Monday, July 27, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Buffalo Bills
2008 RECORD: 7-9
(4th in AFC East)
HEAD COACH: Dick Jauron
Key Additions: WR Terrell Owens (FA/Cowboys) QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (FA/Bengals) CB Drayton Florence (FA/Jaguars) RB Dominic Rhodes (FA/Colts)
Key Losses: TE Robert Royal (FA/Browns) QB J.P. Losman (FA)
Offense: The Bills made the boldest move perhaps in the off-season by grabbing Terrell Owens from the Cowboys roster via free agency.
T.O. will line up with Lee Evans and Josh Reed to give quarterback Trent Edwards a compelling trio of wide receivers this season.
Edwards took over the play calling from the departed J.P. Losman and threw for 2,699 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the backup quarterback in 2009.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1,031 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry and scored eight TDs. Fred Jackson provides good backup at running back and piled up 571 yards last year while scoring three TDs and averaging 4.4 yards per carry. In addition to Jackson, Dominic Rhodes comes over from Indianapolis to add depth here. Rhodes ran for 302 yards (6.7 yards per carry avg.) and scored three touchdowns in limited action in 2008.
The O-Line will feature Geoff Hangartner at center with Andy Levitre and Eric Wood at guard and Langston Walker and Brad Butler at the tackles.
But the focus for Buffalo this season will be on T.O. and company as the Bills passing attack receives a much needed upgrade.
Owens grabbed 69 catches with Dallas in '08 and scored 10 TDs while averaging 15.2 yards per catch. Evans had 63 catches for 1,017 yards (16.1 YPC average) with three TDs and Josh Reed, the possession receiver, made 56 catches for 597 yards.
Defense: The Bills ranked in the middle of the pack (14th in NFL) in total defense while allowing 326 yards per game. The run defense was weak, ranking 22nd in the league and allowing 122 yards per game on the ground.
The pass defense fared better, allowing 204 yards per game to finish 13th overall. But the Bills had just 24 sacks and 10 picks for the entire season.
They use primarly a 4-3 defense and will feature Kyle Williams and Marcus Stoud at DT and Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel at the ends. First round draft pick Aaron Maybin (Penn State) will get a chance to spell the starters.
The linebackers will be Kawika Mitchell, Keith Ellison and Paul Posluszny. This is a talented group of linebackers and the strength of this defense. Should anyone get hurt or need to be spelled, the team has above average backups in Alvin Bowen and John DiGiorgio.
The secondary will look to improve on the interception total in 2009 while featuring Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin at cornerback and Bryan Scott and Donte Whitner at safety. Drayton Florence came over from Jacksonville and will provide some depth in the secondary along with rookie Jarius Byrd and Ashton Youboty.
OUTLOOK: The Bills did not live up to expectations a year ago and Head Coach Dick Jauron could find himself on the hot seat if the team struggles again this season.
After getting off to a 5-1 start in 2008, the Bills stumbled home with a losing record for the fourth consecutive season. Add T.O. and all the drama that goes with his talent into the mix and it could be a recipe for another tough season.
However, Owens does inspire those around him to play better as his resume will show in his 13 seasons in the NFL. A lot of what happens for the Bills will depend on Edwards as he enters his second full season lining up behind center. He showed some bright moments a year ago while also showing tendencies that Jauron would not like to see repeated.
Pass protection is a must up front as Edwards will have a talented group of receivers to throw the ball to. Lynch must step up as well for the Bills to provide added punch.
If the team can stay healthy and the defense improves against the run, the Bills should be competitive. If not, well then expect more of the same in '09.
The Bills play in the rugged AFC East, where Miami shocked the NFL by improving by 10 games from the year prior to win the division and the Patriots have a man named Brady returning after missing virtually all of last season with a knee injury.
The Bills may be able to avoid the basement again as the Jets seem to be going through changes after Brett Favre retired again. The call here is for Buffalo to finish at 6-10 this season.
Week 1- at New England (Sept. 14)
Week 2- vs. Tampa Bay (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. New Orleans (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at Miami (Oct. 4)
Week 5- vs. Cleveland (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at NY Jets (Oct. 18)
Week 7- at Carolina (Oct. 25)
Week 8- vs. Houston (Nov. 1)
Week 9- BYE WEEK
Week 10- at Tennessee (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at Jacksonville (Nov. 22)
Week 12- vs. Miami (Nov. 29)
Week 13- vs. NY Jets (Dec. 3)
Week 14- at Kansas City (Dec. 13)
Week 15- vs. New England (Dec. 20)
Week 16- at Atlanta (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. Indianapolis (Jan. 3)