Friday, September 11, 2009

Buffalo Bills 2009 Season Preview


In March, the 2009 Bills seemed anything like a rebuilding franchise. They signed Terrell Owens after all, and what young team in a rebuilding phase would add a piece like that to the puzzle? Now it seems like an October trade of T.O. to a contending team seems more realistic than the Bills making any sort of playoff push. The Bills are starting three essential rookies on the offensive line now that they have released Langston Walker (who was due a bonus on Saturday). They have fired their offensive coordinator Turk Schonert less than two weeks before opening day and appointed Alex Van Pelt, who has never held such a position. This is their 7th offensive coordinator in the past 10 years. Van Pelt also coached Trent Edwards a season ago and did a less than inspiring job. Two offseason acquisitions who were expected to contribute, Pat Thomas and Dominic Rhodes, have been released. These moves all point to those of a rebuilding team…or it is Dick Jauron trying to supply himself with built in excuses so that a 7-9 record with such a young and inexperienced offensive line seems like a success and earns him another season…or it is the owner, Ralph Wilson, trying to save an extra buck or two. Whatever it is, this team will be vying for a draft pick come December.


The Bills offensive line in 2008 looked like this: Peters, Dockery, Fowler/Preston, Butler, Walker. The 2009 offensive line looks like this: Bell, Levitre, Hangartner, Wood, Butler. Brad Butler is the only returning player and he is moving from guard to tackle. Other than that the Bills have all new faces. Demitrius Bell, the son of the Mailman Karl Malone, has been playing football for like 4 years and has to be raw. He was a 2008 7th round pick and we can only hope he turns out to be the next Jason Peters, except not a selfish asshole. The wide receiving core has obviously been upgraded with the signing of Terrell Owens. Owens will be here for AT MOST one year…in fact, he could have a two month tenure with the team. Either way, he is the only player this decade that has been on this roster that will ever step foot in Canton.

Lee Evans is making the big money, $9.25 million to be exact. It is time for him to earn his contract. He barely attained 1,000 yards last season. Big time receivers don’t struggle to gain 1,000 yards. He also only had three touchdowns. If you are making Larry Fitzgerald money, you need to find the end zone more than once every 5 plus games. Seriously, one touchdown every 5 games? Is it Trent’s fault that Lee is never open down field every single time, or does Lee have to take part of the blame? After these two though, things don’t look that good. Josh Reed is the definition of perennial mediocrity. The Bills coaching staff, with or without Schonert, will not be able to find a way to use Roscoe Parrish. Steve Johnson might as well be the new number three, but with Jauron allegedly coaching for his job and with Reed and Parrish making decent money, I will be surprised if Johnson plays more than sparingly. James Hardy? Who knows when or if this guy will ever make an impact. The running back situation is very scary the first three weeks. If Fred Jackson gets hurt, it is Xavier Omon’s job. Cutting Rhodes now doesn’t make much sense, especially with Lynch’s suspension. The Bills just need to hold their breath until Lynch’s return against Miami. Finally, Derek Shoumann, Derek Fine and Shaun Nelson make up the tight end core. Other than one touchdown reception by Nelson, I have seen next to nothing from the rookie. Shoumann and Fine don’t exactly excite me in any way either. It is safe to say that the Bills tight ends are among the worst in the league…again.


The defense should be improved from last year. Paul Posluszny has another year under his belt. Remember, due to injury, last year was essentially his first year in the league as a full time starter. Hopefully he can become more than just an average linebacker. Leodis McKelvin is taking over as the starting cornerback opposite Terrance McGee. McKelvin is getting better and better and the sky is the limit for him. This guy is a game changer. Every time he touches the ball he is a threat to score. Last year he scored on a pick 6 and a kick return and these numbers should increase this year.

The defensive line should also be better this year. Aaron Schobel is an easy target…he is without a doubt overrated and overpaid, but at the same time, he is much better than Ryan Denney who was starting in his place last year when he was hurt. Aaron Maybin has looked like a stud in the pre season since he signed and probably will lead the team in sacks. He should take over the starting job over Kelsay before too long. As everyone who reads this blog knows, Chris Kelsay has no business being on this football team for $5 million per year or any amount of money really. He sucks, so does Denney who makes over $2 million per year. I’d like to see Chris Ellis get a lot more snaps this year instead of Denney at the very least. Rounding out the defensive line is Marcus Stroud, Kyle Williams, Spencer Johnson, John McCargo and company. Stroud is still a beast and even though McCargo is a bust as a first round pick, he does provide some solid depth.

The weakest positions on the Bills defense is outside linebacker and safety. Donte Whitner is a bust as the 8th pick in the draft, let’s face it. He has 2 career interceptions and really never makes any major impact plays. I can’t really think of any off the top of my head. The best play of his career came on opening day 2006 when he picked off Brady and took it to the house (Clements block in the back brought it back…ouch). Bryan Scott is waiting to have his job taken by Jairus Byrd or is Byrd going to take Whitner’s job…who knows? Also providing depth are John Wendling, and George Wilson who hopefully will never see the field except on special teams. Playing the weak side linebacker position this year is Kawika Mitchell. He is an OK player. He makes some huge plays like that INT in the end zone vs. Rivers, but then he disappears for games at a time. The major issue is at strong side. Keith Ellison flat out blows. Nic Harris, please learn how to play linebacker as soon as possible so we can move on. The Bills have some solid young depth at the position with Marcus Buggs, Ashley Palmer, and Nic Harris…hometown here Jon Corto made the team again as a special teamer. Look for the Bills defense to keep the Bills in some games this year…although, they could be on the field A LOT if the offense is as bad as I think it could be.


The Bills special teams will be what it’s been the past few years and that is above average. Their punter is good. Their returners, Roscoe Parrish and Leodis McKelvin, may be the best in the league. Their kicker is a bum. Lindell missed a 32 yard field goal against the Lions last week. Also, he seems to miss a lot of clutch kicks (see the following: Bills Browns last year, Bills Colts 2006, Bills Steelers 2004, Bills Jaguars 2004). He is Ok, but with the game on the line, I am not confident with him lining up a kick from any distance. The Bills special teams will produce points and will change field position and could be the best unit on this team…again, which is pathetic.

The Bills schedule this year is anything but favorable. Below is the schedule and my picks for each game.

Week 1 @ NE – Loss
Week 2 vs. TB – Win
Week 3 vs. NO – Loss
Week 4 @ MIA – Loss
Week 5 vs. Cle – Win
Week 6 @ NYJ – Loss
Week 7 @ CAR – Loss
Week 8 vs. HOU – Loss
Week 9 – BYE
Week 10 @ TEN – Loss
Week 11 @ JAC – Loss
Week 12 vs. MIA – Win
Week 13 vs. NYJ (Toronto) – Loss
Week 14 @ KC – Win
Week 15 vs. NE – Loss
Week 16 @ ATL – Loss
Week 17 vs. Indy – Loss

Therefore my projected record for the 2009 Buffalo Bills is 4-12. This is better than Easterbrook’s 3-13 prediction. Good enough to land them a top five pick. Last time they had a top 5 pick they certainly made the most of it in Mike Williams. It’s going to be an ugly year. The Bills are a dysfunctional franchise right now from the top down. We can hope for a miracle I guess. Last year if I had to pick the Dolphins record, I would have said something close to 4-12. Maybe we can shock the league.

Bills 2009 Captains:

Offense - Trent Edwards, Lee Evans
Defense - Kawika Mitchess, Paul Posluszny
Special Teams - Brian Moorman, George Wilson

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