Dukes of Awesome

4 Reasons to Get Excited? 4 Reasons to Worry… by buckybrooks

Remember me?

Yes, I know its been a while since we last conversed. I had been on a torrid writing pace before work and work travel not only limited my free writing time, but also gave me the mother of all summer colds (sadly, this amateur blogging thing doesn’t pay as well as you would think).

I’m more than pleased that my fellow Dukes picked up my slack in my absence with some great posts. And that’s only furthered my appetite to get blogging again – and finish up some series I started before my mini-sabbatical.

Last month, I wrote about four reasons why we can get excited about this upcoming Bills seasons. Our tens of thousands of loyal readers took my post to heart and bumped our season ticket tally up to over 53,000 – the largest in over 15 years. Now I’m not going to take full credit for every season ticket sold, but lets give credit where credit is due – I am nearly singlehandedly responsible for this marked increase.

So now that I’ve sufficiently hyped the team to nearly sell out every game before single game seats even go on sale, I think it’s my responsibility to bring everyone down to earth, just a bit. So in the interest of equal time for equal sides, here are four reasons why maybe booking those non-refundable tickets to Tampa may not be the best idea just yet. Two sides – I report, you decide. Not even FOXNews is that fair.

1. James Hardy’s inability to stay away from trouble

James Hardy’s been a Bill for barely two months, but he’s already been at least part of the story in two off the field incidents: he pulled a gun on his father in May; and was reportedly riding shotgun in Marshawn’s Grand Theft Auto inspired trip down Delaware. Lucky for him, no charges (or serious charges) were filed in either case.

Either Hardy just has a history of being unluckily in the wrong place at the wrong time (there were other incidents in college where no charges were never filled), or this is just another incident in a disturbing trend. In some ways he’s already at a crossroads in his career: he can follow the Eric Moulds or the Chris Henry path – two WRs who after some off the field stuff in college made distinctly different choices of how to live their lives as pros. Hopefully he makes the right choice (and doesn’t hit anyone in his SUV when navigating this crossroads).

The truth is Hardy is more key to our offense then many realize. His size will free up not only Evans, but also let Lynch run the ball without having 19 defensive players lined up in the box. Plus he’ll be a giant red zone threat, which is literally huge, because last year we had but one TD catch from a receiver NOT named Lee Evans (give yourself a point if you remember who).

2. Trent Edwards’ fear of cold weather

Trent played decent last year. Not as great as some writers would have you believe, but for a rookie who didn’t expect to play at all at the start of the year, he played pretty well. His mid-70 passer rating from last year won’t make him many friends if it shows up this year, but many (including myself) believe that with a full year of offseason practice as “The Man” under his belt, his ratings will no doubt improve.

What’s worrisome however, is the difference in play between “Good Weather Trent” and “Bad Weather Trent”. Edward’s performance was noticeably different when the weather was calm and warm, compared to when it was cold or windy. Granted any QB will play better in nice weather, but Trent’s drop was unusually severe. The best example was the Giants game where Trent masterfully built a 14-0 lead before a biblical monsoon washed the Giants to victory. Trent was downright awful in the rain and the wind, throwing bad passes and picks like Pacman throwing dollars at a strip club.

trent edwards

For the Bills to be successful, Trent’s going to have to play better in the elements we have post-September. Who knows if he can do it – before last season, he never played a single cold weather game at any level. If he can’t we have two options: to watch him bungle around in the November like Kelly Holcomb did; or we can work together to burn fossil fuels with enough blatant disregard so to speed up this global warming thing a few hundred years.

3. The real Marcus Stroud?

As I posted earlier, Marcus Stroud is a definite huge addition for the team by adding a run stuffing DT we haven’t had in years. But all that hinges on us getting the pre-microfracture Stroud and not an injured shell of his former self.

After the 2006 season, Stroud underwent ankle microfractrue surgery to repair a hole in his cartilage. Last year he still struggled a bit between being less then a year removed from the surgery and having to serve a drug suspension from the NFL. There was a reason why the Jags parted with the former Pro-Bowl for only a 3rd and 5th round pick – the number of players who have come back from microfactured ankles to play at their pre-injury level can be counted on one hand.

If Stroud can’t come back, we’ll have obtained a slow, aged, former star as a key role filler (remember Eddie Robinson?). Granted the cost wasn’t huge, but I won’t be thinking about that as Julius Jones rumbles for 179 yards during the season opener.

4. Special Special Teams

For the last few years, one of the few bright spots for the Bills have been the play of the Special Teams. Besides being our most exciting unit, they were also the most consistent – and sent 3 different players to the pro bowl (bonus points if you can name them all). Plus the squad is lead by arguably the best Special Teams coach in the planet, Bobby April.

While this offseason the Bills were lucky enough not to lose any key starters to free agency, they did suffer some pretty large Special Teams losses. Punt gunners, kickoff coveragers, and wedgemen are all gone, and these rolls will be filled by rookies. There will be a decent sized talent drop and there will be real pressure on Bobby April cut the learning curve and perform like last year.

It’s inevitable that this season we will see a few Special Teams breakdowns. And in close games, that could be the difference between a win a loss. We’ve lost a few games over the last 3 seasons – but none due to Special Teams. It’d be painful to see that change this year.

OK, now before all you loyal readers go rush to dispute your season ticket credit card charge, know this: I am much more optimistic then pessimistic about this season, and am predicting very big things (I’ve already reserved a vacation week for the Super Bowl). So as I type the rust off the blogging keyboard, let’s go forward with our optimism of playoffs and Tom Brady-injuries, but with a foot (slightly) rooted in reality.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

ha! special special teams. hilarious

Comment by babybluejerseyssucktoo

wow! super!

Comment by unnamed

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