Some Things Currently Distracting Me

  • Quite a Stanley Cup Final… with Detroit winning the first two by shutting out the explosive Penguins, and then the Pens winning game three on the back of two Sid the Kid goals! Great stuff. Should (hopefully) go seven.
  • Phoenix successfully landed on Mars on Sunday and I have been intrigued ever since. The link goes to NASA’s website… tons of stuff there (photos, videos, etc). Pretty amazing that we can shoot large metal objects 420 million miles away, and hit a target with pinpoint accuracy – and not damage the highly sophisticated scientific research equipment. Incredible. And then we get to see photos back from it just a few hours later. Nuts.
  • Facebook games and chat have also occupied some time recently. I love word games, and it’s fun to play against friends (and Jen, too!) in between projects I am working on. It’s kind of a funny “mental break” (since you’re working your brain on your break?) but it’s been a blast. I have found games similar to Scrabble, Boggle, and one called Word Twist that is similar to no other game I know of… And, I’ve been playing a good friend of mine in Chess. He’s quite good. Haven’t beaten him yet. 🙂 Oh, and Facebook added an instant message feature which has been a neat way to chat “live” with people I haven’t talked with in a long time. Pretty amazing.
  • On top of that, we’ve gotten to see a couple cool movies lately, as well as some awesome episodes of the Knight Rider from season two DVDs borrowed from the library! 🙂

More to come, but there’s more to do… so, more here later.

Bills Fans News Toronto


This is a great article and a must read for all Bills fans…

click here for article from Buffalo News
Current Bills Offseason Players

The Team The Bills Will Field – Part Two

Paul Posluszny Buffalo Bills
After an overview of the Bills offense yesterday, we turn our attention to the revamped Bills defense. It was actually the defense that received the bulk of the attention in free agency, as well as the #1 selection in the 2008 draft. Bringing in a couple recognizable names, and one less recognizable name, the Bills bolstered their defense in all the right places.

Let’s take a look at the defensive unit the Buffalo Bills will (likely) field in 2008, position by position, starting up front.

Aaron SchobelOne of the main concerns surrounding the Bills defense the past several seasons has been stopping the run. They have not been able to do it, and the unit taking the most blame has been the defensive line. Although the Bills have a Pro Bowl DE in Aaron Schobel, some say he is just a pass rusher, and does not defend well against the run. The stats would show otherwise. Schobel set a single-season career-high in tackles, despite the dip in sacks from his first Pro Bowl season in 2007. There is more to Schobel than just his pass rush.

So with the Pro Bowler Schobel on one end, and Chris Kelsay, Ryan Denney, and 3rd-round draft choice, Chris Ellis, leading the way, Buffalo is hoping they have the pieces they need for an effective pass rush from the outside, but also quickness to the ball against the run.

Marcus StroudThat will, of course, be helped by the interior defensive linemen. Arguably the biggest move the Bills made in the off-season (pun intended) was to beef up the middle of their defensive line by trading for Marcus Stroud, perennial Pro Bowl lineman from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stroud is exactly what the Bills were looking for. He’s large (6’6″, 310 lbs) and he’s experienced (8 years in the league) and he’s a player that the opposing team must account for. Just adding Stroud to the mix already makes the defensive ends mentioned above that much better, as the offensive line has to account for him.

In addition to the new big man, the Bills pulled off an “under the radar” signing of Specner Johnson from Minnesota. This free agent acquisition has experience stuffing the run, playing next to the Williamses (Pat & Kevin) with the Vikings. Johnson will add depth to an interior line that now features Stroud, promising third-year player John McCargo, and Kyle Williams. The Bills released Larry Tripplett just before the free agency period began, likely knowing they were going to bring in the two defensive tackles.

Some Bills fans will still bemoan the fact that our DL is small, but for the scheme the Bills run, that’s what they need. Their defensive scheme is about quickness to the ball, and that is definitely the model of player they have signed and drafted. Still, the addition of Stroud to the team – assuming he can play at the same level he has in his career thus far – will markedly improve the entire Bills defense.

Paul PoslusznyThere was a decent amount of turnover at the linebacker position, too, this offseason. The Bills released Coy Wire, and lost Josh Stamer to free agency, and have not yet renewed the contract of free agent Mario Haggan. Mostly those guys contributed on special teams, but they were certainly depth players at LB.

The Bills did bring in a few new faces at linebacker, most prominently Kawika Mitchell (pronounced kuh-WEE-kuh) from the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Mitchell only played one year in NY, but was a starter there on a good defense and the Bills are hoping Mitchell completes the starting trio here of Mitchell and Angelo Crowell on the outside, with Paul Posluszny in the middle. They also added depth (as well as special teams help) by drafting Alvin Bowen in the 5th round of the draft.

Probably the biggest boost to the Bills defense will be the return of Poz. Posluszny was a force in his very short two-game season as a Bill. He was a tackling machine. Always on the ball. He says he learned a lot this season (he was with the team all year, even though on injured reserve) and is ready to jump back in and contribute on the field. He should bring a big, big lift to the Bills defense, which already will be improved with the addition of Stroud up front.

Leodis McKelvinWith the 11th pick of the draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Leodis McKelvin. Many expected the Bills to grab a corner in the first round, and McKelvin was ranked by most as the best at his position in this year’s draft, so this pick was no surprise. The Bills are very excited to have him as he is a super-athletic, hard-hitting, naturally gifted player. He will push for the starting spot opposite Terrence McGee, and has the added bonus of being a fantastic kick returner. Look for him to take his fair share of those duties alongside fellow return aces McGee and Roscoe Parrish.

Cornerback was labeled a “position of need” for the Bills heading into the draft, but with the addition of McKelvin, as well as fourth round selection, Reggie Corner (yes, a cornerback named Corner…) the Bills are actually quite full at that spot. Incumbent starter McGee is likely to retain his starting spot, but vying for the opposite starting role are McKelvin, Jabari Greer, veteran free agent Will James, and Ashton Youboty. Youboty has not yet lived up to the starting role the Bills thought he would play, drafting him in the 3rd round in 2006.

Ko SimpsonThe Bills were definitely hit hardest on defense last season. Of all the injuries they sustained, it seemed the most damaging were to the defensive unit. Losing Poz early on hurt. A week prior they lost starting LB Coy Wire, and starting FS Ko Simpson. Simpson had a promising rookie season in tandem with fellow rookie Donte Whitner. Bills fans were excited to see that duo back for another bigger and better season in 2007. Simpson, however, was injured for the season in the first game against Denver. Getting him back should provide a big boost to the Bills secondary.

Donte Whitner is the leader of this group, and definitely one of the leaders of the defense and the team as a whole. He’s a hard hitter, and a vocal presence on the field. He doesn’t have a “nose for the ball” as far as INTs go, but that’s where Simpson seems to excel.

Due to injuries last season, wide-receiver-turned-safety George Wilson saw a lot of playing time as a starter, and performed admirably. So much so that when he was lost for the remainder of the season against the Dolphins late in the year, his loss definitely affected the team. Getting so much playing time and experience in 2007 should guarantee Wilson a spot on the roster and give the Bills some solid depth at the safety position. The Bills also really like 2007 draft choice John Wendling – an athletic, heady player who also contributed well on special teams.

No coaching changes here, just roster regeneration. There was definitely the normal turnover following last season via free agency, roster cuts, and the trade for Stroud, not to mention five players picked up in the draft – including probably starter Leodis McKelvin. But the main thing Bills fans will notice about their teams’ defense in 2008 is the addition of some familiar faces. Both Posluszny and Simpson should be a big lift to a defense that, with all the pieces listed above, could potentially be a top ten defense in 2008. (Barring 17 season-ending injuries of course…)

Roscoe Parrish returns a punt for a TD
I need to mention this unit here, too, as it will again play a key role in the Bills success this year. From dazzling kick returns by 2007 league leader Roscoe Parrish, and Terrence McGee, and newcomer Leodis McKelvin (who compares himself to Devin Hester), to the great kickers that we have in Brian Moorman and Rian Lindell, to the great kick coverage teams that Bobby April fields every season… special teams will affect the outcome of games.

The unit took a pretty good hit this offseason via free agency and the Bills just trimming their roster. Special teams stars Sam Aiken, Josh Stamer, and Jim Leonhard all went to new teams in the offseason while Mario Haggan, Coy Wire and a few others are not currently on an NFL roster. The Bills filled those holes in the draft in rounds three through five with Chris Ellis, Derek Fine, & Alvin Bowen, all of whom have excelled at special teams at the collegiate level.

Though there were some losses, there were some great gains for this unit as well, and – especially in the return game – it should add some razzle-dazzle to the Bills team in 2008!

So to conclude, with some decent – and key – improvements on offense and defense, as well as the return of many players from season-ending injuries in 2007, the Bills are poised to make a serious run at the playoffs, and perhaps their division title for the first time since 1995. With a fairly favorable schedule, and all the pieces the staff have put in place, it’s certainly a possiblity, and for the first time in quite a while, Bills fans feel it might be more than just wishful thinking.

In 1986, Marv Levy came to a floundering, directionless team and gave it instant respect. There were some pieces in place, but over the next two seasons (and beyond) he crafted it into his team, along with Bill Polian and John Butler. By the 1988 season, this laughable NFL franchise found themselves in the AFC Championship game, after going 12-4 and winning their division.

This Bills team is now entering their third season after Marv came back to town, and moulded the team once more. This team is definitely stamped by Marv Levy. Might this be 1988 all over again? Could enough of the pieces be in place that this year will begin a stellar run of championship after championship?

Might the Bills not only reach, but win a Super Bowl before turning 50? (Which happens in 2010.)

All of these things are far off, but perhaps not as far as some might think. Many experts are alerting NFL fans to watch this young team being assembled in Buffalo. They just might be ready to make some noise.

Only a couple more months till we get to find out.

Bring on the 2008 NFL season!


Bills Update

BillsBeen writing about the Bills this week. A two part, detailed preview of the 2008 team. Most of it is now in place after the draft, they even had Rookie mini camp last week. If you’re interested in such things, check out our Buffalo Bills Review: Articles page.

Title of the articles, “The Team The Bills Will Field”

Current Bills Offseason Players

The Team The Bills Will Field – Part One

I am just a fan. I only know the Bills from a distance, but I love Bills football, and enjoy following every little detail. Even when they really aren’t that great, I root for them, and follow them. And I’m pretty certain I always will.

I am also an optimist. I tend to look for the best side of everything in life, and can usually find it. Thus, many of my predictions (and on our show, my “reviews”) regarding Buffalo Bills football tend to be a bit, shall we say, “rosy”.

I say all of that to preface what I am about to say regarding the 2008 version of the Buffalo Bills. (At least, what I am guessing will be the 2008 version.) Some may simply dismiss the following predictions as the ramblings of a rabid, overly optimistic, homer Bills fan. And that’s fine.

But I gotta say, folks… this team really has a lot of the pieces to the puzzle!

Let’s go position by position, starting with the offense. Everyone loves offense, and I think we might actually have some this year!

The Bills enter the season with a solid answer for who their starting QB will be. Edwards earned himself the role last season with not only a winning record (5-4) in games he started, along with his general poise on the field, and command of the offense. (What little there was last season!) This is nothing new, however, as entering 2007, JP Losman was firmly entrenched as the starter. The difference this season is the Bills seem confident with Edwards as their signal caller (he is the QB selected by Jauron and his staff) and even better for Edwards, there is a new offensive coordinator, without an overhaul of the offensive system.

With most of a year of playing in the NFL under his belt, as well as a new coordinator – a former NFL QB who has a reputation for wide open offenses – Edwards stands to have a solid-to-great sophomore season, mainly due to some additions to the Bills arsenal. (See below…)

I must also mention the fact that J.P. Losman managed to stick around for at least the last year of his contract. The Bills have said all along that they really like Losman (as a QB) and feel they have two great young quarterbacks on their team. I believe Losman – erratic as he may be – is a great backup option, should Edwards be injured during the season. He knows the offense, is comfortable with the players, and certainly has the physical tools to be a solid NFL QB. It’s the mental tools that are in question with Losman.

The centerpiece of the Bills offense has to be Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch. He gained 1,000 yards in a season where he missed three games due to an ankle injury, and would have been much more productive in an offensive scheme that involved him more in the passing game. Assuming that is part of the plan in 2008, Lynch should be poised to be a terror to opposing teams in his second season in the NFL. He’s fast, powerful, and never gives up on a play. If he’s able to play a full season, he should easily rack up 1,200 yards rushing, or more.

The Bills surprised many by drafting a running back in the later rounds of the 2008 NFL Draft. Xavier Omon, from a small Division II school. At first glance, the pick is perplexing. The Bills did not seem to have a need at RB. But upon further review, this kid was just off-the-charts amazing at his collegiate level! Over 7000 yards rushing, and 98 TDs total (rushing/receiving) in four years of college. He had 37 TDs in his senior season alone! He’s small, fast, powerful, and obviously has great running back instincts. It’s possible the Bills may have found a Maurice Jones-Drew to their Fred Taylor.

The other “name” player on the Bills offense would be Lee Evans. Evans had a statistically disappointing season in 2007, but most would blame that on the unimaginitive offensive play calling, as well as no real number two receiving threat on the roster. This year, with the key addition of James Hardy, Evans could be much more free to put up the kind of numbers the Bills were expecting to see from him.

Hardy was drafted in the second round, and is the ideal fit for the Bills offense. One major missing piece last year was any sort of red zone threat. They needed – and Jauron said as much this off-season – a big, tall wide receiver. Hardy is anywhere from 6’5″ to 6’7″ (reports vary) and 220 pounds. He’s “a head taller than almost every other player,” according to Chris Brown of He should be a force to reckon with. I predicted when we drafted him that he would get six red zone TDs this season. I think I probably underestimated that number.

Now, with Hardy taking pressure off of Evans – as well as adding much-needed touchdown scoring – there are still some formidable weapons for opponents to cover in the Bills receiving corps. First there is the dependable Josh Reed. We nicknamed him “Mr. First Down” last season, as he caught so many balls that went for first downs – especially on third down plays. He’s got good hands, runs good routes, and the Bills love his blocking skills. Josh Reed is an underneath, over-the-middle kind of guy who was forced to be the #2 man the past year or two. Now moved to #3, he should see a bit more success, as well as help move guys off of Evans and Hardy.

Add Roscoe Parrish to this already decent group, and you have some great big-play potential. Parrish has not been used that effectively by the Bills yet, in my opinion. His speed and moves on punt returns could be put to use in a more wide open scheme that gets him the ball on a slant route (or even a screen) where he’s already got the jets burning! Parrish should be able to stretch the field for the Bills offense, if the scheme employs his blazing speed as well.

The Bills were expected to address the tight end position in the draft, and did – to an extent. Most fans and experts alike figured on the Bills drafting a big-play receiving tight end. What they got instead was a solid, all-around TE from Kansas, Derek Fine. Fine not only is an “all-around” tight end, he also played on all four special teams units. The Bills lost a lot this off season on special teams, so this was also a big hole to fill. Fine seems to be a “fine” addition at two spots the Bills needed to address this off season.

There are incumbents still hanging around, of course. The erratic Robert Royal is probably the starting TE by default. Remains to be seen if Fine can supplant him. Also, the Bills brought in Atlanta’s Courtney Anderson via free agency. Anderson was a backup to Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler for the Falcons. 2007 draft pick, Derek Schouman, tops a no-name cast filling out the rest of the TE roster. This is one of the weaker positions for the Bills offense (on paper) going into 2008, barring stellar production from Fine, or perhaps Anderson or Royal.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the Bills offensive line showed marked improvement in 2007, and has remained intact, with a possible addition via the draft. (Although, Demetrius Bell, one of the Bills seventh round choices, is certainly a “project”.)

Starting on the left side, Jason Peters had a Pro Bowl season his first full season at left tackle! Can’t get much better than that. Peters is respected around the NFL as one of the better LTs in the game. Next to him is Derrick Dockery, who was maligned for being a bit overpaid, but that left side of the line for the Bills not only allowed way fewer sacks in 2007, most of the running plays also went their direction.

On the right side, the Bills still like 2006 draft choice, Brad Butler, and the behemoth at right tackle, Langston Walker. The Bills also re-signed veteran Jason Whittle who spent nearly all of last season on injured reserve. The Bills have some decent depth at the position with Whittle, Duke Preston and Kirk Chambers. Lots more guys on the roster as well, all of whom are enormous!

The one question a lot of Bills fans have with the O-line is center Melvin Fowler. He is definitely smaller than the rest of the line, and seemed to be overpowered fairly easily last season. Some thought that the team would address that position in the draft, but they did not.

Probably the most anticipated change on the offensive side of the ball is the change at the top. Turk Schonert, who as I mentioned already, is known to like a more wide-open offensive approach, has taken the reins and promised to have an offense that is similar, yet will look totally different. A Bills fan can only hope.

Assuming a more inventive offense, maybe even a four-wide formation on occasion – utilizing Evans, Hardy, Reed & Parrish simultaenously, as well as Lynch out of the backfield – this offense could really be scary to the opposing defensive coordinator. You can no longer double-cover Evans. It might be pretty hard to stop Hardy, if he can compete at the NFL level. Lynch should have more room with a passing game to which defenses are forced to pay more respect…

In the end, this 30th-ranked offense from 2007 should see dramatic improvement in 2008, which is very welcome news to Bills fans. At the very least, there should be many more renditions of the Shout! Song belted out by ecstatic Bills fans whose team should be able to put up six points in the Red Zone much more often than last season.

Fasten your seat belts, Bills fans. It should be an exciting ’08!

A look at the defensive side of the Bills roster coming soon…

Current Bills Draft Players

Thoughts on Hardy

Just wanted to pass along some observations about Bills second-round pick James Hardy from Indiana.

Let me start by saying that I’m a sportswriter here in Indiana and IU football is one of my fall beats. I went to just about every home game the past couple seasons in Bloomington and also went to the Insight Bowl this past season out in Arizona.

So, I’ve seen Hardy up close a lot. And before he was at IU, a good friend of mine from Fort Wayne, who worked at one of the dailies there, told me about this kid named James Hardy — who at that time was Fort Wayne’s version of LeBron James.

Hardy was a great basketball player before football. In fact, he only took up football in his junior season of high school to help out a cousin of his who was coaching F.W. Elmhurst — one of the worst football programs in the entire history of high school football. And I’m not kidding.

When I was working in The Fort for two years, I NEVER saw Elmhurst win a single game. I believe at one point they lost something like 60 straight games and set a state record for futility.

Why do you care?

Well, because Hardy made a big difference there. In his senior season, they even won four games — which was a huge accomplishment. He went down to IU to play both football and basketball, but after a year of hoops he gave it up and concentrated on football — where he obviously had the best shot of making it to the professional ranks.

In short, Hardy has terrorized the IU receiving record books since the day he stepped onto the field at Memorial Stadium. He might not be the quickest guy off the line. He might not have bulging pipes. But he is easily the tallest guy on the field roaming through the secondary, and QBs can’t miss him. He also knows how to shake defenders and has solid hands to go with that vertical leap.

He should be a red zone nightmare for opposing D-coordinators.

He does come with some drawbacks, of course. Who doesn’t?

In the past, he’s quit on some routes and been bumped off others too easily — leading to bad INTs. He’s not the physically strongest guy on the field, either, not does he have blazing speed like Randy Moss.

He did have one scrape with the law between his freshman and sophomore seasons — in which he was originally accused of shoving his child’s mother while she was supposedly holding the baby.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that since that incident, he hasn’t had any known run-ins with the law. He did get suspended for a couple of games in deceased former IU coach Terry Hoeppner’s final season — for unspecified reasons. But it was sort of leaked that Hardy’s attitude needed an adjustment when it came to getting along with then new QB Kellen Lewis.

They worked it out, and then started dominating defenses.

Put it this way … Hardy still had a year of eligibility left at IU and was only a couple of TD catches away from setting the all-time Big Ten record for career TD grabs. Former Michgan star Braylon Edwards holds the record and another former Michigan star, Anthony Carter is second.

Both of them needed four seasons to get where they got. Had Hardy returned, he likely would have set the new record so far out there that it might never have been broken again.

And that was all for a fledgling young Big Ten team that just made a bowl game last season for the first time in 13 years!

Hardy’s probably not going to stretch the field too much for the Bills in the NFL, but he should be a big factor picking up key first downs and, of course, touchdowns.

Should be fun to watch him …