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  1. #1
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    Bills Pose Problems As Rams Wing to Buffalo

    Bills Pose Problems As Rams Wing to Buffalo

    November 19th, 2004

    By Barry Waller

    Gridiron Gateway

    Forget about the Buffalo Bills 3-6 record going into Sunday’s game against the 5-4 Rams, fresh off a season saving win over Seattle. Forget that the Bills were horrible on the road last week in a similar situation against the Patriots, hoping to follow up a huge victory over their cross-state archrival, the Jets. Forget that the Bills other two wins came against the lowly Dolphins and the Arizona Cardinals at home.

    Forget all that stuff when trying to handicap this week’s game, because a close examination of this 2004 Bills squad reveals a very talented bunch put together by GM Tom Donahoe, just waiting to explode under first year head coach Mike Mularkey.

    The Bills may not get their act totally together this season, and with the Jets and New England having great seasons, their chances of making post season are very slim. However, they are on the verge of something very good in Buffalo, though it may not come to fruition with veteran Drew Bledsoe at quarterback. Bledsoe has been very mediocre, especially for a passer with his resume, throwing more interceptions (10), than touchdowns (9) thus far. If not for an early injury to #1 pick J.P. Losman, the rookie quarterback from Tulane might already be at the helm of the Bills offense.

    For the Rams to win, they must put the game in Bledsoe’s right hand, meaning they must stop the Bills pair of solid runners, Willis McGahee and Travis Henry on Sunday. McGahee has beaten out Henry this season, justifying the controversial first round pick in 2003 that Donahoe gambled on the Miami star runner who could not play as a rookie because of a devastating knee injury suffered in the NCAA Championship loss to Ohio State. Henry had gained over 1300 yards each of the last two seasons, but started slowly in 2004 and allowed McGahee to take his starting spot.

    Last week, McGahee may have hit a wall against New England, and he looks to rebound to the type stellar efforts he had put up the weeks before. For the season, his average per carry is still a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry, still better than Henry’s 3.4 mark. Neither Bills back is much of a threat in the passing game, having caught only18 passes between the two this season. Fullback Daimon Shelton’s 12 receptions leads the Buffalo backfield, and their tight end, Mark Campbell, is used mostly as a blocker, catching just 10 balls in 2004.

    One would think that a solid running attack would open up things for Bledsoe, and a talented receiver group led by veteran Eric Moulds, who is fourth in the AFC with 52 receptions and 4 scores. Moulds is 6-2, and can go up and get the ball, which makes him a tough challenge in the red zone especially for the Rams smallish defensive backs. Opposite Moulds is one of the fastest NFL players, rookie Lee Evans, who could be one of the best deep threats in the league very soon. Evans is averaging nearly 20 yards per reception this season.

    The Bills are without possession receiver Josh Reed, due to injury, which limits their passing offense significantly since they lack the depth the Rams enjoy at receiver. Their game plan will no doubt be to run the ball and then hit Evans and Moulds deep when the Rams bring the safeties up to the line. The Rams have to get ahead and make Bledsoe more one dimensional, then put big pressure on the immobile veteran. The loyal Buffalo fans are down on Bledsoe, and a quick lead could take the crowd, and the noise they make, out of the game.

    The Bills offensive line is talented; right tackle Mike Williams was a very high draft pick three years ago, and left tackle Jonas Jennings is considered an underrated young blocker. Both are huge, at 6-6 360, and 6-3, 325 respectively. Center Trey Teague, former tackle, is also a sizeable man, particularly for a pivotman, at 6-5, 300. The guards are former Bear Chris Villarrial, who the Bills signed to replace departed former Pro Bowler Reuben Brown, and 4th year pro Ross Tucker.

    Like the tackles and center, the guards are also big. Villarrial, known as a very solid player when healthy, is 6-3, 318, and Tucker, a Princeton graduate, has a big body as well as a big brain, tipping the scales at 316 pounds on his 6-4 frame.

    Though the Bills offense is mostly talked about in terms of potential these days, the defense has been playing at playoff levels all season long, ranking in the top five in some categories, including total yards and passing yards allowed. They added veteran cornerback Troy Vincent in free agency, but an injury has ruined his season and he won’t play Sunday. However, his replacement Terrence McGee, drew praise from Mike Martz this week for his play this season. Martz compared the 5-9, 195 pound third year pro to former Rams playmaker Dre Bly. The other cornerback, 6-0 209 lb former first rounder Nate Clements, has been a starter since his rookie year.

    Strong safety Lawyer Milloy is one of the highest paid and best strong safeties around, and free safety Izell Reese is a solid starter. In the middle, the Bills have former Ram London Fletcher, no doubt eager to deal a deathblow to a team that would not re-sign him in free agency in 2002. Fletcher is having another fine season, looking to again approach the team leading 158 tackles he recorded in 2003.

    The Bills paid big money to bring in outside linebacker Takeo Spikes in 2003, and he did not disappoint, making the Pro Bowl his first season in Buffalo. The other OLB is Jeff Posey, who the Bills also acquired last season as a free agent. Posey is a good pass rusher, recording 5.5 sacks a year ago, and the Rams need to make sure he is accounted for in pass protection Sunday.

    Like the offensive line, the Bills defensive tackles are huge, led by long time veteran Sam Adams, listed at 6-4, 335, but no doubt far heavier. The other tackle is veteran Pat Williams, who has been a solid player for the Bills since he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1997. Williams is dwarfed by Adams, but at 6-3, 317, he is not small, and is known for his ability to explode off the line at the snap.

    Defensive ends, Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel are both high motor guys in the mold of former Ram Grant Wistrom. At 6-7, backup Ryan Denney adds another element when he is in the game, the ability to tip short passes and create turnovers.

    The Bills special teams, coached by former Rams coach Bobby April, a top scapegoat for fans in recent years, are among the best in the league. McGee leads the AFC in kickoff return average, and has already returned two for touchdowns. The Bills have a good young kicker in Rian Lindell, and their punter Brian Moorman, is one of the better punters in the NFL.

    The quality of their depth at many positions makes for very kick good coverage teams as well, one more reason the Rams have plenty of reason to be concerned about this crucial road game. Should the Rams pay too much attention to that 3-6 Bills record, one that includes back to back 13-10 losses the first two weeks to the Ravens and Raiders, and a 16-14 heartbreaker to the Jets in the Meadowlands, they could be in for big trouble when they shuffle off to Buffalo.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Bills Pose Problems As Rams Wing to Buffalo

    One of those endless clichés: 'such and such pose problems'. And though I agree that the Bills certainly have their strengths -- despite their losing record -- my question is, by the same token,

    Could th Rams possibly pose problems to the Bills?

    Are there any "huge" 6-6, 6-7, 340 lbs. linemen in our team? Et cetera. :tongue:

    Could there possibly be anything that might be viewed as "on the verge of something very good in St. Louis"?

    Sure, a club with a losing record, enter Buffalo Bills, is like a wounded animal that all of a sudden becomes frightfully dangerous. A la Miami Dolphins of just a few weeks ago (I'm telling you, they better beat Seattle this week or else).

    I hope one of our feature 'posing' problems is the emotional high of the way we came back last Sunday Vs. Seahawks. That we may still have that tough "let's do it" attitude, whether it's for their Coach, their fans, themselves, media, big mouths, whomever!

    Let's see whose got the biggest "problems". :tough:

  3. #3
    ebenezer Guest

    Re: Bills Pose Problems As Rams Wing to Buffalo

    somebody forgot to tell Martz to read this...

    nice article!

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