I'm not sure if anyone has noticed, but the Bills are undefeated a quarter way through the season. As a Bills fan, its pretty nice to see. Especially nice to see since they really haven't played anything close to exceedingly great football yet. They've played good football, they've played bad football, and for the most part, they played average football. In their four games, they've checked a lot of things off the list that good teams do:
make timely plays
Its neat. It also doesn't mean the checklist is complete. The Bills are winning right now for a few reasons. Some of those reasons will continue, some of them wont.
Clearly Trent Edwards is a great quarterback. When I say great, I mean it. He is playing in something like his his 12th NFL game and shows incredible composure, awareness and a veteran-like ability to read defenses. Also, the talk about Edwards not being durable, even if he does get injured sometime this season, needs to end - Buffalo fans have seen a few glass jaws and Edwards isn't one. He has taken brutal hits this season due to some questionable offensive line play and has got up quickly and forcefully every time.
Edwards is not going to regress and become a bad quarterback. He may not pull out a win every time the Bills are down by ten in the 4th quarter, but barring something catastrophic, he is the Bills QB until they leave Buffalo and become the Toronto Turkeys.
Next, the Bills are stopping the run - well, before Steven Jackson got to them, but lets pretend he doesn't count. They have a nice rotation, and while Marcus Stroud is getting all the accolades, Spencer Johnson and Kyle Williams are doing massive amounts of damage inside and are both playing really well. Stroud, Johnson and Williams have really allowed Posluzny and Donte Whitner, the heart and soul of this defense, to fluorish.
Also, the Bills are stopping the pass. It turns out Ashton Youboty is wicked good, Jabari Greer is wicked good, Ko Simpson is on a mission coming back from his injury, and Terrence McGee is pretty ok. Thats good enough for the Bills, they are shutting teams down and stopping them when they need to. They have a very interesting hybrid defense. They play sack the qb/stop the drive bend but dont break defense when they're winning, then they attack for turnovers and back off on the sacks if they're losing. Its a very interesting scheme coordinator Perry Fewell has and the players do good things in it.
Turk Schonert has had four really good days calling plays. Lee Evans recently said in an interview that Schonert has a full game plan, he isn't just making play calls. Meaning that plays in the first quarter setup plays in the fourth quarter.
Evans also said Schonert has been listening to the players about what to do and has been doing some of it and everything is great in coordinator - player relations. Thats wonderful. Talk to me after a loss. Schonert's game plans aren't anything special. I like them, but they're beginning to be as predictable as the previous regime's, just with different plays. It took Drew Bledsoe eight games before he came back down to earth, then everyone remembered he was Drew Bledsoe and they game planned for him.
Teams haven't seen film of the Bills and the Bills haven't run the Ball successfully. The passing game should be working now, its early, lets see if everything is hunky dory in week twelve. Evans stated that the Bills haven't applied all of their offensive sets and plays. So that deep out sideline pass isn't their only deep play? I hope not, because at some point, a team will catch on and figure out how to defend it, despite Steve Tasker telling us that play is indefensible. Whatever that means.
So far, though, the biggest key to the Billssuccess has been a combination between of their youthful innocence and their team chemistry. Cliches maybe, but its still very apparent. I could make a Marshawn Lynch pun here regarding the innocence, but I'm better than that...I think. The Bills are made up of winners and guys who not only don't accept losing, but seem to don't understand losing. There is a difference in those that everyone needs to understand. Edwards, Lynch, Evans, Hardy, Stroud, Posluszny, Mitchell, Whitner - they go on the field expecting to win, mostly because they're incredible talents who have never lost in their life.
It seems like these leaders are angry when something goes wrong, are willing to recognize the consequences and repercussions of an on-the-field mistake, then won't let it happen again. That attitude isn't something you create, its a lifestyle. Its more than the zone. Its something only people who exceedingly excel in their fields of work understand.
It has allowed the Bills to create an enormously magnificent sea change in the locker room. They finally have the right pieces together to have a team that can make a serious run at a Super Bowl for the next five years.
Incredibly talented on the field, and for the most part, good people. This is the kind of team Buffalonians embrace, its the kind of team I was hoping for when I wrote my three piece article previewing the Bills in the preseason, but wasn't sure we would get.
Now, the fun part begins, we get to see where they take us the rest of the way.