Time for the premiere edition of Gridiron Blitz, which will be a daily review of all of the happenings in the National Football League.
For the preseason, I’ll give a preview for each team, starting with the Buffalo Bills.
Music to listen to: Ghetto Life by Rick James
I had to have a native of Buffalo with the music and Rick James qualifies.
Last Season: Finished the season 6-10 to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. I have two main memories from this past season. The first one was from the first Monday night contest of the year when the Bills were at New England and the defense was playing out of its mind (Tom Brady was my starting QB on my fantasy team so I was aware) but the offense just couldn’t get points. Of course the Bills lost that game and served as a bad omen for the rest of the season. The second one was when the Bills visited the Tennessee Titans and seeing them blow a lead and not being able to complete the most simple passes. Those are bad memories if you’re a Bills fan.
Biggest Change: New general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey are now running the show. I’m unfamiliar with Nix but am fully aware of Gailey as a Georgia Tech fan. Since this is an NFL preview, we’ll stick with his experiences in pro football. He had some success with Dallas, some with Miami and average to none with Kansas City. I don’t understand the hiring of Gailey from the Bills ownership because this would seem like a prime position for a younger guy to come in and take some chances. But this is a conservative franchise so it makes sense in that way.
Uniform Grade: Worst uniforms in the league, especially the all-blue home ones. There are at least three different shades of blue combined with red and while lines and patches. Its truly terrible and the worst part is that they had some EXCELLENT uniforms in two eras. When the Bills wear their throwback unis with the baby blue jerseys, I love it and wonder why they don’t go back to that. Grade: D-
Best Player: I guess you can say Lee Evans or Fred Jackson. It may actually be rookie CJ Spiller by the end of the campaign.
Most Important Player: Thinking outside of the box with this one. I’m going to take the owner, Ralph Wilson, Jr. We’ll hit on this a little more when we get to the schedule but he may be the only thing holding the franchise in Buffalo. That one game in Toronto is the first step. If Buffalo was a higher profile team this would be a bigger deal. It would be like the San Diego Chargers playing one home game a season in Los Angeles. That would be national sports news. In the case of the Bills, it barely causes a ripple.
Best Case: Trent Edwards wins the quarterback position and excels. CJ Spiller has a Percy Harvin-like impact and becomes Rookie of the Year. The defense improves into a competent unit. Gailey shows some excellent offensive play calling. The final record is 8-8, just missing the playoffs.
Worst Case: Edwards regresses. The defense shows no improvement. Gailey has no competence. The final record is 4-12 and a top-five pick in the NFL Draft, which actually may not be a bad thing for the long-term.
Coaching: Already discussed Gailey enough.
First Memory of team: Its appropriate that my first Gridiron Blitz is on the Bills because they were part of a game that made me the sports fan that I am today. Super Bowl XXV between the New York Giants and Bills in 1990 was one of the best games I’ve ever seen and since I was a Giants fan, it meant so much to me. I remember seeing that Bills squad with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, who should have been MVP of that game, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed and so many other guys on that team and thinking the Giants had no chance. Fortunately the Giants won and the Bills proceeded to lose the next three Super Bowls and that makes people remember them as a losing franchise, which is truly a shame.
Sept. 12 – vs. Miami
Sept. 19 – at Green Bay
Step. 26 – at New England
Oct. 3 – vs. New York Jets
Oct. 10 – vs. Jacksonville
Oct. 17 – BYE
Oct. 24 – at Baltimore
Oct. 31 – Kansas City
Nov. 7 – vs. Chicago (in Toronto)
Nov. 14 – vs. Detroit
Nov. 21 – at Cincinnati
Nov. 28 – vs. Pittsburgh
Dec. 5 – at Minnesota
Dec. 12 – vs. Cleveland
Dec. 19 – at Miami
Dec. 26 – vs. New England
Jan. 2 – at New York Jets
That’s a tough schedule. They have to face their own division, where they can easily go 1-5. Than they have to go to Baltimore, host Pittsburgh and get the NFC North, including a trip to Minnesota and Green Bay. The only games I can see them being the favorite in is maybe hosting Jacksonville, hosting Cleveland and Jacksonville.
City Nickname: The City of Good Neighbors, The City of Dreams, The Queen City, The Nickel City, Queen City of the Lakes, City of Light. I like none of them especially when we all know the true Queen City is Cincinnati.
Unique Fact about Buffalo: Thesports clothing line New Era has it corporate headquarters in Buffalo, so if you need a ski cap for those long winters, its right there for you.
Overall Outlook: This is a franchise that is clearly trying to go in the right direction but will go through some hard knocks. I read that some fans want the Bills to tank the season and get in the Jake Locker sweepstakes. That’s a dicey move for any franchise but they may be in it without even trying.
Final Record: 4-12