Despite three straight 7-9 seasons, nine consecutive years without a playoff berth, and numerous off-the-field incidents, expectations for the 2009 season are still relatively high in Buffalo.
A significant reason is the arrival of Terrell Owens. The Bills, who only averaged 21 points per game and had the fifth-fewest receiving touchdowns (14) of the 32 NFL teams, needed a physical receiver that could make big plays in the red zone. Owens' presence will also take some focus off Lee Evans and will allow the often predictable Bills to open up the playbook.However, predictions for '09 vary. Most experts say T.O. will be a distraction and the team will implode, but others think he could be just what the team needs to end the nine-year playoff drought.
Of course, the team’s hopes and season will only go as far as Trent Edwards takes them. The offseason signing of backup Ryan Fitzpatrick cemented the fact that this is Trent’s team. The Bills got off to a 4-0 start before Trent suffered a concussion, and with the exception of a few games, he was never the same after that last season, and neither was the team.
In my opinion, as long as Dick Jauron is head coach, the Bills will continue to fall short of their potential. Jauron often looks stoic and confused, which is the polar opposite of Bill Belichick, the top coach in football.
Beating the New England Patriots would go a long way in helping the Bills exceed expectations. They won’t have to wait long to get a crack, as the two teams meet to open the Monday Night Football schedule. The Bills will have their work cut out for them having lost the last 16 of 17 meetings with the Pats; they haven’t won in New England since 2000.
With the return of Tom Brady and the anticipation of Mark Sanchez being the Jets starting quarterback, the Bills will need a healthy Aaron Schobel in order to go anywhere. The Giants slowed down Brady with constant pressure and exceeded most everyone’s expectations by winning Super Bowl XLIII; the Bills are hoping a healthy Schobel can help them do the same.
Then again, if Aaron Maybin, Buffalo's first-round pick, turns out to be just a one-year college wonder, the pressure will only be on Trent and the offense to stay on the field.
With high hopes and unwavering support from fans in the face of the many failures, it is time for the team to deliver what the fans have longed for: playoff football. Ownership uncharacteristically went out and singed a big name in T.O., they have plugged some holes, and now they need to perform on the field. Holding them back could be the numerous "extracurricular activities," the most notable of which resulted in the three-game suspension (pending appeal) of Marshawn Lynch.