With the Saints next game against the Bills quickly approaching, there has been a healthy back and forth between our very own members and visiting members from SB Nation's Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings. As is tradition during the regular season, I had a chance to talk with their fearless leader, Brian Galliford. Below is what Brian had to say about Buffalo and the game this weekend.
CSC: When you initially emailed me, you expressed early concern about the Bills' chance to beat the Saints. Does that have to do with the Bills poor pass defense? Wish you had Jabari Greer back?
BR: It actually doesn't have anything to do with Greer - we're OK without him - or the pass defense as its No. 31 ranking makes it appear on the surface. It simply stems from the fact that I don't think the Bills, as talented and underrated as they might be, match up well with a team like New Orleans.
I feel compelled, however, to point out that the fact that the Bills are surrendering 332 passing yards per game lacks context. Tom Brady and Byron Leftwich have combined to throw 103 passes against this team in two weeks - and despite all of the yardage (and, unfortunately, touchdowns) surrendered, the Bills actually rank a respectable No. 12 in the NFL in Yards Per Attempt allowed to opposing quarterbacks, giving up 6.5 yards every throw. I'd call our pass defense "average" before getting to "poor." Then again, when Drew Brees hears "average pass defense"...
CSC: I've got T.O. on my fantasy team but he's been pretty quiet so far. He normally plays well in his first year with a new team. Will this be the week T.O. blows up?
BR: That depends. There's a strong chance that Buffalo could come into this game intending to do exactly what the Miami Dolphins did to Indianapolis this past week - control the clock. That didn't help Miami in the end, obviously, but they played a heck of a game and controlled throughout. That said, they'll obviously need to score points to win, and in order to do so, they'll need to maintain run/pass balance and take shots to their big-play wideouts. I think there's a very strong chance Owens has his first "big" game in Buffalo - but Trent Edwards will need time to throw, and if things are going well for the Bills, they won't be passing as often as they would if they trail early.
CSC: It seems like the Bills are getting bit by the injury bug a bit, placing two players on injured reserve the last couple of days, most notably Brad Butler. How much does that hurt given he was your most experienced lineman?
BR: It most definitely hurts. When Buffalo made the decision to jettison 80% of its starting line, Butler was the one holdover, and it was his work ethic and attitude that they tried to emulate when bringing in new players. They succeeded. The line is still a work in progress, but Butler's intelligence and hard-nosed attitude on the field will be sorely missed. That said, there was not an overly noticeable drop-off when Jonathan Scott took over at right tackle, and for now, the Bills will be OK up front. They really can't afford another injury there.
CSC: What will be the Bills' game plan this Sunday for the Saints?
BR: That's tough simply because of the way the Saints match up against us. I think clearly, you want to limit the number of possessions that Brees gets, so expect heavy doses ofFred Jackson, some screen passes, and possibly some spread looks for short throws from our offense to sustain drives and eat up clock. I fully expect Gregg Williams to come after Trent Edwards hard, which could open up the big play.
Defensively, I think our best chance is to vary our blitzes (and do so often), give Brees some new looks that he hasn't seen on tape, and play physically in the secondary to try to tip some passes, strip some balls, and beat up New Orleans' receivers. Pressure is critical, because you obviously can't let Brees sit in the pocket and pick us apart - he's a great quarterback, and you need to force a great quarterback's hand to beat him. The Saints will score points, so resiliency from our D is critical as well.
CSC: Name a Bills player that Saints fans might not know about and should keep their eye on this Sunday.
BR: Assuming you've heard of RB Fred Jackson and DT Kyle Williams - the former is quickly becoming a household name, and the latter played at LSU and has been outstanding in our first two games - I'll tell you to keep an eye on rookie TE Shawn Nelson. Our starter, Derek Schouman, was just placed on IR. Derek Fine is a good blocking option as a second-year player out of Kansas, but a receiving threat he is not. Nelson is dealing with a sprained shoulder, but if he plays (and he should), he'll be heavily involved in the passing game, especially considering the fact that the Saints had some trouble with Eagles TE Brent Celek last weekend.
CSC: Care to make a prediction?
BR: Buffalo is equipped to play with a team like the Saints - we have an offense that can beat you in a lot of ways. But Drew Brees is Drew Brees, and I'm not sure this defense will display enough consistency in their pass rush or enough creativity in their fronts to hold up their end of the bargain. Buffalo might keep this one interesting into the fourth, but it will take a near-perfect effort to beat an offense as efficient as New Orleans'. Saints 37, Bills 24
CSC: I have been thinking about trying to raise money for a charity through CSC. Tell everyone about what Buffalo Rumblings did last week.
BR: After Leodis McKelvin's fumble in our loss to New England, a couple of teenagers vandalized his front lawn. Bills fans were uneasy about the potential detriment to our image that that isolated incident might inflict, so one of our readers, Tim Petrella, decided to do something about it. He started a fund for a charity McKelvin has supported in the past, Kids Escaping Drugs, and Bills fans donated as a show of public support not only for the charity, but for McKelvin himself.
The effort has raised nearly $4,000, and donations are still trickling in. Clark Judge at CBS Sports covered the story on a national scale, and fans from several fan bases - Broncos, Vikings, 49ers, etc. - dropped by to support the effort as well. It's been a unique experience, to say the least, and it shows the type of heart that NFL fans, and Bills fans, have.