1. Just how much do you believe Bills DT Marcus Stroud is looking forward to playing against his former team this Sunday, especially with the Jaguars missing three starters on the interior offensive line?
Marcus Stroud promises Sunday is no different than any other game. He denies that he circled week two on the calendar and vows he is absolutely not "giving this game any special attention," even after his former DT partner, John Henderson, said Stroud's in for a butt-whipping. Listen to those around Stroud, though, and the mood changes. Defensive end Chris Kelsay said he thinks Stroud will put more incentive in this game, at least he "hopes" so. And defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said that he may have to calm Stroud down in some one-on-one conferences for the game. So, yes, Stroud has to be licking his chops for this one to prove he isn't a decaying star even if he won't say so. With Jacksonville missing a chunk of its offensive line, Stroud should have a field day. He's healthy the ankle's fine and against Seattle last week he looked a Pro Bowl tackle. Stroud was second on the team with seven tackles (five solo), completely clogged up the Seahawks' ground game in presence alone. Julius Jones only averaged 3.5 yards a pop. After seeing Tennessee's success last week, Stroud is no doubt amped for this one.
2. The Bills look as if they have a very solid defense. Where is there weakest link?
Tough to tell right now. Buffalo's defense faced an offense last week in somewhat of an identity crisis. The Seahawks passed themselves into oblivion last year, but claim to be balanced this year. Buffalo ranked near the bottom in almost every defensive category last season. The new additions Stroud, Kawika Mitchell and a healthy Paul Posluszny seem to have drastically changed the face of the unit. But they still need many more games to warrant being labeled a top 15, top 10 unit. The weak link may still be the secondary. Yes, they limited Matt Hasselbeck to 17-of-41 passing, but the verdict's still out on the cornerback spot opposite Terrence McGee. Jabari Greer, Ashton Youboty and Leodis McKelvin are not lockdown corners. Jacksonville may exploit one of these players in one-on-one coverage.
3. Trent Edwards seems to have a great relationship with his wide receivers, despite only starting less than a full year. What is the one part of Edwards game that needs improvement?
The deep ball. Edwards needs to consistently hit Lee Evans down the field as he did last week. Poised in the pocket and surefire on his checkdowns, Edwards must keep taking shots downfield to stretch defenses. New offensive coordinator Turk Schonert is willing to call such plays unlike Steve Fairchild last year so this area of Edwards' game could spike big time. He put on 10 pounds of muscle, has a deep-ball arm and now just needs to keep piling successes.
4. Who does Marshawn Lynch's running style most remind you of?
There's a rap song circulating YouTube and iTunes called "Marshawn Lynch," featuring a pre-draft interview soundbyte of Lynch in which a reporter asks Lynch to define his attitude. His response, "Beast Mode," is dead-on (and makes for a humorous intro to the rap song, you'll keep replaying). The guy doesn't have elite, breakaway speed, but he fights for every yard on every carry like it's his last. Maybe the dreadlocks spilling out of their helmets has fooled me, but Lynch and Dallas' Marion Barber seem to be identical runners. Hardnosed, constantly attacking, "beast mode."
5. Since the Bills looked fantastic in their opener, and Jacksonville is such a tough place for visiting teams to play, especially in September, do you think the Bills will come in with the mindset that they're playing with house money, or do they expect to win?
I think the Bills will expect to win. A lot of momentum has been swinging their way lately from fake field goal touchdowns to Tom Brady's injury to punt return touchdowns. They don't seem to have that "aw shucks" attitude of years past. Trent Edwards elicits a genuinely confident coolness that resonates through the team. Not sure J.P. Losman ever did that the past few years.
6. A lot of teams that visit Jacksonville early in the season wilt in the heat and humidity, do you believe Buffalo is prepared for that aspect of the contest?
The heat could be an issue. Last year's blowout loss at Jacksonville definitely proved that. That being said, the Bills' have a ton of holdovers from '07 that remember that trip south, so it won't be unexpected. In the end, I think the Jaguars will be hungrier and will edge the Bills in a closely contested game. At home, after a difficult division loss, the Jags will be out to prove they're still a Super Bowl contender something the Bills aren't sniffing quite yet. This should be a great September, down-to-the-wire AFC showdown.
Behind Enemy Lines: Bills at Jaguars, Part 2
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