It's not hard to believe the regular season is here. For me, it's about time. It's too long of an offseason when you're not playing. Of course I'm a big Buffalo Sabres fan too but there is nothing like the NFL.
When your team doesn't make the playoffs you always look and see what the team has coming up and how they're getting the city excited again about football. The emotion in the city of Buffalo is exciting right now. All the talk shows are spending time predicting how the Bills will be this season and I can tell the fans in Buffalo are itching for a good year.
The home opener will be even more special for me because it's my wife's birthday. My wife, kids, and my mother and father-in law will all be going to the game together for the first time. I'm very excited about that.
It will be very important for J.P. Losman and the offense to play well in Week 1 to set the tone for the season. Last year the offense ended the season on a positive note and several individuals such as J.P. played better and gained more confidence.
I really think J.P.'s teammates have rallied around him, not only as their quarterback, but as their leader. This year is a very pivotal year for J.P. He made progress last year and I think the Bills won't accept anything less from him. He has some weapons, starting with Lee Evans, one of the top receivers in the league. Somebody, however, must step up and take the pressure off of Lee too. If Roscoe Parrish can emerge as the speedster on the outside, with Josh Reed and Peerless Price stepping up, J.P. will have some nice targets to throw the ball.
Running back Marshawn Lynch will also bring a dimension to the offense they haven't had in some time. They've been lacking a real good back coming out of the backfield catching passes like we had with Thurman Thomas.
I'm excited to watch Paul Posluszny this week. Poz will be going against a team that loves to run the football and has a great tradition of running their back 20-25 times a game. The Broncos always seem to make a star out of a running back.
Players, coaches, and fans can say as much as they want during the offseason, but once the kickoff is underway the players have to produce. It's not going to be an easy task either and I know they understand that. It's the National Football League. Any team can win in a given week.
The Bills do have one of the harder schedules this year. Denver is a very good team and to follow at Pittsburgh and at New England the Bills have their work cut out for them right away. You can also expect teams like the Patriots and Jets to be good based on what they did in the offseason and how they ended last year. I don't think I need to tell you about the Bills-Dolphins rivalry.
Looking at the schedules before the year starts, you could probably select 5-8 teams that have a legitimate chance at making the playoffs and then there will always be a few teams that step it up and make the playoffs. I just hope the Bills are one of those teams.
The big key to this year for the Bills will be avoiding injuries. I know every team tries to stay injury free and injuries are part of the game but I don't think the Bills have the depth that other teams do.
They may have some depth at quarterback, with Trent Edwards coming on during the preseason, and maybe behind Lynch at running back, but they appear to be short on depth at some of the other positions.
I'm waiting to see the offensive line in action this week. As a quarterback you always hope they will jell together and play well to be the line that you hope. J.P. gave the line a lot of praise during the preseason but we'll have to wait and see in live action now. Opponents will no longer be doing the vanilla up-the-line rush but instead twists, stunts, and zone dogs where a defensive lineman takes one step forward and then the linebacker blitzes around the corner while that lineman drops back into coverage. I look for good things to happen but the question is do they have enough talent all-around to offset an injury.
I have a lot of faith in the Bills and I'm a season ticket holder. I'm very excited for Dick Jauron and what he brings to the organization but it's not going to be an easy road. Each and every week is going to be tough. They are going to have to win as many close games as possible and the games they should win they must win.
Tasker Wall of Fame InductionSteve Tasker was not only a class individual off the field but a true professional on the field. He would have been a great wide receiver as well. When he was on special teams he had two guys lined up over him and usually a third guy back waiting for him.
I remember many times asking coach Marv Levy and Bruce DeHaven if I could use Steve as one of my wide receivers. But you've got to remember I had two Hall of Famers to throw to each week, James Lofton and Andre Reed, who will be in the Hall of Fame, along with a great receiver in Don Beebe. So to fit Tasker in there would have been tough but Steve was one of the greatest receivers at running routes that I've ever seen. During training camp I'd put him up against any defensive back and bet lunch that he'd win the battle. He'd win 99 percent of the time. The only time he wouldn't come out on top would be when Nate Odomes or another defensive back would guess the route and get lucky.
I know Steve Tasker will be one of the first special teams players in the Hall of Fame. If you call any of the head coaches and special teams coaches of any of the teams we played they will also say he was one of the best all-around athletes and special teams players in the NFL and that he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not many teams game planned for a special teams player.