Behind Enemy Lines - Buffalo Bills Part 1

Tyler Dunne of Buffalo Football Report stopped by to talk Patriots - Bills this week. In this installment we asked Dunne about T.O., the Bills quarterback situation, J.P. Losman and more...

1. What are your thoughts of seeing former Buffalo Bills starting quarterback J.P. Losman back in the league after a year in the UFL? And how has the franchise changed without him?

Tyler Dunne: Good to see Losman is getting another chance, but it’s not like anyone around here has any regrets. He was a jittery, ticking time bomb in the pocket that was given every chance to be the long-term answer. And he failed. The experience in the UFL probably humbled Losman, who was never lacking in self-confidence. I’m happy he is getting another chance. There are many, many bad quarterbacks that are employed in the NFL. Losman deserves a chance to play. By all accounts, Jim Fassel really helped Losman with his Las Vegas team. Against the vanilla competition, Losman threw for 1,386 yards, nine touchdowns and two picks in seven games.

To almost everyone’s surprise, not much has changed since Losman left. Many, including myself, believed Trent Edwards was the antithesis of Losman. Calm. Poised. Reliable. Turns over he isn’t. Since the organization moved ahead with Edwards over Losman, the status quo hasn’t changed. Edwards plateaued as a rookie, showing no sharp improvement in any specific area.

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick or Trent Edwards, who gives the team the best chance to win on Sunday?

Dunne: Sadly, the Bills must choose. Edwards crashed and burned earlier this season. Fitzpatrick has had his moments, but nothing sustainable. And Brian Brohm is not ready to start yet. So Perry Fewell is sticking with Fitzpatrick. The journeyman is struggling. In his past two games, Fitzpatrick hasn’t thrown for 100 yards. But out of Buffalo’s hapless sack of quarterbacks, he’s the best option.

At times, Fitzpatrick has invigorated the passing game. Unlike Edwards, he looks downfield and is a threat to run. But overall, he is not a long-term answer here. Rather, he’s another chapter in a decade-long list of mediocre quarterbacks. What you see is what you get with Fitzpatrick. The occasional floater into triple coverage (see: end-zone pick at Kansas City) with the occasional game-clinching bomb (see: heave to Terrell Owens against Miami).

Nothing to fret over. New England fans best not worry.

3. Terrell Owens relishes playing against Randy Moss, as we've seen from his Dallas days. How focused on this matchup is T.O. and what has he been saying / doing as the teams prepare to meet?

Dunne: Hard to say how T.O. is feeling right now—he has been absent from practice due to an illness. After missing Thursday’s practice, it’s difficult to say where his head’s at heading into this showdown with Moss. Expect him to be revved up for this one, though. He needs to play well for multiple reasons. First, the personal slugfest with Moss. Second, his time is running out to impress other NFL teams. Soon, Owens will be an aging free agent again. Every catch is money to him. He must prove that he can still play — a very debatable point.

4. Fred Jackson seems to have jumped right into the mix at running back, even taking carries away from former starter Marshawn Lynch. What's the difference between the two and do you think Lynch's suspension at the start of the season contributed to Jackson's move into the starting lineup?

Dunne: Jackson is 1A and Lynch is 1B. Beyond Lynch’s suspension, I think Jackson has been the better all-around back for two years now. Unlike Lynch, he hits holes with authority and can turn a one-yard gain into five yards on pure effort. There is no wasted motion or lack of fight in Jackson, which is good considering the joke of an offensive line he has been dealt. Too often, Lynch shuffles his feet for no reason behind the line and is swallowed by a convoy of defenders. Lately, he has played better. In Buffalo’s last two games, Lynch has 144 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. But without a doubt, Jackson is Buffalo’s best running back.

Too often, the Bills stop feeding him the ball, which has played into the team’s regular fourth-quarter collapses. But when given heavy portions of carries, Jackson is dangerous. His detractors called him a "change of pace" back for the past three seasons. A complement, not primary back. So much for that. Jackson is the complete opposite. The Coe College success story has averaged more than four yards per carry for three seasons because he is built to be a workhorse back. He can wear down a defense, yet still break its back with a long run. Expect the Bills to lean on Jackson heavily down the stretch. He should have been the focus of the offense all along. Not Owens.

5. T.O. is going to be a model? Is all the attention in his off-the-field activities been a distraction for this team? And any chance he will he be back in 2010?

Dunne: Terrell Owens has been hell-bent on staying relevant since the day he arrived in Buffalo. From his staged airport arrival for his airless TV show to slapping his face on cereal boxes, desperation marketing is never too far away. T.O. is an aging receiver that is losing his luster by the day. This whole model career with Wilhelmina Agency is the latest laugher.

More than it all creating a distraction, I think it simply shows where Owens’ mind is. With so many selfish side projects, T.O. has never seemed fully committed here — an attitude that occasionally floats to the surface on the field. New York Jets corner Darrelle Revis said Owens packed it in against him a couple weeks ago (Take that Randy Moss!).

It’d be a shock to see Owens here next season. His volatile agent Drew Rosenhaus expressed his anger in the Bills midseason and we’ve seen T.O. quit on plays more frequently. At times, he shows glimpses of his old self. Some team somewhere will take another stab at him. Just don’t expect it to be here. Whoever is the general manager and/or head coach here will want to start anew and Owens does not want another season in this popgun passing game.

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Tyler Dunne covers the Bills for Buffalo Football Report on Dunne also contributes to Packer Report Magazine, the Buffalo News and the Olean Times Herald.

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