This week’s five questions segment is with Paul Miller of BuffaLowDown. We begin by discussing the overall state of the Bills, who have come close a few times this year, but despite their apparent improvement still find themselves floundering at the bottom of the standings…
The Viking Age: The Bills are sort of the Lions of the AFC. Everyone sees them as a spunky team that is slowly improving, yet they can’t seem to quite get over the hump, hence their 2-9 record. How close are the Bills to really breaking through and becoming at least a respectable team?
BuffaLowDown: The Bills have been playing a lot better than their 2-9 record indicates. But at the end of the day, even though they are playing better, they haven’t been able to put together a complete game yet. It’s not secret that the lack of success for the Bills has to do with the inconsistency at the QB position. There hasn’t been a proven leader since Jim Kelly to take over this position and role for the Bills. And we all know in the NFL without a QB, a team doesn’t stand a chance (minus the 2000 Ravens of course). Now Fitzpatrick has proven to be able to keep the Bills in most games, but I’m still not sure if he’s the long-term answer.
The good thing to take away from this season is that the Bills’ players are finally starting to trust and believe in each other and their coaches. Confidence goes a long way for a young, struggling team, so hopefully the Bills use this season as a building block to get to the next level in 2011.
TVA: What’s the lowdown on Ryan Fitzpatrick? His completion percentage isn’t so hot but he does have a nice TD-to-INT ratio. Good QB? Bad? Indifferent?
BLD: Ryan Fitzpatrick has been one of the best surprises in the 2010 NFL season. He took a lifeless Bills teams and made them competitive for the first time in a long time. But as I mentioned before, I don’t think Fitzpatrick may be the Bills answer at QB.
What players and fans like about Fitzpatrick is that he is not afraid to throw the long ball, or squeeze a tight into his receiver against the defense. But there are at least 5-7 throws a game that are completely off target, or land five feet away from the receiver. Now whether that’s his mechanics or a sign of things to come remains to be seen.
But, compared to who the Bills have had play under center, Fitzpatrick is a good QB for this team to slowly become relevant once again.
TVA: What kind of job is Chan Gailey doing as head coach?
BLD: As you can see from the way the Bills team have been playing, especially in the second half, Chan Gailey has won the trust of his players and they are finally starting to buy into the system. It’s extremely tough to say a coach has done a good job on a team that has a 2-9 record, but again it feels like the Bills finally have a plan and are heading in the right direction under Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey.
TVA: The Bills’ defense is pretty poor. Break it down for us.
BLD: It’s been a tough year for the Bills’ defenders, especially against the run. In order for the defense to start improving, the coaches need to decide what type of defense they want to run.
At the beginning of the season defensive coordinator, George Edwards, was set on installing a 3-4 defense, and used this draft to hand pick some players that might fit the system. Well, after a few games of other teams running all over the Bills, Edwards decided to switch back to 4-3.
And yes, the Bills running defense is still horrible, but players are finally starting to know their assignments and are slowly starting to hold their opponents and create turnovers.
So in the end, I think it’s time for people not to judge defenses solely on rankings and stats, but how they play on the field and if they do enough to win. Look at the New England Patriots defense, they are ranked 31st, yet they have a 9-2 record, so obviously they have been playing well enough to win.
TVA: Stevie Johnson has gone back on his controversial assertion that God caused him to drop that potential game-winning pass. How relieved are you to know that Stevie is once again cool with the almighty?
BLD: Everyone took Steve Johnson’s tweet WAY out of context. If your a follower of Johnson, like I am, you know that he is an extremely religious guy, and always references the lord in his tweets. When he missed the game winning catch against the Steelers, he wasn’t blaming God for the drop, he was asking God why could something like this happen to him? How could God allow him to mess up (under his own power) considering how loyal he was been to God. Most of us pray every night to someone asking for guidance and blessing, and I think this was just a case of that.
In the end, I think ‘the drop’ will be good for Johnson, he was slowly starting to act a little too much like a Ochocinco & T.O. I would much prefer him to be a great player and act like Lee Evans & Andre Reed.