Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)
Okay, listen up: This week I’m writing 10 Things I LIKE about the Bills (with some things I don’t like in parentheses).
Why am I writing 10 Things I LIKE? Because I can’t keep writing the same thing over and over. Last week, my first four things were (1) the offense clearly lost this game, (2) the passing game clearly lost this game, (3) quarterback is the most important position on the team, and Trent Edwards clearly didn’t get it done, (4) minimize mistakes. If you want to read about why the Bills lost to the Jets, read last week’s 10 Things. (And don’t tell me the defense lost the game. Yes, there were no sacks, yes there weren’t enough takeaways, yes, the defense didn’t stop the Pats after Jabari’s INT. I don’t care. The offense gave away 10 points. GAVE AWAY. The defense gave up less than 300 yards, gave up 16 points and scored 7. All the offense had to do is hold on to the ball and kick two field goals instead of throwing an INT for a touchdown and failing on 4th and 1. This defense is 10th in the league in yards per game and 13th in the league in points per game. 16 points allowed is enough to win a game in the NFL. The Bills can win with this defense.)
Here you go – 10 things I LIKE:
1. I like Trent Edwards. I like him. I like his brains, his size his mobility, his delivery. I like his potential.
After several games playing on another planet, Trent Edwards now has returned to his second season in the NFL. This was his second straight game with his inexperience showing. He needed two time outs in the first half when he was confused by the defense. He needed another in the second half, and he took a delay of game penalty. Some of the sacks were his fault, waiting too long to make a decision. The worst was late in the game, when he took a sack instead of leading Lee to the open part of the end zone. He knew he had to get rid of it, Lee had a half step on his man running across the end zone – hang it out there, Trent, and get the score or an incompletion.
The interception, of course, was a disaster. Great drive followed by an awful decision. He was looking right at the defense. Never should have thrown that ball. Never should have thrown the ugly one to Roscoe when he was double or triple or quadruple teamed. What was he doing? A month ago Trent wasn’t throwing those balls.
The fumble looked like it was McIntyre’s blown assignment on the blitz.
The final INT was badly under thrown. Hardy beat his man. The only way NOT to get the TD on that play was to under throw it, and that’s what Trent did. Yes Hardy could have broken it up – he made a good play on it, but not good enough. But the mistake was Trent’s, not Hardy’s.
91.3 passer rating on the day. Trent’s doing a lot right. He looks good. But he has a lot to learn, like any other second year QB. If Trent makes the plays a good quarterback should, the Bills beat the Jets. If the Bills and Jets had traded quarterbacks last Monday, the Bills would have won the game.
I said at the beginning of the season that 2009 is when the Bills should be good. Trent will be a real NFL quarterback next year. Right now, he’s still learning. I like Trent.
2. I like Jabari Greer. Best comment of this or any other game was Phil Simms inviting us to watch Greer’s footwork on the interception. “Looks like they’re doing dance steps.” And when you watched, it was exactly that. What a play.
You’re going to get beat at corner back on some plays. But he doesn’t get beat much. What a player.
3. I like Marshawn Lynch. Give him the ball when you need a yard. He always gets it for you. He did it again yesterday. Too bad he wasn’t able to go when the Bills were fourth and 1 in the red zone. He would have gotten it, somehow. And that’s no knock on Fred Jackson, who had another nice game (except for a his drop on the screen pass).
Marshawn running the length of the field on the interception: who else thought of Don Beebe?
The man has the heart of a champion. His offensive linemen are letting him down. (Time’s up; the offensive line rebuild has to be declared a failure. Yes, Butler is out, but I don’t care – if your offensive line is anchored by three guys who are making, or are about to make, millions of dollars to play the position, that should be enough to open an occasional hole for the running backs. Peters, Dockery and Walker should be enough for this line to be decent. They could not convert a crucial fourth and one – how many times have we seen Peters and Dockery fail to get any kind of push in critical short-yardage situations? They could not give the running backs any room to run. They could not protect Trent. The Jets do have one of the best pass rushes in the league, but they aren’t averaging FIVE a game. Jenkins is a monster, but he shouldn’t consistently beat double teams.)
4. I like Paul Posluszny. He’s around the ball. He’s a solid tackler. He’s still in his rookie year as a middle linebacker in the NFL.
He has the same heart beating in him that Marshawn has. Was it Poz and Marshawn who found each other at the combine and were raggin on each other a bit? Wasn’t that the story after the draft? Those guys and Trent are the future of this team.
5. I like Bryan Scott. I liked what I saw every time he got on the field last season, and I still like it. I like how he tackles. If we’ve lost Donte with is injury, Scott will make plays for the Bills. The problem won’t be Scott. It’ll be who’s at the nickel spot.
6. I’ve always liked the idea of Derek Fine, and I liked what I saw on the field. When the Bills drafted Fine, JayHawk, a long-time poster on the message boards at BuffaloBills.com, said he was a guy to watch. All he does is make plays. You could see it in how Fine got open and how Fine caught the ball.
I didn’t notice whether he was playing special teams against the Jets – he was a star special teamer at Kansas. But it was easy to notice him on offense.
I’m guessing he’ll be a better blocker than Schouman – who had a real nice block, by the way, when Marshawn bulled his way for a first down – and he’ll be a better receiver than Royal – who despite the brutal verbal beatings Bills fans have been administering lately was very effective in the passing game against the Jets. Derek Fine is a worker. He gets all the mechanics right. He’s a guy who will take advantage of opportunities on the field.
7. I like the Ball Burglar. Why? Because in the midst of that depressing outing, when Jabari took the ball and made the return, as hope was being rekindled, as all of the excitement of Buffalo Bills football was coming back, I could smile with pride knowing Jabari had just cost me another $2 – $1 for the takeaway and $1 for touchdown. Bills fans added over $600 to the Ball Burglar’s takeaway bounty with that play, and it all helps the kids.
Takeaways matter. Kids matter. The Ball Burglar is all about kids and takeaways.
8. I like Terence McGee. He wasn’t right last week, but he’s back. I loved the mini-flanker screen where Terence fought the blocker for three, four seconds before finally slipping the block and making the tackle. He’s smart, tough and a team player.
Okay, I’m running low. (I don’t know anything about coaching. I don’t understand Xs and Os. I don’t know how to motivate players. I do know what I see. One thing I see is that this team doesn’t know how to win. It looked like they knew earlier in the season, but the first six games are almost like preseason. November and December is when the big boys play, and the Bills have yet to stand up and be counted with the big boys. I watched the Giants and Steelers last week, and I watched the Colts and Pats last night. There is a level of hitting going on when the big boys play – serious hitting – that is absent from Bills games. If the Bills don’t increase their aggression next week, they will get run out of the ballpark.
One more thing: Turk Schoenert, time to step it up. Something’s gotta happen on offense, baby. You and your offensive coaches have your jobs on the line.)
9. I like the Bills’ nucleus of players. I’ve said for two years that the Bills are building for 2009, that the base would be more or less complete in 2008, that the draft and free agency in 2009 and beyond will be about putting the finishing touches on a team to make a championship run. I still think that’s true. The Bills have their quarterback, their running back and their middle linebacker. They have the core of their entire defense. They still need work on the offensive line, and they need a receiver to emerge or be acquired.
A Buffalo News article explained that with the salary cap, teams can afford only 13 to 15 high priced players. The Bills have theirs. A few will be replaced with newcomers, but the core of the team that will make a championship run is here.
10. I like the Bills’ logo. That flying Bison, those colors. Love it. Love it every time I see it on a bumper sticker, a sweat shirt, a flag. Love it. Even today.
Hard not to be down after a showing like that. The Pats will smell blood on Sunday. Could be the Bills last chance to prove they’re for real.