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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .