Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bills At The Halfway Point

Same old Buffalo Bills.

After a gut-wrenching, last quarter loss to first place New England, the Bills are 3-5 at the halfway point in the season. A good conference/division record is about the only thing the Bills have going for them. That record, however, is a double edged sword: the conference record may convince the coaches that the Bills still have a shot at the playoffs, meaning career-backup Kelly Holcomb may continue to start. Holcomb was a good addition to this team, and is an ideal guy to bring off the bench. However, he isn't going to be a qb who takes his team to the superbowl. Putting off J.P. Losman's development is a luxury the Bills can't afford to take. It almost pains me to say this, but I think two more losses in the next two games would be a good thing for the Bills: it would assure that Losman starts the final six contests.

Bills' Weaknesses:
Can't put the ball in the endzone.
Can't make up for stupid mistakes.
Can't hold a lead against in the second half.
Can't beat good teams.
Can't stop the run.
Can't presure the QB without rushing six guys. Even then it seems like a 50% proposition. Note: rushing six means covering with five. Five guys cannot cover four receiving options for more than a few seconds. Even if they're all probowlers.
Can't get crucial defensive stops.
Can't block.
Can't consistently get points off turnovers.

Oh well.

Bills' Strengths:
Willis McGahee is a stud. Definitely a top-5 back. Possibly top-3.
Eric Moulds can still make plays.
The Bills helmet isn't ugly.
The secondary is good.
Ralph Wilson Stadium is a helluva great place to tailgate. Where else can you eat something cooked on a Pinto?
Buffalo isn't under 12 feet of snow. Yet.
Bars in Buffalo are open till 4am.
Chicken wings. Nuff said.
Buffalo can beat any team in the first half. Can we petition the NFL to make games 30 minutes long?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bills Recap
Ralph Wilson deserves better.

The Bills seems destined for mediocrity coming into the halfway point in the season. The skill positions on both sides of the ball are getting killed by their own lines. The DL is terrible and the OL isn't far behind.

Current strengths:
-First quarter offensive playcalling has been outstanding. The Bills have scored a TD on the first drive in every game except 1 this year. That's exceptional.
-Willis McGahee is getting yards when the coaches can give him carries.
-Kelly Holcomb is playing efficient QB. Some say the Bills can't throw the ball downfield, I say that's BS. He missed barely missed Lee Evans twice on short passes that would have had big yards after catch. Those types of passes show up as bombs on the statsheet. Holcomb's strength is his ability to read the defense, something young backup J.P. Losman will learn with experience.
-The secondary has played well under circumstances. They're accounting for more than their share of tackles, revealing a porous defensive line. That's for later. These starters are talented and can straight up ball. Backups are young and inexperienced but athletic and fundamentally sound.
-Angelo Crowell is playing pretty well in place of Takeo Spikes.

Current weaknesses:
-Second half adjustments have been atrocious. The Bills can't score in the second half and the defensive line can't get crucial stops.
-The defensive line play is just awful. Sam Adams is a good starting NFL tackle. On the best of days he will be on the field for 60% of the defensive snaps. The rest of the tackles are awful and do things like give up roughly 20 yards rushing on 3rd and 18. The ends are good pass rushers but can be bullied in the running game.
-Offensive line play has been barely adequate. Kelly Holcomb has to keep things moving quick, part of the reason for the intermediate passing game. Deep plays take time to develop, and the OL isn't doing it's part.

Official Rodomont Remedies:
-Use run and zone blitzes to confuse offensive blocking schemes. Stunt the lineman and use MLB London Fletcher and WLB Angelo Crowell to sniff out the play and adjust, covering against runs, short passes or screens that New England will undoubtedly run. Bring Milloy to the line to show blitz and have him mix it up to the flat on that side or stay under the tight end.

-Cover the Pats X receiver one-on-one with Nate Clements or Terrence McGee. Free up the safeties from their deep zone responsibilities to blitz, or cover down on the TE or RB's.

Official Rodomont Prediction:

Pats 27 Bills 20

Saturday, October 15, 2005

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What's Wrong With This Country

Delphi is the biggest automotive supplier in the country. They mainly sell to GM.

Delphi was (apparently) mismanged to the point of bankruptcy. So, what is their genius plan to reorganize?

Offer bonuses to the exeuctives, and stick it to hourly workers.

That's right. They are offering executives cash and up to 10% stake in the company as incentive to stay. The same executives that bankrupted the company. Meanwhile, they are looking for massive consessions from the hourly workers, probably in the form of wage or benefit reductions.

What a country.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bills Week Five Recap

Is Kelly Holcomb the answer?

Well, the five people who actually read this may remember my contention that the Bills desparately need a 65% passer to be competetive.

Holcomb's stats: 20/26 for 169 yards, 1TD, 0 Turnovers.

That's about 75% for the math-challenged. So is he the answer? Well, it sure looks like he was in week five. The Bills don't expect the QB to throw for 300 yards a game. Hell, at this point 200 yards a game would be great. But they need the QB to be efficient and turnover-free.

The Bills beat the Dolphins 20-14 to improve to 2-3 on the season. While their overall record isn't that great, there is reason for optimism. For one, the Bills are two games out of first (Patriots) with both games against NE still to play. Second, the Bills have have no conference losses, and a good conference record will be vital if they're trying to make the playoffs with a 9-7 or 10-6 record. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the offense moved the ball. It wasn't consistent, and it wasn't often pretty, but the bottom line is the offense scored enough points to win.

The Bills have three crucial games coming up. They play the Jets at home, then travel to play Oakland and New England. This stretch will define the season, one way or another. If the Holcomb-led Bills can win two of those games, they will be 4-4 at the halfway point with a 3-1 conference record; a good position for a playoff run. Winning all three games would be a statement that the team is ready for the post-season. Losing any more than one game, however, would make it very difficult for the Bills to salvage their season. They'd be 3-5 (or worse) at the halfway point, and would have to go 6-2 over the last eight games to finish 9-7 and even sniff a playoff berth. With road games against San Diego, Miami, Cincy and the Jersey Jets in the second half of the season, a 6-2 record is probably asking for too much.

So we'll see how they respond to this victory. It shouldn't have been as close as it was, but the defense let Miami score late to make a game of it. What happened to this defense, anyway? It doesn't look remotely like the squad that finished second over all the last few seasons.

For one, the D-line sucks. DT Sam Adams and RE Aaron Schobel are the only players who should be starting in the NFL. Unfortunately, Adams is too fat to stay on the field for more than 50% of the plays. Last year, the Bills had Pat Williams, a sometimes-dominant tackle, starting along side Adams. They could rotate the two in and out of the game, allowing at least one to be on the field most of the time. Now when Adams comes out, the Bills have nothing but scrubs to replace him. When DT's Tim Anderson and Justin Bannan are on the field at the same time, Buffalo is inviting the opposition to control the line of scrimmage. This is not good. Schobel is a streaky player who takes advantage of weaker opponents and completely dissappears when playing quality offensive tackles.

Since the D-line can't get it done on their own, the Bills have to blitz to create pressure. And they sure do blitz. A lot. Against Miami, the Bills rushed five or more players quite a bit, leaving gaps in deep coverage. When you rush five guys, you only have six to cover (what is generally) four receiving options. At least one will be single covered. When you drop your strong saftey into the box (as Lawyer Milloy did all afternoon,) your free saftey is left alone to help your CB's deep. If an offensive team can pick up that blitz and it sends two or three players deep, someone is going to be open. Miami QB Gus Ferotte was adept at finding that open guy, gashing the Bills defense for at least five big pass plays. CB's Nate Clements and Terrence McGee are solid, but they can't be expected to completely shut receivers down on every play. The Bills need to get consistent pressure on the QB without blitzing, allowing them the full seven defenders to cover downfield.

The loss of Takeo Spikes also hurts the blitz-heavy-Bills. The defensive scheme puts tremendous pressure and responsibility on the linebacking core. NFL linebackers are expected to do it all: sack the qb, blow up blocks, take runningbacks head on, and have the ability to cover speedy TE's and WR's. Spikes was an elite linebacker, a guy who could do it all and do it well. While Angelo Crowell is no-doubt a capable backup, the loss of Spikes hurts the Bills twice. They lose Spikes' ability in the defensive scheme, and they lose Crowell's ability as a special-teams ace, since he no longer performs those duties as the starting weakside 'backer.

So we will find out shortly just what this Buffalo team is capable of. Next weeks opponent, the Jets, are an average-at-best football team, the type Buffalo should beat if it has playoff aspirations. If Buffalo can get in 42-year-old Vinny Testaverde's face, and contain Curtis Martin, they should win the game.

As long as Holcomb is a 65% passer.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bills Week Four Recap

Won't you take me to funkytown?

The Bills are already there, and they need a ride home.

Just like that, the NFL season is a quarter gone, and Buffalo is 1-3 after a loss to the Saints in week 4. Although technically one game better than last year at this point, the season is still a disappointment for a Bills team with playoff expectations.

Were expectations too high? I don't think so. This team was capable of a ten or eleven win season. Although the defense is statistically horrible, they're still keeping the team within a touchdown of taking the lead in the 3rd or 4th quarter of each game. That the Bills haven't been blown out is a testament to the defense's amazing ability to hang with anybody while the offense does squat. They need help from the other side of the ball, and that's where the Bills' problems in 2005 are festering.

The offense had another terrible game with J.P. Losman at the helm. At this point, J.P. would be more successful at runningback than quarterback. The QB-draw is the one play the Bills count on for positive yardage. Losman's complete inability to get first downs through the air consistently puts Willis McGahee and the OL under immense pressure.

Speaking of the OL, they are the one unit playing to expectations. Considering the line is comprised of a 1st-round bust, castoffs from the Bears and Ravens, a tackle playing center, and a bunch of no-name backups who see the field way too often, the line isn't doing so bad. Tom Donahoe has ignored the OL, and it shows.

Which brings us to Commander Tom. The Bills are 27-41 under his leadership. Throw out his initial season (when he had to purge starters to fix the inherited salary-cap mess) and the record is 24-28. Oh, and zero playoff appearances, one winning season. and an aging defense. He has undoubtedly made some shrewd moves (cutting Reed, Thomas, Smith, trading Price and Henry.) Unfortunately, he's made some boneheaded decisions too (all late-round picks except for McGee, Bledsoe.) At some point, Teflon Tom has to be held accountable.

Don't look for Ralph Wilson to make a change, however. Personally, if I was approaching 90 I wouldn't make any long-term decisions (like hiring a new GM, who wants to bring in his own coaches, players, etc.) Wilson's best hope is J.P. Losman, who needs to be a 65% passer for this team to be successful.

Won't happen this year. There's always next.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bill Frist: Dirtbag.

Has anyone noticed what's going on with Billy Frist these days?

A little background. He's:
-the Senate majority leader from Tennessee
-a liar
-a crook
-the guy who "diagnosed" Terri Schiavo based on her videotape
-a dirtbag who should go to jail

See, Frist has a "blind trust" for many of his investments. The idea is to let someone else manage his money without any input or reporting to Billy, so any conflicts of interest can be avoided.

The problem is, Billy's trust was as blind as Saddam's WMD's were existent. That is; not at all.

The AP reports Frist received regular updates from his trustee. He also initiated a stock sale of his daddy's old company, just weeks before some bad news went public and the stock plummeted.

The funny part is, Billy Boy admits he directed the sale. "I had no information about HCA or its performance that was not publicly available when I directed the trustees to sell the stock..."

So much for blind.

So why does any of this matter? Martha Stewart.

Poor old Martha went and saved herself about $50k when she sold a company she had no ties to, other than holding some stock. Martha's problem was that she lied to investigators about the sale, and she went to jail for it.

Billy Boy saved himself millions by directing this sale, before the company stock tanked. Not only does it smack of insider trading, it proves he already broke rules by engaging his "blind" trust.

At least the SEC is looking into it.

The end result of this could be good for all of us, if the repercussions are strong enough to knock Billy Boy out of contention for President in '08.

Yay for America.