Nothing warms a blogger's heart like someone explicitly asking for their opinion, because it doesn't happen very often but we like to talk anyway. Given that the Steelers are facing off against the Buffalo Bills this weekend, I exchanged a Q&A with Joe from Bloguins' Bills affiliate, Buffalo Wins. My takes on the Steelers can be found there, and in this post, Joe gives us some info on the 2013 Bills.
(ed. note: Coarse language inside)
1. I wasn't very familiar with EJ Manuel and I thought it was curious when the Bills took him in the first round. I know he's been hurt, but how has he looked when healthy? Is he the real hope for a franchise QB in Buffalo? Does his injury situation worry you for the future?
He's been pretty fair for a rookie. Some peaks and valleys. Example would be his stellar performance against the Panthers in week 2 where he threw for almost 300 yards and tossed a last second game-winning TD to Stevie Johnson. The next week against the Jets, he was awful. He got sacked 9 times and completed just 45% of his passes. Best part of EJ: Has a lot of poise in the pocket and is very elusive. He actually reminds me a little of Big Ben. Worst part: He tends to put a lot of air under his deep balls and as you said, he takes unnecessary hits. I don't exactly think he's injury prone, but he has to learn to slide (See: Injury against the Browns). He's also susceptible to the blitz as he's only completing 45% of his passes when teams bring the house.
2. How has the offense looked in Manuel's absence? Heavier emphasis on the run? Can Jeff Tuel, or any other QBs on the roster, pick up the slack?
Well, it looks like EJ is coming back this Sunday, so, we can finally not see Jeff Tuel or Thad Lewis play. In all seriousness, I thought Thad played well for what he was initially. I mean, the guy was on the practice squad one week and then next week he's starting. He's a tough cookie who can take a lot of hits, but that's the problem, he takes too many hits. In his 3 starts, he's been sacked 13 times and is a little erratic on short throws. But again, he was very close to beating a really good Bengals team and did a lot of his work with both CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson playing hurt. As for Jeff Tuel? Eh. He was pretty crappy this past Sunday and I believe if Thad or EJ were playing, we would have given KC their first loss.
3. Buffalo doesn't get a lot of national attention. Who are the underrated playmakers on offense and defense? Or special teams, if applicable?
Marcus Easley has been really great on special teams coverage. I think he leads the NFL in special teams tackles. Offensively, I think you gotta keep an eye on our rookie WRs Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin came back only a few weeks ago after suffering an injury opening week and his impact has already been felt. He's averaging over 20 yards a catch and has 2TDs of 50+ yards. The man has wheels.
Robert Woods should really benefit from EJ Manuel coming back. Before EJ got hurt, Woods was the #1 targeted WR on the team, but his production dipped when Thad/Tuel came in. He's a really good route runner and he's in the top 15 for being targeted on throws that go beyond 20 yards through the air. So, he can run deep patterns.
Defensively, you gotta watch for Marcell Dareus and Kiko Alonso. Kiko has a really good shot at winning defensive rookie of the year. If you watched the all-22 of him last week against KC, he blanketed Jammal Charles all over the field. Charles had just 6 catches for 6 yards and most of it was due to Kiko's shadowing. He's a tackling machine. Dareus is living up to the hype of being the 3rd overall pick in 2011. He's 2nd on the team in sacks and has the most sacks in the NFL for DTs since the start of the 2011 season. He's a guy who can control the line of scrimmage and currently has 32 tackles, which is the most for a DT in the league
4. As for the football culture in Buffalo, do you buy into the rumors that the NFL wants to move the Bills to Toronto? Do you think that will ever happen? (For the record: I hope it does not)
God. I get asked that question all the time with these Q&As. I don't know. I put it at 60/40 they stay. All I know is this. When Ralph Wilson dies, his estate plans on selling the team and by law it goes up for auction to the highest bidder. We all know the NFL has a hard on with getting a team back in LA and that any team that goes there will skyrocket in value. I say that because the Bills just signed a 10-year lease extension in which if the team tries to move within the next 8 years, the new owner would have to pay the county like 450 million. However, if they move between years 8 and 10, the new owner only has to pay 30-million. Hmmmmm.
Lastly, Roger Goodell has always said as long as the team is economically viable, they will stay in Buffalo. I always get worried about luxury boxes and the NFL's whoring of corporate seating because Buffalo is one of the few regions in the country that doesn't have a fortune 500 company. Anyways, until a new owner comes in and says "WE AINT MOVING!!" it will always be on my mind.
5. With all due respect, do you have any advice to offer Steelers fans who are struggling to come to terms with the idea that their favorite team is a bad team?
FUCK YOU! Seriously, FUCK YOU! (ed. note: Well then.) You have 6 championships! I don't wanna hear your fan base cry. Go fucken YouTube old highlights from 4 years ago when you guys won the title. Throw up some NFL Films stuff of Terry Bradshaw with a Hulk Hogan comb over from the 70s. Hell, watch the Penguins if you are sad! Spare me with your alligator tears! I just want 1 title before I die and I'll take 40 years of suffering if it meant I can see them win one from my rocking chair at an old folks home. So Toughen up!🙂 …In other words, just enjoy the memories.
6. As a chicken wing enthusiast, Buffalo is some kind of mythical chicken wing Mecca in my mind. What are your thoughts on buffalo wings or other uses of buffalo sauce?
Buffalo wings are great, but as expat living in NYC, I've had just as good chicken wings here. So, I kind of think there's some BS to it. I mean, chicken is chicken. Its isn't like having fish from Lake Erie in comparison to the Atlantic Ocean. My favorite wing sauce has to be a mix of BBQ/Hot. Also, if anyone fucken eats their wings with ranch..THEY SHOULD BE SHOT! Wings are meant to be eaten with blue cheese. (ed. note: Whoops, I think blue cheese is gross)
So there you have it. As we touched on in our Vikings Q&A
, plenty of fans have a lot of ground on us as far as rooting for a bad team, and they don't really feel bad for us in Pittsburgh. Oh well, let's see which team underwhelms harder this Sunday.