Behind Enemy Lines: Part I

John Crist of Bear Report gets together with former safety and current radio commentator Mark Kelso to go Behind Enemy Lines for a look at Sunday's game between the Bears and Bills in Toronto.

John Crist: The Bills made an effort to establish Trent Edwards as the face of their franchise offensively and also took a flyer on the future of Brian Brohm after he didn't impress in Green Bay, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is usually productive when he plays. Why won't Buffalo ever commit to him?

Mark Kelso: It is not a question of committing. It is a question of who will lead your team going forward with an opportunity to put them in the playoffs. Ryan is making a strong case for being the Bills' QB going forward with his performance thus far, but competition only makes you better and ultimately the team better.

If Ryan continues to exhibit the outstanding leadership ability he has to date and plays at the level he has in the past several weeks, the Kansas City game aside, he will make a great case for being the Bills' No. 1 quarterback, but they still must draft a passer next year to elevate the competition level at the position and make the club more productive.

JC: Since I was one of 26 voters to put him No. 1 on my Heisman Trophy ballot last year, I'm high on C.J. Spiller and think he's a special talent. His NFL career hasn't gotten off the ground yet, but it's coming. Are the Bills still searching for the best way to take advantage of his skill set?

MK: He has an outstanding set of abilities, a great work ethic and, from what I can see, is a high-character young man as well. Your vote last year for the Heisman has a lot of credibility.

I see C.J. as a dynamic player in this league for a long time. They will need to be more creative in the ways that they use his skills out of the backfield, in the slot, running from the tailback position and reverses from the slot. He will play more of a role as the season wears on.

JC: While the Bears haven't made much of a commitment to the running game, this is the week to give it a shot since Buffalo has the worst rush defense in the NFL. Does this team simply not have the personnel to stop the run, or is there a flaw from a scheme perspective at play here?

LB Paul Posluszny
Rick Stewart/Getty

MK: They have the personnel, but they are vacillating between the three- and four-man front and that is causing some issues with a learning curve and guys are playing out of position. At this point, I think that it is an issue of trusting your teammate to do his job and not trying to do anyone else's but your own. Guys are trying to make plays in areas of responsibility that are not theirs, and that opens up running lanes for the offense. There is plenty of talent, with the exception of a game-changing pass rusher, but everyone has to play more aware and more efficiently, not harder, because they are playing at a high level and competing. They just need to play better.

If I were the Bears, I would run all day until they showed me they could stop it and if they have fixed the errors from previous weeks. As a matter of fact, if I were the Bears, I would line up three-wide and then run all day until the Bills stopped it, and then I would adjust the strategy.

JC: Everyone in the league knows it: The Bears are terrible along the offensive line and can't contain the blitz. Have the Bills been a big blitzing team this year? When they do blitz, do they simply send a linebacker or a safety? Or will they be extra aggressive and bring six or seven?

MK: They have not been aggressive this year to date, occasionally sending a middle backer or a nickel corner. I would think that they will be much more aggressive against the Bears.

I believe that they need to use a combination of pressure and coverage when they drop eight. At this point, the Bills are not great at disguising the blitz, and some of the pre-snap alignments in a disguise situation have hurt angles of entry and ultimately resulted in a negative play for the defense.

JC: Chan Gailey wasn't exactly the organization's first choice when it came time to hire a new coach during the offseason, as bigger names like Mike Shanahan decided to take a pass. Now that Gailey is off to an 0-7 start, does this smell like a one-and-done situation at this point?

MK: Not a chance. Coach Gailey and his staff have done a lot of positive things with this team, reintroduced the high-character formula to the roster and asked for and are beginning to receive more individual accountability for performance.

There are a lot of pieces in the right place, a few that are beginning to find their fit and a few missing pieces that will need to be addressed in the offseason. The team plays hard for Coach Gailey and they are one of the least penalized teams in the league, so there are a lot of positive things to hang your hat on.

To read Part II of this Behind Enemy Lines series, where John answers five questions from Mark, Click Here.

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John Crist is the publisher of Mark Kelso played for the Bills from 1986-93 and is now their color commentator on WGRF 96.9 FM in Buffalo.

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