Your 2009 Buffalo Bills: Wide Receiver Preview

Forget the metaphors and clever words to an opening article. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves: 1,246 catches, 18,866 yards, and 171 touchdowns. Those are the career numbers for both Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. I’m sure you can guess who has most of those numbers. You can make the case that both players have never played on a team where there is a question of who the number 1 receiving option is. It’s a great problem for the Bills to have.

I’ve written in earlier blogs how Evans and Owens playing styles play off well with each other. Owens is the go over the middle type who can break tackles and take it to the house. T.O. has 139 career touchdowns, which is ranked number 2 for a wide outs in NFL history. Evans can beat you over the top with the deep bomb. The 6-year man has six 70-plus yard touchdown receptions – the most in the NFL since 2000. Both Wides rank number 2 and 3 in most yards in a regular season game for a receiver (Owens 283 vs the Bears in 2000 and Evans 265 vs the Texans in 2006). Both are expected to bring their “A” game this season.

The Owens effect
Say what you will about Owens, he has decimated every locker room he has been in. But the Bills didn’t bring Owens in for his mouth. T.O. has a track of being able to help elevate a quarterback to the next level (Not just in fighting). With Owens: Jeff Garcia passed for 83 touchdowns from 2000-2002. Without Owens: Garcia never passed for over 20 touchdowns ever again. With Owens: Donovon Mcnabb went from 16 to 31 touchdowns in his first season in Philly. Without Owens: Mcnabb has only passed for over 20 touchdowns once. With Owens: Tony Romo went from riding the bench and not being able to date pop stars to throwing 81 touchdowns in 39 games. Without Owens: Tony Romo’s future hasn’t been written yet, even though breaking up with Jessica Simpson may be a sign (not sure good or bad). The Bills are hoping that Owens can bring over that quarterback development he had in his last 3 cities (and not developing team chemistry issues)

The Wides are the key
Most fans and media experts have been saying the Bills will go as far as their offensive line can take them. Lets rephrase that, The Bills O-Line will go as far as the wide receivers will take them. The Bills having been missing a second wide receiver option for over 7 years now. In order to win games you need that one two punch at wide. Take a look at the great Super Bowl Teams of the past. Steelers had Swann and Stallworth, 49ers had Rice and Taylor, Dallas had Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper (yes, he was awful after leaving Dallas). Even Both teams from last years Super Bowl had a great 1-2 punch at wide. Being loaded at wide receiver means opening up the running lanes for Lynch and Jackson, because defenses won’t be able to play 8 men in the box. The best friend to a running game is having a good passing game.

The Dynamic duo needs Alfred
Just like Batman and Robin, the duo needed some help along the way. Enter Alfred, aka Josh Reed. This is where Josh Reed is going to be in a his element. He’s going to be in the slot exclusively and play against the opposition’s 3rd best corner. Reed seems to have found really good chemistry with Edwards. Last year Reed caught 56 passes in just 13 games. Josh won’t beat you on the deep ball or break tackles like Owens and Evans, but he will be the check down guy and safety net that Edwards needs when he is in trouble. Reed has to make defenses pay for the lack of attention he will be getting. Look for Reed to be a go to guy on 3rd down for the Bills. This is also an important year for the LSU grad because he’s a FA, and you know what happens when a players contract is up. Show me the money.

Odd man out
Everything is in place with Owens, Evans, and Reed as your top 3 wides. They arguably make up one of the best trios in the NFL. After those 3, it’s anyone guess who will be the 4th and 5th wide outs. Roscoe Parrish is penciled in as the 4th wide on the team. If you have read my blog before, you know how I feel about Parrish. He’s a great punt returner and will give you the occasional big play on offense, but that is it. For Parrish’s sake, the Bills have been running a lot of wildcat offense with Parrish under center during training camp. It’s not a bad idea considering some circles have deemed that Parrish needs to get the ball in his hands 150 times a year.

After Parrish, it’s James Hardy and Steve Johnson battling for the 5th spot. Johnson impressed coaches last year with his play down the stretch and gives the Bills a big target. After Owens, the Bills are relatively small at wide receiver. With Owens getting a lot of attention in the red zone, look for Johnson on the other side of the field to be in a lot of 1 on 1 match-ups. James Hardy is currently on PUP list and may be still on it at the start of the season. Hardy is the future when it comes to being the teams number 2 wide. You don’t just waste a 2nd round pick for a guy to become your 4th receiving option. This will end up being a mulligan year for Hardy (sorry Quinn), but the wide needs to shape up in a hurry for next year with Josh Reed and T.O. being free agents.

-Joe-

Part 1: Quarterback Preview
Part 2: Running Backs Preview
Part 3: Wide Receivers Preview
Part 4: O-Line Preview
Part 5: D-Line Preview
Part 6: Linebacker Preview
Part 7: Secondary Preview
Part 8: Special Teams Preview
Part 9: Coaching Preview

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