Buffalo Bills 2010: Bye Week Observations

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIIOctober 14, 2010

Buffalo Bills 2010: Bye Week Observations

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    Five games in to the regular season, the win-less Buffalo Bills are licking their wounds, and preparing in earnest for the rest of the season. There are new plays to be added to the offense, new schemes to be introduced to the defense, and adjustments made to the special teams.

    Veteran linebacker Reggie Torbor called for a players only meeting on Monday, so that he could share his observations from his unique perspective. He was a member of the Super Bowl New York Giants team in 2008 that upset the New England Patriots 17-14. Torbor watched the Giants lose seven of their final eight games during his tenure so he knows what it is like to see teams turn their fortunes around.

    The good news is that the majority of defensive starters that have been missing games due to injuries should all be healthy when the Bills have to strap their helmets back on in week seven. The bad news is that they will be strapping them on against Baltimore Ravens, one of the most physical teams in the NFL. Since the Bills have not been winning at the line of scrimmage, this is shaping up as another rough example of how the Bills need to change their makeup as the rebuilding effort continues.

    Continue on with the slide show presentation for more observations about the current Bills team.

Jairus Byrd: Has This Byrd Flown The Coop?

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    Jairus Byrd was a phenom last season in creating one interception after another in his rookie campaign. The NFL has made adjustments to Jairus Byrd, but Byrd and his coaches have not made the necessary counter adjustments to put Byrd in the proper position to make plays on the ball.

    So far this season, Byrd has been reduced to making a couple plays of note, mostly on fumbles. He did strip Randy Moss of a fumble recovery in the Patriots game, and he did almost come up with a fumble when the ball was headed towards the sidelines. Other than those two plays, there hasn't been very many memorable moments from the talented safety.

    Due to the lack of big plays, you have to wonder what exactly is going on with Jairus. The explanation is found in one of these reasons. He is not 100 % healthy from the groin procedures that he had corrected during preseason. Secondly, his talents are going to waste in George Edwards defensive scheme. He is being asked to do too much and as a result is nowhere near the ball. He has too much talent and natural gifts to be so far removed from the majority of each passing play.

    The final reason is the dreaded sophomore slump, but I don't really think that argument holds any water. I think George Edwards needs to revisit tape from last year and work with secondary coach George Catavolos (who was there last year by the way) to dig deep and find out what changes have to be made to bring back the Jairus Byrd of old.

The Bills Can't Overcome All Their Poor Choices From Prior Drafts

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    For those of you who missed this little headline earlier in the week, the Bills waived former third round draft pick Chris Ellis, so that they could activate tight end Shawn Nelson to the active squad.

    The departure of Chris Ellis is another example of a top draft pick (players selected in the first three rounds of the draft), that is no longer a part of the Buffalo Bills organization. In just the past five years of draft choices, this list is starting to become alarmingly long:  Marshawn Lynch, James Hardy, Trent Edwards, and now Chris Ellis.

    With the way that things are starting to play out, you have to wonder if people like Aaron Maybin and John McCargo will be added to this list as top draft picks that are no longer part of the team. The lack of positive return for such a high investment is as much a reason as any other as to why the Buffalo Bills have the distinction of being at the bottom of the AFC in the standings. It is also why we are not part of the playoff picture for eleven straight years.

    We can only hope that the Buddy Nix rebuilding plan will take hold and that the culture will slowly and surely take hold. But you know that it is inevitable that more changes will have to occur before his plan can ever succeed.

Shawn Nelson Will Be a Welcome Addition to The Offense, Or Will He?

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    Shawn Nelson and Demetrius Bell. Both are thought to be players that have talent and have potential. They both get hurt and miss games. The Bills are counting on both to continue to develop and be part of the organization's future.

    The week seven contest at Baltimore will be the debut of the 2010 version of Shawn Nelson. He had some minor surgery to correct a groin problem earlier in the season. He will plenty of rust so don't be alarmed if he doesn't come out of the gate as a gang buster. He was suspended and not allowed to practice with the team, so he needs to get up to speed on every part of Chan Gailey's offense.

    When he is back to full strength and knows all the plays, it will be interesting to see what kind of chemistry he has with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has no problem in spreading the ball around, so you would think that Nelson's ability to get down the field would be an option that Gailey and Fitzpatrick would want to use.

    Last year Nelson only managed 19 catches in 12 games, but he had more formidable competition for playing time in Derek Schouman and Derek Fine. This year, he only has to beat out Jonathan Stupar and David Martin for playing time, so that should result in him seeing a greater number of targets than last season.

    What does he do with his opportunity? It is clear from watching each game this year that other NFL teams are utilizing their tight ends as an important weapon in their attack. The Bills have not even come close to doing the same with their tight ends, so Shawn Nelson needs to step forward and assert himself.

Shouldn't Ed Wang Be Ready to Return To Action Soon?

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    I know that Ed Wang had the major thumb injury and had the club that was protecting the thumb removed some time ago. With the play of Cornell Green coming under heavy scrutiny, I was wondering how much longer it would take Wang to be activated for game play.

    The rookie from Virginia Tech came with much fan fare, due to being the first Chinese player in the history of the NFL. He has the size to be effective and clearly he is as athletic as Cornell Green. So how much longer does he need to get past the rehab process and get out on the field and compete. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do.

    In other offensive line news, it was interesting to see the Bills plugging both Kraig Ubrick and Cordaro Howard into the game vs Jacksonville last Sunday. Playing time for both of these young linemen will help with their development. Developing depth for the line now and for the future is something that the Bills will need as it was evident last season how little depth they really had.

    So far, knock on wood, (not Eric Wood mind you), that the offensive line has remained by and large healthy so far this season, and that is something to be thankful for. The periodic spelling of Wood and Bell has allowed them to get through the early part of the schedule in one piece.

Bills QB Situation: 2010, 2011 and 2012

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    What year does Andrew Luck enter the draft? Can Ryan Fitzpatrick continue to play at the current level? Can the defense continue to be this bad all year?

    As the rest of the 2010 season unfolds, keep these questions in the back of your mind as we slowly move our attention to the 2011 draft. All along this past month, I have seen one article after another talking about the Bills drafting Andrew Luck next year with their first pick. But, what if Luck decides he wants to stay in school?  What then?

    The Bills determined that in the 2010 draft that there was a very steep drop in talent once Sam Bradford went off the draft board. Will the same thing be true in 2011 if Andrew Luck decides not to turn pro?

    The way things are going, the Bills will be right there with San Francisco and Carolina for the first three picks in the draft. If the guy thought to be head and shoulders the best college QB in Andrew Luck is not available to be drafted, will the Bills go for the best franchise left tackle available, take the biggest impact player on the board to fix the defense, or trade down and acquire multiple first round picks?

    All of these questions are up for debate, but as much as I enjoyed watching Andrew Luck's game against USC, I couldn't help but wonder if he wants to stick in college and see how far he can take the Stanford program on his shoulders.

    While he is a solid Plan A, the Bills will have to be prepared to have Plan B ready. Buddy Nix is said to be taking the next two weeks to go around the country evaluating the current crop of college quarterbacks. That is all well and good, but with the current defensive effort, I would want him to spend time looking at all of the best defensive players that are chasing those same quarterbacks that he is scouting, just to be safe.

By George, I Don't Think He's Got It !! The Mike Singletary Countdown

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    The San Francisco 49'ers are right there with Buffalo in the standings, sitting there at 0-5. The 49'ers are letting it be known that if head coach Mike Singletary doesn't get his team in to the playoffs, he will be let go.

    Whenever Mike is given his walking papers, the Bills should think long and hard about bringing the unemployed Singletary in to be their defensive coordinator. The amount of respect he would command, the level of passion and zeal that he brings to the job is sorely missing from the George Edwards resume.

    If the Bills can't play inspired defense under Mike Singletary, then I am convinced they never could for anyone. Getting back to George Edwards, we have been taking notes on his on-field demeanor and I wonder aloud if he is capable of inspiring his players or not. 

    For now, the Bills will be going back and forth on the merits of the 3-4 vs the 4-3 as it is clear that Gailey won't sit still while teams exploit the holes in the Bills defense.

    A player that has ties to Buddy Nix's Chargers days, Shawne Merriman, was just placed on the I.R. list. When he is deemed to be healthy, he will be released by San Diego, just like what the Bills did with Kawika Mitchell and Derek Schouman. Do you think Singletary could get Merriman back to his old form and light a fire under him? Speaking of Merriman, I wonder if Buddy will be going after him once he is released by the Chargers. Lord knows, we need more playmakers on defense.

Is It Possible The Entire Bills Defense Can Be Healthy For One Week Together?

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    The season is only five weeks old, but so far the following defensive players have missed entire games due to injury: Marcus Stroud, Paul Posluszny, Reggie Torbor, Terrence McGee, Keith Ellison, Arthur Moats, Bryan Scott, and Andra Davis. If the bye week allows all of these players to get healthy, that would be a major plus. Andra Davis will be playing hurt for the rest of the year, as he has a torn labrum muscle in his shoulder, so he will be sucking it up and playing with the pain.

    As the Bills really have had no production to speak of from players like Aaron Maybin, Alex Carrington and John McCargo all season, the onus is on the regular Bills starters to come together as a unit and turn around their game.

Are Aaron Maybin's Days Numbered As A Buffalo Bill?

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    When Aaron Maybin is on the field, which is becoming a rarer and rarer sight these days, he does all sorts of jumping up and down and making wild gestures. I am assuming he does this for attention because it surely wasn't due to him making any kind of play. Here we are are almost a year and a half in to his NFL career, and Maybin still has not recorded a single sack.

    Chan Gailey addressed Maybin's situation this past week and admitted that he is really struggling to get on the field. He is struggling so bad that he can't even find his way on to the special teams unit, where his speed and athleticism could be used. Is he a mental case, or a basket case?

    What has happened to all of his talent? Did it evaporate, or is his work ethic so poor that he has trouble learning and retaining what the Bills are asking him to do in practice?

    For the Jaguars game last week, Maybin made it out for two snaps. As the number one pick in 2009, and somebody that maintained a long holdout,(because he was worth it, right?), he is getting paid an awful large sum of money to sit there on the bench and do nothing. With the developments this past month of Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, etc., can Nix and Gailey reach the conclusion that Maybin is a bust and send him packing? We will see.

The Bills Need To Commit To Their Running Game: Season So Far In Review

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    The Buffalo Bills were determined to be a running attack based offense according to Chan Gailey in the preseason. That made sense based on the limited experience of the wide receiving corps, and the trio of talented backs in Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and rookie C.J. Spiller.

    So how have the Bills done in establishing their running game so far this season? Here is a game by game recap of how many rushes the Bills committed and how many rushes the opponents tried:

    Week One: Buffalo 17 - Miami 36

    Week Two: Buffalo 32 - Green Bay 27

    Week Three: Buffalo 24 - New England 38

    Week Four: Buffalo 16 - New York Jets 49

    Week Five: Buffalo 21 - Jacksonville 40

    The only game that the Bills have attempted more rushes than their opponent was week two vs Green Bay. The games against Miami, the Jets and Jags had the Bills attempting less than half the rushes of those opponents.

    With the talents of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller still here in town, the Bills need to be handing the ball off at least 30 times a game. Until they start doing that religiously, they will not see their ground game develop into the weapon that it truly should be.

Looking Ahead To Next Bills Home Game Vs Detroit: Week 10

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    After five weeks, an 0-5 start and three home losses, the Bills will not be at Ralph Wilson Stadium again until week 10, when they host Detroit. If they come in to that game still seeking their first win, which looking at the schedule is a distinct possibility, I was wondering about the following question.

    What would there be more of that day against the Lions?

    a) Bills fans wearing their jerseys of their favorite players

    b) Bills fans wearing a paper bag over their faces (closest home game we have to Halloween)

    c) Empty seats

    I can't blame Bills fans for staying away from the Ralph with the current team performance. Economy is still an issue. The Bills and the NFL have been cracking down on the parking lot tailgaiters, and it is not fun to come home from the stadium watching your favorite team getting leveled week in and week out.

    If the Bills can find a way to string together a couple wins, then more fans will show up. There will always be a core of the true blue loyal Bills fans that will come out no matter what. I applaud them for their loyalty and unwavering spirit.

Cornell Green Is Out For Next Few Games, Who Takes His Place?

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    Chan Gailey announced that Cornell Green sustained an injury against the Jaguars, so he will be out for at least the next few games. Somewhere, I know there are a number of Bills fans that are doing cartwheels upon reading this news.

    Who will replace the veteran player Cornell, who was guilty of the red zone penalties for not being able to remember the play count, as the starting left tackle? It looks like the Bills will focus for now on the Georgia Tech combination of Cordaro Howard and Mansfield Wrotto. Both of these linemen played together at Georgia Tech and have experience with Chan Gailey and line coach Joe D’Alessandris from their days with the Yellow Jackets.

    Jamon Meredith has been released and Kraig Urbik appears to be concentrating on being a backup guard to Eric Wood. No word yet how far Ed Wang is from entering this rotation or competition.

    That brings us up to speed for the greatest and latest news, er soap opera that is the Buffalo Bills. Enjoy.