Day: August 10, 2010

Gridiron Blitz: Buffalo Bills Season Preview

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.

Schedule:

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

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Triple Option Attack: #25 West Virginia

Time for the first edition of the Triple Option, my review of all things college football related. We’ll start with my unofficial top-25 teams for this upcoming season in some order.

When you get past the top-10 its unpredictable, especially in the preseason. I’m pretty confident in my top five or six teams but beyond that, who knows. Let’s start with #25 West Virginia.

Music to listen to: Why Georgia Why by Brad Paisley and John Mayer

 

Paisley is a native of West Virginia and also an alum of Belmont University, my alma mater as well, so I’m a fan.

Current state of the program: Out of the shadows of Rich Rodriguez came a squad led by head coach Bill Stewart. I was extremely skeptical when they made him the permanent coach after the Mountaineers upset over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl three years ago. However, Stewart has led them to consecutive nine-win seasons.

In relation to the rest of the Big East, you can argue that they are the best program in the conference and been the most consistent in the past five years even though you have to give consideration to Cincinnati. For this year, its probably going to come down to WVU and Pitt in the Backyard Brawl to determine the conference champs.

Defense: The defense returns a lot of starters, including seven seniors.. The Mountaineers run a 3-3-5 defense and have potential all-conference performers such as Keith Tandy and Brandon Hogan in the secondary. The best player in the front six is probably Julian Miller.

Offense: Noel Devine is arguably the top offensive player in the Big East and can be a dark horse for the Heisman. They do lose the efficient Jarrett Brown at quarterback and replace him with Geno Smith, an unproven sophomore.

The offensive line was a weak point last year giving up over 20 sacks a year ago but return four starters. That continuity will be important if they want to contend for the Big East.

The Schedule:

9-4-10 Coastal Carolina
9-10-10 @Marshall (Fri.)
9-18-10 Maryland
9-25-10 @LSU
10-9-10 UNLV
10-14-10 USF (Thurs.)
10-23-10 Syracuse
10-29-10 @Connecticut (Fri.)
11-13-10 Cincinnati
11-20-10 @Louisville
11-26-10 @Pittsburgh
12-4-10 Rutgers

The schedule is not impossible but not easy. They should most likely be 3-0 heading into Baton Rouge to face LSU. If they can beat the Tigers, big things can be in store. Connecticut will be dicey on the road as well as Louisville. WVU can be 9-1 heading into Pitt.

Favorite all-time player: I was tempted to take Major Harris but the Syracuse fan in me won’t allow that. I’ll take Pat White.

Most famous alum: Probably has to be Jerry West. He is maybe a top-ten all-time NBA player, the logo for the league was modeled after him, one of the top executives ever in the sport and not too bad of a college player.

 

 

Cebribrity Crush: Cheryl Hines

Prediction: 9-3

I see losses to LSU, Connecticut and Pitt. Still a good overall season but just falling short of a Big East title.