Thanks to Joe Pinzone of Buffalo Wins for joining us for this week’s question and answer exchange. Our questions and Joe’s answers follow, after the jump.
Total Titans: After eight weeks, the Bills were the #2 seed in the AFC. Now, they’re on the outside of the playoff picture and seem to be trending downward. What’s behind the recent decline? Did the Bills just overachieve, or are they now not as good as they were earlier in the year?
Buffalo Wins: I think it’s a combination of both. For one, injuries have been a huge factor. They lost Shawne Merriman, Eric Wood, Roscoe Parrish, Kyle Williams, Fred Jackson and Donald Jones for the year to go along with other injuries. At this point, only eight players have started every game this year. Now, there were some red flags about their 5-2 start, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Besides their 9 sack performance against the Redskins, they team only has 7 sacks in the other 10 games. It should be noted that during their 5-2 start, the defense gave up over 400 yards in five straight games. Also, the Bills stopped forcing turnovers. Bottom line: If the Bills defense can’t force turnovers, they are worthless. Offensively, they came back last week against the Jets, but I think the problem is that their offense has been snake bitten by injuries to the offensive line and skill positions.
Total Titans: The player who sort of seems to personify the decline is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who before Sunday’s game against the Jets seemed to go in a slump once he signed the big contract. What kind of quarterback is he, and what do you think now about the extension he signed?
Buffalo Wins: I like Fitzpatrick. Yes, he can be a little erratic, but when he has time, he can be an effective QB. Now, do I think he’s on par with a Payton Manning or Tom Brady? No. Fitz needs to be surrounded with offensive parts and a defense that doesn’t give up 400 yards a game. As far as the extension, I’m fine with it. When it comes down to it, the Bills can get out of it after two years, so, it’s not like they are married to him for the next five years. I think he deserved it as he’s passed for 42 touchdowns in his last 24 games. Now, up until last week’s game, the book on defending the Bills was playing press coverage on their wideouts and trying to let them beat you with the deep pass. The Bills offense isn’t designed to take shots down the field as they don’t have major speedsters who can stretch the field. Fitz is the type of QB who can complete short passes in that 8-10 yard range. It’s all about the comeback and slant routes. However, he can be a little hot/cold sometimes.
Total Titans: The Bills spent the ninth overall pick on C.J. Spiller, and Fred Jackson is still their starting running back. Now Jackson is on injured reserve. What kind of player has Spiller been, and what role will he play for the offense with Jackson out?
Buffalo Wins: Coming out of college, Spiller was suppose to be this all purpose back. He was suppose to be that home run threat, kind of like Chris Johnson. He’s done absolutely nothing. His problems seem to be that he dances too much and doesn’t hit the hole strong enough. He needs to make one cut and boom, hit the hole. He played decent last week, but that was mostly in comparison to how he’s been so invisible this season. The next five games are going to be huge for him since Jackson is out. #22 accounted for 40% of the Bills offense this season, which should tell you how much the Bills value their running back in their offense. Spiller’s excuse before hand was that he couldn’t get on the field because of Jackson’s play. Now, that excuse is out the window. If he doesn’t play well down the stretch, you can pretty much call him a bust.
Total Titans: Who are the Bills’ best defensive players, and what do they do best?
Buffalo Wins: Um, nothing. I’m telling you, the Bills defense is a joke. Some guys are alright. Up until he got hurt, safety George Wilson was having a great year (4 interceptions) and Nick Barnett has been our most consistent defensive player. Marcell Dareus has been decent, but nothing like the gamechanger Bills fans were hoping for. Of course, he’s only a rookie. There are a number of ways to dissect the problems on the defensive side of the ball. They don’t have speed rushers on the outside. Their corners are inconsistent and can get very easily burned on long passes. Their defensive coordinator dials up blitzes at the wrong time. Their outside linebackers are Arthur Moats and Danny Batten. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind if the Bills decided to use all of their draft picks next year on defensive players. Yeah…That’s how bad it is.
Total Titans: What haven’t I asked you that you want Titans fans to know about the Bills?
Buffalo Wins: Um, the Music City Miracle was Bullsh#t. It was a forward pass. The refs were scared and didn’t want to change it because they would have been jumped by the fans. [Ed.: opinions expressed in the answer portion of a Q&A are those of the guest, and are not necessarily shared by the questioner.]
Total Titans: Finally, if you’d like to make a score prediction, please feel free, but I don’t really care.
Buffalo Wins: Man, this is a tough one. I don’t like the match up of Chris Johnson against our rush defense. He burned us two years ago and seems to be coming on lately. However, I’m not moved all that much by the Titans in general. I think home field advantage will be the key. The Bills offense is better than the Titans and I think Hasselbeck isn’t a good QB in cold weather. Bills, 17-16.
Thanks to Joe for participating in this week’s exchange, and don’t forget to check out Buffalo Wins for my answers to his questions, and more great Bills content.