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Gabbin’ About the Bills – A Bills Weekly Recap

Kevin Lissow – Wow Tim, we both predicted a Cardinals win but I’m not sure that we expected it to be that bad. When Edwards went down it’s like the team just laid down and played dead! Losman actually played with some spirit in the first half, but in the second half he showed us why Edwards replaced him last season. He held on to the ball too long and turned it over, which will kill a team every time. But the real story is the defense. Since this is the first time they faced an offense better than a college team is it possible they’re just not as good as we thought?

Tim Hiller – Yes, it’s possible. But I wouldn’t get too worked up. Everyone has tough days on defense. We were down two guys in the secondary, and J.P. Losman is a grade A-hack. Look, the Pats lost big last week, and came back to beat an improved Niners team on the road this week. It happens, blowouts are a part of sports. Especially when your centerpiece goes down on the third play in vicious style.

I still like the Bills this year. They looked a little tired coming off their second road game far from home. Look for them to take the much needed bye week in stride and come out swinging against the Chargers (If Edwards is in). Look for them to lose big again if Losman plays. Losman is a cancer; he is “Mr. One Step Forward Two Steps Back”.

Are you as mad as I am about the way the Bills refuse to get the ball to Lee Evans? I mean the guy had three touches, totaling over a hundred yards. Don’t you think we should be finding ways to get it into his hands? And don’t tell me “he’s not open”. He’s open, give him the damn ball!

Kevin Lissow – Evans is obviously a great player, and with this new contract a high paid one as well. I think they have been doing alright getting him the ball until today. With Losman it’s always been the same deal, feast or famine. He can only make one play, and that’s the 80-yard bomb. If that play isn’t there (it’s usually when Evans is wide open) then he can’t find him. Last week we talked about the O-Line. I thought they protected Losman well; he just makes any line look bad by holding the ball. But they seem to be struggling to open holes for Lynch. With their size they should be steam-rolling people, but Lynch makes a lot of yards on his own. Do you agree?

Tim Hiller – No I don’t agree at all with anything you said except for the part about Losman. Lynch averaged 5 yards per carry and I think, in a close game would have worn down the Arizona defense with more carries. Lynch does create a lot on his own, but I think that the O-Line has been okay thus far. When you are playing from behind, it’s hard to have big yardage performances from your RB. Teams also key in on Marshawn every week, so it’s tough to really have him spring loose. This brings me back to my original point of contention: why aren’t we taking pressure off of our run game and short passing game by going downfield more to Evans, and why aren’t we giving Evans more touches
in general?

Forgive me but I’ve got to call you out. Given that Evans has not had more than 4 catches in any single game this year, in which game do you think we did a good job of getting Evans involved in the offense? What other team with a talent like Evans throws the ball to that receiver so little? To me the most comparable player in the NFL to Evans is Steve Smith. Look at how that Carolina Offense is geared around getting him the ball, then look at how we do absolutely nothing to get him involved except throwing 2 token deep passes his way each game. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Evans is one-dimensional and can only run in a straight line. Something tells me I’m not, given how much
money we paid him. We have to find ways to get him the ball more if we expect to compete with real NFL teams.

Kevin Lissow – I am chomping at the bit to argue these points, I just don’t know where to start. True Lee Evans could be a greater part of the offense, and I’ll address that in a minute, but I have to debate your argument that their run blocking is fine.

These are the facts. Marshawn Lynch is averaging 3.6 yards per carry, 66 yards per game. He has yet to eclipse 100 yards. He is 10th in the AFC in rushing yards per game. For a back with his talent that is despicable, but it has nothing to do with him. The guys in front are all well over 300 lbs. and still cannot get a push. Some of it might be playcalling,as they seem to want to make these big guys move around a lot in their blocking schemes instead of just letting them knock people on their backsides. Thurman Thomas voiced as much on a local radio show just today. But they are very well paid and need to earn it.

In regards to Evans I compare him to Antonio Gates who also has 16 catches after 5 games. Like the Bills I am sure the Chargers are doing everything possible to get him the ball, but opponents know he is the only real threat in the passing game. Josh Reed has 21 catches. Do you think the Bills are really targeting Reed more? The fact is they are blanketing Evans so Edwards is forced to go to secondary options like Reed, Lynch, and Jackson who all have close to the same amount of receptions. Evans is top 5 in the league in receiving yardage, which shows they are at least setting up the big play to him throughout the game.

I also have to counter your argument that there is no need to panic, as it’s just the way it goes for defenses to have days like this. There are some good defenses that go a whole season without giving up over 40 points, regardless of injuries. Are you really 100% sold on this unit?

Tim Hiller
– I think it all comes back to our refusal to open up the reigns and throw downfield. Like you said, we have a massive offensive line. Contrary to your opinion, I think that the reason that Marshawn can’t run the ball is because the Bills face 8-9 man fronts on a consistent basis. The only way to relieve that pressure is to turn Lee Evans into a weapon.

The fact that Josh Reed has more catches than Lee Evans really just proves my point. If you noticed, the Cardinals were giving Evans 8-10 yard cushions on almost every play. Where’s a quick little bubble screen that gives Evans an easy five and a chance to break one? Where is the play action pass to pull the safety off of Evans and give him man coverage downfield? Where are the slip screens and slants? Why have we only given him one reverse touch? And frankly, even when Evans is doubled up, and is running a fly, why not throw it way out in front and see if he can’t run it down?

I also noticed you neglected to point to a game where we successfully got the ball to Evans. Care to retract?

Anyways, you bring up a good point about the defense. Am I 100 percent sold on this unit? Absolutely not. Am I 100 percent sold on any unit other than the Titans and Ravens in the AFC? Absolutely not. (And when Edwards is in, I love our offenses compared to those guys).

I’d like to talk about Aaron Schobel though. This guy is a 50 million dollar man who can’t even get past Gandy, yes our Gandy. What’s wrong with him and did we overpay?

Kevin Lissow – Finally a point we can agree on! This is going to be hard to believe but Schobel was going to be my next talking point, but you win the prize! I’ll get to Schobel, but to close the previous debate I’ll play the role of Switzerland and take a neutral position, as I think we both make valid points. I think they need to run the ball better to open up the deep passing game, and you make the same point in reverse. I do agree with your point about slants and slip screens, as it seems like we’re one of the few NFL teams to rarely implement the slant. Curls yes, slants no. And you make an excellent point about play action. That would help both phases.

Now to Schobel. I recently wrote about Levy and the credit he deserves for building this team. But there are two moves he made that could haunt the Bills in the future, and that’s the way he handled the defensive ends. He gave big raises to two players, one of them being Schobel, that I don’t feel are elite players. With Stroud at the center of that line I am seeing less double teams for Schobel, and he rarely capitalizes. I’ve always liked him, but compare him to someone like Tuck from the Giants. There is no comparison. He does not strike fear in opponents. It seemed we tried to apply pressure from the front four against the Cardinals and they were just not up to the task.

Speaking of overpaying, if Robert Royal is making more than lunch money he’s making too much. There are times he looks like an athletic tight end that can contribute, but then he disappears until he makes a big mistake. When will the TE position become a priority for this team?

Tim Hiller – I think the Bills front office views the TE position as somewhat of a luxury position. They want to play good defense, run the ball, and have an efficient passing game. I agree with you that we should look to upgrade, but unfortunately we are stuck with the guys we have for now. Maybe, now that it seems that the Bills have a solid foundation, the front office will “splurge” on a TE this off-season. It sure would be nice to have a guy who could stretch the field at that position.

Since there are no picks to be made, let’s do a little bit of projection work. At the beginning of the year I had the Bills going 7-9. At the bye, we sit at 4-1. I think the Bills will end up somewhere around 9-7 (+/-2) now. So my preseason pick is now my worst-case scenario pick. I believe 10-6 will carry the division and that 9-7 probably won’t.

1) What was your pre-season pick, and how, if at all has it changed?

2) How many wins do you think it will take to win the AFC East?

Kevin Lissow – My pre-season pick was 9-7 with a borderline chance of making the playoffs as a wild card. I still thought they were one year away from making any noise in the playoffs, and that still may be the case. I’m not sure any of us anticipated Edwards playing so well so fast. This guy is essentially still a rookie based on playing experience. I figured that the Pats were a sure two losses and the Jets were at least one once Favre was signed.

I think they are one game better than I anticipated, and that they will finish 10-6. So long as a fair portion of those losses are outside the division I think that wins it this year.

I still feel this defense benefited from facing weak opponents in the 1st quarter of the season. I think they have issues applying pressure on the QB and that’s going to continue to haunt them. Having said that Youbouty and McKelvin were both out of position due to the McGee injury, and Simpson also went down in the Cardinals game, so I don’t think they are as bad as they were last week.

I also think they need to run the ball better, but thanks to Peters’ selfishness this line did not gel in training camp due to people playing out of position to cover the his absence. With that in mind let’s hope the run blocking improves.

Well, next week we can take a break with the bye week. Enjoy the weekend of football without stressing over the Bills game!

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