Mar 9, 2009
I was in New York this past weekend with my wife to check out a couple of shows when I received the message on my blackberry that the Bills had signed mercurial – check that, insane – wideout Terrell Owens.
My initial reaction was, wow, what a fall from grace for Owens, and why would the Bills be interested in him?
Ah, but that was at dinner, with four Dewar’s in me (and a beer). Once I was no longer encumbered by alcohol and began thinking about this move, I quickly arrived at the conclusion that it’s pure genius for both parties. Owens is a complete embarrassment at this point, but so are the Buffalo Bills. His career is going nowhere, and neither are the Bills – unless you’re talking about Canada.
From Buffalo’s perspective, at least people are talking about the Bills again. More importantly, this T.O. game has played out so many times before that we should be very familiar with how the storyline will unfold, kind of like how we know an episode of “Three’s Company” will be based on a misunderstanding. In this case, it’s based on Owens’ psychosis. It starts off rosy, and things start to deteriorate in year two or three. At this point, however, Owens may actually behave, since no one’s going to put up with much from a guy who’ll be pushing 40, so the Bills may actually get a kinder gentler Owens for 1-3 years. He definitely won’t cause any problems this year; I can say that with the utmost confidence. He’s literally run out of options in the National Football League.
And the fact of the matter is the Bills desperately need Owens. Sure, his skills have declined, but he’s still one of the 15 best WRs in the game. Buffalo has needed a wideout with size for what seems like a decade (it may actually be a decade), and the guy they picked in the draft last year, James Hardy, is a bum. Lee Evans is not a legit #1, but he’s one heck of a #1A or a #2, so while they still don’t have a TE (keep an eye on Derek Schouman with Robert Royal gone), Owens and Evans is a really nice duo. Throw in the speedy Roscoe Parrish and the reliable Josh Reed in the slot, and now we’re talking about a real receiving corps. QB Trent Edwards fell into a slump last year, but his overall body of work so far in the NFL is encouraging. He’s showed signs of being a quality player in the NFL, perhaps someone similar to what Trent Green was for the Chiefs from like 2002-2005.
And finally, while they have operated for years in an overly-frugal and conservative fashion, which has limited them, this has been a pretty good team the last two seasons. They play well as a team on defense, have an above-average o-line, and their top two backs are pretty good. RB Marshawn Lynch did disappoint me last year trying too hard with his herky-jerky running, and while I still think he is overall a good guy (this ain’t Pacman Jones), he’s pretty dumb. He’ll likely be suspended for a stretch, which makes Fred Jackson a terrific sleeper in 2009. Jackson was better than Lynch last year. I don’t know if Jackson can handle the wear and tear of being a featured back, as Lynch has, but Jackson was a better player. He was much more decisive, so he was better.
So the pieces are in place for the Bills to make a serious run at the playoffs in 2009. If they stay relatively healthy and if Edwards progresses or more importantly doesn’t regress, they’ll be 9-7 or even 10-6, and they’ll be very relevant. The media will praise them for taking a chance on a lunatic that paid off. It’ll be a victory for this franchise.
Owens will be talking all season about how no other team gave him a chance, and he’ll reward the team that did by playing well, scoring TDs, and keep his big fat yapper shut. It’ll be a victory for him.
But all bets are off in 2010.