The Bills’ Midseason Five Least Valuable Players

Posted on November 3, 2009 by Patrick Moran

treIn a way, it’s fitting that 2009 is the Buffalo Bills’ 50th anniversary of existence. I say that because if you’ve been around for all or even most those years, you’d be hard pressed to find more than a small handful of seasons more exasperating than this one.

Despite having sufficient talent, this is a team and an organization clearly stuck in the mud. With the exception of a certain rookie who has the same amount of interceptions as our two quarterbacks have touchdown passes, combined, nobody has played closed to their expectations.

For that, we’ve compiled our midseason list of the five Least Valuable Players (LVP). It wasn’t as easy as you think, as there were many candidates to choose from.

This is a player’s only list, otherwise Russ Brandon, John Guy and Tom Modrak would occupy spots…. And Dick Jauron would take up two.

Are there worst players on this list than these guys? Sure. But their expectations are much lower. This isn’t a five worst Bills countdown; it’s ranking the least valuable players.

By the way, honorable mention goes to everyone who’s name isn’t Jairus Byrd… Seriously, it’s been that bad.

Without further ado.

5. Aaron Maybin

The only thing keeping him from ranking higher is that he’s just a rookie. Having said that, it’s infuriating not seeing him on the field more. The Bills already know what they got in Ryan Denney after seven years. Why is Maybin not playing more?

It’s maddening for fans to see the early results and then a pair of rookies many wanted performing at a higher levels.

Many figured Buffalo would jump on Brian Orakpo when he slipped to the 11th spot in the draft. Buffalo didn’t, and he went two picks later to Washington. All he’s done is lead NFL rookies with 3.5 sacks and earn himself a permanent starting spot on their defense.

With Jason Peters gone it would’ve made perfect sense to draft his replacement in highly regarded Michael Oher. Again, Buffalo didn’t and Oher went later in the first round to Baltimore. He’s now their starting left tackle and looking like a cornerstone piece for years to come.

Instead, Buffalo went with Maybin, a high-motor (we haven’t heard that in Buffalo have we?) pass rusher from Penn State who put up big numbers in college, but only started for one year.

Maybin can’t control who drafted him, where he went or what the staff thinks is adequate playing time, but he can be in charge of what he does when on the field. So far the effect have been disparaging. Maybin’s done absolutely nothing at the mid point of his rookie season.

It’s been proven rare that rookie defensive ends come into the league and immediately make a big impact, but I’m assuming that 11th overall picks are expected to contribute more than six total tackles and zero sacks?

It needs to be stated (again) this is a 2009 LVP list at the mid mark of the season. It’s not a “where this player will be in three years” catalog. Maybin may turn things around in the future, maybe even next week or over the next eight games. But for now, especially considering where he was selected, he’s been about as valuable an acquisition as Seth McKinney or Todd Johnson.

Honestly, the only thing inspiring that’s come from Maybin at this stage has been his twitter updates. Erik Flowers thinks you need to make something happen out there.

4. Demetrius Bell

The good news for him is that it’s not his fault he’s the starting left tackle. The guy was a seventh-round draft pick a year ago who’s only time in uniform was on the inactive list every Sunday, and never saw a NFL snap before opening night this year.

Then Langston Walker apparently played away out of both a starting job and roster spot in training camp. It’s hard to fathom an organization could trade away a Pro Bowl left tackle in Peters and not come up with a better solution, at arguably the game’s most important position.

But Bell was handed the starting job days before the season began. If the coaching staff and front office is going to put those expectations on him, then we must as well. For that, Bell has been terrible and earns hgis place on the LVP list.

To his credit, his play has been better over the past few weeks, though he didn’t set the bar high to begin with. A year from now, he may make the team’s MVP list. But his play through most this season has been anemic if not downright embarrassing. He’s charged with having given up five sacks, and he’s been flagged seven times, including five for false starts. Until recently he led the NFL in penalties.

Again, it’s not easy inserting a player on this list that probably shouldn’t even be on the field. But he is, he’s playing a prominent position and to this point has played it pretty miserably.

3. Marshawn Lynch

Beast mode? Really? Lynch has been back for five games now and compared to what we’ve seen in the past, it’s looked more like “Least Mode”.

Lynch missed the first three games of the season with his suspension. In his absence, Fred Jackson took over the starting reigns and was productive. Jackson, running for 291 yards through three weeks, and the offense at least flirted with resembling a unit belonging in the NFL.

Coincidence or not, Lynch returned in week four and the running game hasn’t been close to the same. Jackson has lost carries and Lynch hasn’t done anything with them. He’s run the ball 70 times, amassing only 217 yards and one touchdown, with the score coming on a seven yard scamper against Carolina with a hole so big, you or I could’ve skipped through it.

Come to think of it, Lynch did skip through it.. Literally

His longest run in 2009 is for 14 yards. Now I know the offensive line has been a huge detriment, but c’mon, 14 yards? You mean to tell me not one of those 70 carries couldn’t be broken for more than 14 yards?

Least mode.

2. Terrell Owens

Look, I love me some Terrell Owens. I was thrilled when Buffalo signed him. I figured with Lee Evans and a very underrated Josh Reed in the slot, nobody wanted to line up against the Bills on Sunday.

At 35-years old and likely playing for a final contract, I expected T.O. to make plenty of noise on the field and a little bit, if necessary, off it.

But Owens has merely been a shell of his former self to this point. We’re half way through the season and we’ve gotten our popcorn ready all of two times; a 43-yard bomb for a touchdown against Tampa Bay in week two, and a 29-yard end-around touchdown run last week against Houston.

Aside from that, Owens has barely registered a blip on the radar screen. He has 23 catches for just 281 yards. Heck, forget about a drop-off in his own personal production versus previous seasons, that’s not even close to the pace Reed put up as a starter for Buffalo last season, and Reed didn’t cost no $6.5-million dollars.

Slick marketing moves aside, the Bills were better off spending that $6.5-million elsewhere, like I don’t know-someone who can block or tackle an opponent?

I understand both sides of the spectrum and why Owens and the Bills were a one year marriage made in mutual heaven. Brandon wanted to generate excitement… and sell tickets, and he accomplished that with Owens. From the T.O. side, Owens was dumped by Dallas and despite what agent Drew Rosenhaus insisted, teams weren’t beating down his door to line up for his services. Owens wasn’t going to get a deal remotely close to what Buffalo was willing to pay, so you can’t fault him for bringing the circus to Western New York.

If I’m willing to give him any benefit of the doubt, and I am- a legitimate excuse is the person ranked number one on this list. But that aside, the only thing Owens has shown a penchant for this season is dropping passes. He looks lethargic in his route running at times, and even lazier when blocking.

Whether he likes it or not, the name-brand of T.O. brought lofty expectations with his arrival. He was in Buffalo for a matter of days before getting a key to the city. Owens was given the key on the premise he’d return it if he didn’t get at least 10 touchdowns and 1,000 yards.

Through some fault of his, and some of an inept coaching staff and quarterback, Mayor Byron Brown won’t have to worry about impounding that key now.

And Bills fans won’t be seeing T.O. beyond the next eight games. Buffalo has a better chance of bringing back Bill Polian than it does Owens next year, and he’ll sprint away faster than any go route he’s run this entire season.

1. Trent Edwards

For any Edwards’ fans left out there, I’ll give you this; the offensive line has been deplorable. It would be tough for any quarterback, don’t care if it’s Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw or Jim Kelly, to have much success when your line can’t block. If you don’t have time to throw the ball and have at least an adequate running attack to hold off ear-pinning blitzers, you have no chance, right?

Well, no. It’s the latest, and hopefully last in a long line of excuses. Look at Aaron Rodgers from Green Bay. The Packers offensive line is as bad, if not worse than Buffalo’s. Rodgers played against the Vikings twice already; a defense arguably as good as anyone the Bills have faced. Rodgers was harassed and abused for 120 minutes.. And sacked 14 times in just TWO games.

Yet somehow despite running for his life on every passing snap he’s still able to make play after play with his arm. Check out his stats in the combined games; 52-for-78, 671 yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 interception.

The running game for Green Bay in each game was nearly non-existent. The Packers ran for 141 yards.. Combined in both games. That means Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Ray Edwards and the rest of that vaunted Vikings’ pass rush were pinning their ears back and going after Rodgers on every play. Yet Rodgers still makes things happen.

And don’t give me the Packers have better skilled players than the Bills, they don’t. Jackson or Lynch, take your pick are both better than Ryan Grant. Owens and Evans are equal- at the least to Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.

Edwards, unlike Rodgers or any other successful quarterback, doesn’t make plays. You can pen novels trying to sum up why, but it really only takes one word, spinelessness. Edwards plays quarterback much like Dick Jauron coaches; not to lose. It’s a trait that’s not going to disappear. It’s in his DNA.

Edwards plays the game in the safest, most conventional form imaginable. He’d rather throw a 3-yard dump pass to Fred Jackson on third-and-ten than try to stick a laser to Evans between a pair of defenders. I would wager Edwards leads the NFL in passes completed to running backs and tight ends for fewer than four yards.

And when he does attempt a big play resulting in a mistake, it almost always rattles him for the rest of the game, if not several weeks. The Bills didn’t make a mistake by letting J.P. Losman go, they simply compounded it by not finding someone more suitable than Edwards.

People clamor for a new coach and they’re absolute right. But frankly I don’t think Cowher, Shanahan or any coach would make more than a one or two win difference as long as Edwards is under center.

Edwards is little more than a younger Kelly Holcomb. When you can only muster three points at home against the lowly Cleveland Browns, its time for a permanent change.

Congrats, Trent, on being the first half’s Least Valuable Player.

COMING TOMORROW: Jairus Byrd, and four other players who don’t stink.

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2 Comments on The Bills’ Midseason Five Least Valuable Players

  1. Dave

    hahaha, where did you find that picture of Edwards?

  2. george

    “Look at Aaron Rodgers from Green Bay” totally unfair to compare the 2. theres a reason rodgers was a FIRST round draft pick & considered by many scouts to be the best qb in the draft that year (he was).

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