Bills 2009 Draft – 10 Things I Think

Alrighty, then. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Keep adding talent.

1. The draft is much more about not making mistakes than it is about getting the very best player. Sooner or later you need some of the very best, but what you really can’t afford is to blow a high pick completely. Mike Williams hurt a lot more than taking Whitner over Ngata.

So the big question after the first day was whether Aaron Maybin will be a quality starter in the NFL. The DEs were the biggest questionmarks at the top of the draft. But the Bills needed someone on the front four who can get consistent pressure from the edge. The Bills had to get in the DE lottery and take their shot. If Maybin brings quality pressure from the edge, this draft looks like a home run. If he doesn’t, well, it can’t be a good draft if you strike out at #11.

2. The Maybin pick, and the absence of any real effort to get a linebacker, means the Bills still intend to generate pressure on the quarterback from the front four, not the front seven. They’re staying true to the Tampa 2 philosophy. It’s up to Schobel, Williams, Stroud, Maybin, Kelsay and Denney to get the job done.

3. I really like the Wood/Levitre picks. I don’t know how good these guys are; I’m not a talent evaluator, I don’t follow college ball, and I don’t know the intricacies of offensive line play. What I like is the Bills understanding that they MUST pay attention to the offensive line. It’s stating the obvious, but coming into the draft I was worried that the Bills would chase after DEs, linebackers and who knows what. Fortunately, the Bills get it. They couldn’t get the best tackles, so they got the best center/guards.

4. The Wood/Levitre picks tell us some very interesting things about the Bills.

a. The Bills really do think they can solve the tackle problem with the guys they have. They didn’t trade up to get one of the top three tackles, and the they didn’t trade up from 28 to get Oher. They didn’t manage the second round to get one of the remaining decent tackles. That means they think Chambers can do it (so do I). Or it may mean that they think Bell can do it this year – maybe Bell moves into the spot during the bye week. It may also mean that Butler is moving back to his college position. Whatever the plan is, the Bills think it’s good enough not to chase after a tackle.

b. Listen to the first-day press conference with Brandon, Modrak and Jauron. They described these guys with the same words – gym rat, hard working, football IQ, etc. But one word stood out. They kept saying it over and over. The word was TOUGH. They said it with an edge. “He’s a TOUGH kid.” That’s why they like Butler, too – his toughness. He really wants to mix it up.

Why is that so interesting? I think what the Bills leadership didn’t say over the past couple of months was that Dockery decidedly was NOT tough enough. He wasn’t. He was a passive offensive lineman. Big, but mechanical. Preston was the same. Frankly, I’ve had the same thought about Peters, and I suspect that contributed to the Bills decision not to pay what Peters wanted. Peters made some great plays, but I rarely saw him play with the grit and determination that the really good players show.

The Bills are making a statement – if you aren’t nasty, don’t apply. If their evaluation of these two rookies is correct, the Bills’ offensive line will look decidedly different this season.

5. Byrd? I think you have to keep drafting DBs. It’s hard to find good ones. Their careers are short; they get hurt or they slow down. You lose them in free agency. You need about eight or ten every year, between corners, nickels and safeties. I thought the Bills would take a DB sometime on the second day.

Clearly, the Bills rated Byrd so high that they didn’t want to pass him up, much the way they took Edwards in the third round a couple of years ago. I’d guess the Bills figured Byrd wouldn’t be there and were plannning to go for Levitre. When he was there, the Bills probably got on the phone to see if they could trade for another second round pick. When they discovered they could, they pulled the trigger on Byrd.

Byrd apparently has outstanding ball skills, something none of the current DBs has (McKelvin closes well, he just doesn’t catch it so well). Byrd’s also a really smart player. I think he’s probably a Jim Leonhard with better raw physical talent. Still, I worry about guys that short. I worry about his speed, although free safeties typically aren’t the fastest guys on the team.

I wonder what it means about the present safety tandem. What we’ve heard is that Whitner was to be the free and Scott the strong. So when Byrd is ready, does Whitner move back? If you’re moving Whitner to free, why didn’t the Bills look for a replacement for Scott? There are a lot of questions about the pick, but I suppose they’re all answered simply by saying the Bills really liked Byrd.

One thing it probably means is that the George Wilson experiment is over. Possibly Wendling, but more likely Wilson.

I’m not even close to thinking Byrd was a mistake. The guy has Ball Burglar written all over him. Get out your checkbooks, fans.

6. The tight end fans got their wish, sort of. I have to admit that even I, the guy who says tight end is the least important player on the offense, was warming to the idea of Pettigrew if he fell to the right spot for the Bills. The Bills had other more important needs, however, and Pettigrew fell to others. Then the Bills traded their third round pick to get Levitre, another good move, so they had to wait until the fourth to shop for a TE. I thought that meant the search for a TE would go on for another year.

What the Bills found in the fourth round, surprisingly, was a wideout. Have you watched the video of Nelson? The guy’s a big wideout. He can run, he has great hands, and he likes to fight for the ball. Really impressive. Watch the video of him.

I didn’t think the Bills needed another big offensive threat at tight end – the Bills already have an outstanding receiving corps – two #1 wideouts, a good slot man, promising youngsters and three running backs who can catch and know what to do after they catch it. Now the Bills, at least in some situations, are going to put a tight end on the field who is going to be an enormous challenge for the defense. How is anyone going to defend Lee, TO, Josh, someone out of the backfield and a 6’5″ kid who can run, jump and catch? Good luck.

The Bills need a blocker first, receiver second. The Bills say Nelson can bulk up to be the guy they need as a full-time tight end, but that’s probably 2010, not 2009. Nelson says he can block, and maybe with the Bills’ new stout offensive line, he’ll be enough. I don’t think he’s an immediate starter, but he should be a situational player this year.

I’m sure there’s a reason this guy fell to the fourth round; I just don’t know what it is. If Nelson bulks up and becomes an effective blocker, watch out. It’s easy to see him being Tony Gonzalez. Seriously. Watch the video.

The Bills have had an interesting progression in the draft at tight end. Think about it: The Bills hoped Kevin Everett would be what they now hope Nelson will be – the tight end who can stretch the field. Then Schouman – the H-back, second tight end-type, clearly not the everyday player at the position. Then Fine, more the prototypical tight end, but probably not big enough. Now Nelson.

I still think the Bills will sign Wrighster. If they do, Schouman’s days as a Bill are over; Fine will hang on to play special teams and fill-in duty at tight end, but that’s about it.

7. Nic Harris is a very interesting pick. Again, it confirms that the Bills are sticking with their Tampa 2 philosophy. Nic Harris is another Ellison; I hope he’s better. The guy apparently has a high football IQ, great anticipation, and loves to hit. He probably has the mobility to play the game the Bills want, and he may be a better attacker than Ellison.

In fact, the first three defensive picks have one thing in common – they are playmakers. The Bills are lacking in playmakers – I think the Bills actually have them but don’t turn them loose. These three picks suggest to me that the Bills decided that they need some guys who will be more than solid, guys who will attack the ball and the ball carrier. Maybin’s pass-rush specialist. Byrd’s a pick master; he finds the ball. Harris is a playmaker.

Harris may not make it, but he could turn out to be a big surprise. Can you say Ball Burglar?

8. I think every draft breaks down this way: In the first, second and (maybe) third rounds, you must get players who WILL play, maybe not as rookies, but who will be starters eventually. First round you hope for rookie starters. In the fourth and fifth rounds you should get players who SHOULD play, but who aren’t sure things. In the sixth and seventh rounds you should get players who MIGHT play. So I don’t get too excited about the 6th and 7th round picks.

Why DBs? I don’t know; I suspect it’s simply that those guys were the best value on the Bills’ board. They’re trying to find guys who, despite the odds, will make it. At 6, there’s no point in taking a tackle you don’t think will make it over a DB who you think might. I would have liked to see OT or OLB or DT next to the names the Bills picked at 6 and 7, but it simply didn’t fall that way. I didn’t go into the draft thinking the Bills were going to get a game-changer at 6 or 7, so I’m not going to get upset that the non-game-changers the Bills took were at a position where there seems to be little need.

9. I’m always the same the day after the draft. No matter how hard I try, I envision every guy taken from the first through the fifth rounds a starter for the Bills – an immediate starter. It never happens, of course. One through five rarely all make the team, let alone start. Somehow, this feels different. The Bills took two of the best interior linemen in the country, and I think they’re pretty safe bets. The Bills must think Byrd is a starter within two years or they wouldn’t have gone after him aggressively like that. Maybin is the wildcard – is he Dwight Freeney or is he another quick college defensive end who’s going to get handled by the best offensive linemen in the world? Nelson will make the team; if Harris does too, this was a heckuva draft. If Maybin gets sacks and Nelson and Harris play significant downs, my oh my.

10. The Bills have been building and building for four years now. There have been a few notable missteps along the way – Dockery’s bust, losing Peters (although they got picks for him). Some decisions that haven’t worked out – Dockery, Fowler, Kelsay. But there has been serious, steady building. Butler, Walker, Edwards, Lynch, Hardy, Johnson, Williams, Stroud, Poz, Mitchell, McKelvin, Whitner, Scott, Youboty, Corner. Add Hangartner, Owens, Rhodes and now this draft class. That’s a lot of new – and good – talent. It’s too much talent not to win. It’s the same defense, with Schobel back, Poz having learned the ropes, and a new pass rusher on board. It’s the same offense with a remade offensive line that should be as good as last year, plus Terrell Owens and a big new target at tight end.

As I’ve been saying for months now, the spotlight is on and will stay on Jauron, his staff and Trent Edwards. When you’re the Lions, you have an excuse for not winning. The Bills have no excuses now.


Free Agency – 10 Things I Think

Okay, here’s something for you beat up while you’re waiting for the draft to begin. A friend of mine sent me the following, which apparently appeared in the Sporting News:

“Teams That Handled Free Agency WORST”: BILLS – They re-signed Marcus Stroud and added WR Terrell Owens (is that a plus?). But they lost versatile LB Angelo Crowell and Gs Derrick Dockery and Duke Preston,and had to trade Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters when they couldn’t re-sign him. Buffalo also let solid CB Jabari Greer go and replaced him with Drayton Florence, who was a free-agent bust with Jacksonville in 2008. “

Here are 10 things I think about that:

1. The friggin press makes up this stuff. If you look around, you’ll find some other guy – I’ve seen it somewhere – who said the Bills had one of the BEST free agent periods. In fact, I think they did okay. Not great, but okay.

2. A lot of what he’s talking about isn’t free agency. They CUT Dockery, he wasn’t a free agent. Stroud wasn’t a free agent. The guy can’t even get the basic facts right.

3. Marcus Stroud – He wasn’t a free agent. I think they promised Marcus they’d redo his deal when they acquired him in a trade last year. He had a good year, he’s a good player, and resigning players is something teams do all the time. What’s wrong with keeping your good players happy and extending their contracts?

4. WR Terrell Owens. Okay, we can argue this all day. I’m still not thrilled with it. I think he’ll be a big plus in the offense, but maybe not. If he is, he’ll be gone in a year, and then they still have a hole. But if last year’s second round pick, James Hardy, develops properly, then having Owens for one year is perfect. So it isn’t a terrible move, it won’t hurt. It just doesn’t build long-term strength.

5. Versatile LB Angelo Crowell. Yes, the guy was a good player. The Bills gave up on him last year when they more or less pleaded with him all off-season to have knee surgery, and he refused. When September came, he said his knee wasn’t well enough to play and had surgery. Stupid move on his part. Bills probably overreacted by putting him on IR (he could have played later in the season), but they decided he wasn’t committed to the team.

6. Derrick Dockery. The Bills cut him. He was a free agent mistake the year before. He played pretty well for a while. Last season he was terrible. Maybe the worst guard in the conference. He had a big contract. So this was in part a cap move. And what’s wrong with admitting your mistakes and cutting your losses? Oh, and our author doesn’t mention the Bills signed Seth McKinney, a part-time guard for the Browns last season. So they brought in someone with some prospects to compete for a the job of a guy who was more or less a total failure.

7. Duke Preston. Duke had been on the team for four years, never really succeeded. Played decently at center for the last half of last season. Bills decided they needed an upgrade. What the Bills did was leave him unsigned until free agency opened. Then the Bills signed the only good free agent center, Hangartner. Once they signed him, Preston was completely expendable. The Bills also let their other center go, same reason. No one has signed the other guy. Green Bay just signed Preston to an unremarkable contract. So why exactly is it a mistake to let someone go that no one else in the league is hot to sign, while you sign a better player on the first day of free agency?

8. Had to trade Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters when they couldn’t re-sign him. Yes, they did. And when you read the better articles on the subject, you’ll understand why. Everyone in the league agrees this guy is among the most, if not the most, talented offensive tackles. He has incredible talent.

Everyone in the league also has serious questions about whether he has the heart to play at the level he’s able to. He clearly cares about the money. He admitted that when he missed blocks last year, his attitude was “well, they’re not paying enough, so I don’t really care that I missed it.” He didn’t know he gave up 10-13 sacks in 13 games last season. You want that guy to be your premier LT?

You know how you can tell the entire league had questions? If the guy was certifiably as good as he thinks, the Bills would have gotten two first round picks for him, or a first and a second. The fact is the Bills couldn’t get more than a late first and a fourth, and no one else was in the bidding. Peters may turn out to be great.

If I had to bet, I’d bet he’ll turn out to be erratic. There’s something about him that makes him a big questionmark.

9. Let solid CB Jabari Greer go and replaced him with Drayton Florence. Total ignorance of the situation. First, when Greer got hurt last year, the Bills inserted last year’s first round pick, Leodis McKelvin, who by the end of the season looked like a lights-out, shut-down corner. Second, since McKelvin is clearly a starter (and Drayton was signed purely as training camp fodder, not to replace Greer), the Bills either had to sign Greer or next season let their other corner, Terence McGee go. It was either Greer or McGee. Greer was going to command pretty big dollars, and they were big dollars this year, not next year. McGee is very good, McKelvin looks like a star, Youboty is back, and the Bills had another good rookie corner last season. They’re set at corner. No brainer.

10. I am no apologist for the Bills. They do a lot of stupid stuff. Peters was mismanaged, despite my doubts about him. But this stuff from Sporting News is nonsense, and anyone who knows the Bills knows that. Problem is, 95% of the readers don’t follow the Bills, so it makes sense to them.

Let’s go BILLS!!!!


Jason Peters – 10 Things I Don’t Know

Well, it’s done. Jason Peters has been traded to the Eagles for a first and fourth pick this year and a sixth next year. Peters has signed an extension with Eagles.

What do I think? I don’t like it, but mostly I think there are a lot of things I don’t know.

1. I don’t know if the Bills have any idea what they’re doing. The Bills clearly started rebuilding in 2006. By 2008 they had cleaned out everyone who needed to go and plenty others, as well. They had the core they needed, it seemed, to begin to win consistently. Then, in three months, the starting center is gone, the starting left guard is gone and the starting left tackle is gone. Are the Bills rebuilding, again?

2. I don’t know if Jason Peters will ever be a premier left tackle. I know he has the physical tools. I’ve seen him make all the plays that a premier left tackle makes, but there have been plenty of guys with the tools who never starred in the NFL .

3. I don’t know if Jason Peters has the heart to be a star in the NFL. He hasn’t shown it so far. There’s something about him that’s always made me uncomfortable. Part of it is how he leaves games with injuries. Fine, I know guys tweak things and have to go out for a play or two here and there, but it seems like a habit with Jason. He’s missed the end of the past two seasons with injuries. I guess they were real. But the really great players stay on the field. They WANT it.

I saw Jim Kelly get knocked unconscious, fumble, the Bills get a turnover on the next play, and Kelly return to the field to throw a TD on the first play. You could feel it with Jim. I don’t feel it with Jason.

There’s something troubling about a guy who says, essentially, “I’m not going to give you my best until you pay me.” Is Jason Peters Manny Ramirez? For that matter, is he Terrell Owens?

4. I don’t know about his pedigree. This goes to his heart, too. Just about every good pro showed his potential in college. I know, there are exceptions, and maybe Jason is an exception. Coming out of high school, Jason wasn’t a top prospect. Fine, not every star was showing it in high school. Then Jason spent his time in college and he still hadn’t shown enough for anyone to draft him. That raises a real questionmark for me. The guy has these fabulous physical tools and didn’t apply them enough for any team to burn even a seventh round pick on him. That says something about him, something I don’t like.

Compare him to Leodis McKelvin. Leodis must not have shown much coming out of high school, either, becasue none of the big-time schools took a shot at him. So off he goes to Troy. By the end of four years, he was showing it.

There’s just something about Jason that always left me uncomfortable.

5. I don’t know who the Bills studs are. Jason Peters was unquestionably the best young talent on the Bills. Raw physical talent, he’s better than Lee, better than Marshawn, and way better than anyone else. There are only two ways to win in the NFL – collect really outstanding talent or have truly outstanding coaching (or some combination of both). Either way, you have to spend money. The Bills have demonstrated they won’t spend the big dollars for a really good coaching staff – it’s been no-names (with the exception of Chuck Knox) for 50 years. The Bills have to be willing to overspend on really good talent here or there – it’s the only other choice. If you’re going to overspend on anyone, Jason Peters has the talent to have been the one.

6. I don’t know what the Bills coaching staff thought about Peters. They might have had the same concerns that I have. Who wants a guy who doesn’t show up at camp? They might have said to Brandon “don’t spend top dollar for this guy, because we don’t think we can count on him, play after play, game after game, season after season, to dominate.” Frankly, I think the questions about Peters are reflected in the deal the Bills got. A 28th pick and a fourth rounder (a sixth in 2010 is practically worthless) is NOT enough for the an All-Pro left tackle. However, I think the Eagles were saying “we’re going to have to overpay for a guy who’s not really proven himself to be the long-term stud, so we’re not giving you a first this year and a first next year.”

7. I don’t know what the Bills do now. I don’t think Walker is a left tackle. Chambers actually looked pretty good at left tackle at the end of last season, but I assumed the Bills had him slated for left guard. I can’t imagine they’ll start the season with Bell at left tackle. I suppose Chambers at LT and Bell at LG is possible, although some people have said that Bell really has tackle skills and size, not guard skills and size. I don’t know – there are some big guards in the league.

It certainly seems like the Bills now will take the best offensive lineman available with pick #11. His issues notwithstanding, I like Andre Smith based on the little bit I’ve read about him. Jason Smith apparently is the star of the class, but I wouldn’t trade up into the top five to get him, for two reasons: The Bills probably would have to package the 11th and the 28th to get there (I’d rather have three first day picks), and the pricetag for top five players is just to high. If the Bills are willing to spend that kind of money on a draftee, they should have spent it on Jason and kept the 11th pick.

8. I don’t know who’s making the decisions at One Bills Drive. What I do know is that there isn’t one person there with a track record that makes me warm and fuzzy. Not Mr. Wilson, not Brandon, not Jauron. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I’ve been hoping for pleasant surprises for a couple of years now. I’ve been surprised, sure, but not pleasantly.

9. I don’t know what this does to team morale. It does mean Trent’s going to be peeking over his left shoulder at the pass rush, at least until he develops a little confidence that someone there can keep him from getting maimed. Marshawn may not mind the prospect of sitting out the first few games, so that the players and coaches can figure out how to block people on the left side.

But if I’m Marcus Stroud, I’m thinking “what in the world have I gotten myself into? Our defense isn’t bad, but what’s with the offense? Linemen are coming and going like it’s red-tag day at Wal-Mart, our running back gets suspended, we bring in the league’s most notorious problem child to play wideout. Even the supposed leader of the defense gets tossed in jail.”

10. I don’t know how all this is going to turn out. There’s no way to know now who got the best of the Peters deal. The Bills could be the winners if Peters craps out this season or next or beyond. The Bills could be the winners if Peters continues to show flashes of brilliance without sustained All-Pro play. The Bills could be the losers if Peters becomes the stud he can be. It could be a win-win if the Bills two first-round picks become the heart of a championship team.

I do know this: DIck Jauron’s job is totally on the line in 2009. I thought so after the Owens signing, and I think so now. This is his team – he’s kept the guys he’s wanted, he’s dumped the guys he didn’t. About the only holdover from the pre-Jauron era is the Ball Burglar. The offensive line is now totally his – no starter on the 2009 Bills offensive line was here when Dick took over (unless the Bills surprise me and swap a first-round pick to get Gandy back!). It’s his RB, his QB, his defense, his defensive players. Dick picked these guys, and Dick has to live or die with them.

Like I said, maybe he’ll surprise me.


What To Do While You Wait For Football Season

By BBR_OtherGuy

Football season is almost here… is what I’ll say in August. The signing of Terrell Owens has transformed Bills Nation from mind-numbing disenchantment to pre-pubescent girls at a Jonas Brothers concert excitement. Now we have to wait a real long time before we Bills fans get to see our shiny new receiver in action.

This begs the question, “What do I do to pass the time?” Well the Sabres are as frustrating as a chastity belt, and if you’re like me then going to work and spending time with your family just isn’t cutting it. So allow me to give you five tips on how to pass the time until football season.

1) Come up with funny names for businesses, then go through your address book and call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while to tell him/her (bonus points if it’s an ex). This is an actual conversation I had with my friend today:
FRIEND: What’s up?
ME: I want to start a sporting goods franchise and call it Dong’s.
FRIEND: Please tell me that’s not why you called me.
ME: …um… *click*

2) Make a list of cool nicknames for yourself and then refer to yourself in the third person to make them catch on. The trick is to switch it up all the time so you don’t get stuck with one name:
FRIEND: Let’s check out that new Tai restaurant.
ME: Ace likes the sound of that!
FRIEND: Who’s Ace?
ME: Big J thinks you already know the answer to that.

3) Write the word “RUN” on a piece of notebook paper. Fold the paper up and urgently hand it to a stranger on the street. Make sure it’s folded though because the time it takes for him to unfold it should give you a healthy head start.

4) Write fake news releases and send them to real newspapers to see if you can get them printed. This is a game I played in college with a few other PR majors. I’ve posted one I submitted in 2005 to give you something to work off of (HINT: The smaller the paper, the better chance they will be too busy to actually read it and just print it):




BUFFALO, N.Y. (SEPT. 13, 2005)— This month The John Foundation announces its intentions to build a new family fun center in the heart of downtown. The center will be located where the old city post office now sits abandoned, and hopes to transform it from a place people go to do drugs, to a place people can go after they do drugs.

The John Foundation admits it has no funding what-so-ever to build the center and is soliciting donations from the community stating that if the community plans to use it, the community should help pay for it. The foundation also stated that if not enough funds are collected to build the center, it reserves the right to use the money for video games and Doritos.

“I don’t really see it as deceptive,” said Jay Livingston, founder of The John Foundation, “I mean, yeah it looks like we’re doing this for video game money, but we did say a fun center would be sweet and that’s totally true.”
For more information please contact Juan “Speedy” Gonzales, public relations director at (716) 989-4180.

The John Foundation has been serving the community for a while. Just because you haven’t heard of it doesn’t make it not true. Don’t be a hater.

5) Finally, you can start exercising, oh and try a salad every once in a while fatty. Seriously, you paid for one seat on a plane, if you have to take half my seat you can pay for half my ticket.

Hope that helps, if I think of some more I’ll post them… maybe… I’m pretty lazy…

-The John


T.O. – 10 Things I Think

“Huh? What? What did you say?”

The sound of Bills fans cheering – or screaming – awakened me from my late-winter hibernation.

I’m still rubbing my eyes and scratching my head, but here are 10 things:

1. Let’s start with on the field, which is all that matters. Assuming he plays all year (I certainly expect he will, but this is T.O., so nothing is for certain), the Bills receiving corps will be what we’ve hoped for for years. Great talent and competitiveness wide (Lee and T.O.) and Josh Reed returning to the slot – his natural position.

There simply is no question that T.O. is a great, great talent. Size, speed, hands. At his best, he leaves the rest of the league watching in awe.

For the last couple of years I’ve thought he’s been inconsistent, dropping too many easy balls. But even with that, he demands defensive attention every play that he’s on the field.

I can see this offense erupting, game after game, with Lee and T.O. and Josh beating the secondary downfield and Marshawn and Fred pounding the front seven on the ground.

2. Assuming he’s emotionally engaged (I certainly hope he will be, but this is T.O., so nothing is certain), T.O. could be a great leader on the sideline. There is no question that the guy is passionate – not always in a way that helps his team, but he is passionate. He could be a real spark for the offense. He could pull Trent along with him. He could have a big impact on Marshawn – positive or negative.

3. Does T.O. answer all the questions on offense? Not at all. He DOES answer the receiving question. No longer can Bills fans say the problem with the offense is that they don’t have quality receivers. Every defensive coordinator will be forced to pay attention the Bills’ receiving duo.

There are three important questions that remain:

a. Will the offensive line come together to provide quality protection for the passing game and support a consistent running game? The run game came around nicely in the second half of the season, and the pass protection wasn’t bad. But the Bills clearly decided that Dockery wasn’t good enough. They haven’t moved to sign Fowler or Preston, and they’ve signed only one free agent offensive lineman – a part-time starter with some upside, but still a question mark. Is there another free agent to be signed? A first round pick who can play as a rookie? For what seems like the umpteenth year in a row, we just know about the offensive line.

If the line doesn’t do the job, this great array of skill players will struggle.

b. Will Trent Edwards take advantage of this abundance of riches? Evans, Owens, Reed and others running patterns, Lynch and Jackson coming out of the backfield – a quarterback’s dream. Can Trent read defenses and deliver the ball to some of the best targets in the game?

c. Can Dick Jauron and Turk Schonert pull all this together? Can the Bills offense be what it’s failed to be for the past three years – effective, diverse and productive in the red zone? This team has largely failed on offense since Jauron arrived; can we expect the coaches to turn it around in one year?

4. Perhaps now, finally, the cries for a great tight end will subside. With potent wideouts, any solid blocking tight end – average hands and average speed – is going to be able to get open and catch some balls.

5. The receiving corps is now crowded, but this move makes some sense for the future. T.O. takes the pressure off Hardy and Johnson for 2009. Hardy’s free to recover from his knee injury and get back to developing the way we hope. Johnson will have the opportunity to work his way onto the field as well as he can.

The interesting questions are Jenkins and Parrish. We know April likes Jenkins’ contribution to special teams – he’s been a topnotch player there. But Jenkins isn’t likely to be a contributor on this offense. Are his days numbered?

Parrish is an even tougher question. As good as Roscoe is returning punts, there may not be room on the team for him unless he finally begins to catch the ball in space. Punt returns without an offense aren’t worth much. Will Roscoe be dealt for a draft choice or as part of a trade for a quality offensive lineman? A defensive end or linebacker? Or is Roscoe just too explosive too let go? T.O. and Lee wide, with Roscoe in the slot sometimes, Josh in the slot others. All four wide? On paper, it seems too good to pass up.

6. What about T.O.’s baggage? Scares me to death. Will T.O. play for Jauron? Will he behave on the sideline? Will he demand the ball and disrupt the offense?

The genius of the one-year contract, of course, is that T.O. knows he has to behave to have one more big payday, with Buffalo or with another team. This could be his last best chance, and it could be a powerful incentive for him.

The other thing that will help keep T.O. in line is for the team to have success. The more he wins, the happier he is.

7. For the cynics who say that the T.O. signing is a public relations play to boost sagging season ticket sales, I say yes and no. There is no question the Bills had decided to go after a veteran wideout. It certainly seems they pursued Coles hard, and then T.O. fell into their laps. They get a quality receiver, a chance for their young receivers to mature and a chance to reevaluate the whole situation in a year.

But there is no question that fan excitement exploded as the T.O. rumors grew and then became true. Will the excitement translate into season tickets sales? Probably. But the real excitement can only come with winning.

8. Jauron is now fully and squarely on the hot seat. He has the offensive weapons, he’s left with his own offensive line mess, and he has his defense. He also has one potentially huge headache. There are no excuses in 2009, including T.O. Jauron wanted him, now he has him. It’s Jauron’s job to make it work.

9. Taking T.O. strikes me as a desperate move. Take a bold step to juice the offense and sell tickets. Take the big gamble to make a winner and save the franchise. High risk, high reward. A year from now we could be celebrating a great revival or watching an even bigger mess in the organization.

10. For me, I’ve been in a total wait-and-see mode since the end of January, and no free agent signing is going to change my skepticism. I’ll be cheering for T.O., and I’ll be thrilled by the plays we know he will make. But it’s all about Ws. For me, the question is whether these coaches can lead a team and make it a winner. It’s time for winning on the field, not on paper.



……..HEYYY…………………..Eyy……………ey………………ANYBODY OUT THERE…….
…….DY OUT THERE………………..OUT THere……………………….there………………….

…………….Man, this neighborhood sure is quiet this time of year!………….let’s seeeee, Greg said he was putting a sign on the front door of the BBR house…………….
…………….sort of a “beacon of hope” to wayward Bill’s fans………………


……….O.K. then,…….this MUST be the place!…….he said the key would be under the front mat………..OH LOOK,….it’s a friggin’ Dolphan’s Doormat…………………..excellent!, now I can “scrape the $*!+ right off my shoes”,……it sure was a long walk from Sweet Virginia!!! Boy, smearin’ muddy poop on the Dolphans never gets old for me.

……It sure was nice of the guy’s to let me hang out here!………………… Cool street to live on…….
with Patriarchal Shaw The Grand Pooba living next door………….Much respect!

…….I sure am going to miss the show this off season, but our beloved hosts are obviously going to be MUCH too busy! Good thing I caught up with them before they left……….

……..Cheery Greg could barely contain his excitement yesterday when I spoke to him. He said he finally got that job as manager of Bousch and Lombs new ROSE COLORED GLASSES DEPARTMENT. He assured me that his “team” would be able to manufacture enough pairs for all Bill’s Nation to use before next season!…………………I just hope the lenses are strong enough to handle the flash burn from “staring down the barrel” of a 5-11 season!……………………

………The good news is that we will have a burn specialist on hand next year!!!!! John told me he will be volunteering his every waking hour at the local hospital’s “skin peel tank” this off season………He mentioned something about trying to make amends and extend an olive branch to “burn nation” because of some “off color comments” he made!!!!!!!!!!!!!……

………..And noone will be busier than special agent Dave “Valkyrie” Drake. I believe he is really starting to gain Ralph “Pod Nazi” Wilson’s trust, and soon will be firmly entrenched in his coveted “Inner Circle”…………He mentioned something about getting Jim “Dooright” Kelly to help enlist special agent T.C.-VH1 to help with some elaborate electronics programming scheme……….
…….but more on that “thickening plot” later……………….


….Well now that I’m in these fancy new digs I better start decorating………………..let’s seeeee, I’m gonna have to put my “fandemonium” mural over here on this wall………..and I think I’ll use my new Sherman Williams “exclamation point paint” on all the trim………………..

…………Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith fatheads with green/white yard marker shag astro carpet………ever sooo limply spinkled with Juron’s red challenge flags…….and hard charging buffalos everywhere……………..perfect!

……..I can put my coveted freshly gold plated pre-chewed slim jim “e-mailer of the year” trophy right over here on my desk right next my laptop.

……..and my Jills blowup doll can sit on the couch next to my Juron Pincushion VooDoo doll………………….both should prove useful

…….No Bill’s pad would be complete without a Dan Dierdork Dartboard……….Just thinking of his bias commentary during Bill’s games makes me want to whip a dart at the bullseye
right now……..I think I will………….Ha! take that Danny…. and you can take your idiotic “crooked goalposts helping our 1990 super bowl team comments”,and shove them up your @$$ with a hepititis pre chewed slim jim!!!……You are no friend of Bill’s Nation!

……..Sorry to disappoint, and break ranks with the current Obama “love fest” going on in the country right now, but you can be assured that there won’t be any enemies of Bill’s Nation hanging around this place if I have anything to do with it………..the list “includes, but is not limited to”
– Joe or any other Jets fan
– Dickless or any other Dolphan
– PicklePuss or any other Patriots fan
– Anyone who utters the words “wide right”, “music city miracle”….etc.

***************GO AWAY YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE*******************

………..I can hang my signed Tasker jersey right here next to my “John’s Quote of the week” plaque…………….which reminds me, Julie Andrews suggested I hang a list of my other favorite things…………………
– My God and country
– My beloved hometown of Rochester
– My beautiful wife and 7 kids (all die hard Bills fans)
– My German Shepard “Titus” (as in avenue)
– My restored 1970 Electra Glide
– Programable Logical Controllers
– Rock A-Z with lots of “R” for Rolling Stones
– and of course BBR Podnation and all things Bill’s related

……….speaking of programming, special agent T.C.-VH1 took me shopping at the big Circuit City liquidation sale yesterday. We purchased many flat screens to hang around the house. He promised me “with his programming expertise” that this BBR hangout would broadcast nothing but Bill’s on a loop………65′,66′ championships…………the “electric company”……………Marv’s tutorial coaching videos…………..vintage 88-94 machine gun Kelly blowouts……… know, nothing but the GOOD STUFF!

……….Wow , all this decorating sure has worked up an appetite in me……………let’s see what’s in the fridge………………Oh Yeah!.., Zwiegles hots and Wegman’s pop…………….and they packed the freezer with chocolate almond ice cream from Don and Bobs… Ahhhh,let me just stick my head in here and get that good ol’ January freezin’ Rochester feeling……….just a little lick…….AAHHHHH HEWP,!!!! MY PUNG IS THPUCK ON BA MEPAL GRAPE!!!!!!!!!!!……………..

………and all Podnation chants…………………..
……………Missin’ the Show, Wilson must Go!……………

Carpetbagger Dave


Why Jauron Is Still The Head Coach

Like many Bills fans, I thought that Dick Jauron’s firing was inevitable after the 2-8 finish to the season, scoring a whopping 6 points in their last 3 home games, going 0-6 in the division and blowing a 4-0 start to the season. So I was as disappointed and angry as everyone else when I heard that Ralph Wilson has decided to retain Jauron for at least another season. But, as i think about it more, I am starting to realize why this was the best move for the team this season. The Bills had 3 options as far as the coach goes: 1. Keep Jauron 2. Fire Jauron and hire one of the top available coaches (Cowher, Holmgren or Shanahan) or 3. Fire Jauron and hire another unknown coach with no experience. Bills fans of course were hoping Ralph Wilson would go with Option 2. The problem is that there is no chance that any of those coaches would come to Buffalo. In an attempt to show why, let me offer up this “letter to the coaching candidates”:

Dear Cowher, Holmgren, Shanahan,

I thought you might be interested in coming to coach the Buffalo Bills. Yes, it can be pretty nasty up here in the winter time, but its really a lovely city. If you can make it through the snow, 4th of July is really nice! Its not the biggest market in America but Russ Brandon has been doing a great job selling the souls of the Buffalo people to Toronto. But, all weather and market related issues aside, we have a really mediocre football team!

Our starting QB was given the confidence vote by Bill Walsh on his death bed! So we have committed to him despite the fact that he has a history of missing games for minor injuries, struggles in the type of weather that is most common late in the season in Buffalo, has only thrown more than 1 touchdown in a game 3 times in his career (only once in 2008), has never thrown for over 300 yards in a game, threw nearly 1/3 of his passes to his runningbacks this season, throws deep so rarely that defenses dont even cover deep against us, was ranked 27th in the league for TD percentage, 27th for TDs (tied with seneca Wallace and Mark Bulger), 23rd for passing yards, tied for 27th in the league for longest completion this season and checks down when receivers are wide open deep. But don’t worry we think he’s coming along nicely! Look at that pocket presence! Man does he look good in the pocket and he’s also great in press conferences! He’s much better than Losman at making excuses for this awful offense. Don’t worry about his tendency to get banged up because we have Gibran Hamdan to back him up. Thats right, Hamdan. Need we say more?

We’ve got two great runningbacks but a bunch of fat ineffective lineman so it doesnt matter. Our tightends wouldnt make the roster on most teams in the league let alone start. We have a great deep threat in lee Evans, but Edwards can’t throw the ball far enough for him to be a real factor, and behind him we have a solid 3rd receiver in Reed who is playing 2nd receiver and a bunch of special teams aces playing receiver behind him.

Our defense is pretty average too! we desperately need more linebackers, our only good Defnsive End is coming off an injury which may hobble him from here on out, behind him we have nobody, but I’m sure you can fix that. We need a Free Safety to compliment our underperforming first round draft pick at strong safety. Did I mention how good Whitner is at press conferences though? He guaranteed the team would make the playoffs in 2008, now thats the enthusiasm we like to see from our players! We do have a bunch of young corners but dont worry, when push comes to shove, we wont resign any of them when their contract is up as we will do with Jabari Greer this off-season. We have some talent at Tackle and middle linebacker, but the shoddy play at weakside linebacker and Defensive End all but negates their impact.

Our Special Teams is actually consistently very strong, we have a great punter and lots of strong return men. Our place kicker is consistent until the game is on the line. Unfortunately our special teams is only good because of the coaching Bobby April has provided them and he will most certainly be gone when we change head coaches.

Our last 4 coaches lasted 3 years or less. Also, the players we do have are all really young and inexperienced. So… Want the job?


Ralph Wilson

P.S. I don’t believe in paying large coaching salaries so be prepared to take a big pay cut. See you on the sidelines!

There isn’t a top coach in the league that would want to take the reins of this mess right now. So that rules out option 2. That leaves a choice between continuity hopefully leading to enough improvement for this team to take the next step, or gambling on yet another unproven coordinator a la Mularkey, Williams etc. The Bills aren’t the only team that has been disappointed by hot coordinator coaching prospects. Look at Mangini and Crennel, both were arguably safer selections than ones the Bills have made and they both failed as well. Taking a new coach from the coordinator pool woudl almost certainly result in a full rebuild of this team by a guy that has never done it before. Very low odds of success. Despite the lack of change in overall record over the three Jauron years, the team has improved statistically. Buffalo improved from 30th to 25th on Offense overall from 2007 to 2008 and from 30th to 14th on defense. Considering that the team was ranked 30th in both categories in 2007, maybe our expectations were a little high? Miami may have had a dramatic improvement in their record this year, but they actually made a smaller jump in statistical ranking, Miami defensively improved from 23rd in 2007 to 15th and Offensively from 28th to 12th. So the Bills defense actually had greater improvement than the Dolphins while the Dolphins Offense made a big jump versus the Bills smaller jump. Why? The Dolphins switched to a proven reliable quarterback while the Bills stayed pat with Awful Losman backing up Mediocre Edwards. Thankfully, Losman’s walking away from Buffalo forces the Bills to obtain another quarterback from somewhere, lets hope they have enough sense to get somebody that will improve the team rather than sitting back and smiling about the “improvement” from Edwards which happened but not to a degree that should leave us all feeling comfortable.

It would have been nice to see a big name come in and take Buffalo to the next level, but as it stands, the Bills are probably better off continuing their slow improvement under Jauron than take another wild shot with an unknown comodity. At the very least, Jauron has the support of the players which actually says quite a bit. Even when the 2008 season was already dead for the Bills, the team came out and beat Denver on the road and played a solid close game against the Patriots. (Fred Jackson’s running in that game was spectacular, the Pats had nearly every player up to block the run in that strong wind, the Bills didn’t even pretend to pass the ball and Jackson still had 5 yards a carry. Wow.)


Bills 0 – Patriots 13 – 10 Things I Think

Well, the 2008 season is over. What a disappointment. It will take months before I can start feeling positive about 2009.

1. Just when you think you’ve seen the worst conditions possible, along comes another remarkable Orchard Park game. Has the wind ever blown harder at a game? Maybe, but that was pretty bad.

The weather probably helped the Bills. It was in several ways great equalizer. The wind took the passing game from both teams, leaving both teams with only the run and some short passes. In those condtions, Randy Moss was just another receiver. Lee Evans (who got to the 1000 yards he deserved) was more valuable than Moss.

So the game came down to running the ball, where the Bills are pretty competitive. They ran well.

Unfortunately, while the weather conditions minimize the talents of the players, the conditions magnify the talents of the coaches. In that weather, players can’t make many big plays. So coaching decisions are even more important than in most other games, and this was the best coach in the history of the game against Dick Jauron. No contest.

2. Let’s hear it for the offensive line. It took another entire season, but they’re finally making a believer of me. The Bills played without their best offensive lineman, against a decent run defense that knew the Bills would come right at them, and the run game sparkled. Those guys made holes, moved the pile, just kept working to get every yard they could. It was a great show by some guys who may have learned, a little too late for this season, what it takes to make the running game go. And for those who were complaining that Kirk Chambers didn’t have a role on this team, look again. The guy clearly has progressed. He did a really nice job in the last two games. He certainly wasn’t a liability. Is it possible we’ve seen Jason Peters for the last time?

Pass protection, on the other hand, still needs serious work. Anyone watching film (heck, anyone watching the games live who’s watching the line play) figured out weeks ago that the Bills are clueless when it comes to picking up stunting linemen. It happened at least two or three times again yesterday: defensive end rushes to the inside, tackle stays with him; defensive tackle delays, then loops around the outside. One time Dockery was just standing in the backfield wondering where his man went, until he saw his man heading straight for the QB. Trent’s fumble was altogether not his fault, and several of the other times he was hit happened the same way. Either the coaches aren’t teaching (I’m betting they are) or the players aren’t learning (I’m betting thy’re not). It’s a real problem.

3. Speaking of Trent – nice game. He had a MUCH better day than he had in Cleveland in the blizzard – this game he actually figured out how to deliver the ball on plays when it seemed impossible. One of the best was the one that Royal dropped (Robert must have been amazed the ball got there). 70 passer rating isn’t great, but under the conditions was certainly good enough. (Cassel’s rating was higher, but he didn’t have to throw as much because he was (no surprises here) winning most of the game. He also wide open receivers.) Trent made good decisions, scrambled nicely, got sacked primarily because of blocking breakdowns, and had a fumble courtesy of Derrick Dockery.

Oh, and for those who didn’t like it last week when I complained about Trent dragging himself off the ground after sacks like he was near death, I won’t apologize. I will say, however, that that may have been Trent getting used to the game again after a little layoff. He got hit pretty well by the Patriots, and each time he just got up and went back at it. Good for him.

I predicted in June that Trent would finish the season as a top 15 passer. He didn’t make it (finsihed 17th), but he did finish surrounded by playoff QBs – Eli, Flacco, Cutler, McNabb, Delhomme – and way ahead of Roethlisberger. Trent has a lot of upside – he’ll work hard in the off-season and be better next year. Trent may not be a star in the future, but he’s a good bet.

4. Freddy Jackson is a gamer. Teams will spend a lot of time in the off-season devising ways to stop the wildcat; the Bills should spend time figuring out new ways to deploy it with Fred and Marshawn. (Meanwhile, if Marshawn had been healthy, this game could actually have been a win for the Bills. I don’t know if the Pats could have taken more pounding than they got with just one of these stars.)

We didn’t see anything new from Freddy yesterday, just more of the same: Quick to the hole, any hole. Really good burst. Surprising power. And a big heart. Great, great performance.

5. A couple of things about coaching. First, kudos to Dan Dierdorf, who was right on the money time after time in criticizing the Bills’ calls from the sidelines: (a) No sense of urgency with just under two minutes in the first half – that wasted time killed them in the end. (b) Too long in the huddle on the last play of the half. (c) Duke Preston fails to return to huddle after last play of the half. (d) Failure to go no huddle with the wind in the third quarter. (e) Empty the backfield on fourth and one or two, showing the Pats that it was a certain pass. Dierdorf had them all right. There were others, too (like trying a 40+ yard field goal in a tornado), but Dierdorf hit the high points.

6. On the other side of the field was Bill Belichick. While Dick was bumbling, what was Bill doing? Calling timeouts in the first quarter to keep the wind at his back, quick-kicking with the wind to get the good roll and pin the Bills deep, saving a play (the pass to Welker on the left sideline) that he knew the Bills couldn’t defend to use in the critical touchdown drive, having the RIGHT playcall on fourth down (the play action roll out keeper).

The Bills were clearly outprepared and outthought in this game, but that doesn’t really qualify as news.

7. The Ball Burglar really let us down, too. He needed two takeaways to bring the season total over $11,000 – big money to help lots of kids fight serious illness. He got none.

But the $11,000 challenge isn’t over. The Burglar needs just 15 Bills fans to agree to pay $1 per takeaway for the 2008 season – just $25 each (22 takeaways plus $3 extra for the three TD returns). Fifteen fans. You’re out there. Now’s the time to help.

And thanks to all those Burglars who have pledged a total of more than $400 per takeaway so far this season.

8. Exactly how many guys did the Bills have out there wearing number 95? Six solo tackles? SIX!!! From a defensive tackle? What a performance. Kyle Williams was everywhere. My new favorite player.

9. I hope Donte is all right. Clearly, it wasn’t his best season, but it’s never fun to see one of your guys go down like that.

It takes enormous courage to play this game. He never backs down, and he didn’t on that play.

I expect him back, playing with dedication that will be unlike anything we’ve seen before.

10. In the end, the Bills were a little below average. Overall, 25th in yards per game offense, 23rd in points per game offense. 22nd in passing yards, 22nd in passing rating. 14th in rushing yards, 16th in rushing average. The offense lagged behind the defense all season.

14th in yards per game defense, 14th in points per game defense. 13th in passing yards defense, 16th in passer rating defense. 22nd in rushing yards allowed, 21st in yards per carry defense. The defense wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough.

The Bills beat the teams they should have beaten, and lost to the teams they should lost to.

This game was emblematic of all of that. Average. The Bills were, for the Patriots and for every other good team they played this season, a worthy opponent. They played hard, fought all the way to the end, made it tough for the Pats to win. But, for the Pats and every other good team they Bills played, the Bills were just a team that wouldn’t roll over before losing. The Bills made good teams work for the win but were never able to make good teams lose. Average.

If I had to pick a team I wanted to win the AFC east other than the Bills, it would have been the Dolphins. I wanted the Pats out, and I didn’t want the carpetbagger in. Congratualations to Chad Pennington and his new teammates. They earned it, and I’m happy for Chad. Good player, class act.

See you all in the new year.



Technical Difficulties … Again

Seems we continue to have technical difficulties here at the Buffalo Bills Review. Not only was the recording electronically garbled last week, now we are not able to publish articles to the website either! Perhaps all part of Ralph’s grand conspiracy? We’ll see… if this article doesn’t publish, I may begin to believe that…


Incompetence Reigns Supreme

If there was any doubt regarding the game-day competency of Dick Jauron I hope Sunday set the record straight.

With the wind the bills botched two scoring chances in the first half:
1. Let’s run Professor X and then try a 46 yard FG with killer winds. Very conservative play calling at this point. Trent had already proven he could throw the ball with the wind…
2. The end of the first half was an embarrassment. First, with 22 seconds left (and no time outs) you throw! Obviously, there was confusion amongst the coaching staff as the play call was late coming in and then they ran a bone head play. Of course, The Duke of Preston did not help by trying to be a tough guy. Remember the Denver game last year when they kicked a FG with 8 sec and the clock ticking, we had 22… 
Incompetent coaches breed incompetent players. Sad, we deserve better. Let us hope that the inner circle gives Dick his walking papers. I am not holding my breath.
The Bills failed to score a TD in three home games this year (counting Toronto).