Buffalo Bills: It's Turk Schonert's Time to Shine
There is no excuse this year.
The Buffalo Bills will enter the 2009 season riding a 10-year drought from playoff action and a decade of, frankly, mediocre football.
Even more so, I turn to the offense, which has gone under tremendous overhauls in the 21st century, implementing the "West Coast" with Rob Johnson, a shotgun-happy offense with Drew Bledsoe and Kevin Gilbride, an extremely bizarre, sometimes conservative, sometimes mind-numbing offense with Mike Mularkey, and now its the second go-around with Turk Schonert.
Needless to say, the Bills have tried everything and still the result musters zero postseason berths.
In his second year as Bills offensive coordinator, Schonert's job will never become more scrutinized and analyzed than all of those prior failures combined.
Like every NFL season, expectations are high. But for a team so desperate to make the playoffs, perhaps this year more than any other, a lot is riding on the offense to produce big numbers.
On paper and in theory, this team has added to its core group with the likes of T.O. and addressed the offensive line and tight end positions via the draft.
But historically, this team has lacked assertive play-calling in crucial moments. Coaching has cost this team games on plenty of occasions.
The litany of mistakes range from throwing a halfback pass inside the 10-yard line on the road to blowing a Monday night fiasco against a team from Texas that I will refuse to mention.
Now, Turk can reverse all of those bad memories into a splendid 2009 campaign.
So what do we expect from the Bills this season on offense?
I don't anticipate much change at all in the playbook. In fact, this coaching staff is so concerned with maintaining continuity, that completely flipping the playbook for Owens' arrival doesn't make sense.
Now that Edwards will have another go-to target, Schonert's offense will cast a facade. This will still be the same offense, with an upgrade in personnel as the hitch.
I happen to like Schonert's approach to the offense. He's not afraid to throw on first down, and he's emphasized a good mix between run and pass.
The one beef I have with Schonert, however, is his inability to recognize when Lynch or any other back is dominating. Give him the rock!
Sometimes, Schonert sticks so much to his chart that he misses the fact that his running backs are averaging over 4.0 yards a carry.
But, if you revisit Buffalo's hot start last year, take a look at the plays on offense. The Bills marched down the field and they had a plan of attack.
With Owens in the fold and Shawn Nelson's presence at the tight end spot, look for Edwards to find open receivers down the field.
Last season, Edwards checked down so much simply because Evans felt double coverage on the outside and other receivers weren't good enough compliments.
Owens will make Schonert's job look masterful, when in fact it's the same offense.
As Schonert told Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, "I think everybody around here is excited about the possibilities,'' said Schonert, "Right off the bat he (Owens) gives Trent Edwards another weapon. He's a guy who has produced and always gotten into the end zone. There's no doubt about it, we've got to get in the end zone more."
I'm sure Schonert will add a few wrinkles, as well as he should. Every coordinator makes adjustments year-to-year, game-to-game, and the best ones do it possession-to-possession.
But, the scheme, the terminology and the philosophy of the offense won't waver far from last season.
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