'Bills must exploit offense'

Here's an excerpt from Steve Tasker's column in the upcoming issue of Shout!, on newstands the week of Aug. 31. Call 1-800-932-4557. Tasker will be the TV commentator, along with Marv Levy, for the two Bills' upcoming preseason games vs. the Colts and Lions.

AFTER WATCHING THE Bills in the preseason, it looks like the team is set up the same way as our teams from the late ‘80s, early ‘90s because the offense is stronger than the defense right now. It will certainly be stronger if the offensive line comes together – if the Bills get the five guys out there that they want and keep them healthy. Then they got a chance.

Defensively, without a Bruce Smith-type player, you really can't compare this unit with the one we had back then. It's weaker than the defense back then, although the cornerbacks Nate Clements and Antoine Winfield are probably a little better than what we had.

Let's face it, though. Overall, our defense had some great players: Bruce, Fred Smerlas, Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley, Shane Conlan and Leonard Smith.

That's not to say there aren't good players now. Linebackers London Fletcher, Eddie Robinson and Keith Newman are pretty good. Buffalo is fortunate, however, to have signed Shawn Price and Chidi Ahanotu, otherwise they were looking at shootouts every week. They may still happen.

From that standpoint, it was the same way back in my day. We had the No. 1 offense and the No. 27, No. 28 defense out of 28 teams. Teams can still win with that. But it should be pointed out that one of the reasons our defense would be ranked among the worst and would give up a lot of yardage was because it was usually on the field longer due to the quick strike ability of our offense. And also, we often had big leads, which forced the opposing offense to throw and make up ground.

But looking at the big picture, Buffalo would be foolish not to exploit its strength on offense. They have to maximize that because that's where the best players on the team are. They can't be afraid to throw the ball for fear that their drives will be shorter and the opposing offense will have more time to score on their defense. They've got to let it fly.

Teams should simply do what they do best. That's how they win. 

Steve Tasker, a seven-time special teams Pro Bowler during 12 seasons with the Bills, is an NFL analyst for CBS Sports. His column appears periodically in Shout!.


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