There are a ton of different story lines to watch for this weekend, but one that has piqued my interest is a game that will fly under the radar: Tampa Bay at Buffalo.
While this game might not register on the must-see list, I am curious to see if Buffalo has the fortitude to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to New England. I’m also eager to see if it makes some tweaks to the offense that should challenge the offensive line, QB Trent Edwards, and the team’s wide receivers.
Don’t think because Tampa Bay got housed by the Cowboys that it’s going to Buffalo so the Bills can use it as a scout team. The Bucs played with heart and I think they will all season, simply because of the type of guys they have on their roster, with RB Cadillac Williams leading the way.
As for the Bills, I spoke to a handful of players in their locker room after the late-game collapse against the Patriots Monday night and one player (not T.O.) mentioned to me that future game plans need to involve the wide receivers more. I agree, especially since the Bills have two strong wideouts in Owens and Lee Evans – and they’ve got to start threatening teams with the big play.
I thought new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt called a very strong game, drilling New England in the screen game – especially after LB Jerod Mayo went out with an injury. However, that strategy might not work this week, nor should it since the Bucs’ were vulnerable to some deep balls against Dallas.
If Buffalo tries to go vertical, the offensive line that looked surprisingly good against the Pats will have to hold its blocks a little longer and Edwards is going to have to be a little more patient before getting rid of the ball. I really like what I saw out of Edwards and believe he could develop into a solid player.
I also want to see how CB Leodis McKelvin responds — not only to his late fumble that cost the Bills a victory, but the negative fallout that’s ensued. McKelvin is a talented young pro who could develop into a player that makes the Bills a lot better in the long term. He’s already a pretty good cornerback and he is a very dangerous return man.
He’s also an incredibly nice kid. I think he will use this mistake as motivation for big things. It’s hard to tell at the moment of truth, though. If he’s in a tight spot and can’t forget the past, then history could repeat itself and it’s all downhill from there.
This is a game that will show the character of the Bills. A lot of teams play above themselves the first game of the season because they’ve had all offseason to prepare. Buffalo might be one of those teams. If they buckle at home to Tampa Bay, things are going to get ugly very quickly and you might already start hearing calls for coach Dick Jauron‘s job. If they play well and get a victory, then maybe a team that likely will go under the radar this week will have something to feel better about.