Buffalo Bills: “10 Point” Tuesday

Posted on October 27, 2009 by Patrick Moran

Every Tuesday at Buffalo Sports Daily we reflect back on 10 Buffalo Bills points.  This week we discuss the possibility of an unhappy Fred Jackson, John Wendling becoming a Pro Bowl candidate, the crappiness of losing your job to injury and the scary thought of Owen Daniels, among others.

1. Freddie Unhappy?: I’ve heard whispers that running back Fred Jackson is becoming dejected with his diminished role in the offense.  This is supported, at least in part by Buffalo News writer Allen Wilson.  According to Wilson in his live chat yesterday, Jackson was the first Bills player to leave the locker room following the Panthers game.  Wilson said “that NEVER happens”.

If Jackson is disturbed, he has a case.  While Marshawn Lynch was suspended for the first three games, Jackson carried the ball 61 times for 291 yards, but over the last four games he’s only ran the ball 9, 13, 15 and against Carolina, only 5 times (for two yards).  Head coach Dick Jauron is in a tough spot here.  Lynch needs carries to be effective later in the game, but Jackson needs to run the ball more than five times.  He’s too good to use that sparingly.  He’s getting extra touches returning for punts in place of Roscoe Parrish, but that’s still not enough.

Meanwhile, Lynch hasn’t been productive yet- at all. He’s averaging only 2.9 yards per carry on 61 attempts.  Somehow, someway Jauron has to get the Bills’ running game going better and he needs to have Jackson more involved.

2.  Jamon Meredith is not the answer: It’s one thing to be young, inexperienced and look out of place.  But as my colleague Brian Galliford pointed out, Meredith was viciously abused by Carolina’s Julius Peppers.  I went back and watched every offensive play the Bills have run in his two starts.  Upon further review, the guy has been utterly awful.  He’s spent more time blocking air than putting a body on an opponent.  It also looks like he has springs in his cleats.  He’s constantly getting lifted off the ground.

This shouldn’t hit you like a bombshell.  When the Bills signed Meredith the first thing I did was speak to Milwaukee-Sentinel Packers beat writer Greg Bedard.  He told me, unequivocally that Meredith was not close to being NFL-ready this year.  He may or may not have a future starting in this league, but now certainly isn’t the time.  He’s going to get Ryan Fitzpatrick or Trent Edwards killed before this season is over.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m starting to clamor for the return of Jonathan Scott right now.  Yes, it’s that bad.  Of all the bad injuries this seemingly health-cursed team has endured this year, Brad Butler’s is the least talked about yet most important one.

3. Showing off his gun: After a bad preseason and a slow start to the season on special teams, John Wendling has been lights out in his “gunner” role.  For the fourth consecutive game Wendling got downfield against two blockers and made a big open field tackle on a kick returner.  He may not generate much buzz locally, but I’ve heard  opposing special team coordinators have taken notice.  While Buffalo has struggled as a whole on special teams this year, Wendling has been outstanding to the point  he could gain momentum as a Pro Bowler.

4. Losing your job to injury sucks: Bryan Scott has been an undervalued player during his tenure with Buffalo.  He’s both started and came off the bench and played pretty well no matter the role the Bills have had in store for him.  He had 27 tackles and an interception before suffering a high ankle sprain against New Orleans in week three. The saying goes you never lose your starting spot to injury, but unfortunately for Scott, that’s exactly what is happening.

The emergence of Jairus Byrd as a difference maker at safety will keep Scott on the bench even once he’s able to return.   When Donte Whitner returns from his ankle injury, he’ll go back to the strong safety spot he originally played and Scott took over for when Whitner moved over.  With George Wilson making big plays (interceptions in two straight games), it’s going to be even harder for Scott to get back on the field.  It’s a good problem for Perry Fewell to have.  The Bills safety play overall is as good as its been in years, with nine of the team’s 13 overall interceptions.

5. Draft is getting it done:
A few weeks ago Chris Draft was signed as a free agent with little—ok none, fanfare.  But in his little time with the team he’s made his presence noticeable.  Against the Jets two weeks ago after just three days of practice he had a big 16-yard sack of Mark Sanchez late in the Bills victory.  Against Carolina on Sunday he teamed with Byrd and Paul Posluszny to stop DeAngelo Williams for a loss on a big fourth-and-one stop.

He’s clearly taken over for undrafted free agent Ashlee Palmer at the starting weak side linebacker spot and is in no hurry to give it up.  As an 11-year veteran Draft has little upside left.  But he’s been a calming presence thus far who’s doing a fine job filling in for Kawika Mitchell.

6. Fitzpatrick could stay as starter: First of all, lets not kid ourselves.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the long term answer at quarterback for the Bills.  Did anybody really think John Guy unearthed the next Kurt Warner when we signed him? His arm strength is at best questionable.  He’s not exactly Tom Brady with the accuracy either.

Having said that, he gives the Bills the best chance to win this year.  Unlike Edwards, he’s not afraid to try and force a throw and make a play, and more importantly he doesn’t kill drives (and games) with turnovers and sacks.  Fitzpatrick has only one interception and been sacked twice in two games.  Jauron should, and probably will ride him out on the heels of two straight victories.

How much fault you want to put on Edwards’ shoulders for the anemic offensive output varies.  But at the end of the day he’s had his share of chances and for whatever reason doesn’t get it done.  With the head injury, Jauron has all the convenience in the world to keep the ball in Fitzpatrick’s hands without delivering a media death blow to Edwards’ psyche.  If the Bills defeat Houston on Sunday there’s no way Jauron goes back to Edwards after the bye.

7. Evans excited again :
By little or no coincidence, the Lee Evans we all know has remerged with Fitzpatrick in the lineup.  In the five games with Edwards under center, Evans had all of 12 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown.  Not exactly the kind of numbers you expect to see from your $9-million plus per year receiver.

But with Fitzpatrick in the lineup Evans has risen from wide receiver hell. He’s caught nine balls for 143 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games.

Evans has respect for Edwards and won’t denounce him publicly, but it’s the worst kept secret in the locker room he’s happier with Fitzpatrick starting.

8. When is it fair to label someone a bust?:
I would say four years is more than adequate, no?  If so, then I hereby thrust upon John McCargo the bust label.  With Kyle Williams injuring his knee in the first defensive series at Carolina Sunday, McCargo had yet another chance to show some value.  Spencer Johnson moved into the starting role and McCargo got plenty of snaps backing up both tackle spots.  As per the norm, he did absolutely nothing. No tackles, no quarterback pressures, nothing.

It was time to cut the cord with this former first rounder yesterday.  Bring in Antwan Lake or one of the tackles the Bills have worked out over the past week. In what could be the most telling statistic I’ve ever seen, dating back to last year McCargo hasn’t registered a single tackle in 12 appearances (source: Stats Inc). That’s laughable.

The Bills tried to trade him last year, but he failed his physical with Indianapolis.  This guy has had more chances than Major League Baseball gave Steve Howe.  Cut the cord loose, Buffalo.

9. Daniels is downright scary
: The Bills have struggled covering tight ends in the passing game all season.  Ben Watson ate Keith Ellison alive.  Kellen Winslow put up good numbers.  Even Gary Barnridge caught a 52-yard pass for Carolina against the Bills last week.  This is very bad news with a Houston team coming to town Sunday with one of the best tight ends in the game.

Owen Daniels is as good as it gets among tight ends in the passing game.  As if covering Andre Johnson (assuming his chest is healed to play) wasn’t scary enough, Daniels has been a beast this year.  He already has a team-high 39 receptions for 497 yards and five touchdowns this season.  If the Bills get stuck matching up a linebacker on Daniels,  he may duplicate those numbers in the first half alone.

Buffalo better treat him like a wide receiver.   Daniels is quickly emerging as the next Dallas Clark. I would expect to see plenty of Byrd and Wilson matched up on him, which could open up things deep for the Houston receivers.   Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence better be very good in single coverage Sunday, because that’s exactly what they’ll be playing.

10. Jauron is going nowhere:
As a Bills fan moonlighting as a journalist, I’ll admit there was at least (maybe more) a small part of me that hoped the Bills stumbled into the bye on the heels of a triage of Sunday stink bombs.  When Jauron didn’t canned following the Browns catastrophe I figured an ugly 2-6 record at the bye would see Jauron finally get dismissed, being the season’s only saving grace.

But that’s not going to happen.. Not a chance.   The second Jauron and the Bills walked off the field victorious in a divisional game at New York, his coaching clock was rewound for the rest of this season. The follow up win at Carolina only reinforced it.  Even if Buffalo loses to Houston by 40 points this Sunday, Jauron isn’t getting fired at 3-5.

So whether you love or hate him—and I’m guessing the latter, you may as well get used to seeing his expressionless personality on the sidelines.  He’s not going anywhere for the remainder of the season.

I expect Ralph Wilson to change coaches when the offseason begins, but not a second before.

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5 Comments on Buffalo Bills: “10 Point” Tuesday

  1. Eric

    Great points Pat, excellent work. I thought Meredith played good in the Jets game but I’m probally wrong. He did stink it up vs. a good end in Peppers.

    It is distrubing about Freddy we need to get him more involved, especially in the run game. But as a whole we need to run it more. Also the last comment about Jauron. I could really care less if stays here the season as long as he’s gone next except if we make the playoffs. Then and only then will I except him back.

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  5. Ken

    you have to give our new right tackle Jamon Meredith a better chance. Most tackles even pro-bowl caliber ones have difficulty matching up with peppers. peppers is just a physical freak. And we did sign the guy off of the packers practice squad. Give him until after the bye and he will be not a pro bowl caliber right tackle but a solid starter for the bills.

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