WR Review

Buffalo finished near the bottom in every major passing category last season. Here's what went wrong...

Stats

Lee Evans: 55 rec., 849 yards, 5 TD

Josh Reed: 51 rec., 578 yards, 0 TD

Roscoe Parrish: 35 rec., 352 yards, 1 TD

Peerless Price: 7 rec., 68 yards, 0 TD

Sam Aiken: 1 rec., 10 yards, 0 TD

Grade: C-

Review

In 2006, the Bills watched Lee Evans finish the season with 1,292 yards in offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild's new offense and looked for the former first round draft pick to continue his torrid pace in 2007. However, the high expectations for Fairchild's second season were not seen as fruitful as hoped.

In the 2007 season, Evans broke the 100-yard plateau in just two games and failed to find the end zone until Week Eight again the New York Jets. However, a slow start is a typical scenario for Evans. The former Wisconsin Badger has never caught more than one touchdown in the first seven weeks during his stint in Buffalo.

Evans is, without question, Buffalo's No. 1 receiver but has struggled with the rest of the passing offense. In the first three games of the season Evans grabbed five receptions for only 29 yards. In 2007, the Bills passing offense struggled to find any form of a rhythm. The team converted only a third of its third downs. The Bills managed just 25 touchdowns, a stat that places them 30th in the league in that category.

Despite the struggles and entering just his fifth season Evans has already cemented his place as one of the better receivers in recent memory. His 29 touchdowns are tied for fifth in team history while his 233 receptions are good for 10th.

Josh Reed's outlook for the Bills is a promising one as he is signed on for another two seasons. Reed's longest reception of the season went for 30 yards and he does not have the speed of a Roscoe Parrish. Although it is doubtful he has the speed to move up to the No. 2 slot he should remain as a solid receiver in the slot for Buffalo.

After Buffalo announced that Trent Edwards will be the starting quarterback in 2008, fans may have been excited for a change, however the Bills have yet to make a major move on the wide receiver front. Buffalo still lacks a consistent big play wide receiver to create balance and remove pressure from Evans.

One area the Bills also need to improve is red zone efficiency. Last year, the Bills scored as many PATs, 24, as they did field goals. When Marshawn Lynch missed three games with an injury, the Bills lost twice and won a one point squeaker over the Washington Redskins on the day of Sean Taylor's memorial.

The receiving corps had health issues of its own. Price, after being put on IR for a neck injury, only took part in the first four games of the season while Josh Reed missed a game because of a thigh injury. With points at a premium in the NFL the Bills need to be able to make the plays deep down the field. Although Evans offers this ability the team needs to execute far better.

Two of Buffalo's losses last season were by one point with another loss coming in a snowstorm – an 8-0 shutout loss to Cleveland. The Bills are close. But how far they go in the 2008 campaign will depend largely on what the wideouts can give Edwards.

Looking Ahead

On March 3, the Bills had Arizona WR Bryant Johnson in for a visit at Orchard Park, however no deal has been reached. With the free agent prospects dwindling it is crucial for Buffalo to either sign Johnson or pick up a promising prospect with their first round draft pick.

Sitting with the 11th pick, the Bills may have a shot a Texas' Limas Sweed, who offers a rare 6-foot-5 frame that would greatly aid the size of the Bills receiving corps. Currently the top four receivers for Buffalo all top out just shy of six feet tall – a terrible disadvantage when playing physical corners within the division.

Although the Bills have failed to ink a receiver to bolster the offense the team did pick up TE Courtney Anderson, who now gives Edwards a big, strong target. With the departure of Sam Aiken to New England and the release of Peerless Price the next few weeks of offensive free agency are crucial to the Bills success this season.


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