Thoughts on Bills/Eagles

If someone told you at the beginning of the year that one of these teams would be 4-1 and one would be 1-4 by time they left Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday evening you wouldn’t be surprised.  But how about if they told you that the Eagles would be the 1-4 team and the Bills would be the 4-1 team?  Surprise.  The dream team is anything but and the Bills have shocked the NFL with their fast start in the AFC East.  Here are my not so quick thoughts on the game:

  • Anyone could have told you that the key to beat the Eagles would be to pound them with Freddie Jackson but that still doesn’t make actually watching it all the more impressive.  A team that can’t tackle going up against Fred Jackson and his offensive line (more on them later) is a recipe for disaster and trust me, disaster is a word being used often in Philly these days.
  • It’s not often that you can say that they fell for the oldest trick in the book but boy did the Eagles fall for the oldest trick in the book.
  • Donald Jones’ high ankle sprain really hurt the Bills offense as the game went on.  The Eagles defense stacked the box and played everything underneath because they didn’t respect the speed of the Bills receivers.  We’ll see if Gailey can adjust to the injury with a week of preparation.  Something tells me if they don’t look outside for some help in the passing game that C.J. Spiller’s role would increase.
  • Defensively the Bills brought more pressure than they have all season long and kept Michael Vick on his toes for the most part.  For the second straight week it seemed like they were getting a much better push in the first half than they were in the second half which is a bit troubling, especially when you look at the Bills time of possession stats for the year.  Still you can see some of the guys like Merriman, Dareus, Moats, etc. look like they are about ready to break out.  An immobile Eli Manning may be able to speed up that process.
  • The Bills might have the best safety tandem in the league with George Wilson and Jairus Byrd.  Byrd plays the run tough and has laid some absolute lumber in the past few weeks and Wilson has been a revelation in the pass defense.  He also plays the run pretty well near the line of scrimmage.
  • While we are on the subject, and I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but does anyone really miss Donte Whitner or Paul Posluzny, two high round draft picks, when they see George Wilson (undrafted as a Wide Receiver) and Nick Barnett (free agent after being cut by the Packers)?
  • It’s encouraging for the Bills to see young players like Kelvin Sheppard, Alex Carrington, and Chris Hairston contributing to a win like they did yesterday.
  • It was another good day for Drayton Florence and Leodis McKelvin however it was another messy day for the 3rd and 4th men on the depth chart.  You have to wonder how many yards this defense will actually give up with Terrence McGee back in the lineup and healthy.
  • And now just a few words about the offensive line of the Buffalo Bills.  First let’s take a look back in time, to the pre-season to be precise.  Part of the reason the Bills season so far is such a surprise is that so many people were convinced that this offensive line was so bad that their offense would be a train wreck.  I went back to some of the big NFL previews to say exactly what they said about the Bills coming into the year.  ESPN’s Matt Williamson called the Bills offensive line “very problematic.”  Pro Football Focus offered this analysis – “Put it this way, every single starter on the Bills offensive line who played at least 250 snaps had a negative grade last year. Factor in that they haven’t really made any moves to upgrade a unit that ranked 24th last year and they’re left counting on development to get them up to scratch. That’s always an iffy strategy that can sometimes come about as a result of not being able to get the guys (such as Tyson Clabo) they wanted to.”  RealFootball365 was almost embarrassed for the unit with this critique – “O-Line – the team’s Achilles Heel, the line has been inept for so long that it is embarrassing. Wood at center is solid as is Levitre at guard the rest of the line is up in the air. Pears, Bell, Rhinehart and Urbik strike fear in no one, they are average at best! Wang and Hairston are projects, for some reason Hang has fallen out of favor and the rest I won’t even mention. I’m sure Nix will be watching the waiver wire on Saturday.”
  • Now for the facts – Through five games Fred Jackson is averaging 6.4 yards per carry.  The team as a whole is averaging 4.9.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has been sacked three times in five games.  Three times.  In Five games.  Give Fitzpatrick and Chan Gailey all the credit you want but results are results and those are damn fine results thus far.  Eric Wood and Andy Levitre in particular are Pro Bowl worthy.

No matter how you slice it the Bills are a 4-1 team and the Eagles are in the NFC East cellar at 1-4.  Who knows what the Bills will do going forward but they faced another tough test this week when they face the Giants at the Meadowlands.  The Eagles season is on the brink with a huge divisional game against the Redskins next week.  Until then I’m sure there will be plenty more talk taking us into Week 6.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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