clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

5 Questions with the Bills

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?

Get ready to hear "for a rookie" a lot here.  Trent has great poise... for a rookie.  He's got great calm and he's a pretty good leader... for a rookie.  A 5-3 record as a starter isn't bad... for a rookie against some bad opponents.  Truthfully, I'm worried about the kid - he hasn't played well consistently, but that's to be expected (for a rookie).  Now, he's looking at a 2008 season in which he'll be working with a new offensive coordinator, trying to avoid the sophomore slump.  The general consensus - and I'm among this group - is that Edwards has the tools to succeed at this level.  But the offense has been no more productive with him in the lineup than they were when J.P. Losman played.  The young man has a long, long ways to go.

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 short, yes.  Whitner has been a great asset for a young and struggling defense simply because he's versatile and smart enough to do whatever the coaches ask of him.  He's already asserted himself as the leader of this defensive unit, so his future is looking bright.

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?

In short, they played some really, really, stupendously crappy teams.  During that span, the combined record of the teams the Bills beat: 22-53.  That stretch also included two wins over the Dolphins.  Baltimore; the Jets; the Bengals - these teams don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.  We did have one impressive win, on the road in Washington after the tragic death of Sean Taylor.

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?

I'm giving the offense a pass for the Cleveland game, because they played that one in a foot of snow with a rookie quarterback that hails from California.  Playing in the elements has quickly developed into a huge concern amongst Bills fans.  That's another area where the team needs to grow.

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?

It's actually two games - one pre-season and one regular season.  I'm fine with it - the Bills are a small-market franchise looking to widen its client base, and if it helps them stay in Orchard Park, then so be it.  I'll be a bit bummed when the season tickets my father and I own are only 8 games instead of 10, but 8 is still much better than 0.

Bonus - How bummed are you that you don't have Darwin Walker and his one sack this year?

Walker's one sack would tie him for fourth on the Bills in that statistical department.  Honestly, I believe he would have been helpful this season - although given Chicago's defensive downfalls this season, he certainly wasn't worth the money he was asking from the Bills.  Darwin was and remains a good fit for Buffalo's scheme; I still believe he would have been an effective presence for a young defense, especially from a veteran leadership standpoint.  Overall, I'm not that bummed - but any time you lose a guy who could have been helpful, it's not a great feeling.

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.