Let’s kick start our previewing for the Dolphins-Bills game this Sunday, by welcoming in Joe Pinzone from Buffalo Wins. Joe and I exchanged a Q&A segment before the Week 1 matchup in Buffalo, but since then, the Bills appear to be a completely different football team.
They have only accounted for three wins on the season, but they are finally getting solid play at the quarterback position and have given Super Bowl caliber teams like the Ravens and Steelers a run for their money. Let’s see what new insights Joe has on the improvements the Bills have been making. Also be sure to check out the questions I answered for Joe regarding the Dolphins right here.
Phins Phocus: What is the biggest difference between the Bills' team that started the season 0-8, and the team that has currently won three of their last five games?
Buffalo Wins: I know this will sound bad, but I think the schedule getting easier has a little to do with it. The 3 teams that the Bills have beaten have a combined 10 wins. On the other hand, the team has remained very competitive against the likes of the Patriots, Ravens, Chiefs and Steelers. I think a lot of the credit goes to the way the Bills have balanced their offensive attack. Fred Jackson is running the ball hard and has gone over a 100-yards in each of the Bills three wins. When the Bills were 0-8, the team seemed to rely to heavily on Fitzpatrick, as during a three game stretch, the Harvard product attempted 143 passes. That’s just too much of an omen to put on Fitz’s arm. In the Bills three wins, the QB has cut down on his throwing attempts to 27 per win, while the team has averaged 27 rush attempts. Again, it’s all about balance. The defense still has issues, but over the last 5 games, they have only given up an average of 16 points. I guess they have a bend, but don’t break defense.
Phins Phocus: Ryan Fitzpatrick has turned some heads as the starting quarterback. Do you think he can be the long-term answer or will the Bills look to invest their first round pick into possibly finding their guy?
Buffalo Wins: Worst case scenario, he can keep the seat warm for a year or two. The thing I’ve been preaching about the Bills rebuilding process is that it’s going to take 2-3 years to really turn this thing around. The Bills will be picking in the top 10 come April and have a lot of holes to fill. The one thing I don’t want them to do is reach for a QB. If their draft board has a QB listed as the top player for their selection, then they should draft one. If it doesn't, see you next year. I think the Bills need more defensive help than anything else right now. As for Fitzpatrick, he’s been a better game manager of late and I’m willing to be more patient with him because he’s only started a little more than 2 seasons worth of games. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Fitzpatrick gives them options.
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Phins Phocus: Why have the Bills struggled so much against the run?
Buffalo Wins: I think the Bills linebackers have a lot to do with it. They just aren’t fast enough to the point of attack. They can’t shed off blocks and never seem to make a play in the backfield. As for the defensive line, they have Kyle Williams, who has had an outstanding year, but he can’t do it all by himself. As I wrote earlier, the Bills need help along the front seven. Also, the Bills have transitioned to a 3-4 defense, which normally takes about a year or two to get the right personnel to be on the same page.
Phins Phocus: With how impressive this Bills' team has looked in their last five games, and really ever since their bye week, how far away are they from legitimately competing in this ever so competitive division? What will be their biggest areas of need in the off-season?
Buffalo Wins: I think the Bills need another year or two for them to challenge in the AFC East. I like where they are with coaching. Chan Gailey has done a great job into making Ryan Fitzpatrick an actual offensive weapon. You have to understand, the Bills haven’t had a QB go over 20 touchdowns since Drew Bledsoe in 2002. So, we have been desperate for any sign of life on the offense. Along with Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson has come on strong and should get over a 1,000 yards and the secondary, which had a slow start to the season, have come on as of late. In the offseason, I think the Bills need to address the defense. I’d like for them to get a defensive end, OLB and ILB. If they can patch up the defense, I think they can be a .500 team next year.
Phins Phocus: How do you see Sunday playing out and who's going to win?
Buffalo Wins: If the Bills were healthy, I think we could pull this game out. Unfortunately, we are missing some bodies along the offensive line and with Lee Evans out, we are now relying on Stevie Johnson and a bunch of undrafted wide outs. I think Miami’s defense will have their way the Bills offense, but it will be close.