ha!  Kick!)  He sent a little message to “Uncle Josh” (the originator of the moniker) as well… which I’ll post to our site later today.

Skip ahead to Sunday evening…

The family had gathered, the food was ready, and we were just waiting for the Holcombs to arrive.  It was just about time, but since they weren’t there yet, I was heading out to toss the football around with my boys and my nephew.  Right then, they show up, and the first thing my five-year-old says is, “Can you throw the football to me?”  🙂  Kelly smiled and agreed to do that later…

Kelly Holcomb tossing the ball to our boysWe all said hello, and got to know names… and I think it was a mere 5 minutes later (maybe less) Kelly was out there tossing passes to three of my kids, two of his own kids, my 9-yr-old nephew, and … me!  🙂

Mostly he threw to the kids, and as he did, I asked him questions that you’d never get to ask at a training camp meeting, or at an autograph signing, or some other public venue.  Again, it was just relaxed and informal.  We’re about the same age, with kids about the same age, so I asked questions about his family, and moving, and how he liked Buffalo vs. what he has seen in Philly so far.  (The area, not the team.)  I asked if he knew (or had played with) any guys on the Eagles before he got there… besides Takeo.  I asked if he likes moving around – getting a new start.  He said no.  “It’s getting old.”

At the dinner table, we talked with them about their various football experiences in various towns.  Did you know he played for the Barcelona Dragons of the old World League of American Football?  (WLAF, now NFL Europa… just … different.)  We talked about how he’s an Indy race fan from his days in Indy playing behind Jim Harbaugh and then Peyton Manning.  We talked about the Sabres, and how he’s a hockey (specifically Sabres) fan now, from his time here.  We talked about 400 yard passing games in the playoffs.  He smiled when remembering those… 🙂

We also talked about his chances of at least making the playoffs with his new team.  I said even though I really don’t like the Eagles, if he makes the team, I’ll be rooting for them up until the Super Bowl, when I will of course have to root for the Bills.

(Hey, the season hasn’t started yet… leave me to my wishful thinking!  We’re tied for first place still!)

After dinner we went back outside to play football… this time my 19-year-old nephew joined us, and we had fun just running routes, and mostly helping the kiddos have fun playing football with AN NFL QB!!!  He was great, and just kept tossing balls to tiny people.  Even lining them up in formations, and going through a cadence.  Too fun!

So, near the end of the time, I had to get in on the action.  🙂

I lined up against my nephew and said, “Try and cover me.”  I ran an out pattern to the sidelines, 15 yards up the field (um… my in-law’s back yard…) and Kelly threw a strike right to me… but my nephew closed on it and batted it down!  (He’ll remember that one for a while!)  Kelly complimented him (I don’t think he thought my nephew could get there!)  So we went for it again.  I tried the same play, and this time… I DROPPED IT.  MY BIG CHANCE to catch a pass from an NFL QB, and I DROPPED IT!

Kelly said, “Well you gotta catch one!”  So we lined up again.  This time I beat the defender with a little move inside and took off straight up the field.  Kelly launched a 35-40 yard pass and I gave my best burst of speed to catch up… but… it was three inches past my finger tips!  ARGH!  Some NFL WR I would have made!  I think Kelly made some quip about me ruining his QB rating…  🙂  But we were going to connect at least once!

Kelly Holcomb and our boysThe final route was a little inside slant over the middle, and… a fifteen yard completion!  He hit me in stride, so I kept going for the TD.  🙂

The Holcomb family was great.  It was so fantastic to spend an evening with a Buffalo Bills QB.  (NOTE: I realize he’s an Eagle now.  But as he was leaving I said, “I know you only spent two years here, but once you wear the uniform, you’ll always be a Buffalo Bills QB to me.”  He said, “Thanks.  I appreciate that.”)  Our kickers are also great guys.  It was a blast to just get to chat with them this weekend.

After yesterday, I must say… I can’t WAIT for BILLS FOOTBALL.

And I wish I would have caught those passes!  🙂

Family Sports

Skyline Party (with an NFL QB???)

Skyline Chili!One of our favorite foods is Skyline Chili. It’s a regional delicacy for Southwestern Ohio. Specifically from Cincinnati. There are many brands of “Cincinnati-style chili” but we like to think Skyline is the best. (Of course, Chi might tell you it’s Empress Chili… but I’m sticking with Skyline.) Over the years I have taken a recipe for Skyline chili that I received from (I think?) my mother-in-law, through my sister-in-law (Jen’s entire family are Skyline afficionados…) and added, subtracted, monkeyed with, and attempted to match the real deal as best I can.

I’m close… but still not quite there.

Still… it is a fantastic thing that I can make GALLONS of Skyline-like Chili in my own house!!!

Well, this weekend, we’re headed to Clarence for a little family party (celebrating the graduation of one of our neices, among other things). It was requested that I make and bring the main course – Skyline Chili!!!

There are many things being celebrated this weekend. There’s Megan’s graduation. 🙂 And a church that my in-laws have lent their musical and preaching talents to on numerous occasions is celebrating 100 years of existence. So we’re celebrating that with them. My in-laws will be leaving soon for their summer travels, so it will be a good-bye party of sorts… and since they’ll be gone for my father-in-law’s birthday and their anniversary (same day), I’m sure we’ll be celebrating that too…..

But that just wasn’t enough.

My mother-in-law is very gifted. She can play the piano like nobody’s business. She has probably sewn (or do you just make?) THOUSANDS of quilts in her lifetime. She can sew anything. AND, she can cook. Add to that the fact that she loves to do all of those things for people, and she keeps herself pretty busy! 🙂 Well, she had been trying to have the Holcomb family over for dinner, where our family could join them – and we’d get to meet a (former) Buffalo Bills, NFL QB!

The problem is that little “former” word back there…

Kelly was traded to Philadelphia a while ago. His family still lives here in Buffalo area, and they attend the various functions at the Clarence Church of Christ (where Jen’s family attends, and Dad was the preacher for 31 years!). Jen’s Mom has been trying for awhile to get together with them again, and found out that they are headed to Philly very soon. SO…

They’re coming to our party! 🙂

So now we’re celebrating everything above … AND it’s a “going away party” for the Holcombs! 🙂

This morning as I was adding all the right seasonings to the giant vat of Skyline, I was thinking, “Kelly Holcomb – #10 for the Buffalo Bills – will get to eat my Skyline… CRAZY!” 🙂 It’s certainly a fun addition to an already fun weekend… and as you can guess, the boys are quite excited to have a meal with KELLY HOLCOMB. 🙂

I wonder if we’ll get to play a little football??? 🙂

So, that’s part of what we’re looking forward to this weekend. I’m sure I’ll have some kind of a report here by Monday.

Hope your weekend is full of Skyline, family celebrations and milestones, and meals with NFL QBs also!!


Ducks Take The Cup

For those of you following along with all of my previous Sabres’ posts…

Last night was Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals, and with the Anaheim Ducks leading 3 games to 1, it was rather shocking to see the game end with a 6-2 victory for the Ducks! It seems Ottawa, who had a very good season – certainly played fantastically against our Sabres!!! – and deserved to be in the finals, would have put up a bit more of a fight?

It was Anaheim’s series from the start.

So, we let the boys stay up last night for the whole game. Anticipating the conclusion of the NHL season. We were right, and it was fun to see all those guys toting around the most prized trophy in all of sports. Only one Anaheim player has ever been there before. Scott Neidermeyer has won 4 cups, actually (including this one). But everyone else, including his brother Rob, was experiencing the moment for the first time. It was fun to watch. 🙂

The only part that wasn’t fun was, as a Sabres’ fan, thinking, “This should be Chris Drury, and Danny Briere, and Max Afinogenov, and Ryan Miller, and Thomas Vanek…” But, it was not. Maybe we’ll get to stay up late to see that scene next season? Probably not with all of those same names, unfortunately 🙁

With the clinching of the Stanly Cup, the Ducks have ended the 2006-2007 NHL season. I miss it already! 🙁 But it’s not long till they lace up their skates again and the fast-paced action starts circling ice rinks near you.

For now, it’s time to focus on BILLS FOOTBALL! Whoohooo!! 🙂


Positional Breakdown: Quarterback


Some of you may know me from the BillsInsider where I write semi-regularly. Based on the feedback I receive half of you like my writing and opinions/reporting on the Buffalo Bills and half of you think I should jump off a cliff or something. Well like it or not Greg and Dave were good enough to give me permission to contribute to this site as well.

I didn’t want to simply post the same articles on both sites (although I may do that sometimes too), so I thought I’d take a bit of a different approach here. I will be doing a position by position breakdown to start with as we follow the team through the various minicamps and training camp.

Its still early in the off-season and over the next few days many teams will be cutting players to stay under the cap. As a result, the Bills are likely to pick up a few more free agents before camp officially starts and will likely cut a few of their own as well. Because of this fact, I thought I’d start off by talking about the Quarterback position as it is the least likely to undergo changes prior to the season. (Barring injuries of course)

As it stands right now, the Bills have J.P. Losman starting with Craig Nall as back-up and newly drafted Trent Edwards as the 3rd stringer. The Bills will probably bring in a 4th scrub QB for camp who has no chance of making the squad. The top three will definitely make the team however.

Many media pundits and other assorted idiots have jumped on the sensational story that the Bills’ drafting of Trent Edwards is a sign that the team doesn’t have confidence in J.P. Losman. This is essentially ludicrous. NFL Football is a dangerous sport and all teams carry 3 QB’s on their active rosters as a result of that fact. Bills fans might remember several years back where injuries to the top 3 QB’s on the Jets led to Punter Tom Tupa playing the Quarterback position. Players get hurt, starters go down, and teams need not just 1 backup, but two. Still, drafting Edwards in the 3rd round when the Bills had other needs seemed a bit surprising. Many fans felt that a corner to replace Nate Clements could have been acquired with that pick. Not likely. The Bills would not have been able to get a Corner that would have been able to contribute any more than their current stock of guys, if he even saw the field this season.

Edwards is certainly an insurance policy against injury and would have to have a spectacular camp to even break into the number two role. Lets not forget that Losman took every snap last season so there is not a lot of reason to think that either Nall or Edwards will see the field unless there is a disaster. But a disastrous situation is always just around the corner for the Bills (and every other team in the league). It’s also true that the typical NFL player only lasts 3-5 years, so its not safe to assume that Losman will be here for the next 10 years. The Bills have to be constantly planning for the future. Where would the Patriots have been if they didn’t have Tom Brady when Bledsoe got hurt? It could happen to the Bills, but lets hope it doesn’t! Nall and Edwards are both completely unproven in the NFL. Edwards has yet to even put on the pads and Nall has never taken a snap during real, regular season play. (yes, he’s taken snaps but they were all during garbage time after Favre had already won the game.)

The main reason the Bills don’t want Nall or Edwards to have to hit the field during the regular season is J.P. Losman. The kid is playing really well at this point. Sure he can always improve, but I don’t think he has that much to prove at this point. Lets look at his stats from last season:

Losman finished ranked 11th in the NFL behind Peyton Manning, Huard, Brees, Mcnabb, Romo, Palmer, Bulger, Rivers, Brady and Brunell. Oddly enough, Bills fans seem to think that Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger are better Quarterbacks who can easily beat the Bills this season. Eli was ranked 18th and big Ben was 21st. Losman’s QB rating was 84.9 while Eli was 77.0 and Ben was 75.4. Losman completed 62.5% of his passes compared to Eli’s 57.7 and Ben’s 59.7. Losman had 14 INT’s to 19 TD’s while Eli had 24 TDs but 18 INT’s and Ben had 18 TDs and 23 INTs (worst in the league!). The Only QB in their draft class who out-performed Losman was Phil Rivers who got to walk in and play with arguably the best team in the league. Its got to be easier to play QB when your running back is LT. The reality is, based on QB rating, Losman is more comparable to Tom Brady than these other clowns. Considering that Roethlisberger was playing for the defending Super Bowl champions, its particularly bad that he was one of the worst in the league last season. I have also heard many say that Eli had an off-year. Huh, when did he have an ON year? Oh right, he didn’t… But Losman is the guy with something to prove right?

If you look at Losman’s 2006 campaign, he compared with the upper third of the league despite the fact that his Offensive Line allowed him to be sacked 47 times! This will be a reoccurring theme in the offensive positional breakdowns, but in 2006 it was not a coincidence that things improved when the offensive line was reshuffled. With the talent added to the line this off-season, it stands to reason that the team should play even better. Robert Royal came on strong at the end of the season because he didn’t have to stay back and block on every play. Kevin Everett didn’t see the field because he is more of a receiving tightend and the Bills couldn’t afford that luxury last year with their poor line play. Things will be different this season. Losman will have a lot more time to throw the ball. This means more passes will go to the 2nd and 3rd receiving option because the play will actually have time to develop to that point. Not to mention the upgrades at running back. All of the Bills current backs are also good receivers.

I watched the old Bills/Oilers comeback game on the NFL network last night and a few things really stood out. 1. There were backups playing most of the key positions in that game but it still felt like the Bills had super-stars at every position. 2. Bills receivers were making huge plays despite not being particularly large/tall. They made plays by getting open, not by out-jumping the other receivers. 3. Nate Odomes is under-sized for a corner but still made huge plays. There were other things about that team that reminded me of the current Bills, but the Beer is fogging my memory.

Looking forward to a big season (at least on offense) for the Bills. Send me your comments to . Which position do you want to hear about next?

Bills Fans

One Bills Fan’s Quest

I got an email today from a guy who is planning to visit all 31 NFL stadiums. His website NFL Stadium Reviews (, hosts a blog, some photos, and other fun links detailing his quest. The Quest for 31, he calls it.

Looks like he’s a Buffalo area native, and a die-hard Bills fan. I thought it was definitely worth passing along here. You can even share your own stadium photos. 🙂

So, check it out, and share in the fun!

Only 70 days till the first Bills (pre-season) game! Training camp even sooner! Whooohooo!!!