Ready To Go
BILLS READY TO GO
Year number 3 of the Tom Donahoe...Gregg Williams era with the Buffalo Bills
officially kicks-off Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium as Buffalo
plays host to division rival New England.
We've moved from April's college draft and the still surprising selection of
injured running back Willis McGahee, to several off-season mini-camps or
"organized workouts", to full blown training camp at beautiful St. John
Fisher College and finally through a quartet of pre-season exhibition
contests...a trio of which the Bills came out winners.
And now lastly, the cutdowns necessary to get the roster to the prescribed
53 player limit to start the 2003 season and road to Super Bowl XXXVIII in
Houston come February.
As an informed observer who's talked to players and coaches and
administrators in the months since the end of last season, I'm convinced
that this team has all the makings of a solid playoff contender. I did not
say Super Bowl contender just yet. That may still come, however, at the
moment we've still yet to see the "real" Bills. By that I mean the team
that has to get the job done with the game on the line as opposed to the
exhibition season which is far more about evaluation than wins or losses.
Buffalo's on field success will be directly attributable to the health of
quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Drew's continued ability to execute Kevin
Gilbride's offense with the right mix of passes to Eric Moulds, Josh Reed
and the rest of the receiving corp. Dave Moore and the tight ends blocking
and receiving when needed. Travis Henry running hard and holding on to the
football for another thousand yards plus with Sammy Morris and Joe Burns
giving him a few carries off in between. It means the Sam Gash of old
providing key blocks and receptions at fullback and an offensive line that
also remains healthy and focused. No stupid penalties for false
starts...holding is going to happen...it does on every play...but I believe
officials take note of the better lines and penalize them less for holds if
they're not having problems with other miscues.
On the defense...it's really a brand new ballgame with more bulk up front
and more speed at linebacker. Sam Adams and Pat Williams in the middle
"should" take pressure off the backers and secondary against the run, and
Aaron Schobel and the revitalized Ryan Denney hopefully can benefit with
better qb pressures. Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher and Jeff Posey on paper
present maybe the best unit in the entire NFL. Fast, agile, strong and
smart...I'm very excited about their prospects in getting the ball back to
the offense. And then there's the secondary. Corner Nate Clements is
poised for a breakout season in the turnover department, while on the other
side Antoine Winfield is a perfect compliment, if not undersized. Safeties
Coy Wire and Pierson Prieleau need to be physical while also understading
their responsibilities deep.
Finally, on special teams, punter Brian Moorman is one of the game's best,
with new kicker Rian Lindell, yet to face the swirling winds at "The Ralph".
So far he's been pretty consistant on field goals and his kickoffs have
been inside the 5 yard line with great consistancy. Toss in the rookies on
the suicide squads and Antonio Brown's electrifying ability as the return
man and well...things look like they are right on track.
But, no play that counts has occured just yet for the new season. So all
the hype and prognostications mean nothing. It starts for real come Sunday
in Orchard Park.
I'm ready to go...and hopefully...so are the Bills!!!