Buffalo Bills: Looking Beyond 2009

Michael McMastersCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 31:  Team owner of the Buffalo Bills Ralph Wilson answers questions from the media during the The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009 press conference at the Tampa Convention Center on January 31, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

This is it for the Buffalo Bills.  The 2009 season is going to determine what is going to shake out in 2010.  Dick Jauron did sign a three year extension to be the head coach, but if the playoffs don’t appear this year, Ralph Wilson would be hard pressed to keep him around, he isn’t getting any younger.

If you listen to the players in the locker room you get the sense that they feel that the pieces to the puzzle are all there.  Paul Posluszny said last season left a sour taste in the players’ mouth’s because of the way it ended.  Starting off 5-1 and finishing the season at 7-9 would damper some spirits.

Well, this year, it's do or die for Jauron and his staff.  After the year was over Jauron had to practically beg Wilson to keep Turk Schonert around.  Schonert didn’t exactly prove his worth as an offensive coordinator in his first year, he wasn’t inventive and he failed to get players like Roscoe Parrish and James Hardy involved, but we’ll get to that later.

Subsequently the entire offense underachieved, ranking in the back-end of the NFL for the third year running.  Schonert has to do something now or 2010 will not be looking pretty for this organization or at least some of the personnel.

The good news is in 2010 there aren’t too many players that will be walking out the door.  Terrell Owens signed a one year contract and could be viewed as a stop gap solution. 

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The Bills could have used another young receiver prospect in the draft, because Josh Reed is only looking at free agency in 2010, but pass rush and offensive line help could not be ignored.

Depending on how the offense shakes out this year the Bills could take a look at Dez Bryant the kid out of Oklahoma State in the 2010 Draft.  He has been a force there for the past two years hauling in 130 receptions for 2,102 yards and 25 touchdowns.  He is also a solid punt returner and at 6’2 210 he has good size for the position.

Right now WR looks like a strength for Buffalo, but because James Hardy really didn’t contribute anything last year and Roscoe Parrish is upset because he isn’t involved on offense, almost the entire corps could be depleted in 2010.  Parrish says he wants to be in Buffalo, but feels like he might be able to contribute more elsewhere.

In 2009 the Buffalo Bills did not elect to replace Jason Peters in the draft.  Michael Oher was on the board at 11 and it was arguably the biggest positional needs, but instead they chose to replace Peters with Langston Walker.

Walker had been the RT for the Bills for the past two years and he has played it well.  The problem is when he did play LT for Oakland he was not the greatest at it. 

The Bills may have a promising prospect in Demetrius Bell, but he has yet to play a down in the NFL so they really don’t know what they have on game days.  Some guys look great in a practice setting and fail big time come game day.

The Bills felt the bigger need was inside the line, but next year it could be the OT that is needed.  Trent Williams could be the choice for the Bills then.  A case could be made for him that he outplayed Duke Robinson and Phil Loadholt for Oklahoma this past year.  He has prototype size at 6’5 308, to be a premier LT in the league. 

He just has to put it all together.

In 2010 Derek Schouman is the only TE that will be a free agent on the Bills roster, and he will be a restricted one at that.  With only 18 receptions for 172 yards and one touchdown, it’s hard to be concerned. 

The problem is the Bills have to be concerned because Derek Fine and rookie Shawn Nelson are the only other guys on the roster. Fine only posted 10 receptions for 94 yards and a score.  Unless Shawn Nelson gives the Bills some solid contribution, the Bills could be looking for a TE yet again in 2010.

Jermaine Gresham would end the search.  If you ever watched an Oklahoma game you would see that this kid is something special.  Over the course of his career there he has racked up 111 receptions for 1,629 yards and 26 touchdowns. 

That is amazing for a TE.  If Brandon Pettigrew can go in the first round for being a blocker, Gresham will go in round one for being a superior play-maker.

Finally to the man who has to put it all together, Trent Edwards.  This is the year has to be big for him.  Ten touchdowns a year isn’t going to cut it if you want to be a starting NFL QB.  If the Bills don’t make the play-offs this year and can’t even muster a winning season, he will have been a big part of the problem.

The tools are there for him to work with and there really is no excuse.  If he should fail the Bills could bring in a guy like Colt McCoy.  McCoy has been dominating at Texas.  He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but completing 87 percent of your passes this past year is pretty impressive considering there aren’t any dominating receivers on that team.

On the defensive side of the ball there are a few players that need to show up or they better start packing their bags.  Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel come immediately to mind.  Ryan Denney the most productive DE from last year will be a free agent in 2010.

Since signing their respective new deals they have combined for a grand total of 12 sacks.  These are very paltry numbers and if it continues it’s hard to see them in Bills uniforms next year.

The Bills addressed the position this year by drafting Aaron Maybin, but that might not be enough.  Maybin does bring a quick step and high motor, but he has little experience and is on the smaller side for DE so it may take him time to adjust.

Greg Romeus out of Pittsburgh is a player to watch for.  He is flying under the radar now, but he has steadily improved his game and with good size and a high motor he could surprise some people this year. 

He finished his sophomore campaign with 51 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, and 7.5 sacks.  These numbers are pretty solid for a guy who has only been playing football for three years.

The biggest position the Bills failed to address this offseason was the OLB spot.  Well they addressed it, but with a player that didn’t play the position is college in Nic Harris.  They resigned Keith Ellison to a one year contract.  If he is starting opening day it could be a long year for Buffalo. 

The Bills had Pisa Tinoisamoa in for a visit, but he still hasn’t made a decision on where he wants to play for 2009, so essentially the Bills are going into 2009 with Ellison, Harris and Alvin Bowen.  This undoubtedly will scare Bills fans.

The Bills could look to get a guy like Sean Weatherspoon if somebody doesn’t emerge to take the job in 2009.  Weatherspoon is a well rounded player who has turned Missouri defense around. 

He has been an instinctive play-maker this past year totaling 149 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions.  He may not be the fastest guy out there, but he does everything well.  The Bills could use a sure tackler at SLB.

Two players that could also be walking out the door are Terrance McGee and Ashton Youboty, both guys hit free agency in 2010.  While Terrance McGee has been a solid player for the Bills, Ashton Youboty has been having trouble finding the football field because he has been injured. 

It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Bills resign both of these players, but with up and comers on the roster like Leodis McKelvin and Reggie Corner it makes for difficult decisions.  Ellis Lankster the Bills seventh round selection this year is also opening some eyes, because he is not playing like a seventh rounder in practice.

Should the Bills opt not to resign Youboty of McGee a player like Kyle Wilson comes instantly to mind.  While playing for Boise State Wilson has eight career interceptions and averaged 14.2 yards per punt return scoring on three of them.  The Bills love players like that and would benefit from bringing in a player like him.

The last position that was not at all in the draft was DT.  The Bills could be showing some faith in John McCargo after trying to trade him to Indianapolis last year, but if he doesn’t do anything this year he could find himself out the door. 

A player that could come in and be part of the Bills DT rotation could be a guy like Boo Robinson.  He is a big man at 6’2" 325 pounds and would provide much needed size to Buffalo’s defensive line.  Last year he got to the QB five times and had six tackles for a loss.  He could play nose tackle if the Bills wanted to throw some 3-4 looks at opponents.

Make no mistake about it though player personnel change wouldn’t compare to how huge it would be if Dick Jauron got canned.  Coaches out there that could be looking for a job in 2010 have names like Mike Shanahan, Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards, Bill Cowher and John Gruden. 

Cowher is highly unlikely considering the Bills don’t have the players to run a true 3-4 and Dungy may plan on staying retired, but Gruden should really terrify Dick Jauron. 

Gruden runs a similar system as Jauron and has had success, winning a Super Bowl for Tampa.  He also is a very fiery, flamboyant coach who has a no nonsense approach to the game.  Tack on the 95-77 career record and you’ve got a winner.

The only thing left really to say to Jauron is shape up or ship out because the Bills need winners.