Buffalo Bills (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
SB Nation's Bills coverage: Buffalo Rumblings
One of my favorite bloggers on SB Nation is Brian of Buffalo Rumblings. He's been kind enough to help us out over here from time to time and he's a damn fine writer on top of it all. He's also the master of all things Bills related, so I asked him a few questions.
Tell me, what do you expect out of your offense this year? Who's taken the next step? Is there any residual hangover from the Marshawn Lynch saga?
Buffalo Rumblings: Expectations need to be tempered for Buffalo's offense for two reasons: Trent Edwards is only a hair past rookie status, and Turk Schonert - the team's new offensive coordinator - is calling games for the first time in his career. "Efficient" and "competent" are two words that I'd like to see associated with Buffalo's offense this season, because it would mean that the Bills are winning a lot of games, and it would mean that Edwards is progressing. Trent has looked good, but he's still streaky with accuracy and hasn't quite nailed down this leadership thing yet. But boy, is he a smart kid, and his decision-making and ability to read defenses is borderline excellent. Schonert has given him the freedom to call audibles at the line - something he was strictly forbidden to do as a rookie - and of all of Buffalo's offensive players, it's Edwards who looks to have made the biggest strides, at least after one game.
As far as the Lynch thing goes, no, there's no residual hangover. Lynch was excellent in Week 1, both in how he ran the ball and in keeping Edwards' jersey clean with his much-improved blitz pickup and blocking skills. Lynch still won't talk to the media because he feels that they manipulated his story earlier this off-season in an unfair manner, but that's the only consequence that we're still seeing. Bills fans love him. His teammates and coaches love him. He's an unselfish, hard-working, highly skilled young player. His future is very, very bright.
Take a second and tell the Jaguars fans what you've seen out of our boy, Marcus Stroud through preseason and into the regular season. What has he brought to your defensive line? What do you expect out of him on Sunday?
Buffalo Rumblings: OK... "our boy" is a bit strong. Not to mention incorrect. Marcus Stroud is very clearly our boy now. And if you don't believe me, he'll remind you on Sunday.
Seriously, though, Stroud's presence has pumped life into what was a pretty terrible defense in 2007. He's had help - LB Kawika Mitchell's signing has had a huge impact as well - but he's also obviously the most dominant player on defense. Seattle could not contain the man this past weekend, and their offensive line isn't half bad. The fact that he can collapse the pocket has made Buffalo's defensive ends - particularly Aaron Schobel - and blitz packages infinitely more effective. That's what we'll expect out of him Sunday, as well as the rest of the season - as long as he plays, the entire defense is elevated. We don't care about his stats. We just like to see him smile and get the crowd jacked up, and we love what his presence does for the rest of our defenders.
Buffalo Rumblings: I'll admit, I don't know a whole lot about the Buffalo Bills defense. Could you give us a crash course in who's the guy to watch, who will always be around the ball, and who have we never heard of in Jacksonville?
I've only seen this defense play in one game, so I can only tell you what I saw last week. For the first time in Dick Jauron's tenure as Bills head coach, the Bills forced the action defensively - corners were playing on the line of scrimmage. Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell dialed up a wide variety of blitz packages, and threw in four-defensive end fronts and had his linemen standing up, milling in front of the line of scrimmage on several occasions. It was definitely a refreshing sight to see.
However, Jauron is still a reactionary coach, so I expect that the game plan for Sunday was altered slightly when the Jags' interior offensive line went down. Jacksonville may have tried to pound the ball directly between the tackles to wear Stroud down; I don't see that as much of an option for them anymore. Because the Bills are now so proficient while blitzing, the Jags will almost certainly move David Garrard around on boots and slides to give him time to throw the ball. Therefore, I'm going to say that the two guys to watch defensively are the team's two best linebackers, Mitchell and Paul Posluszny. Both had excellent games against Seattle - they're highly active around the line of scrimmage - and they should draw spy assignments on the mobile and dangerous Garrard. They'll be in on the action most every play, and I expect that they'll play very well once again.
Never heard of? You've probably heard of all of our guys, but if I'm picking a guy to have a good game that's a bit of an unknown quantity, it's DT Kyle Williams. He was active against Seattle, and considering Jacksonville's interior line woes and the presence of Stroud, my guess is that Williams - an excellent bull rusher - will be seeing a lot of one-on-one action. I think he'll probably surprise some folks with a solid statistical performance on Sunday, especially if Stroud gets the extra attention he'll most certainly command.
Big Thanks to Brian and Buffalo Rumblings for the Q and A!