I’m still seething at both the NFL Network and Time Warner Cable for not being able to see the NFL Network on my cable system. This is after we did have it in my area for a while from the former cable provider Comcast.
That is another story for another day.
I’ve been reduced to watching the NFL network online. After former St. Louis Ram and now NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk fumbled the football in his assessment of the Buffalo Bills as a former football player, I had no choice but to recover the fumble.
The Bills 2007 season ended with a 7-9 win/loss record which is respectable for a re-building team. The Bills need to be commended for reaching a 7-9 mark.The Bills, like every other team in the league that failed to win their last game and raise the Lombardi trophy, had its share of mishaps & what if’s to fill a few pages.
However, the 2007 season provided the Bills and their fans more positives than negatives and a lot of reason for optimism in 2008.Offensively the Bills ranked near the bottom of the league passing and 15th in the NFL rushing. Defensively the Bills ranked 18th and near the bottom of the league against the pass and 25th against the run.
The Bills were bad defensively but as a positive that means that there were seven teams in the league that were worst at stopping the run.
The Bills had three games that they lost by a total of 10 points that they should’ve won. Had that happened, the outcome of their season would be different. Their losses to Denver, Dallas and Cleveland were the difference between a 10-6 season and a run at a Wild Card playoff appearance.
Rookie third-round pick QB Trent Edwards benefited from the injury to incumbent QB J.P. Losman and played well in relief. Edwards ended the season with more passing attempts, completions and TD passes, but it was Losman who had the higher completion percentage. These two will battle for the starting job in 2008 with the loser providing quality depth at the position.
The running back position is solid, with first round pick Marshawn Lynch having a solid rookie year gaining 1,115 yards and seven TD’s while averaging 4.0 yards per carry. His backups are Fred Jackson, a former practice squad player, who gained 197 yards in two games against the Redskins & Dolphins.
Fourth round pick Dwayne Wright, who is a tough, north-south runner, was buried on the depth chart. The Bills have a solid receiver in Lee Evans but have a huge need for a top shelf No. 2 wideout to avoid defenses from double teaming Evans with little recourse.
I have no idea what Marshall Faulk was talking about—the offensive line is solid! LT Jason Peters went to the Pro Bowl; LG Derrick Dockery has terrific size and athleticism at the position. The Bills had eight opposing runners run for 100+ yards against them and that is what needs to be corrected.
Going into free agency and the draft, the team needs are: WR, CB, DE, TE, and DT. The trade for DT Marcus Stroud and picking up DT Spencer Johnson this offseason has solidified the interior of the Bills defense adding to the Kyle Williams, John McCargo rotation.
The Bills signed LB Kawika Mitchell and re-signed TE Matt Murphy. TE Courtney Anderson was acquired in free agency.
This leaves the Bills with a few more holes to fill, namely CB where the team is woefully thin after releasing Kiwaukee Thomas and not re-signing Jason Webster. This need will be filled within the first three rounds.
The first three rounds could look like:
1st Round: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie—He might come from a small-time program, but his strength is his ability to read plays. He doesn’t need much time to digest what he sees, and he’s quick to react when playing off the line & he would be a good fit. Or DE Phillip Merling Clemson.
2nd Round: WR James Hardy—the big, physical wide receiver that the Bills need to make defenses stop double teaming Lee Evans. Or CB Terrell Thomas from USC.
3rd Round: FS Quintin Demps—Demps makes plays on the ball because he’s a safety with the closing and recovery skills of a corner, at least when the action is in front of him. That’s why he’s a safety, and not out on the island. Or FS Thomas DeCoud Cal.
Plenty of optimism for 2008, although the biggest issue is improved play on the defensive side of the ball, stopping the run and getting after the passer.
The Bills need to take a page out of the NY Giants playbook and go after every opponents QB with the same vigor and shoring up the defense and filling holes on the offense will help accomplish that task.
The Bills are in position to challenge in the AFC.