It appears that North America’s team will go as far as its offense takes it this season.
The pieces finally seem to be in place from a personnel standpoint, but what about the coaching staff?
The evolution of Trent Edwards is the most important growth in western New York, short of the activity in the vineyards dotting the banks of the Finger Lakes.
Both Edwards and offensive coordinator Turk Schonert are former starting quarterbacks at Stanford, and both have to deal with high expectations this season.
Under Schonert, Edwards has shown progress and is clearly one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Bills set a goal for Edwards to average eight yards per attempt and Edwards managed to reach 7.2, up from 6.1 the year before that.
“That was a big jump for him,” Schonert said. “We’re going to aim for eight again this year and, yeah, T.O.’s going to help, hopefully, get the average per attempt up there.”
Of course the addition of Terrell Owens changes what the offense is capable of, but Schonert stresses that Owens will have to fit into what the Bills are trying to do.
“We’ve got our system intact and we’re not going to change the entire system because we add somebody new,” Schonert said.
Schonert faces the task of balancing what looks to be a potent running game with a passing attack that they will utilize even more with big 81 on the edge.
“We’re going to put him into our system and then it’s kind of a feel thing for us. What do we need to add? What do we need to take away? We can plug him in and run our offense and not miss a beat.”
While the seat is certainly hot for Schonert, no one’s sweating as much as head coach Dick Jauron.
The decision to bring Jauron back for another season after leading the Bills to a 7-9 record in each of his first three campaigns was very unpopular among the Buffalo fan base—and Jauron knows it.
“I understand their feelings,” Jauron said. “We have to win, that’s our business. We plan on winning. I’m really excited to have another opportunity. I’m really excited about our team…My job is to do a better job and to get us ready, to attract more talent, better prepare it, get us on the field and be a consistent winner.”
That’s all well and good, but Jauron’s track record does little to inspire confidence.
In six seasons leading the Chicago Bears, Jauron posted a .438 winning percentage, the same percentage he has in three seasons in Buffalo.
He did lead the Bears to a 13-3 regular season in 2001, winning the NFC North division. However, the Bears then lost in the first round of the playoffs.
History only tells us so much. It’s a new season and there is good reason for the optimism of the coaching staff. The pieces are in place to be very good. The staff just has to find a way to gel the team to help the team realize their lofty goals.