A View from Calico Jack’s – 9/30/09

Dick Jauron is a smart man. He knows where this is probably headed for him. He probably won’t admit that, even to himself, but he knows.

Jauron would probably know even if he were a dumb man. You don’t hang around the NFL as a coach or coordinator for nearly 25 years without understanding the football adage that, “You’re hired to be fired.” He’s learned that lesson the hard way, and will probably learn it again soon enough. Maybe in January.

As we approach the one-quarter mark of the season – man, the NFL season goes by fast – what have WE learned? Where is this headed from OUR perspective?

I believe we’ve learned – or confirmed – that Freddy Jackson is starting-back quality; he and Marshawn are going to be called on a LOT if our pass “attack” remains the same as we’ve seen thus far (more on that in a moment). Our O-Line is probably better than we had any reason to expect; no one is going to confuse it for the 1980s Redskins’ Hogs line, but it could have been a disaster. Our defense is pretty good, but stretched and still porous in crucial moments. I remain a believer in the team’s special teams…although, what’s up with Roscoe Parrish?

More importantly…what the heck is up with our passing game?

I still think there’s a lot to like about Trent Edwards. We’ll find out in a few weeks if he’s truly a fair-weather quarterback, or if he can still make something happen once the thermometer dips below 40. But, the lack of production from both Lee Evans and that other lead receiver is almost unbelievable. Even more unbelievable is how little these guys are even getting the ball.

Is it Edwards’ fault? Does he bail out too soon in favor of secondary targets, hence the dreaded nickname of Captain Checkdown? I’m hardly an X’s and O’s guy which is why I don’t tend to comment on it, but it strikes me that Edwards stands firm in the pocket, taking some pretty hard hits along the way. Does that sound like someone who is incessantly bailing out? Even if he is, is it unreasonable to believe the general game-directive comes from elsewhere?

Is the problem AVP’s schemes? Or, is AVP going conservative because he sees limitations in Edwards and the O-Line?

Regardless, it all comes back to Jauron, who seems content for his team to take little risk on offense yet significant risk on special teams. It smacks of either lack of confidence, or desperation.

But, again, not desperate enough to take offensive risks when, in reality, the risk really ISN’T a risk. Punting late in a two-possession game against an explosive New Orleans offense that seemed to have finally figured you out? To me, that isn’t risk-averse; that’s bad decision-making.

The Dolphins’ game is legitimately important. After Sunday, the Bills will either be a .500 team which finally defeated a division foe…or a 1-3 last place team on the verge of a serious downward spiral. Personally, I believe the Bills will prove to be a team that generally beats the teams it should beat (which is what 7-9 teams tend to do, I’d guess). That bodes well, as a number of lesser opponents are on the horizon. They should beat the Pennington-less Fish…unless Chad Henne proves to be a second-coming of Tom Brady. That’d be ironic – it seems the Bills and Dolphins have searched for their Next Big QB for longer than anyone – let’s hope the Fish don’t find theirs against the Bills.

Yes, Dick Jauron is a smart man. Smart enough to know what he’s in for if his team loses to the Dolphins this week. Even a run of victories against half-baked opponents won’t be enough to stave off the inevitable. The Bills need to start beating the occasional “good” team and divisional opponents, starting this Sunday.