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Thoughts from the other side: Buffalo Bills

Anytime I have a chance to speak to those who follow closely and cover a team the Raiders will play, I take it. This week the Raiders are playing the Buffalo Bills and I was given the opportunity to speak with Joe Pinzone over at Buffalowins.com. I asked him a few questions about the Bills and their upcoming game versus the Raiders. Here is that Q&A.

1) The Bills really handed it to the Chiefs last week. It seemed like it came out of nowhere.  Would you agree with that or did you see the pieces coming together?

“Yes. I had a feeling we could beat the Chiefs, because I thought they were a complete scam last year. However, I didn’t think we would kill them by 34 points. That team has issues. What surprised me most about the Bills was the way the offense performed. Fitzpatrick looked sharp and Fred Jackson looked like he couldn’t be stopped.”

2) Who is the most significant loss to the Bills team this season, and what has the team done to overcome it?

“Hmm. That’s a tough one because the three big names we lost were [Paul Posluszny], [Donte] Whitner, and [Lee] Evans. Quite frankly, I don’t think any of the three will be missed. Poz was a joke. All he did was pile up tackles five yards down the field. He never made plays and he couldn’t cover anyone. Whitner was pretty much the same way. The dude had like four career interceptions for his career. Evans will probably be the biggest blow. However, last week, David Nelson and Scott Chandler really looked good in the passing game.”

3) Ryan Fitzpatrick had a tremendous game last Sunday. I have long thought he was the real deal, but I got the feeling Bills fans didn’t feel that way. Is that your assessment?

“Here’s the thing about Fitzpatrick, He’s still a young guy in terms of playing experience by starting only 34 career games. If you compare what he did in 2009 to 2010, he got much better. If you take out the Colts B-team season finale game in 2009, he had surpassed 200 yards only once and never passed for more than one touchdown in a game at that point. Last year, he went over 200 yards nine times and passed for two touchdowns or more six times. That’s progress. If Fitz wasn’t a nerd or was a first round pick, wouldn’t you be happy with those stats after 33 career starts? I would. In his last 15 starts, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 30 touchdowns. Bottom line: If you put Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Jets, I don’t think they miss a beat. The problem is that Fitzpatrick is from Harvard and was drafted in the seventh round. Does he make bad throws? Yes, but so do all QBs.”

4) What would you say the major weak area is on this Bills team? 

“Offensive line. For God sakes, we gave Langston Walker 25 million bucks to start for us in 2007. That’s how desperate we are. It has been the biggest problem for the Bills for almost 15 years. The only guy we have who is more than decent is Eric Wood. Andy Levitre is alright. Other than that, Blah. I will say this though, they played well last week and gave Fitzpatrick a ton of time against the Chiefs. Fitz also helps the line out a lot, as he was only sacked 23 times in 13 starts last year. This will be a huge test for the unit against the likes of Seymour and Kelly. “

5) What area do you see the Bills being able to exploit the Raiders?

“I think we can get after Campbell. Frankly, it’s not really about our defense, but how I just don’t think your passing game is all that good. With Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Shawne Merriman rushing the passer, I think it is important for the Raiders to establish the run and stop the Bills offense. If the Raiders fall behind, I don’t think the Raiders will be able to catch up via the pass. I will tell you though, the Raiders should be licking their chops at the thought of rushing the ball against our defense. The Bills finished dead last against the run last year. However, with the additions of Barnett, Morrison, and Dareus, I think we are better than last year’s unit.”

6) Raider fans are typically either passionately for or against Al Davis’ hands-on approach to his team. How do Bills fans feel about the hands-on approach by Ralph Wilson?

“Eh. To be honest, Ralph has been getting a ton of crap over the last few years. A lot of it has to do with the 11 years with no playoffs, the team being so under the cap, the perception of being cheap, the team playing one game a year in Canada, and to top it off, not knowing what will happen to the team when he passes away. Talk show hosts and columnists have been all over him for years. From what I heard, Wilson isn’t as hands-on as he used to be, as Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey seem to be running the show, but he will always have a say in the direction of the team.”

7) What is it with the Bills signing ex-Raider offensive linemen? First it was Langston Walker, then Cornell Green, and now Erik Pears?

“Dude, what is with the Raiders signing all our old QBs?! Trent Edwards, Rob Johnson, and JP Losman all dawned the silver and black for like 10 minutes. I actually don’t have an answer for you. Cornell Green was terrible last year. We cut his ass after like three games. Langston Walker was a nice guy, but couldn’t play tackle to save his life or the life of the QB. The Bills are somewhat high on Erik Pears, as he played alright last week against the Chiefs. Even still, retreaded Oakland guys won’t ever be confused with Upshaw and Shell. Maybe Ralph and Al have some sort of old AFL agreement that consists of exchanging crappy talent?”

8) What do you think of Kirk Morrison at inside linebacker?

“I didn’t really notice him all that much last week. However, I like the addition of him. We were terrible against the run last year and I know his best attribute is being a run stuffer.”

9) Who wins Sunday and why?

“This is a tough game. I have a lot of respect for the Raiders defense. They get after the QB and are really a throw back defense. I think homefield advantage will be huge for the Bills. Home openers are always electric in Buffalo. I think it will be a tough, low-scoring affair. I just think the Bills offense is better than the Raiders squad at this point and will be the difference. The Bills defense is typically a bend but don’t break defense. I predict overtime: 17-14, Bills.”

To see my answers to his questions, CLICK HERE

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