By BBD Editor Mike Watkins
With the season slowly starting to slip away, this game v. the Cardinals becomes the biggest game of the Bills early season. A loss here and the Bills fall to 2-4 and will already be looking at next April’s draft, a win and a return to .500 could be the spark this team needs. Here are the five keys the Bills must do in order leave Arizona with a victory and some hope.
1.Put up or shut up: After two hammerings at the hands of two Super Bowl contenders the Bills decided to stay on the West Coast and practice for a team that is a little more there speed. Its not just the DL that has to step up it’s the entire defense. Both the Cardinals top RB’s are out for this game, the OL is nothing to write home about, and lets face it no one is confusing K.Kolb or J.Skelton with franchise caliber QB’s. This is a chance for the DL to get back on track, as they should overmatch a weak Cardinals OL. Its not just the sack stat Bills fans should be looking at but the harassment they should impose on Kolb by moving him off his spot and forcing hurried bad throws. If they cant do that in this game then Bills fans and media alike should start to really worry
2.Everybody Jump: The Cardinals have had 9 days to prepare for this game and if you are them, looking at the last two games, you are likely feeling pretty good. They know the Bills are likely going into this game looking to be really aggressive in the pass rush department since that is what is taking a lot of heat. To counter this they are likely going to employ a lot of screens, play action, and three step drops. The last one there is where the Bills CB’s really have to step up. Its time to start seeing the Bills get more aggressive in the short routes by jumping them for PD’s and INT’s. As much as the Bills need to create pressure, turnovers can have the same if not better over all effect
3.Its Spiller time: I like Fred Jackson, I like him a lot in fact, and he is the type of leader you want on your team. The reality however is that its time to go all in on Spiller and just make him the feature back. He was leading the league in rushing and was making explosive plays all over the place before the injury. I really don’t want to see this equal carry distribution anymore. I now think Jackson should be relegated to some 3rd downs and the red zone RB for the Bills. It will keep him and Spiller both fresh while keeping arguably Buffalos most explosive player on the field longer. If the Bills want to get this season back on track a good way to start that is to get Spiller going again because when he gets in a rhythm he is an opposing DC’s nightmare
4. Maybe not so Happy Gilmore: Gilmore this week will in all likelihood be matched up against Larry Fitzgerald. I can’t imagine the Bills are thinking anything else because to this point in the season Gilmore has been our best CB. The good news is Gilmore matches up with him physically very well, the bad news is from a mental standpoint its not even close. Fitzgerald is likely eagerly awaiting his matchup against the rookie CB. Gilmore could be in for a long day but most CB’s are when they line up against Fitzgerald. If nothing else it should provide a good learning experience on what it takes to cover the elite WR’s in this league
5.Help Wanted: It looks like rookie LB N.Bradham will get the start over A.Moats this week, a move in which I completely agree with. Moats looks confused out there and spends most of his time out of position or getting washed out of plays. The player whose job may be in jeopardy next is ILB K.Sheppard. He needs to improve his all around game or he will be the next to get supplanted in the starting lineup by vet K.Morrison who has been a lot better LB in his career than he will ever get credit for. The sense of urgency in this unit has to be amped up. If you see Sheppard struggle early don’t be surprised to see him get the hook quick in this game. The Bills coaching staff may use it as another opportunity to make the statement that jobs are now on the line