Dukes of Awesome

4 Months to the Season – 4 Reasons to get Excited by buckybrooks

Ahhhh Spring – the birds returning to dirty Buffalo’s cars, the flowers reblooming to the discontent of allergy sufferers, tank tops reappearing to the delight of cleavage gawkers everywhere, and hope… hope of new beginnings.

We are now less then FOUR months till the Bills open the season on September 7th. So here’s four reasons why us, even in Buffalo, can have hope for the upcoming season.

1. The Stroud Factor

There are few truths in the NFL, but I think this is one: to stop the run and win you need a dominant DT. The last couple years Buffalo has veered away from having a big powerful DT to a defense that has small quick DTs. A defense like this is very hard to pull off. Generally they don’t work if you don’t have a Warren Sapp-esque DT, and they necessarily won’t even work WITH Warren Sapp (see Oakland Raiders, 2006-2007). Its odd how Buffalo moved away from the big DT when they were staple of strong Bills defenses for many years: the 2003 and 2004 defense both ranked #2 in the league and were anchored by the huge Sam Adams and Pat Williams; the 1999 defense ranked #1, anchored by the as huge Ted Washington and Pat Williams.

Fortunately, it seems as Buffalo is ready to embrace the big DT once again. So enter Marcus Stroud. 6’6″. 310 lbs. 3 Pro-Bowls. A true game changer. Sure he could fizzle (he’s missed 12 games in the last 2 years due to injuries and a failed drug test). But at least they finally realize what it takes to win… and at least their trying to get there.

2. The Addition by Subtraction

Goodbye Offensive Coordinator Steve Fairchild. Thanks for ruining an offense that finished 30 in the league the last 2 seasons.

The Bills lucked out with 2 weeks left in the season when Steve Fairchild got offered the Colorado State head coaching job. Apparently, Colorado State’s AD never got the tapes of the Bills the last two years. Fairchild had some weird ideas on how to run an offense: he loathed TEs and FBs, he refused to run screens and change of direction plays, he insisted on running on every first down and passing on every second down, and mostly oddly he refused to let his QBs audible plays at the line of scrimmage. I’ll always believe that Losman isn’t nearly as bad as some pundits think – rather he was handcuffed by a ludicrously conservative offense that catered to none of his strengths.

Enter Turk Schonert. A coach that believes in audibles, screen plays, and diversity… you know, those important facets of an offense. Schonert appears committed to three things: to let the QBs play and manage the game in a style that fits them, to explore the vast potential of Marshawn Lynch, and to call plays in a less predictable fashion.

I’m extremely excited for this offense’s potential under new leadership. And I’m equally excited to bet against Colorado State in every game this season.

3. The Favorable Early Season Schedule

Quick – when was the last time Buffalo started 3-1? 1999. Just to think how long ago that was remember these 1999 fun facts: Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture at the Oscars; Napster debuted; and Rome NY was ablaze from Woodstock patrons. Sure, we’ve been 2-2 a few times (2000, 2002, and 2003), but we haven’t had that 3-1 start in nearly 10 years. Starting strong is a key to making the playoffs (a couple of decent seasons recently were doomed because of lousy starts), so its no coincidence that 1999 was the last time we made the playoffs.

So here’s why we will start 3-1: Our first 4 games are SEA, @jax, OAK, @stl. I’ll give you a loss in Jacksonville. Oakland is terrible, plus an early season game means we’ll see a still untested JaMarcus Russell. St. Louis won only 3 games last year, and they did little during the offseason to make me believe they’ll win many more this year. And we will beat Seattle on September 7. For all the doubters who think that Seattle is the better team, remember this: they are terrible on the road. In their last 5 seasons (all playoff seasons mind you), they have but 1 season with a .500 or better record on the road: in 2005 they went 5-3 (in a season they went 13-3). Seattle has always been a decent team in a weak division that was great at home and lousy on the road. And this year, we’re at home.

4. The New Same Defense

Buffalo’s defense wasn’t terrible last year. Granted, it wasn’t good by any far measure, but it was serviceable, and it did keep us competitive in many games throughout the year. Perhaps the biggest defense addition this offseason (after Stroud of course) will be that, God willing, we can start the year healthy on defense.

In the first few weeks of the season last year we suffered numerous defensive starters (and a couple of key reserves) due to injuries: Jason Webster, Paul Posluszny, and Ko Simpson were all lost for the season by week 3; Denney and Wire missed at least half the season; Ellison and Hargrove missed at a quarter of the year.

All these starters/reverses back healthy (well, minus Jason Webster, but he was terrible anyways). Most importantly we are replacing an undrafted LB (DiGiorgio) with a 1st round talent (the Poz); and a safety converted from WR (Wilson) with a player whose played the position his whole life and had 16 impressive starts in his rookie campaign (Simpson). I like both DiGeorgio and Wilson and hope they make key contributions this season, but you can’t argue that our defense is considerably better with Poz and Simpson back in the lineup. Two instant upgrades, without having to make an offseason move.

There you have it. Four reasons maybe this could be our year. The offseason is (thankfully) more then half over, so stay strong Bills fans – not much longer to wait.

Until then – Lets go Bandits!

HT: 2thelion for the Poz pic

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

When I was googling Poz pictures, I found myself getting nervous. Look at that jawline. I would totally let poz be my friend. Thanks for making me doubt myself, bucky.

Comment by errantremark

I hope that Strouds microfractures are all healed up when he takes the field for y’all. As a Jaguars fan I was sad to see him leave and I hope he does well in Buffalo.

Comment by Black Coffee & Bourbon

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