Questions in the AFC East and North training camps.

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AFC North Training Camp

Note: We will look at all the divisions of the NFL with this same point of view over the next few issues of

AFC East


  1. How effective with the QB play be? Trent Edwards is the leader going into camp but watch out for former 2nd round pick Brian Brohm. He has the talent to be a starter and Edwards has problems in the clubhouse.
  2. “RB? We don’t need no stinkin’ RB!" Marshawn Lynch started his career strong but has made more news off the field than on it in the last 2 years. The Bills took RB C.J. Spiller with their 1st pick but did Lynch get the message? No and Spiller starts.


  1. How good will the D be after losing some key players? DT Jason Ferguson retired and they cut LB Jerry Porter and S Gibril Wilson. The D played pretty well last year. Will it survive the losses?
  • How much will RB Ronnie Brown be able to contribute? In addition to an injury last year he faces a DUI issue. The Wildcat is much more effective with both RBs in the backfield.
  • How far has QB Chad Henne come or will former starter Chad Pennington become the starter again? Henne will be as good as the running game allows him to be.

  • Patriots

    1. Have injuries and contract questions reduced Tom Brady’s effectiveness? Brady was clearly not performing at his "pre-injury" level last year.. Will he get back to the 2007 level?
  • Can the Pats O line protect Brady? The line has gotten old and the replacements have been less than stellar. Brady needs protection.
  • How far has the D fallen? Last year the D was exposed by a lack of youth and talent.

  • Jets

    1. How will Sanchez do in year 2? Often 2nd year QBs have a regression. Last year Sanchez was at best OK. He was not asked to do too much. As the Ds focused on the running game, he struggled to get the ball down the field. The team traded for Holmes but he is suspended for the first 4 games. HC Ryan wants to throw more this year but can Sanchez deliver?
  • Will the Jets D continue to improve? The D took major steps forward last year. DE Marques Douglas was expected to do great things in 09 but was a bust. So was ILB Larry Izzo. The top newcomer CB Antonio Cromartie comes with a plane full of baggage. If the D is to improve, it will have to come from some guys on the 09 team developing,
  • Does RB LaDainian Tomlinson have anything left? I don’t think so.

  • AFC North


    1. How much will the D fall without S Ed Reed in the backfield full time? The D plays much more aggressively when they have the great eraser in the deep middle. How much can he contribute this year? Is a 6M price tag too much for a part time player?
  • Can the new CBs play up to the level of the front 7? This has the makings of dissention in the locker room if the pass D doesn’t play well.
  • How many balls will WR Anquan Boldin catch? For the last few years the team has not had a true #1 receiver. How much better will the O be? A lot!

  • Bengals

    1. What happens to the running game if RB Cedric Benson is suspended? With QB Palmer having an off year in 09, it was the running of Benson that propelled the O.
  • Will QB Carson Palmer get back to his previous levels of performance or is age beginning to catch up to him? Palmer has not been the same since the injury in the playoff loss to the Steelers.
  • Will the lame duck status of HC Marvin Lewis hold the team back or propel them to new heights to keep their coach? The history of the team indicates that two winning seasons in a row are unlikely.

  • Browns

    Check out my article on the Browns question marks on under team reports.,


    1. With QB Ben Roethlisberger being out for 4-6 games, how big a hole will the team be in when he returns. Will he be mentally ready to play? By rule, after training camp ends, he can have no contract with the team at all until he is reinstated by the league. Will the Steelers be out of the race by the time he gets back?
  • Can the running game get back to the old S teeler level without RB Willie Parker? A lot of the trouble in the last few years has been the lack of run blocking by the O line. Can that group come together without OT Willie Colon who is out with an Achilles’ tendon injury. I doubt it.
  • How much will S Troy Polamalu be able to play this year. Without him, the Steeler D is just average.

  • That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

    Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on ;and edits .

    • Author:
    • Published: Jul 27th, 2009
    • Category: NFL Football
    • Comments: Comments Off on The Bills future will ride Edwards' arm.

    The Bills future will ride Edwards' arm.

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    QB Trent Edwards no longer has J.P. Losman to compete with. Losman is now in the UFL. The Bills have to hope that Edwards will continue to develop because there is little experience behind him. He will be front and center in the first three games because RB Marshawn Lynch has been suspended for those games.

    Edwards developed a little unlike his predecessor who regressed. He improved in almost every facet of his game from 07 to 08. He improved his accuracy from 56 to 65 percent and QB rating from 70.4 to an acceptable 85.4. The one area he needs to improve on the most is in the red zone. He has always thrown about as many picks as TDs. That is going to have to improve if the Bills have any chances of improving. The concern is that in both of his seasons he has tailed off late in the year. He is going to have to find a way to get it done in the cold winds of Buffalo in December if he wants to play in January.

    He will have a new target for the red zone in Terrell Owens. When he is not tweeting, TO can give Edwards a second TD threat. We will see if the first year Good TO helps the Bills. He should get some of the double and triple coverage off WR Lee Evans. Evans is a great deep threat and Josh Reed will be the slot back. The TEs will not contribute much to the passing game unless rookie Shawn Nelson develops.

    The ground game will be tested early with the Lynch suspension. Fred Jackson and FA Dominic Rhodes will have to carry the early load. The running game was effective last year with Lynch and Jackson. But the line has been rebuilt and is a huge question mark.

    Langston Walker moves from RT to LT to replace Pro Bowler Jason Peters. Peters did not play like a pro bowler last year. Walker struggles with quick pass rushers and will have to improve his technique. Kirk Chambers and Seth McKinney will be the guards but neither is a particularly strong pass blocker. FA Geoff Hangartner figures to be the C and is an improvement over the guys that played there last year. Brad Butler moves from RG to RT but has never played T before in the NFL.

    The Bills struggled against the run in 07. They did much better last year with the addition of DT Marcus Stroud. He helped free up the linebackers to make plays. But the team failed to put much pressure on the QB in part because team sack leader DE Aaron Schobel missed 11 games with a foot injury. He needs to get back to form quickly if the 4-3 pass rush is to improve. There is experience behind the starters but not a lot of production.

    IB Paul Posluszny and WLB Kawika Mitchell are the stars of the linebacking crew. Both played at a pro bowl level last year. The SLB was a problem and it is uncertain who will fill that spot.

    The D backfield looked sad last year. Part of that was due to the lack of a legitimate pass rush. But for the Bills to make the playoffs let alone advance, the DBs are going to have to have more than the 7 picks they got last year. CB Terrence McGee is the best player in this group. Former 1st round pick Donte Whitner lost his SS job to Bryan Scott who played fairly well. Last year rookie Leodis McKelvin showed promise starting the last 6 games of 08. Whitner will have to fight for his job in 09 with second year S John Wendling. CBs Drayton Florence and Ashton Youboty provide depth. Youboty looked very good last year but was hurt.

    The Bills have a hard road to improve in the division. New England will improve and Miami will be better than last year but that may not mean a better record because they have a tougher schedule. The Bills and Jets will battle for 3rd place in the AFC East and it is unlikely that more than 2 teams will make the playoffs from that division.

    That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

    Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

    Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Bills,Edwards,Lynch,Owens,Evans,Walker,Mitchell,Stroud,Schobel,Whitner,Youbody Patroits,Dolphins,AFC East

    Owens going to Buffalo says most about the Bills

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    By Bill Smith

    My Dad is the smartest guy I know. He has always believed that there is a fine line between being laid back and laid out. And you had better know which side of that line you are on. WR Terrell Owens signing with Buffalo says something about his options and even more about the state of the the Bills franchise. It tells us which side of the line the Bills believe they are on.

    Owens had very few options. That is clear because he got a one year contract in a place that is not conducive to great receiving numbers. Rumors about where TO might end up were all over the Internet and the primary topic on sports talk radio since he was released by the Cowboys. The problem was that TO had burned way too many bridges behind him. At least he made sure that he was off the bridge before setting it alight.

    Miami needs another WR but Bill Parcells was not about to bring TO in. Minnesota, Chicago, and Jacksonville need WR help but the first two teams refused to risk their young QB’s and Jack Del Rio wouldn’t take a chance on what might be his last season as head coach on a possible trouble maker like Owens.

    Buffalo has very little risk and would do almost anything to become relevant in the NFL again. Management needed something to bring fans into the stadium. TO might not be the best WR in the league or even in the top 10-15, but even his detractors have to admit he is fun to watch.

    The key for the Bills is the one year contract. If he screws up again, he is history. If he causes young QB Trent Edwards to regress, the Bills can cut him and will have lost very little other than money that under the salary cap they had to spend to get to the minimum.

    If on the other hand, TO uses his talent and work ethic and puts his ego away, he can be a draw and the “other” receiver opposite Lee Evans that the Bills have needed for years. Let’s wait and see what happens. At any rate, with TO on the roster, the Bills have a better than even chance of a Monday night date on ESPN.

    There is a good sign however. When Edwards heard Owens was available, he sent the following text message to Bills general manager Russ Brandon. “What about T.O.?”

    Edwards said “I was excited. I was very surprised that it happened. I respect football players that have such a passion and desire to win football games.”

    My analysis: The NFL is not about OK guys, or even good guys. It is all about talent. If a coach has it, he looks brilliant. If not, he will be the next casualty of the recession—unemployed. There is no question that TO has talent. The problem is that it comes with SO much baggage.

    If Edwards can keep total control of the huddle and not let TO talk him into forcing the ball to Owens, the addition will be successful. That is the ONLY way TO and the Bills can be successful together. If not, there may be trouble in Western New York. Trent, be careful what you ask for because you might just get it.

    That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

    Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

    My email is [email protected]

    Technorati Tags: TO,Owens,Bills,NFL,Parcells,Cowboys,Dallas,Minnesota,Chicago,Jacksonville,Evans,Edwards,Del Rio,Jaguars,Bears,Vikings

    Several NFL QBs are in the frying pan.

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    Fryingpan Sports

    Several NFL QBs are in the frying pan.


    By Bill Smith

    Several NFL QBs are in the frying pan but some stoves are turned up hotter than others. From top to bottom, these are the QBs I see as having to produce this season or they will be somewhere else next year—maybe bagging groceries at Piggly Wiggly.

    So hot they have to carry a fire extinguisher everywhere they go:

    Minnesota – Tarvaris Jackson Jackson was the problem last year with the Vikes. When the league realized that he couldn’t hit water falling out of a boat, they played 39 guys on the line to stop the running game. Jackson’s 45 passer rating won’t get him a third year under center.

    Oakland – JaMarcus Russell Granted that Russell doesn’t have a great offense to work with but if he doesn’t start making better reads somebody will wake up Al Davis long enough to sack him even if he was a top draft choice. The only thing saving him so far is that total lack of any viable alternative on the Raider roster.

    St. Louis – Marc Bulger Bulger has been running on rep for a couple of years. With his passer rating last year being a very underwhelming 71, he needs to pick up the pace now. The Rams have proven they can lose with Bulger but they could lose with me at QB and save a ton of money.

    Buffalo – Trent Edwards Edwards no longer has the excuse that he has only one viable target. With Lee Evans on one side and Terrell Owens on the other, Edwards better have a banner season or he will be replaced just like former Bills starter J.P. Losman.

    Hotter than a day in Death Valley

    Washington – Jason Campbell Campbell had an up and down season with the critical games being more down than up. The Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is not the most patient guy in the league. Campbell better improve on his 84.3 passer rating this season in division games.

    Seattle – Matt Hasselbeck This may surprise some people but QB Seneca Wallace had a passer rating of 87.0, is younger, cheaper, and not as injury prone. If Hasselbeck can’t have a good season with the addition of free agent WR TJ Houshmandzadeh, Wallace will be the guy.

    Jacksonville – David Garrard DG had a really good 07 with the lowest interception percentage of his career. 08 was a disaster with a passer rating for DG of 81 and almost as many Ints (13) as TDs (15). Coach Jack Del Rio needs to win now to keep his job. If he thinks Garrard can’t get it done, he will find someone else. Hey Jack—If you are not comfy with Cleo Lemon as the backup, Byron Leftwich is a free agent!

    Chicago – Kyle Orton Orton is not bad but the defense is getting older and the window for winning a division title is closing. The one thing that has saved Orton up to now is that the Bears couldn’t find a good QB wandering through the Hall of Fame.

    So hot they would appreciate a little air conditioning

    Cleveland – Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson There is a new sheriff in town and these two better be on best behavior. No one in the organization has any loyalty owed to either of them. Proceed at your own risk or go elsewhere.

    Carolina – Jake Delhomme The organization still likes Delhomme but his 59% completion rate is not good enough. He had better get it up and improve on the 15-12 TD to Int ratio to keep his job.

    That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

    Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

    My email is [email protected]


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