Can T.O’s hot sauce be spicy enough to ignite a fire under the passing game? The acquisition of Terrell Owens upgraded the receiving corps and offense as a hole, but the Bills still have a young defense which ranked mid-level in the league.
The Bills rebuilt an offensive line and answered some of the lingering questions within the defensive backfield through free agent signing and drafting three corners. Hopefully Posluszny and Mitchell can make enough plays at linebacker to relieve the secondary, while Owens assists Edwards in the first three games as Marshawn Lynch serves his suspension.
Edwards has ideal size for a pro-style quarterback, and he also possesses many of the intangible goods to assist him in competing at a phenomenal level. However, Edwards must develop some consistency as throughout the ’08 season his performance had an equal amount of lows for the highs.
With the signing of Terrell Owens the Bills receiver corps has upgraded from average to loaded, and if Edwards shows his intangible talents then he should have the best season of his young career. (8.0)
Running backs: Once the Bills realized Marshawn Lynch will be M.I.A for the first three games due to a suspension, they signed Dominique Rhodes in free agency and Fred Jackson to a four year contract extension. The two backs should assist the running game to hold its course until Lynch can return in week four in Miami.
Though Jackson will run with a bowling ball technique gaining tough yards, with his return Lynch will bring a versatile aspect to the game as he can be used within the passing game and also break runs to the outside. With the addition of Rhodes and Jackson’s contract extension the Bills backfield has upgraded through depth. (8.6)
Wide Receivers: Everyone always looks at Terrell Owens as a controversial player, one that breaks teams down instead of lifting them up. The arrival of T.O has already lifted a lingering passing game to the next level as his talent to make plays is almost comparable to his media attention.
Owens talent can open up many options for the Bills, such as causing a double team leaving Evans or the speedy Roscoe Parrish open. The Bills will be able to open up the passing game by spreading the field in four wide sets giving Edwards easy targets to hit. (9.1)
Offensive Line: This position unit is only returning two starters (Langston Walker and Brad Butler) due to the trade of Jason Peters to the Eagles. Walker will most likely take over Peters’ position at left tackle while Butler may move to right tackle.
The Bills added Geoff Hangartner from the Panthers through free agency who will take over the duties at center and second round draft selections Eric Woods and Andy Levitre will both change positions within the NFL to assist the team at guard.
Overall, the loss of Peters has decreased the talent and experience of the offensive line causing four out of the five positions to be filled with players who last season played a different position. (7.4)
Defensive Line: This unit has vague potential to develop into an integral part of the Bills roster. The potential rests upon various intangibles such as Marcus Stroud’s performance and the ability to Aaron Schobel to rebound from last season’s injury.
The Bills also used their first pick on DE Aaron Maybin which could either play down or stand up and be a rush linebacker. If Maybin does not progress as a down lineman Kyle Williams and other valued back-ups can assist opposite of Schobel. (7.9)
Linebackers: The linebacking corps will be directed by Kawika Mitchell and third year middle linebacker Paul Posluszny. Posluszny has the intensity and run stopping ability to be a future franchise linebacker.
Keith Ellison name is in pencil on the depth chart at the strong side of the linebacking corps, as there will be competition within training camp and preseason to determine if he can solidify himself as a starter. Ellison must gain consistency and become a better zone coverage backer.
Mitchell will make his veteran presence felt as he will continue to make game changing plays and lead the younger players. (8.7)
Defensive Backs: The Bills were 27th in interceptions last season and mid-level against the pass. Competition at corner and safety with a few quality players should change the aggressiveness and playmaking ability of the Bills defensive backfield.
Bills acquired Drayton Florence through free agency and also drafted three corners to push the Macs (Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin). Both of the Macs have the ability to make plays on the ball and gain return yardage.
At safety the Bills have a solid playmaker in Donte Whitner the question is who will line up next to him. Bryan Scott can bring more run support while Ko Simpson can cover the deep half more efficiently. (8.4)
Special Teams: The Bills have one of the best return games within the NFL as they finished first in punt returns and seventh in kick returns. With Roscoe Parrish returning punts the Bills can get good field position which can assist Edwards and place kicker Rian Lindell. (9.3)