The Buffalo Bills started 2008 red-hot, but stumbled to their third straight 7-9 season under Dick Jauron down the stretch, putting his future on the line, while keeping the so-called “sleeper” Bills from the playoffs for yet another season.
While Trent Edwards has shown glimpses of talent that’s still good enough to keep J.P. Losman competing in the UFL, there are still plenty of questions with and surrounding him, leaving any Buffalo fan feeling a little uneasy about 2009.
Read on to see the top five questions racing through everyone’s mind as Buffalo gears up for 2009.
5. Will Marshawn Lynch’s Three Game Suspension Hurt the Team?
Lynch is a solid back with the potential to jump to elite status. The only thing stopping him?
Well quite literally in 2009, a three game suspension and some decent competition at the position.
Lynch hasn’t blown anyone away so far in his first two years, but he definitely has elite abilities that we can catch glimpses of at times, and is overall a fairly well-balanced back.
Unfortunately for him and the Bills, his offensive line is average, his quarterback is unspectacular, and the other two running backs “behind” him are fairly solid.
Lynch is still undoubtedly Buffalo’s feature back and future at the position, but an absence of three games could open the door to a three-headed dragon that could see his value and impact take a huge hit in 2009.
4. Is Dick Jauron Gone if the Bills Don’t Make the Playoffs?
Plain and simple: You betcha.
Jauron is a solid coach without great motivational tactics or the ability to convinced players into buying into his system unless it is successful immediately. (It never is).
Unless you count his days in Chicago when he had a famously “lucky” 13-3 season, Jauron has been consistently inconsistent, while leading very unspectacular teams into the depths of mediocrity.
While he has kept the Bills fairly competitive at 7-9 for three straight seasons, another sub .500 finish could be the end of the road for him and the current regime.
3. Will the Pass Rush be Better?
After putting up a woeful effort on defense in 2008, ranking 28th in the league with only 24 sacks.
Compared to the league-leading Dallas Cowboys’ 59 sacks, the Bills have a long way to go to achieve “elite” pass-rushing status.
While that type of leap certainly can’t be expected to happen overnight, the addition of rookie Aaron Maybin should add an instant punch from the outside rush, while a healthy Aaron Schobel should both aid the pass rush, as well as help bolster the league’s 4th ranked rush defense.
2. Can Trent Edwards Take the Next Step?
Edwards made J.P. Losman disposable without ever throwing more than 11 touchdowns in a season.
That speaks more for Losman being a bust than it does in Edwards’ favor.
However, with two bonafide top-level receivers and a stout rush attack with three solid runners, Edwards finally has all the tools necessary to compete at a high level.
Quie frankly, winning isn’t all that matters in 2009 in regards to Edwards’ future. If he can’t make things happen and put up better than average numbers with both T.O. and Lee Evans in the starting line-up, he may not be an NFL starter for long.
1.Get Your Popcorn Ready?
Despite showing slight signs of regressing last season, Owens still has the speed and size to dominate single coverage, and with Lee Evans on the other side, should easily make an impact for Buffalo.
The question is, however, does that mean the Bills can start talking playoffs?
Not so fast.
You can probably bet, even at 36, that Owens is still good for 1,000+ yards and 10+ scores, but he can’t make Trent Edwards into Tony Romo, and no amount of game-changing plays he makes can make up for the Bills’ suspect pass rush.