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5 Questions: New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

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5 Questions with Buffalo Rumblings
Tough Slate, Weak Offense Hurt Bills

Buffalo Rumblings: SB Nation's Buffalo Bills blog
tommasse: We knew Buffalo had a tough early schedule, and the Bills played well against Denver, but how does 0-2 sit with the fan base? And what are the long-term prospects for the season heading into Foxboro this weekend?

Brian G: Any time a team is winless, obviously the fan base is going to be upset. And that's exactly what we have in Buffalo right now - an upset fan base. The Bills have been out of the playoffs for so long that two losses against above-average (and unbeaten) opponents have Bills fans in panic mode already. Attempts to relax the most outspoken of Bills fans are being made, but in vain.

Even the most optimistic of Bills fans (including yours truly) grudgingly admit that Foxboro is going to be anything but pretty for the Bills this weekend. But as you so aptly said, the schedule is tough, and this team is young and banged up. There is still a boatload of potential with this team, it's just going to take a while for the players to realize that potential. That holds true with any young team. In the meantime, the players and coaches will continue to try to build a future winner - and as a realist, there is still a very good chance that this team will make big strides by season's end.

tommasse: J.P. Losman has a passer rating of 68.3 and Marshawn Lynch is averaging 77 yards a game. How much of this is early-season growing pains for the new offensive line?

Brian G: Not as much as you'd think. Losman has had time to throw - he's just not throwing it. Lynch and the running attack has been inconsistent, but there have been more than a few flashes (including a thunderous TD run against the Broncos and several 8-10 yard carries against the Steelers). There are obviously problems along the line - blitz pickup and consistency chief among them - but it is very, very obvious that this line is lightyears better than last year's line. Once Lynch and the tight ends tighten up blitz pickup and the starting five gets the opportunity to play more games together, this line is going to be very good.

For more from Brian G, click 'Read More' ... To see my answers to Brian's questions, visit Buffalo Rumblings.

tommasse: The Bills defense is giving up 477.5 yards per game, which is .. not good. The 267.5 allowed passing yards looks good only when you ignore the running game. Where are the breakdowns on the defense?

Brian G: Our defensive ends have been playing terribly - and that is almost where it starts and ends. The team handed out $73 million worth of deals to Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay this off-season and there's been zero production to show for it. There's no pass rush. Opponents are running right at our defensive ends, even when our tackles are anything but steady. Take a look at the tape from the Broncos and Steelers games - Travis Henry and Willie Parker picked up their big runs off the edge and up the sideline; for the most part, the run defense up the middle has been OK.

Injuries have hurt as well - when you lose two starting linebackers, a promising young safety in Ko Simpson and an important reserve lineman in Ryan Denney, there's going to be problems. This group is even younger than the offense; but given all that's happened in just two weeks, they could have played much worse.

tommasse: OK. Let's hear it: Which side of the ball is the biggest problem? Offense or defense?

Brian G: The offense, by leaps and bounds. This is an offense that despite the wholesale changes and youth was supposed to be explosive. Take away a punt return touchdown by Roscoe Parrish, and you're left with 10 offensive points for the Bills in two games. The defense, for all its troubles, has still given up fewer touchdowns than the Patriots' defense, and 41 points in two games. 120 yards given per point is a good ratio; the Bills' red zone defense has been pretty good, forcing four Jeff Reed field goals last week. If the offense had mustered anything, it would have been a very competitive game.

The problem with the offense is play-calling. The only player making plays right now is Lynch, but we're not giving him the ball enough. Teams are blitzing Losman like crazy, but the Bills are still running complicated pass routes, leaving J.P. out to dry. It's been very ugly - and for once, the ugliness isn't entirely the fault of the offensive line. If the Bills can get Lynch and Roscoe Parrish more involved in the short passing game, it will really open the offense up - and hey, maybe we'll score a few points to boot! Seriously, right now, I'll take a few third down conversions - we've been atrocious in that department.

tommasse: I'm going to ask you again in 8 weeks: How do you feel about Dick Jauron at the moment?

Brian G: Freaked out fans will tell you that Jauron is a terrible coach and needs to go, but I'm about 180 degrees from there. I love Dick Jauron. I think he and the team handled the Kevin Everett situation incredibly well, he's got his defense keeping points off the board despite youth and injuries, and he's keeping the faith in players who at this point don't deserve it. Jauron is a great teacher, and he'll get this team playing much better by season's end. The real question is that once he does, can he take them to the next level?

tommasse: Wow. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, "Good luck with all of that." Just think fellow Patriots fans, all we have to worry about is the other 31 teams, the national media, people who do know anything about sports: Us against the world.

Poll

What is Buffalo's biggest problem against New England?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    J.P. Losman
    (24 votes)
  • 15%
    Buffalo's offensive line
    (9 votes)
  • 15%
    Buffalo's defensive line
    (9 votes)
  • 11%
    Buffalo's linebackers
    (7 votes)
  • 16%
    Buffalo's coaches
    (10 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now