Buffalo Rumblings.com -- SB Nation's Buffalo Bills blog
BR -- Not only is it a concern, it's the biggest concern - young football teams generally are not very successful, especially when the coaching staff is young and players are still getting used to schemes. But, thus is the nature of rebuilding - we're in Year Two of Marv Levy's three-year plan of bringing the Bills back to the playoffs, so from a talent perspective we're right on schedule. I consider Year Two the "Gelling Year" - we might start out slow, but I expect the team to get better and better as the season progresses.
MHR - Everything I have seen and heard from J.P Losman this off-season points to his growth and maturity. He is saying and doing all the right things and has become an active part of the Buffalo community. What is the feeling of Bills fans towards their QB, and are you confident that he is the guy to lead the Bills back to prominence.
BR -- The thing about Losman is that while has has many Bills fans convinced he can do what's needed to make this team a consistent winner, he hasn't convinced everyone yet. It's created a bit of polarization between fans - there's the contingent that think Losman has the potential to have a Pro Bowl-type season in 2007 (myself included amongst this group), and there's the group who is silently warning Losman to watch over his shoulder for rookie Trent Edwards. I think the general feeling falls somewhere in the middle; Bills fans want to rally behind Losman and think he has the potential to prove he's worth keeping around, but they're curious about Edwards as well.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of Losman. He's learned how to handle himself on the field and in media settings, and he's becoming a vocal leader in the Buffalo community and clearly wants to establish rapport with the city and the franchise long-term. As long as his play backs up his off-field efforts, Losman should have a long and luxurious career in Buffalo.
MHR - It was obvious that the Bills felt their offensive line was a problem in '06 and went a long way towards addressing it in '07. How confident are you in Dockery and Walker and the O-Line as a whole?
BR -- I'm incredibly confident about this group, actually - not because these players are going to comprise the best unit in the league necessarily, but because Buffalo's offense was pretty effective during the second half of last season with an inferior unit. Last year's starting right tackle, Terrance Pennington, didn't even make the team this year - that in itself shows how much of a talent upgrade has been infused into this line. The best part? They're all somewhat experienced, so the gelling period should be much shorter than last year. The Bills have a week six bye - for the last ten games of this season, my prediction is that this offense will really take off.
MHR - Lee Evans seems to be on the cusp of greatness. After Evans, there are some question marks in the receiving corp. Who are the #2 and #3 targets? Can Peerless Price regain the form he showed in his first go round in Buffalo?
BR -- First of all, I'm not nearly as high on Evans as most Bills fans or national media are. I think that outside of Chad Johnson he's the elite deep threat in the league; until he proves that he can be a guy who takes over games, I won't ever consider Evans an elite NFL wideout. A #1, yes, but "greatness" is pushing it for now.
Peerless Price is the #2 wideout, and he's coming off a strong pre-season. In the team's last two games, Losman looked for Price often - and all over the field to boot. He hit Price on a 56-yard bomb, then threw a couple of first-down strikes to Price on the sideline. Peerless has been making plays, and he looks like much more of a factor in this offense in his second go-round with this team. The #3 spot is a toss-up between Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish - Reed is used on a lot of short/underneath throws as a possession receiver, and Parrish is used on a lot of slants and bubble screens to show off his acceleration. They complement each other very well, and really diversify Buffalo's passing attack. These four receivers will cause headaches for opposing defenses, mark my words.
MHR - Nate Clements, Takeo Spikes are gone. The team was unable to come to terms with Darwin Walker. What is the current status of the defense, and are you confident the Bills D can play at a high level right from the beginning of the season?
BR -- Current status of the defense? Question marks. Lots and lots of question marks. These question marks have nothing to do with the players that are gone, because let's face it - this defense wasn't very good last year either. Spikes in particular is just a name - he was our worst linebacker last year. Yes, that includes being worse than Coy Wire and Keith Ellison. The guy just couldn't tackle.
There are going to be drawn out and grueling growing pains with this group. Our DE corps is ravaged by injury and suspension right now, so our pass rush will be very suspect on Sunday - unless we can get to Jay Cutler via the blitz. Coy Wire, a converted safety, will start at weakside linebacker - right next to rookie Paul Posluszny. Our top cornerbacks haven't proven they can shut down any receiver, let alone a big, physical one like Javon Walker. And, as was the case last year, our run defense is giving away chunks of yards like free samples at a grocery store.
With that said, if the Bills can get out in front early by 7-10 points and put the Broncos in catch up mode, this defense will be in the best position to succeed. They'll be able to send pass rushers/blitzers after Cutler, it will take Henry and the play-action mostly out of the game and make the Broncos somewhat one-dimensional. That's how the Bills will have to beat every team until the defense gets a few games' worth of experience under their belts.
MHR -- BONUS - It's Week 1....Go ahead and give me your prediction for the game (Yea, I read about the dream you had). And give me your prediction for the Bills' record in 2007.
BR -- Buffalo 24, Denver 21. I say that not only as a homer, but because I truly believe that the Broncos have more of an uphill climb in this game than the Bills do. Denver is becoming notorious for slow starts, especially in Week One, and a road trip to a crazed environment with an up-and-coming team is a far more difficult game than most people realize. Denver has the upper hand right now, but they need to watch out - if their play is subpar, the Bills will steal this game from Denver. Bank on that.