September 22, 2007
Bills Suffering Lots Of Pain Right Now
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
The best story to come out of Buffalo is that Kevin Everett will walk again. That's about it.
The Buffalo Bills are seeing their season turn into a nightmare after just two games into the season. They opened two weeks ago at home against Denver with a loss that was both tragic and jarring; losing Everett to the catastrophic spine injury which nearly left him a quadriplegic, then seeing Denver win the game on a field goal the way they did. They then traveled to Pittsburgh last week and cut a terrible stinker, revealing them as a generally lousy team.
Now they come to Foxborough and have to deal with both the revamped New England offense and the tough New England defense which will still be devoid of both Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour. The Patriots won consecutive 38-14 decisions over the Jets and the Chargers, the latter of the two sending a message across the league regarding the toughness of the Patriots. With Spygate hanging over the heads, against a revenge-crazed opponent, the Patriots instead went out and clobbered the Chargers, making it look a hundred times easier than when they dispatched the Jets and seemingly cheated in doing so.
But Buffalo's season, if it is to be salvaged at all, hinges on their ability to at least play well against the iron of the league. Right now, the Patriots and the Colts are generally recognized as the two best teams in the league, with varying opinions as to which team is number one and which is number two. What Buffalo needs to do is, if a win is not in the cards, to at least put up a good fight and give their fans something to hang on to with 14 games left to play.
Unfortunately, Everett has become a symbol of the team. And in a way, so has quarterback J.P. Losman, but for opposite reasons than Everett.
Last Sunday, Losman went off on his team after the 26-3 loss at Pittsburgh. Losman questioned the aggressive nature, or lack thereof, in his team's play calling. He then blamed the media for trying to "divide the team". Bills head coach Dick Jauron, meanwhile, has been asked by several writers if he had considered yanking Losman, and he did not come right out and condemn such remarks. The Bills have scored only 17 points thus far in this young season, and only rookie Marshawn Lynch, brought in as a replacement at running back for the departed Willis McGahee, has done well on offense for the Bills.
Everett, on the other hand, remains perhaps the second most compelling NFL story of this young season, behind the Patriots and their cheating. Some folks might put this story at the top of such a list. Everett, despite a bleak initial diagnosis by Buffalo area doctors who worked on him, did eventually regain voluntary movement in his extremities and some of his fingers. He has since been flown by private jet to his home in Houston, where he can rehabilitate near his family. Every football fan nationwide fell on their knees and prayed for this guy, and his progress provides a nice warm glow to this 2007 season.
Right now, this is about all the Bills have to feel good about. It's not like they are the only flawed team in the AFC East, and the Jets and Dolphins are also 0-2 just like they are. But Buffalo could be ranked as the fourth-best team in the division right now, and facing the red-hot Patriots right now is not exactly the kind of elixir this wounded team needs right now.
Of course, you the Patriots fan might be thinking about such things like "trap game" and "on any given Sunday". And rightfully so.
The Patriots, it could be said, hit two weeks of emotional highs in posting their 38-14 wins. Opening Sunday is a high for any team, but against the Jets and Eric Mangini, it increases exponentially. Then you get the cheating allegations, a scorned foe in San Diego, a Sunday night national audience, and you have a Patriots team that was perhaps exponentially higher emotionally than the Jets game. The Patriot players took that game very seriously last week, winning it for Bill Belichick and professing their love and admiration for him profusely after the game.
Now, pray tell, how in the Sam Hill can they possibly get fired up over this Buffalo game?
The Patriots are still installed as 17-point favorites. When is the last time you have seen a Patriot team favored by that much? At the end of the Super Bowl III telecast on NBC, Curt Gowdy quoted one of the Jet players as saying "I'd rather be 17-point underdogs than 17-point favorites!" (The Jets were 17-point dogs to the Colts, and as you all know, won the game 16-7 over Baltimore.) This is exactly that kind of game where, if the Patriots are flat or careless or both, the Bills could jump up and bite them on the ankle.
When you talk to people about the Bills, the only player who really scares the Patriots is defensive end Aaron Schobel. He is one of those players who presents a matchup problem for Matt Light. Without Daniel Graham to provide help, Tom Brady could conceivably have some problems with pass rush on Sunday. Kyle Brady is the new blocking tight end, so the "other Brady" might have to step it up and grab everyone's attention for the first time as a Patriot. If Schobel is allowed to harass Brady all game long, it could hold the Patriots score down considerably, but not likely to the point of concern, especially if Losman continues to play subpar.
It could turn out that this be still another low scoring affair between these two teams, as has often been the case down and through the years. On the other hand, if Brady is well protected and given time to throw, it will be another long afternoon for the Bills. The Patriots, given how easily they have moved the ball in the first two games, have too much firepower for the Bills to completely contain and should win the game if they take the Bills seriously, prepare for them properly and execute well on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the defining symbol of the 2007 Bills, Everett, will be at home with his family from here on in, cheering on his team down in Houston. Corny as it may seem, you might wonder if Jauron might want to go down to Houston, talk to Everett, and tell the fallen tight end that the Bills will go out there and, when the breaks are beating the boys, will win just one for the (insert nickname for Everett here).
If that be the case, that would be terrific. Just not this Sunday.
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