With Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills inching closer, I'd like to welcome in Brian Galliford from the best Bills blog on the internet - Buffalo Rumblings. In preparation of this week's matchup between the Dolphins and Bills, Brian and I have exchanged five questions. You can head over to his blog to check out our discussion about the Dolphins.
Brian's responses to my questions are below.
Coming into the season, you said yourself that his was a big year for Trent Edwards. So far after three games, what is your take on Edwards and his development?
There has been improvement. But he took a step backwards in the loss to New Orleans; now that a team has provided a blueprint on how to stop Edwards - because he had been borderline excellent through two weeks - it'll be interesting to see how he responds. He's got a good command of the offense, but he's struggled with accuracy, has seemed tentative at times (though not constantly, as your average fan would have you believe), and has gotten inconsistent protection from his extremely young offensive line. It's coming along, but very slowly - and the biggest factor working against him is the fact that he needs a bit more patience when there's less than zero to be had from our fickle fan base and local media.
The Bills have been using their version of the no-huddle offense now for three weeks. What are your thoughts on it? Like it? Hate it? Do you think it actually provides the Bills with any advantage when they are running it?
It's a new offense, and any time there's a new offense, you're going to have mixed emotions - and that's exactly where I'm at. I like it because it puts more responsibility on Edwards' shoulders and forces him to be more assertive. I really like the theory behind it. But the act of not huddling has had very little effect on the team's offensive output.
It's important to remember that they're only three games in - they've had two productive days and one extremely unproductive, brutal-to-watch day using it (in games that count, that is). They've got young players in key areas (QB, OL). They'll need a bit more time to get their feet wet. Once they get a full grasp of what they'd like to accomplish - and the jury's out on how soon, if ever, that happens - they'll really be able to control the ebbs and flows of a football game. That's incredibly important in a league which features 32 teams with remarkably similar talent level.
That was a very interesting post-game press conference with Terrell Owens last Sunday. Owens then came out and publicly stated that he thinks the Buffalo media was trying to bait him into starting a controversy. From my point of view, I can't say I disagree with Owens. Do you think the Buffalo media is being fair to Owens or are they looking to start trouble? And what are your thoughts on how Owens has fit in and performed in Buffalo through three weeks of the season?
Yeah, you can hardly blame Owens for being gun-shy. He's definitely coming across as a player who has been wronged and who is genuinely trying to change - and maybe the latter is his devious plan. There are a select few individuals in the Buffalo market who have already openly ripped Owens for not speaking with the media, but there are yahoos in every market. Owens deserves some criticism, though, because there are plenty of fair, objective journalists in Buffalo, and Owens hasn't given them the opportunity to prove that to him because he's being paranoid. The two entities - Owens and media - are kind of passing the baton back and forth at the moment. It's rather boring to watch.
I prefer to talk about Owens the player, because ultimately, that's all that matters. His impact has been extremely minimal. Yes, he has opened things up for some of Buffalo's other skill players (though not Lee Evans), and he and Evans had an obvious effect on the game plans that Bill Belichick and Raheem Morris put forward in Weeks 1 and 2. But the dude has 5 catches in three games. That's a problem for him, and it's a problem for our team. He's our most dynamic playmaker. Our new offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt, has got to find ways to get him the ball as soon as possible, because if he doesn't, our offense will continue to suck and Owens will blow up. Don't discount the notion that his skills have diminished, either - maybe the guy's just not getting open. Time will tell, but the Bills are much closer to experiencing the downside risk of signing a guy like T.O. than they are to seeing the upside.
Marshawn Lynch will return this week to the Bills after serving a three game suspension to start the year. His backup, Fred Jackson, has been playing very well while filling in for Lynch. He's the 4th leading rusher in the entire league while also leading the Bills in receiving. How will Lynch and Jackson split the workload from here on out?
It'll be 50-50. Quite frankly, Jackson is just too good to not get at least 50% of the carries, no matter how talented Lynch is. You've witnessed first-hand how they'll split carries - it's Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams all over again, though slightly more even. You'll see them both on the field, too, because Jackson is our most underrated receiving threat. Don't be shocked if you see No. 22 lined up as a slot receiver on Sunday, and really hurt your defense from that role. Jackson is our most versatile player, and we'll use him much more than we have in the past, even with Lynch back.
The Bills have really struggled defensively, allowing 390 yards per game so far this year. What has been the biggest defensive issue in Buffalo that has led to these struggles?
It'd be pretty easy to say "Uh, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, Matty," but we shut one of them down, and Byron Leftwich kind of throws a wrench into the argument anyways. There's something to be said, however, about the fact that the Patriots and Saints are just really good football teams, and they certainly proved it in fourth-quarter surges against our defense.
It's tough to point to any one thing, because in each game, the Bills have had long stretches of truly excellent play. The pass rush has been markedly better, though still inconsistent, and they've gotten to that point without significant contributions from first-round pick Aaron Maybin. The pass defense has flashed at times, but we've given up a lot of plays. The same can be said about the run defense, too - though that has been far more consistent than the pass defense. Individual players are making plays, and we've got two touchdowns defensively this year as well (along with another on special teams).
So I guess what I'm saying is that it's something slightly different every week, which makes watching the defense all the more irritating. Teams have generally figured out how to pick us apart eventually. Perry Fewell needs to do a better job matching wits with his opposing coaches - starting this Sunday in Miami - for a full 60 minutes. The late-game breakdowns are getting tedious.
A couple of thoughts from me. First off, us Dolphin fans can relate exactly to what Brian says about Buffalo's defense. The Dolphins have looked good defensively in spurts. But Paul Pasqualoni has got to do a better job of making in-game adjustments - just like Brian writes about Buffalo's defensive coordinator.
More importantly, though, about this particular game is how worried I am about Fred Jackson. He and Lee Evans are the two players that scare me most. But Jackson, in particular, worries me because of how good he is catching the football and making plays. The Dolphins are not good at defending running backs out of the backfield. But they have got to find a way to minimize Jackson's impact on the game.
A big thanks to Brian for helping us out. And remember to head over to Buffalo Rumblings to see some Dolphins talk.