Buffalo Bills: Countdown to Kick-Off, Finally!

Adrian Clayborne lays a hit on EJ! - Photo via fantasycpr.com

Adrian Clayborne lays a hit on EJ! – Photo via fantasycpr.com

Finally! The regular season is upon us. All the meaningless preseason games are a thing of the past. This preseason has been long and tough. Long: because the Bills started camp early and played an additional game, thanks to being a part of Hall of Fame weekend. Tough: because they haven’t been that good to watch as the offense was just terrible. You’ve probably heard that you can’t read too much into the preseason, because no one game plans; they run vanilla plays and blah blah blah, right? So is there anything useful to take away from the preseason as we prepare for the opening kickoff of the 2014 Bills season this Sunday at 1pm? For me, there is as I like to watch the guys fighting for a roster spot. I can remember watching Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson in the preseason and wondering why they weren’t on the starting roster. This year was no different. There were a lot of rookies and free agents whom I was looking forward to watching. I also like cut-down day as I make predictions on whom I think gets cut and then seeing if I’m right or not. Only three cuts surprised me this year: Landon Cohen, Jeff Tuel and Brian Moorman. Cohen had an impressive preseason and looked to be a great depth addition. Jeff Tuel seemed to be favored by the staff though his play was sub-par, and Brian Moorman is well, Brian freaking Moorman! He’s beloved by the fans and the community, and it’ll be the second time in three years he will say goodbye to Buffalo. We wish him nothing but the best! Besides battles and cuts, what else do we take away from the preseason?
Remember this guy??? Yeah me neither!!

Remember this guy??? Yeah me neither!!

First thing to remember is that you can’t trust anything you hear from the Bills coaching staff! We heard last year that the Bills liked Jeff Tuel so much that they didn’t want to release him in fear he would get picked up by another team. They went out and signed Thad Lewis and Dennis Dixon. Thad Lewis regressed this off season, and Tuel was shaky while Dennis Dixon played four snaps in the preseason. All three QB’s were released, and Jeff Tuel was signed to the practice squad. Marrone stated repeatedly that they aren’t looking to bring in a veteran QB; however, Kyle Orton is now a member of the Bills. I am actually excited with his signing as he’s a guy I wanted the Bills to sign three years ago when Denver cut him. Instead, we signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, and we all know where that went. But late is better than never! Here’s a QB who was coming off two of his best seasons in Denver in 2010/11 passing for an average of 3,700 yards and 20 TDs while only throwing 10 interceptions per season. The Broncos decided to go with Tim Tebow, and Orton found himself as a backup in KC the following season playing behind Matt Cassel. He’s been stuck in Dallas for two years, which is sad, because he could have been starting here in Buffalo. Hopefully Orton still has the skills he had back in 2010/11 as he may be called upon if EJ continues to struggle.
Say Hello to Kyle Orton, he may be starting a lot sooner than you think! - Photo via sportsblogs.star-telegram.com

Say Hello to Kyle Orton, he may be starting a lot sooner than you think! – Photo via sportsblogs.star-telegram.com

The second thing to take away is that the Bills still can’t score in the red zone. Vanilla plays or not, you expect your team’s starters to be able to score on another team’s starters like most successful teams in the NFL do in the preseason. The only scores from our first team came against the Steelers second team defense. In the finale against Detroit, the Bills were shut out despite the starters playing most of the first half. If those trends continue into the regular season, look for changes to be made quickly. Personally, I think Nathanial Hackett as an offensive coordinator is a mistake. His offense is very basic and often predictable. I’d rather see Chan Gailey back as an OC than continue watching a high school offense being used in the pros. Our team is loaded with talent, and we need someone who knows how to use that talent.
The final takeaway is that, hey, it’s only preseason! It’s a bunch of millionaires playing in meaningless games trying not to get hurt by the guys getting paid league minimums, trying to make rosters, and hoping to be millionaires. Let’s be honest; they can talk all they want about being competitors — but, at the end of the day, they know getting hurt in the preseason costs them money and bonuses. This league is a “business” as they say.
A lot of hope placed on this guy!!! - Photo via www.news-press.com

A lot of hope is being placed on this guy!!! – Photo via http://www.news-press.com

So get to point, Jason. What are we going to see in week one, Bills nation? We know our defense is solid, but corner play has been a questionable throughout the preseason. I’m expecting Gilmore to lock it down a lot better, and he’ll need to against the Bears WR’s Jeffries and Marshall. There’s a new offensive line that will consist of two rookies and a free agent as well as a new receiving corps consisting of a rookie and a free agent. The offensive line has played well in spots but needs to gel and quickly. We finally have a proven veteran QB that can play at a high level to help our struggling second-year QB. If anything happens to EJ during the game, Orton will be looking to face his old team with one week under his belt in this offense. The Bills are carrying four RB’s, so how the heck is Hackett planning on using all of them? Is it still Fred and CJ’s show unless they are injured? How are Sammy’s ribs going to hold up? He lasted just a few plays last week after taking two weeks off. What was Marrone thinking even putting him out there last week? My prediction is that this will be a defensive battle that the Bills are going to unfortunately lose, because the Bears’ offense makes more plays than the Bills’ offense. We don’t have a second corner who can shut down their big receivers as McKelvin’s too short and Graham, who has the height, is too slow. My final prediction is Chicago wins 17 – 13.
What says you Bills nation? Thoughts? Predictions? As always, leave me a comment here, or follow me on Twitter: @jasonsins. Regardless, though my confidence is wavering until I see some offensive improvement, I will still be wearing my red, white and blue, hoping for the best as we always do! Football is FINALLY HERE! GO BILLS!
By: Jason Sinsabaugh
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