Looking back, forward, and in between – Week one, 2010.

So here we are, days after the abysmal performance on Sunday afternoon against Miami in Orchard Park, where we dropped a 15-10 loss that wasn’t nearly as close as the score suggested. I’ve gotta admit, I feel cheated. I feel like the promises and teases of a new-look, varied offense went out the door and we all got duped into believing that we would be getting anything but the basic, run-of-the-mill vanilla that we’ve been tasting for the last decade. I’ve never felt this bad about my team, but watching these guys out there was a joke – I actually tuned in to the Washington / Dallas game later that night and came to the realization that these two mediocre teams, in the grand scheme, make our club look like an inexperienced JV squad.

Surprisingly enough to me, the defense was the shining bright spot of our showing, holding the Miami offense down, locking down containment, and eliminating all weapons – even Brandon Marshall only had 53 yards on his eight grabs against overmatched cornerback Drayton Florence. Their coverage was good, tackling was much better, and our inside linebackers both looked great. Early in the game, Marshall was ripping us for first downs, and late in the game Bess was picking up good yardage, but only 104 yards allowed over their 20 combined targets shows good form and quick reaction by our secondary.

Defense, unfortunately, was not the problem Sunday. It was the offense, who could only muster 166 yards against Miami’s admittedly improved defensive group. Nolan really had these guys bringing the fire, getting to Edwards on almost every play – something that really didn’t make sense to me. We tried to throw it on almost every down, every situation. Usually, that offensive demeanor is reserved for a dire situation, where the clock is against you and you are down a couple of scores. The team was never in that situation, which raises concerns with me over their 17 rushes in 23 minutes on offense. With the highly-touted rushing attack, the ‘three-headed monster’ that we possess, one could assume a more attacking scheme, and assuredly, better production. One could assume that, of course, anywhere but Buffalo. Rookie sensation CJ Spiller, who started the game, compiled just 14 yards over 11 touches (6 rushing), looking totally lost. It wasn’t helping the team that, when quarterback Trent Edwards had time to throw, there was consistently a penalty or a stone-handed wideout to rain on the parade. Fred Jackson and Lee Evans combined for five drops on the day, all of them catchable balls. It became very clear that my assessment of free-agent acquisition Cornell Green’s handle on the right tackle position was way off base, as he was routinely blown up throughout the game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jamon Meredith get a shot over there if he doesn’t improve this week against Green Bay. It also showed greatly that we have no real threats on the outside at wideout – Evans is routinely double covered and trying to do it all, Johnson and Nelson simply don’t have the downfield speed to be effective on the edge against starting cornerbacks, and Parrish is far too small to be effective out of the slot. Marcus Easley may be able to fill that void when he returns next fall, but for now, this is what we have. Speaking of Parrish, why not utilize such an effective target? He was consistently open coming out of the slot and, subsequently, ignored almost every time. My favorite player on the line in 2009 looked like a joke on Sunday, as well, in left guard Andy Levitre. 67 was pushed back on almost every single play and put on his back quite a few times. Very sloppy play. One move that seems to make some sense was the news that RG Kraig Urbik has been moved to RT to start working out there. Quick shifts to improve effectiveness, even with depth, is a move that I do like over staffs of the past few years. Without doing too much to tear them down, I’ll just say that I hope we see some vast improvements in playcalling and execution alike in the coming weeks, starting with this Sunday at Lambeau.

Speaking of that – be prepared for a shellacking. Plenty of folks expect Rodgers to tear us apart, but even with Ryan Grant out, you can expect them to test the waters with new starting tailback Brandon Jackson for a majority of the game. They want to see if he’s the real deal, and with undersized Keith Ellison starting at inside linebacker over the injured (again) Paul Posluszny, he could have a great game. I don’t believe in trends of this nature, but we’ve never won in Lambeau, and I don’t see that statistic altering any time soon. Speed will be the necessary name of the game for Buffalo on offense, as Green Bay’s stout defense is somewhat lacking in that. We will have to protect Edwards well and get the ball to the playmakers he has at his disposal.

More with Green Bay – with Grant out for the remainder of the season, it’s been said that they are interested in trading for another runningback to complement Jackson, which has sparked great discussion over a move for Marshawn Lynch. Nix has said time and again that Lynch will not be moved, even as recently as this week, but posturing is the name of the game in the front office mystique of the NFL. If you play hard-to-get with a club that needs that player, they might go the extra yard to give you something a little more worthwhile to take that player off your hands. Case in point, a (coincidentally ‘unrelated’) story has just come out that Packers’ linebacker AJ Hawk wouldn’t be heartbroken if he were to be traded to a team where he could actually play. The team recently gave him $4M to be a role player, and his role was benchwarmer in week one against Philadelphia, as they never showed a defensive formation that he was needed in, resulting in him never stepping onto the field. Some writers have speculated at a possible Lynch-and-picks for Hawk trade, which sounds plausible and logical – which, in the NFL, means it likely won’t happen. Either way, it won’t happen until Tuesday at the earliest, so don’t hold your breath. A telling sign for this deal’s possible occurrence would be one or both players inexplicably sitting out for this matchup on Sunday – keep an eye on the situation, as Hawk would be a welcome addition to our lackluster linebacking corps at the expense of our third-string runningback, effective as he has been.
I am very interested to see what we might do to try and reverse our luck this week, I’ll be back with news and updates – thoughts and evaluations, early next week. Keep an eye open and some fingers crossed that WordPress doesn’t lock me into italicizing everything again – thank you for reading, until next time…

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