2006 Buffalo Bills Preview: Glory Days Long Gone
By Robert Ferringo of Doc's Sports Journal
Glory days. There's nothing better than the Glory days. But there's also nothing worse than people stuck pining for those days once they're gone.
The Buffalo Bills, just over a decade removed from a run of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, brought back a big piece of that unprecedented run. The organization is hoping that the hiring of Marv Levy, coach of those fabulous Bills teams, as general manager can revitalize a franchise that's found new and inventive ways to crush the hopes and dreams of its fan base over the last few seasons.
So Levy, who just turned about 113, and owner Ralph Wilson, who is around 128, will try to lead this team in this young millennium. And the brain trust decided that instead of bringing in a young, up-and-coming coach to guide an organization in transition it would be better to hire a retread like Dick Jauron. Good call.
Jauron's record in six years as a head coach is 36-50. I had the displeasure of watching him in Chicago and can assure Bills fans that these next two years - he won't last three - will be an unmitigated disaster. He may be a decent teacher, but he's not a talent evaluator, is a horrendous game manager and is even worse at making in-game adjustments. Other than that he's solid.
Buffalo has won an average of six games over the past five years. And to be honest, it's going to be a stretch for them to reach that mark this season.
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Here's Doc's 2006 Buffalo Bills Preview:
- 2005 Record: 5-11 (4-4 home, 1-7 road)
- 2005 Rankings: 28th offense (29th pass, 20th rush); 29th defense (19th pass, 31st rush)
- 2005 Against the Spread: 6-10 (4-4 home, 2-6 road); 9-7 vs. total (4-4 h, 5-3 r)
- 2006 Odds: 100/1 to win SB, 65/1 to win AFC, 8/1 to win AFC East, 6.5 win O/U
- 2006 Strength of Schedule: 24th (.477 opp. win %)
- Key stat: Buffalo's top eight defensive lineman average 287 pounds, which is 31 pounds lighter than the average NFL offensive lineman.
Returning starters: 15 (7 offense, 8 defense)
Key acquisitions: Larry Tripplett, DT (from Indy); Peerless Price, WR (from Dallas), Donte Whitner, S (draft); Anthony Thomas, RB (from N.O.); Robert Royal, TE (from Wash.); Aaron Gibson, OT (from Chicago); Ko Simpson, S (draft).
Key departures: Eric Moulds, WR; Sam Adams, DT; Mark Campbell, TE; Ron Edwards, DT; Lawyer Milloy, S; Mike Williams, OT.
Offense: After watching the Bills this preseason I've decided that J.P. Losman is not an NFL quarterback. He's just not. And he's won the starting job over Kelly Holcomb and Craig Nall. So what does that tell you? It tells me to take the under. Willis McGahee has looked outstanding and explosive. But the line is still in shambles, as it has been over the past four seasons. Also, their No. 2 wideout, Price, is a guy who has been cut from two non-playoff teams in two seasons. Not good. They were the fourth-worst pass offense last year, and I don't see much reason to think they'll improve dramatically this season, especially given Jauron's gutless tendencies.
Defense: New defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has switched to the 3-4, which Levy used in Buffalo's glory days. However, besides being light up front, it's unclear if the Bills have the linebacker depth for such a switch. Regardless, their defense can only get better. They surrendered a league-worst 22 rushing touchdowns, they were the worst in the league on third down (opponents converted 46.5 percent) and they allowed 15 rushes of over 20 yards (second-worst in the league). Most of that was a result of Takeo Spikes' absence. Tripplett was a nice pickup, and Aaron Schobel and Nate Clements are two of the league's most underrated players. But that's not going to be enough.
X-factor: There isn't one. I'm sorry. But the Bills are awful. If I had to pick one it would be Spikes. He's at least going to make sure the defense play with heart.
Outlook: My advice for bettors: play against this team hard early because soon their numbers are going to be enormous. And my advice for Bills fans: jump into oncoming traffic, it will be a lot less painful.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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