Buffalo Rumblings and Ruminations

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1.  The Chargers ripped Deltha O'Neal pretty well, one of the reasons was the height mismatch.  I'm looking over your cornerbacks and seeing Terrence McGee at 5' 9".  It looks like he has two picks already this year, but does he have a problem with taller receivers in the league?  Also if you could go over how well your secondary is playing this year.

When you're playing the Bills, size doesn't matter in your receiving corps until you get to the red zone.  The Bills have struggled against teams that can make quick throws underneath and convert first downs off of those plays.  The Bills employ a predominant zone scheme, so they're built to prevent the big play.  They've done that well, but in game-planning that way, they've made themselves susceptible to a ball-control passing game.  The Cardinals worked that strategy beautifully.

I'm a firm believer that your pass defense is only as good as your pass rush.  The Bills got after quarterbacks well early this season, but their blitz packages haven't been as effective over the last few weeks.  Hopefully, two weeks to prepare for the Chargers will let them tweak their schemes and show San Diego some things they haven't seen yet.  If not, it won't matter how tall our corners are, because the Chargers will be in for a field day regardless.



2.  Your quarterback Trent Edwards is just returning from a concussion.  Do you expect that to affect his play at all?  Did you think it was a fair hit that Edwards took?

In most cases, I'd say that yes, playing two weeks after sustaining a pretty serious concussion would not bode well.  But the feeling all along has been that Trent will be good to go, and he basically affirmed that Monday in stating that he expects to play.

One of the small items holding Edwards back from being a top-flight signal caller is hesitancy.  He's remarkably decisive with the football considering the fact that he's only started 14 NFL games (the Bills are 9-5 in games he's started), but he's still prone to holding the football for a fraction of a second too long, particularly in the red zone.  I don't expect that hesitancy to be worsened by the concussion - and it's pretty minimal to begin with - but if there are going to be areas of Edwards' game that are easily effected by a concussion, this is one of them.

 

3.  When I think Buffalo, I'm expecting defense and a power running game.  Apart from the Cardinal game it looks like the defense is still there, but the Bills are averaging less than 100 yards per game rushing.  Is Lynch having an off year, or is there a new emphasis on the pass attack?

I wouldn't be so sure on the defense, first of all - because I'm not.  Yeah, the defense has been pretty solid, but we've played the Seahawks, Raiders and Rams, who are a combined 3-12 and have some of the worst offensive attacks in the league.  Competent attacks (Jacksonville, Arizona) have fared much better, and the Chargers are the team's stiffest challenge yet by far.

Buffalo is still a power running team, but they've been forced to get away from it because their run blocking has been infuriatingly inconsistent.  The Bills run what essentially amounts to a West Coast offense, so at the moment, they're throwing a lot of short stuff and taking chances deep to Lee Evans (27 yards per catch).  It's been effective in masking some of the issues in the running game, but it likely won't last.  Lynch himself is fine - he's still the same excellent back we saw as a rookie, and he's improved as a receiver - but the run blocking, particularly up the middle, is causing problems.  Obviously, we'd like to see that change ASAP.



4.  What do the Bills need to accomplish to beat the Chargers?

Time to bust out the boring football cliches, something I'm really good at.  If the Bills want to beat the Chargers, they need to control time of possession, win the turnover battle, stop the run and run the ball.  Sounds simple enough, right?  These cliches are cliches for a reason - they work, and they're essential when you're taking on an opponent as talented as San Diego.

Bottom line is this: the game is in Buffalo.  Good NFL teams win these types of games on their home turf.  We're coming off a bye week.  Taking a loss in this situation would be detrimental not in a standings sense, but in a fan psyche sense.  In my mind, this is a must-win.  And I think the Bills will find a way to get it done.



5.  In the draft the first round choice was Leodis McKelvin at cornerback.  We took Antoine Cason later in the round, who has looked terrific at nickel.  How has McKelvin done, and are there any other draftees that have impressed you?

I was a huge fan of Cason entering the draft, and am hardly surprised to hear that he's playing well.  McKelvin has looked like any rookie out of Troy would: lost at times, but really, really good at others.  Once he figures out how to eliminate the mental errors, he's going to be very good.  Until then, he's a liability.  Terrence McGee can't return to the lineup fast enough.

The only other rookies that have seen any playing time whatsoever are WR James Hardy (second round) and CB Reggie Corner (fourth round).  Corner only saw the field because of McGee's injury; otherwise, he's been inactive.  He didn't play a ton in Arizona.  Hardy, meanwhile, made a great TD grab in the fourth quarter in our 20-16 win over the Jaguars, but outside of that he's been highly non-existent.  It's Hardy that needs to produce as the season wears on; we saw some signs of that, as he grabbed three balls in Arizona.  We need more from the kid. 

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