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Five Questions with Buffalo Rumblings

[Note by Skin Patrol, 08/06/08 6:52 PM EDT ] This post was published on Wed. but set to publish on Thursday, so any earth shattering events in the world of football that would nullify or otherwise make ridiculous any of the below questions/answers between now and date of publication is totally beyond my control. I won't be blamed.

Exchange of questions with SB Nation Buffalo Blog Buffalo Rumblings below. I'm sure he'll have my answers to his questions up at his site at some point, so you may want to check over there periodically to see just how incredibly uninformed I am on NFL football, if my regular content didn't already give the game away. Anyways, many thanks to Brian Galliford for the exchange of questions and I hope you guys enjoy. Cheers.

Hogs Haven: Looking over Trent Edwards' 2007 numbers, they're typical for a young quarterback in that they are neither super impressive nor do they suggest impending doom. Will Edwards get above 60% completion in 2008 and why? What do Bills fans generally expect of him in the coming year, is he a "don't lose the game for us" kind of QB (for now) or a "go out and win it" QB?

Buffalo Rumblings: Yes, Edwards should surpass the 60% completion mark because he is, in fact, a "don't lose the game for us" kind of quarterback.  Edwards was hand-picked to start by Dick Jauron because he's a game manager; he much prefers that style of quarterbacking to the gunslinger mentality of J.P. Losman.  Edwards will utilize short throws, quick timing and his check-down receivers a lot.  He should hit 60% with ease; whether or not that helps Buffalo's offense score more is another question entirely.  I expect growing pains early, but Buffalo's defense has improved to the point where they should be in games early in the season.

Hogs Haven: Marshawn Lynch is no doubt a beast, but it was Fred Jackson who led the team in YPC with 5.2 (no offense to Losman or Parrish, but I'm not counting their rushing stats). Who is this Fred Jackson guy and will we get to see much of him this coming weekend?

Buffalo Rumblings: First and foremost, Jackson's YPC was inflated heavily by a 15-carry, 115-yard performance he put up against the (at the time) 0-13 Miami Dolphins.  That 7.7 YPC day greatly skewed the stats he put up, especially since he only played heavily in the last six games of the season.

Jackson will be used a lot as a third down back and as a receiver out of the backfield.  Lynch has the total package at RB, but his physical style is complemented very well by Jackson's slashing style.  And in just 6 games last year, Jackson caught more passes (22) than Lynch did the entire season (18).  Combined, both of them could catch 50-60 passes.  I wouldn't count on seeing him a lot - he's a pretty important part of Buffalo's offense, and the Bills have two young bruisers, Dwayne Wright and Xavier Omon, who should see the bulk of the rushing load.

Hogs Haven: Your team was about middle of the pack, defensively, per Football Outsiders. First question: Is that accurate? Second, given that the team spent so many draft resources on defense, how much better can this defense be in 2008? I admit very limited knowledge of the Bills, so use this as an opportunity to educate me and my reader(s) on the development of your defensive rookies.

Buffalo Rumblings: Truth be told, I don't pay a ton of attention to FO outside of offensive line numbers.  All I know is that Buffalo's defense gave up a ton of yards in 2007, but didn't give up as many points as they could have.  They dealt with a ton of injuries, so to see that band-aid unit be able to keep the team in most games was a nice development.  But clearly, they need to improve.

Buffalo already has a playoff-caliber defense, and if the unit can stay healthy, they have a shot at being one of the better units in the league.  We can talk about the rookies all we want - and they're progressing, well, like rookies - but this story starts and ends with Marcus Stroud.  He was easily Buffalo's biggest pick-up of the off-season and is being counted on to shore up a very, very porous run defense.  The results have been excellent to date - Buffalo's defensive line has flashed dominance during training camp, and Stroud has simply been unblockable one on one.  He looks healthy, he looks like he's in great shape, and he's been playing very, very well.  The defense will go as Stroud goes, and it's as simple as that.

Hogs Haven: Sticking to the point that I know very, very little about the Bills, whose name should I expect to hear about this weekend that maybe I wouldn't be familiar with? Same question but replace "weekend" with "year"?

Buffalo Rumblings: The "weekend" guy is Kirk Chambers.  Buffalo is currently one of three teams (St. Louis and Jacksonville being the other two) dealing with the holdout of a high-profile player; in Buffalo's case, it's Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters.  His unexplained absence has led the Bills to re-shuffle their offensive line; Langston Walker is now the team's left tackle, and Chambers has assumed the right spot.  You can expect him to be talked about a lot this weekend, simply because the topic of Peters' holdout is such a hot one.

The "year" guy is Reggie Corner.  He was a "who's that guy?" fourth round pick out of Akron, but he's been excellent in camp to this point.  Guess who leads all Bills defenders in interceptions at camp?  Reggie Corner.  Guess who is getting more overall reps than the team's top draft pick, Leodis McKelvin?  Reggie Corner.  Guess who has been taking reps as the first-team nickel back in place of dinged up veteran Will James?  Reggie Corner.  This guy seems to be on the fast track to becoming an excellent sub-package corner and special teams ace right out of the gate.

Hogs Haven Dick Jauron inherited a miserable situation when he took over the team in 2006. But since then he hasn't exactly lit up the league, going just 14-18. Where do Bills fans expect this team to be at the end of this year, and what would need to happen for Jauron to lose his job? Is he even close to that, yet?

Buffalo Rumblings: Most Bills fans see this team as a legitimate playoff contender; I don't know if I'm there yet.  I think the defense and special teams units are playoff caliber, with the potential to be two of the better units in the league.  But I'll need to see a lot of questions answered offensively - particularly in regards to Edwards, Peters rookie WR James Hardy, and new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert - before I can join them on the playoff bandwagon.

As for Jauron, he gets a break from most fans (including yours truly) for keeping the team competitive while dealing with adversity.  Who would have expected the team to go 7-9 last year with injuries and flip-flopping at QB, plus 17 guys on Injured Reserve?  Truth be told, Jauron gets the most out of his players, and that's hard to find in an NFL coach.  He takes some heat for his conservatism and questionable decision-making with his coaching staff, but if the stars align for this guy in terms of certain players developing and avoiding injuries, this team could be a playoff team under Jauron's leadership.  It would take a flop of catastrophic proportions - say, a 5-11 season or worse - for the team to seriously consider replacing him.