Week #1 Appetizers – Buffalo Wings

It’s been a long time since the Buffalo Bills have been a contending team in the AFC.

The last time the Bills made the playoffs was 12 years ago. They’ve had one winning season in that time. Since then, they’ve gone through four coaches, three general managers, numerous starting quarterbacks and a list of failures in the first round.

Just in the last 12 months, Buffalo has said goodbye to seven high draft choices – WR James Hardy (2nd/’08), RB Marshawn Lynch (1st/’07), DT John McCargo (1st/’06), S Donte Whitner (1st/’06), LB Paul Posluszny (2nd/’07, WR Lee Evans (1st/’04) and DE/OLB Aaron Maybin (1st/’09) – all among the top 41 picks in the NFL Draft.

WR Roscoe Parrish (2nd-round) is the only one left from the 2005 Draft. NT Kyle Williams (5th-round) is the only one left from 2006. Nobody remains from the 2007 Draft.

Compare that to the Chiefs: they have two players left from the ’05 Draft in ILB Derrick Johnson and P Dustin Colquitt, one player from ’06 in OLB Tamba Hali and one player from 2007 in WR Dwayne Bowe.

“We’re still a work in progress,” head coach Chan Gailey said. “But I think we’ve got the ability. If we gain that one intangible of confidence, I think that these guys don’t realize how good they can be yet.”

MERRIMAN COULD LIFT BILLS DEFENSE

He’s a very familiar figure to Chiefs fans from his time in San Diego. Who could forget the vicious hit that LB Shawne Merriman put on Priest Holmes that went a long way to ending the running back’s career.

Merriman has struggled in recent years with injuries. Some would say that’s because he got caught using steroids and is off the juice. But Merriman says he’s healthy and ready to go now and the Bills defense needs him, especially when it comes to stopping the run. Last year, the Bills gave up 274 rushing yards to the Chiefs.

“He’s a guy that can change the game and you always have to account for him and know where he is,” Chiefs QB Matt Cassel said. “In that defense where they play with multiple fronts, that he can create mismatches on backs and tight ends and you never really want to get him matched up on any of those guys because he can blow up your offensive scheme.”

KEY-GAME MATCHUP: HALI VS. BELL

OLB Tamba Hali, he of the biggest contract in Chiefs history, hopes to pick up where he left off last year in Sunday’s opener. Hali’s 14.5 sacks led the AFC and finished second in the NFL during the 2010 season.

The guy who will see Hali more often than not is Bills’ LT Demetrius Bell, a seventh-round draft choice in 2008 out of Northwestern State in Louisiana.

“He’s one of the best out there so I have to bring my ‘A’ game and I know he’ll bring his,” Bell said of Hali. “We basically have to be ready for everything. He’s quick and he’s good with inside moves and outside moves. He has everything.”

It was not a good pre-season for Bell, as he struggled in pass protection and was in danger of losing his starting job. The problem for the Bills coaches is they don’t really have anybody to take his place.

“Yeah, I struggled but I’m gradually getting into a better rhythm than where I was at the start of the season,” Bell said. “It just comes with time. The more we do something, the better off we get at it, and the more comfortable you get with it, the faster you play. It’s all about rhythm.”

FAMILIAR FACES

The Bills coaching staff has a lot of faces that are known to Chiefs fans, topped by head coach Chan Gailey (offensive coordinator in 2008). On his staff are offensive coordinator/running backs coach Curtis Modkins (RB coach in ’08), offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris (assistant O-Line coach in ’08-09), tight ends coach Bob Bicknell (O-Line and TE coach 2007-09) and offensive quality control coach Kevin Patullo (same job 2007-08).

In the front office is director of college scouting Chuck Cook, who spent more than 25 years working for the Chiefs in the personnel department before he was dumped by GM Scott Pioli.

On the roster are former Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen (2007-09) and fifth-round draft choice from 2008 G Colin Brown.


One Response to “Week #1 Appetizers – Buffalo Wings”

  • September 10, 2011  - rufus says:

    “he of the biggest contract in Chiefs history” lol nice

    Tamba is going to wreck this game. for buffalo.




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