Archive for September, 2011

Rebuttal to Jennifer Gish

September 30, 2011

I can’t believe I’m indulging your true intention of writing this article by responding to it but I am.

You knew exactly what you were doing when you attacked a fan base that is the most loyal in the NFL…You wanted the attention. Now you are playing the sexism card demanding respect for women journalists everywhere when your true intention was creating a stir and getting your unwarranted 15 minutes of fame.

Now you’re going on local television broadcasts, bearing your cross, to continue the eternal struggle for women’s rights. I’m sure you worked hard in college to get your BS in Journalism and you might actually be a talented writer. Unfortunately for you, your 15 minutes is running out and you will undoubtedly be an afterthought after the Bills beat the Bengals to go 4-0 on Sunday.

Stop playing the role of martyr, stop your relentless pursuit for the “greater cause” and have the guts to admit that this is what you wanted all along. I live in Buffalo, and I found out about your story on deadspin. Congrats, you peaked my interest and moreover, my disgust, which I’m sure is a common trend among these commenters on this message board.

Admittedly, some of the comments on this story and your previous one are over the line, but when you try to play the sexist card you’re just being ridiculous. Every professional journalist deals with extreme criticism from time to time.

The most respected ones deal with it and move forward without putting themselves on the cross. You don’t think other female journalists don’t get the same reaction when they write or say something that a large viewership or readership doesn’t agree with?

Journalists, broadcasters and personalities of different gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation deal with harsh criticism on a daily basis. They’re just professional enough to get past it and continue to speak their opinions even if the general consensus doesn’t agree.

Get off your cross, stop trying to be a symbol of female oppression and just do your job. Be bigger than the stories you create and realize that not everyone is going to share your opinions.

Go Bills!!

Bills O-Line Shines Early On

September 21, 2011

Going into the season to say the Buffalo Bills offensive line had issues would be like saying Michael Jasper’s height to weight ratio is a bit askew. The Bills mixed and matched anywhere from three to five different variations of starting offensive linemen during the four week preseason. The root cause for the Bills blocking issues came from a week two preseason matchu pat Mile High against the Denver Broncos. Broncos Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil and rookie linebacker Von Miller shredded the o-line play after play. Dumervil made starting left tackle Demetrius Bell look like he belonged guarding the blind side of Chris Greisen for the Virginia Destroyers in the UFL. Andy Levitre’s inconsistent performance in training camp and the preseason earned him a first way ticket to the bench in favor of Chad Rinehart. Kraig Urbik consistently missed blocks and was frequently out of position.

Fast forward to week three of the regular season and it’s a different story entirely. The Bills lead the NFL in rushing after two games, averaging
190 yards on the ground per game. The bottom feeders along the o-line have kept Ryan Fitzpatrick upright and have only allowed one sack all season. Bell has looked nothing short of exceptional protecting Fitzpatrick’s blind side, completely owning Kansas City’s Pro Bowl pass rusher Tamba Hali (14.5 sacks in 2010) in week one. In week two against an Oakland pass rush that sacked Kyle Orton five times and had him on his back all game the previous week, the Bills offensive line didn’t allow the Raiders to touch Fitz. Oakland’s only sack of the game was called back because of an illegal contact penalty.

Over the past five years Buffalo’s front office has dished out millions to likes of Derrick Dockery, Langston Walker, and Mike Gandy to solidify a unit that has consistently been at the bottom of the league in sacks allowed. The combination of Bell, Levitre, center Eric Wood, Urbik and right
tackle Erik Pears has shown encouraging signs of continuity and consistency. It seems that the team has finally found the right formula to a sturdy front five.
Wood was the Bills second first round pick (28th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. The team then selected Levitre in the second round. Those two
have been the cornerstones of the unit entering their third year with the team. Bell was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft and has been a project since entering the league. Coach Chan Gailey said numerous times in the offseason and preseason that he expected Bell to breakout in his fourth year in the league. So far, it seems like he was right on the money.

The other two are a bit of a mystery. Pears was signed in mid-December last year and saw time only sparingly at the end of the season. The Bills made no secret of their intentions to upgrade the right tackle position with their intense and very public courting of Atlanta Falcons free agent Tyson Clabo. When the dust settled Clabo decided to accept less money to stay in Atlanta and Pears was deemed the team’s starter. With the exception of one poor play against Hali in week one, he too has been a very nice surprise. Urbik was the biggest question mark heading into the season. He constantly looked out of place on screen plays and had trouble against the likes of Chicago’s Harry Melton and Denver’s Broderick Bunkley in the preseason. Still, Urbik has stood up to the pressure and the criticism and was having a nice start to the season before going down with an injury. Urbik, a former third round pick of Wisconsin by the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered an MCL injury and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Rinehart will take his place for the time being and if the coaching staff’s fondness of his play during the preseason is any indication, he may not be relinquishing that role anytime soon.

The 2011 Buffalo Bills are a testament to the fact that talent can be found in the last place you look and that certainly seems to be the case thus far for the team’s offensive line. With the exception of the high draft picks in Wood and Levitre, the unit has seemed to make due with a collection of  castoffs and a seventh round pick who didn’t even start playing football until he got to college. Either way the group seems to be gelling and forming a cohesive corps that could be around for years to come. The five starters and key backup (Rinehart) are all 27 years old or younger with the exception of Pears. If the line can continue to open up holes in the run game and keeps its quarterback upright, the skies the limit for the Bills offense.

It’s Time for the Bills to Pay their Stars

September 21, 2011

Ryan Fitzpatrick is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes and currently ranks sixth in quarterback rating. Stevie Johnson has proven he
can be a number one in Buffalo without Lee Evans taking coverage away from him and has been Fitzpatrick’s go-to-guy since he took over week three of last season. Fred Jackson leads the league in rushing yards and rushes over 20 yards and ranks fifth in yards per carry. Fitzpatrick and Johnson have expiring contracts after this season and Jackson may be the most underpaid feature back in the league. It’s time for the Bills front office to use their surplus of money to extend Fitz and Stevie and give Freddy a significant raise.

Both major Buffalo sports franchises have horrible track records of re-upping with their stars before their price tags get too large and they
can no longer afford said playmakers. Fans of both the Bills and Sabres know the sting of losing their favorite players to free agency because the front offices of both franchises dragged their feet and wouldn’t pony up the dough when the time came to shit or get off the pot. Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Antoine Winfield, and Pat Williams are just a few names of beloved star Buffalo athletes who both franchises had opportunities to re-sign, but let walk because they refused to open their respective checkbooks. That trend has clearly been curbed with godsend Terry Pegula’s purchase of the Sabres and the extension given to elite young defenseman Tyler Myers. The Bills on the other hand are stuck with the same stingy owner that has time-and-time-again refused to pay top dollar for athletic talent.

Fitzpatrick currently ranks third on the team in terms of annual salary for quarterbacks behind his second and third string backups in Tyler
Thigpen and Brad Smith. Jackson signed a four year deal in 2009 worth $7.5 million total and is set to make $1.75 million this season. His backup, former first rounder CJ Spiller, signed a five-year, $25 million contract with $20.8 million guaranteed and up to an additional $12.5 million available in incentives. Johnson ranks second in annual salary in the wide receiving corps by default. He’s set to make $550,000 this year while the team’s slot receiver and most recent addition to the season ending injured reserve, Roscoe Parrish, is set to make $1,025 million in base with a roster bonus of an additional $500,000. Parrish has played in ten games over the last two seasons (8 in 2010) before suffering season ending injuries. Before the season began there was a report that the Bills were in talks with Parrish about a contract extension. A move that would seem unfathomable before the team would extend its number one quarterback and receiver, had it not been for the gaudy deal that Chris Kelsay received in 2010. Kelsay was given a five-year, $28.2 million extension last September much to the chagrin of the team’s fan base because of Kelsay’s consistent underachiever in relative mediocrity in years past (contract information from rotoworld.com). To play devil’s advocate for a moment however, the defensive end turned outside linebacker has looked solid in the first two games of 2011 but I digress.

The fact is the trio of Fitzpatrick, Johnson and Jackson has proven that they deserve to be paid like stars in this league.  The critics may say that Fitz and Johnson haven’t done it for long enough to deserve substantial raises, but their resume from last season and two games thus far in 2011 is nothing to overlook. In 15 games over the last two seasons the Harvard grad has totaled 3,472 passing yards and 30 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions. Johnson meanwhile has hauled in 94 balls for 1,235 yards and 12 touchdowns in 18 games over that same span. Jackson on the other hand has never gone into the season as the Bills number one running back since he joined the team in 2007. All he’s done in his
somewhat limited role is run for 3,089 yards on 682 carries, which is good enough for 4.5 yards per rush. Jackson is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for most all-purpose yards in a single season in 2009.

The Bills front office has an opportunity to slowly but surely begin to regain trust and legitimacy in the eyes of their fan base for the first time in the better part of a decade. For years the Buffalo faithful has had to watch an inferior product underperform week after week and watch the
franchise’s stars depart via free agency or trade. Winfield, Williams, London Fletcher, Nate Clements, Jabari Greer, Jason Peters, and, to a lesser extent, Paul Poslouszny have all departed because the Bills refused to pay them. Year after year this community has had to watch as the decision makers have reached and missed on prospect after prospect in the draft. It’s time for Buddy Nix to make a stand and return a once great franchise back to prominence by locking up the players that give them an opportunity to do so.

Team No Name Finds an Identity

September 20, 2011

“I was a late round pick too,” said Chan Gailey after a week one 41-7 blowout victory against the Chiefs at Arrowhead. “Everybody’s got something to prove.” The 2011 Buffalo Bills could not be summed up in a better way than that. A crew of castoffs, undrafted free agents and late-round draft picks make up a Bills roster that constantly has something to prove on a weekly basis.

(more…)

Bills Quiet their Naysayers in a Big Way

September 12, 2011

The Buffalo Bills went into Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday with a major chip on their collective shoulders. Coming off a shaky preseason which saw the team’s number one offense struggle with consistency, its number one
running back seriously question his role with the team, and their only consistent offensive threat for the better part of a decade shipped off to Baltimore. Combine those issues with a disheartened fan base that questions the owner’s
intentions with every move the organization makes and the 2011 Bills seemed doomed before the season even started.

So how did Chan Gailey’s crew deal with such adversity in their 2011 opener? They went into Arrowhead, stepped on the Chiefs’ throats from the opening kickoff and didn’t let Todd Haley’s team gasp for air until they left the field with a 41-7 victory. Looking like a team possessed, the Bills put up arguably their best performance since their 38-0 thrashing of the New England Patriots in the 2003 season opener.

Fred Jackson controlled the tempo of the game rushing for 112 yards on 20 carries and showing C.J. Spiller who the number one back on this team was. Gailey returned to KC to face the man that fired him a week before the 2009 season began, and didn’t show any mercy for the same man that wouldn’t shake his hand after the Chiefs 13-10 victory against the Bills last season. A defense that ranked last in the NFL against the run and gave up 274 rushing yards to this same Chiefs team a season ago, shut down Jamaal Charles, and held the KC offense to 213 total yards while forcing three turnovers in the process.

There’s no doubt that the Bills stepped up to the pressure and flourished in their 2011 debut on Sunday but there’s so much more to be taken away from the opener. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked efficient, completing 68% of his passes and four touchdowns to three different receivers. Fitzy made great use of Scott Chandler and the Bills may have finally found an answer at tight end. Entering the game with one career reception in the league, the former Iowa Hawkeye finished the game with five catches for 63 yards and two scores. If Chandler continues to progress the Bills may have found what they’ve been looking for since Jay Riemersma departed for Pittsburgh in 2003.

On the defensive side of the ball the secondary really stole the show. Drayton Florence, Leodis McKelvin, Aaron Williams, George Wilson, Jairus Byrd and Brian Scott held Matt Cassel to a measly 119 yards and Florence picked him off late in the fourth quarter. Scott was the star of the show and put on a display, leading the team with nine tackles, three of which were for a loss and notched a sack in the process. Shawne Merriman didn’t stand out too
much but the truth was he didn’t need to. Nick Barnett had a solid game and rookie Marcell Dareus may have only accumulated two tackles, but he seemed to be in the backfield all day.

So what is there to really take away from this game? Are the Bills a legitimate playoff contender all of a sudden? Can Ryan Fitzpatrick lead this team to the promise land for the first time in 12 years? It’s still way too early to tell but this victory should not be taken lightly. Some local media outlets and fans still beleaguered from the lack of a playoff contender for over a decade want to attribute Sunday’s blowout win to a Kansas City Chiefs team that struggled mightily in the preseason, lost its offensive coordinator and has a head coach on the hot seat. Like the Bills, the Chiefs too had question marks entering Sunday’s opener but this was a team that led the NFL in rushing on their way to a division championship a year ago. Buffalo went into Arrowhead on Sunday, beat the Chiefs in every facet of the game and came out with a huge win. This is a team that showed major signs of growth and if playing with a chip on their shoulders all season long is what they need to do to continue to improve, so be it. One thing’s for certain however, the Buffalo Bills turned some heads around the league on Sunday and showed what they may be capable of
in 2011.


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