Before you sneak into my freezer and pull out the crow you should remember the 2006 NFL season is just four games, or one quarter, old. The Buffalo Bills, at this point are a .500 team with a 2-2 record. While I figured they'd be 1-3 at this point I also must admit they could easily be 4-0 right now. I'm not talking about 4-0 with a little luck. The Bills could have been a legit 4-0.
Okay, I'll write what you've been waiting for. The 2006 Buffalo Bills are a better-coached team than last year's version. In fact, they're a better team. There, I've written it.
Now, allow me to throw a little cold water on this matter. The Bills won't be going to any playoff games this season unless they buy tickets. There are still enough mistakes and things they can't do well to prevent a legit playoff run. In fact, don't talk to me about playoffs until Buffalo is two games better than a .500 team.
J.P. Losman is developing nicely. The youngster from Tulane is showing signs of growth, particularly when it comes to knowing when to throw the ball away instead of tossing a boneheaded interception. He could, however, be even more dangerous as his confidence grows because he could again become tempted to do the unwise. Still, it is nice to have a quarterback who seems to be getting better at playing the position.
Offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, true to his word, is giving Willis McGahee every chance to prove he actually is the best running back in the NFL, though I'll continue to argue he isn't even close. That said, McGahee can keep the chains moving while eating up the clock. There certainly are times when you need just that from your running game and not much more.
Let's not get carried away with this Peerless Price thing. He made an exemplary and extraordinary effort to turn a 2-yard loss into an 8-yard touchdown. But I'm not ready to anoint him as having returned all the way on the strength of one good game versus three where he was virtually invisible. I'm not sold on him as an ideal, or even adequate, compliment to Lee Evans. Josh Reed continues to make key plays in a reversal of his recent Buffalo past and Roscoe Parrish is also dependable. As a unit the receivers are beginning to blossom. Now, they just have to continue their growth.
The offensive line (penalties notwithstanding) is playing better than it did a season ago. From that standpoint Tutan Reyes and Melvin Fowler can be considered an improvement. There is still, however, a lot of work to be done with this unit.
You have to wonder what the Vikings were thinking by not running the ball more often against the Bills porous run defense. Buffalo's front four can be overwhelmed by strong runners, but seems to have the resiliency to bounce back if opposing offensive lines have any letup.
I have a hard time not liking Buffalo's linebacking corps. Takeo Spikes' loss last season was devastating. With Angelo Crowell playing well it's hard to really say you miss Spikes, though—of course—we know the Bills do. Give defensive coordinator Perry Fewell credit for keeping middle linebacker London Fletcher out of so many mismatch situations in coverage.
Rookie defensive backs Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson have, to this point, played well. With speed to burn, Buffalo corners now have dependable help behind them. Give them until next season to become a very dangerous unit with Terrence McGee on one corner and young Ashton Youboty taking over for Nate Clements, once Clements leaves for free agency at the end of the season.
The biggest change, however, is in the attitude of the team. Instead of sulking or giving up when an opponent scores, these Bills want to punch the other guy in the mouth. They seem not to believe a game is over until the gun goes off. This is a good thing. And the credit must go to general manager Marv Levy and head coach Dick Jauron. I still believe addressing more pressing needs in the draft would have made the Bills a better team. But, for now, what we've got isn't half bad.