Stillers @ Buffalo Pre-game Report:
The Bills are just an awful team; they are 0-2 on merit, having lost to the Saints and Colts by a combined 66-32.�� Of course, the Stillers looked just as bad (3) weeks ago in Jaxville.� In fact, in week one, the Stillers and Bills were for all practical purposes identical.� They were 2/4 teams that won TOP but lost their games; they were the only teams to total just (1) big play on defense (sack plus takeaway).� So far, both of these gridiron giants have featured low risk no-reward offensive schemes yoked to low-pressure defensive packages so as to produce football that is exactly as boring as it is futile.��
In some respect, this is the Stillers 2nd opener.� The staff has had (3) weeks to prepare but, off their previous opening record (or that following bye weeks), we have to assume they�ve accomplished nothing.� The Bills are essentially helpless but, unfortunately, the Stillers are not configured to take advantage.� That so, we can look forward to a barely endurable Sunday scrum resembling football much in the way that road-kill resembles sirloin.�� Turning to the match-ups:
When the Bills have the ball:� Buffalo has assembled one of the worst offensive lines to ever soil an NFL uniform.� Last year, this group gave (59) sacks; this year, they are on pace to yield (72).� Now, it is no disgrace to get beaten down by the Saints; the Bills gave (5) sacks in their opener but, you know, New Orleans has about the best D-line in football.� Giving (4) to Indy is something else; the Colts rush the passer with all the enthusiasm any patient approaches their proctologist.� If the Bill O-line can�t deal with that Pony micro-pressure then there is some hope that the Stillers may break through.
LOT John Fina has been a decent starter for 11 years but is on the downside now. LOG Ruben Brown is a perennial Pro Bowler but that status rests more on reputation than production.� Brown disappears for stretches; he will blow-up a defender now and again but, probably, his pre-snap penalty count will dwarf that pancake tally.� OC Billy Conaty is just a guy and beat-up to boot, sporting a bad shoulder and a bad leg too.� ROG Corey Hulsey replaces veteran Jerry Ostroski who was lost in pre-season; Hulsey is big but unschooled and unheralded.� ROT Jonas Jennings is willing but as raw as any rookie may be.� All in all, this group can be abused, especially over their right side.
The Bills have an impressive team-rushing total but that is deceptive.� Overall, Buffalo has rushed (50) times for 270 yards.� Damn good unless you consider that QB Rob Johnson is 8/86 overall and that WR Peerless Price has run (2) reverses for a total of 59 yards.� Subtract those numbers from the team total and you get a sense of how effectively the Bills have established their run game.� Hint: RB Travis Henry is 34/97 or 2.9 per attempt.
The Bills have gone West Coast, for that reason FB Larry Centers leads the team in receptions with 11/93.� TE Jay Riemersma is 2nd at 7/52.� On the downside, the starting WR have combined for a very Stiller-like 5/104 and (1) TD.� That�s two guys, Price and franchise Pro Bowler Eric Moulds, with (5) catches over two games.� The Bills are dinking and so Rob Johnson rests at #26 with a 60.5 QB rating.� The Bills have (1) aerial TD against (4) INT; maybe the West Coast system doesn�t suit Moulds� talents or maybe Johnson hasn�t got the time to wait.� Whatever, the single key this weekend is pressure on the QB.� If the Stillers get home, they win. If not, they will struggle.
Jason Gildon vs. Jonas Jennings:� In the opener, Pro Bowl OLB and defensive captain Jason Gildon led his unit in a pitiful, pressure-zero display.� Matched against (another) rookie ROT, Maurice Williams, Gildon piled up 1 tackle and 1 assist.� Gildon is no Ham in coverage and he plays the run like a pig plays the piano.� In short, if this man is not rushing the passer then he is no asset at all.� The Bills can be had, especially over the right side.� Tim Lewis has got to build his blitz packages around this fact; whether that is Smith over Hulsey, Gildon over Jennings or K-Bell on a delay, the Stillers can flush Johnson from his right and send him scrambling towards Porter.
Stiller safeties vs. TE Jay Riemersma:� The Stillers didn�t cover any TE this summer and, in Jagland, gave 5 receptions for about 60 yards and (1) TD to the Brady/Jones tandem.�� Riemersma is aging but, in the WC offense, still figures as a weapon.� Since the LB position is the primary rush group here, the safeties will need to get up on the TE.� Coach Lewis can change-up with a LB on this man but, if so, should bring a safety blitz.� In the best case, Gildon abuses Jennings so that the Bills have to keep their TE in.� If that happens, this game will be over.
The situation is similar with regard to check-down FB Larry Centers.� �While this man is no big play threat, he does function to move the chains.� The Stillers can keep him in the backfield with pressure but if they spend a LB to cover him, then their pass rush could deteriorate.
DW vs. Eric Moulds:� Moulds has had a couple 100-catch seasons but so far has just 3/48 yards.� DW played poorly in Jacksonville; it�s anyone�s guess whether he is over his Twin Cities concussion.� While Peerless Price has over 100 yards total offense on just (4) touches, Moulds remains the Bills big play guy.� Limit him and Buffalo will struggle.
When the Stillers have the ball:� Buffalo has allowed 617 yards passing on (57) attempts; this figures at 10.82 YPA (gross) and that is a losing number.� In (2) games, the Bills have surrendered (7) TD through the air including two @ 39 yards, 1 @ 46 and 1 @ 60.� Colt WR Pathon and Harrison had 168 and 146 yards receiving respectively; Saint Albert Connell had 89.�� The Bills have gotten beat deep and they�ve gotten beat often.
Part of the problem may be upfront; Buffalo has just (1) sack per game while allowing 4.19 yards per carry.� Opponents have run a total of 116 plays, 59 passing and 57 rushing; evidently, the Bills can�t stop anything.� The Bills have allowed 856 yards total offense or 428 per game; they�ve won TOP in both contests, consider what their defense might have given if they hadn�t!
It is no surprise that this unit is in disarray.� Over the past (2) seasons, they have shed Bruce Smith, Ted Washington, Marcellus Wiley, and (2) starting LB.� Add to that Sam Cowart�s week one injury and you have to figure that this team can�t defend.� LDE Phil Hansen has been a solid player but he is coming off an injury in 2000 and he is on the wrong side of 30.� RDE Eric Flowers can rush the passer but seems to be a liability against the run.� RDT Pat Williams is a solid stuffer but his running mate, LDT Shawn Price, is a journeyman.� The Bills are on their 3rd MLB; Cowart is gone for the year, rookie Brandon Spoon stepped in for Week 2.2 and while Spoon played pretty well (2 stuffs), he is no Cowart.� Spoon is doubtful Sunday and so Kenyatta Wright will get his 2nd shot.� Replacing Cowart early, this man had (7) stops in the opener but still lost his job; this suggests some limitations in his game elsewhere.� Keith Newman is a decent 4-3 strong-side backer but RLB Jay Foreman has made little impression so far.� All in all, this Front 7 has some decent players but, without Cowart, no impact guys.
The Bills 46 asks the safeties to play downhill while relying on the CB to match-up.� LCB Antoine Winfield is a fine player but, at 5�-8�, can be had.� RCB Ken Irvin has ability but gives up a lot of plays. �2001 1st rounder Nate Clements has been the nickel back; early on vs. Indy, he brought an INT back 48 yards for a score.� Don�t be surprised to see him in for Irvin.� The Bills safeties are twin F99 acquisitions Raion Hill and Keion Carpenter.� Both are athletic, both have limitations in coverage.� While the Bills have talent in the secondary, it is likely that this has been subverted by an absolute lack of pressure up-front.
The 46 brings everyone up to stuff; regardless of scheme, every team defending the Stillers crowds the LOS.� The key to this game is to hit the Bills deep early and then pound them the rest of the way.� An alternative to the deep ball may be a quick slant or some crossing route with RAC.� Short passes can turn into big gainers if the WR is on the move; naturally, that doesn�t apply to the Stillers preferred curl reps. This week, I�d like to see Ward have an option to throw deep off his per game reverse.
Phil Hansen vs. Marvel Smith:� Smith has been the weakest link; previously, Tylski was projected in that role.� These men form the Stillers right side and this game could pivot on the Tylski/M. Smith vs. Hansen/Newman outcome as compared to Gildon/A. Smith vs. Jennings/Hulsey.� It is worth noting that the Bills have faced (2) of the better O-lines in the league; New Orleans is among the very best and Indy�s is highly respectable.� In 2000, the Stiller O-line was solid in run blocking but below average in pass protection.� Obviously, the Bills front can be handled; if the Stillers struggle here Sunday, that will suggest a serious upfront talent deficiency.�
Spike vs. Ken Irvin: Irvin broke up a TD strike to Spike in pre-season.� Burress was drafted to win those match-ups; currently, he is about 0/8.� Winfield is solid but Irvin takes a lot of risks; this is a match-up that the Stillers should expect to win.
System vs. system:� The 46 is tailor-made to burn the Stillers script of plunge and curl.� There will be 8 in the box to start and, likely, that number will rise.� It is tough to run inside against those odds and as to the curl, well, while the Bills safeties may not be the best in league, they probably can hit a standing target.� The Bills haven�t executed their system yet; neither have the Stillers.� You might want to hit the head when the B&G have the ball.
In essence, Coach Cowher faces his 11th opener in 10 seasons; his record to date is 4-6.� In Jacksonville, we saw a Stiller team that was risk-adverse on either side of the ball.� It could be said that we saw a Stiller team which, once down, lay still to meekly await its end.� That is bad football and it is a poor entertainment value.� Given that, and Buffalo�s demonstrated ineptitude, this contest shapes up as a game that no one, without a direct rooting interest, would even consider watching.�
The Bills have been savaged by two teams, both playoff-bound.� If the Stillers were playoff worthy, we should expect a similar outcome.� Last week, Buffalo took (19) penalties for (135) yards.� This marks a team that is either undisciplined or desperate, or both.� On form, the Bills could take themselves out of this game early. �On form, Coach Cowher won�t allow that to happen. ��