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Sunday September 7, 2008 8:58 am

NFL Preview: Buffalo Bills




Posted by Dennis Velasco Categories: NFL,

Marshawn Lynch hits for the Buffalo Bills
BUFFALO BILLS
2007 RECORD: 7-9

Overview: Last season, the Buffalo Bills were the exact opposite of a healthy team, having 17 players ending the season on the injured reserve list.  However, despite the rash of hurt players, head coach Dick Jauron was able to coach his team to a 7-9 record and for a moment actually had some playoff hopes.  Well, this coming season, the Bills hope to have their durability, or lack of, fortunes turn for the better.  With a revamped defense thanks to the regular offseason transactions - a trade, free agency, and the draft - look for the Bills to defend more effectively, which will suit the offensive philosophy where the focus is on running the ball.

Offense: Marshawn Lynch.  That’s all you need to know about the Bills’ offense.  In only 13 games, Lynch as a rookie, rushed for 1115 yards and got into the endzone seven times.  Lynch is a beast of a back who is hard to take down thanks to his build and ability to lay down some punishment of his own as Lynch is not afraid of contact.  However, the offense can get predictable if all you do is run and the box can get really crowded that way.  So, with new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, the Bills hope to balance their attack with more passing plays that emphasizes quick throws and going deep.  This will suit WR Lee Evans just fine as he is a legit threat to take it to the house on one pass.  And who will be throwing the ball?  Second-year QB Trent Edwards, who was drafted in the third round of the 2007 draft.  So, there is some talent there.  But, then again, backup J.P. Losman was taken in the first round in 2004.  The Bills are hoping there isn’t a repeat of disappoint at the position.  Other players to watch will be rookie WR James Hardy and slot receivers Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish.  Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters ended his holdout and will once again dominate on the offensive line.

Defense: The defense was decimated with injuries last season, and hopefully, LB Angelo Crowell’s injury before the season starts isn’t a sign of things to come.  Crowell, who led the Bills in tackles last season, was put on injured reserve and will sit out the whole season as he tries to recuperate from a knee injury.  The Bills will have to move on without one of their leaders.  In any case, putting it simply, the Bills stunk against the run despite having strong ends on both sides, but they hope that the addition of former Jacksonville Jaguars DT Marcus Stroud, who was acquired by trade, will help defensive ends Pro Bowler Aaron Schobel and strong against the run, Chris Kelsay.  The linebacking corps got stronger with the signing of former New York Giants’ LB Kawika Mitchell, but the key could very well be MLB Paul Posluszny stay healthy as he is a strong sideline-to-sideline player.  In the secondary, the Bills are hoping first round draft pick, Leodis McKelvin from Troy, can adjust to the jump in competition as he will need to take two steps up as he played for a “small” school.  CB Terrence McGee is solid in the secondary and SS Donte Whitner can be a force in run support, and Ko Simpson looks to come back healthy and continue to make plays for the defense.

Rookies: The Bills went defense in the first round, grabbing McKelvin to help bolster a defense that wasn’t all that good last season.  He has the physical and mental tools to succeed at this level, but will obviously need to prove it on the field.  In the second, Hardy was taken for his size and to hopefully complement Evans.  DE Chris Ellis should contribute as a bullrusher at first, but has the talent to do more.  Derek Fine was taken in hopes of being a pass-catching tight end.  Watching the development of OT Demetrius Bell should be interesting considering he only recently started playing football a few years ago.

Prediction:  Unfortunately, playing in the same division as the New England Patriots won’t get you too far, but the Bills should be a solid team with a vastly improved defense.  Lynch should only get better and actually allow the passing game to get better along with him.  Evans should establish himself as one of the better receivers in the league once again and with a year under his belt, Edwards should have a better season and TD/INT ratio.  Look for the Bills to break even and go 8-8.

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