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Bills Enter 2008 With Same Questions At TE

Anderson

Looking back on this decade one would be hard pressed to find a team with less production from the TE position than The Buffalo Bills. Every off-season it’s considered an area of need, but the team handles the problem in the same manner that I handle home repairs, with duct tape and a prayer. Besides Kevin Everett the Bills have ignored the position until later rounds of recent drafts, and unfortunately due to Everett’s injury we were never able to see him reach his great potential. Unfortunately the lesson I’ve learned in home improvement that the Bills have not is that eventually the tape fails and the problem returns. So as we approach training camp it’s time to scan the roster to see if there is a longer-term fix in hiding.

After the release of Teyo Johnson, one of their off-season additions, the Bills have 5 tight ends on their roster. Robert Royal is the most productive member of the group with 48 catches for 481 yards and 6 TD’s over the past two seasons. He also seems like a solid locker room presence. After Royal on the depth chart you’ll find Courtney Anderson, Derek Schouman, Derek Fine, and Tim Massaquoi in no particular order. Royal and Anderson are the only members that have been in the NFL longer than two seasons, but their numbers combined over the past two years don’t match those of the better tight ends in the league. At 6’6” Anderson may make a difference in the end zone package with the height starved Bills, but he has never made a huge impact in the end zone in the past. Fine and Massaquoi have never caught a pass in a NFL regular season game, and Schouman has only caught 3. The Bills speak well of Schouman but in mini-camps coaches tend to praise everyone, especially when the coach is player friendly Dick Jauron. Based on their combined numbers one could argue the Bills found Duct tape too expensive and went with Scotch tape instead.

So one can only conclude that the Bills are no better at the position than last year, and maybe worse with the loss of Michael Gaines. Having a quality TE to be a large target down the seam would be a huge help to a young QB like Edwards. Ask Philip Rivers and Jason Campbell if Antonio Gates and Chris Cooley make their lives easier every Sunday and I’m sure you’ll hear a resounding yes.

Time will tell if a tight end will emerge this year for Edwards but if not he’ll have to find ways to make better use of his receivers or get Lynch more involved in the passing game, or the offense could prevent the Bills from making the playoffs in 2008. Bills Nation should cross their finger that this doesn’t happen or that an improved defense and always solid special teams can carry the team into the playoffs like Ravens teams of the past. Without a vastly improved offense or defense, or both, it could be another long cold winter in Buffalo without playoff football, something Bills fans are much to accustomed to dealing with in recent years.


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