This is it, week 17 and with the Eagles out of the playoffs it's the last Eagles game we'll see until opening day... Sad. So as we enter this final game with the Bills, I exchanged 5 questions with Brian of the great Buffalo Bills blog Buffalo Rumblings. You can find my answers to his questions over there.
BGN - I think it's pretty clear that much of the Bills' future success in the coming years could be tied to the development of rookie QB Trent Edwards. The 3rd round pick has played quite a bit this year, what are your thoughts on him so far?
This is something I've always wanted to ask a Bills fan. The Bills were pretty much roundly criticized by draftniks for "reaching" for Donte Whitner in last year's draft. But Marv Levy maintained that he was worth it. I liked Whitner a lot coming out of school; do you think he was worth it?
In long, it's a bit more complicated. When a player is drafted #8 overall, they're expected to hit a certain level of productivity relatively quickly - otherwise, they're criticized. Whitner hasn't escaped that fate - he has just two career interceptions, and hasn't been the playmaking safety that safeties like Ed Reed, Bob Sanders and Brian Dawkins have been for their teams. Some - including yours truly - are beginning to question whether or not Whitner will ever reach that level. I believe he can, but if it doesn't happen in the early stages of 2008, the collective patience of Bills fans may start to wear thin.
From late October through early December the Bills won 6 of 8 games and pulled themselves out of a hole and into playoff contention. What were they doing during that stretch that they didn't do early and haven't done the past few weeks?
The only stat you need to know about Buffalo's season is this. Throughout their first 15 games, they have beaten opponents who have won, collectively, 26 games (including double scores for the Jets and Dolphins). They have lost to opponents who have collectively won 89 games (the Patriots responsible for 30 of those). Simply put, they beat the teams they were supposed to beat. And they did it in the stretch you refer to.
The Bills offense is only generating 16 points a game and they were shutout two weeks ago by Cleveland who are a pretty poor defensive team. It seems though that you guys have some real talent at the skill positions. What accounts for the lack of points?
Unlike you, I don't believe the Bills have a lot of talent at the skill positions. Or, rather, I don't think they have the right talent at the skill positions. Lee Evans has absolutely no viable receiving threat to take pressure off of him on the outside, and there isn't an athletic presence at tight end. The Bills have two very good running backs in Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, but Steve Fairchild (offensive coordinator) doesn't use them correctly. There's very little size to the skill positions as well - therefore, no viable red zone threat. All of those factors have snowballed into a conservative, boring approach to offensive football for the Bills this season.
Earlier this year there was talk about the Bills playing a home game in Toronto, Canada. Is there any more news on that and what are your feelings?
Bonus - How bummed are you that you don't have Darwin Walker and his one sack this year?
Thanks once again to Brian for bringing us up to date on all things Buffalo Bills and be sure to check out Buffalo Rumblings for all his thoughts and news ramping up to this weekend's season finale.