1) What are your impressions of Tyrod Taylor so far? Do you think he can lead Buffalo to a Super Bowl?
There are a select handful of elite passers in the NFL - ones that are capable of leading their team to a Super Bowl on a routine basis. Tyrod Taylor is not one of those players. But that does not make him a bad quarterback, particularly in a league that has many, many of those. Taylor is not an elite passer - he lacks the pocket ability that sets the game's best apart, and isn't yet close to being capable of reading the whole field - but he can still give a defense fits because of his rather deadly combination of elite running ability and deep ball prowess. Taylor is green and inconsistent, but he is more than capable of producing against even the league's best defenses because of his unique traits. His playmaking ability has, at least so far, made some of the lulls bearable.
2) How about Rex Ryan? Is he the right man for the job?
That's such a tough question to answer, because at least when it comes to his Bills coaching career, the sample size is still small. If you want to view his 11 games as Buffalo's head coach as an extension of his six years with the Jets, however, it's probably a definitive 'no.' Ryan's flaws are well-defined - in a league full of coaches that are bad at managing simple things like timeouts, challenges, and the clock in key situations, Ryan is among the most notable frequent offenders - and his brash act won't have the same shelf life in his second stint. He needs to win, stat.
3) As a fantasy owner, Sammy Watkins is absolutely INFURIATING. When he is on my bench, he puts up 30. When I start him, he gives me under 10. What is the root cause of his inconsistency this season?
He's been a little banged up, for starters. He missed three games (and parts of two more) with two separate injuries, and has had his snap counts monitored in other games to try to keep him as close to 100 percent as possible. Even in the games he's been full-go, however - including the last two games - he's fallen victim to offensive play-calling that is a bit too idealistic and hands-off in forcing the ball into the hands of its best receiver. The Bills are really good at putting LeSean McCoy in great situations to produce, but it seems that those efforts fall well short when it comes to Watkins. In his eight games this year, he's been targeted more than five times in five of those contests, and has 26 receptions for 439 yards and four touchdowns. In the other three, he had a 5-87-1 line. It's pretty simple: the Bills need to make a better effort to involve Watkins. Period.
4) What would you say is Buffalo's biggest weakness on defense?
They're beat up, for one; it looks like Mario Williams will be back this week, but starters Kyle Williams, Nigel Bradham, and Aaron Williams will all be out. More importantly, they've had a bit of an identity crisis to work through, trying to figure out the right mix of creative and basic, and that has exacerbated their personnel weakness, which is at linebacker and safety. They lack range at safety, and their linebackers are a coverage liability, as well (put on the film and watch how many times running backs have picked up huge gains on simple flare patterns out of the backfield). Add in their penchant for penalties - Jerry Hughes has a whopping 11 of them all by his lonesome, many of them personal fouls - and it accounts for most of the frustration this year.
5) Put your name on it. The score for this game will be Texans ___ - Bills ___, and why?
I'm not into the game prediction thing, simply because I enjoy going into a contest without any preconceived notions about what may or may not happen, especially if it's something I've just conjured out of thin air. Obviously, the two best players on the field will be J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins, which (also obviously) bodes well for Houston's chances at pulling off a big road win, but the Bills have plenty of good players themselves, and they'll probably be a bit more desperate for a win playing in their own stadium with their backs against the proverbial wall. I expect a perfectly entertaining game between two talented football games who probably wish they'd had a few more breaks this season.
A big thank you to Brian for stopping by and sharing his thoughts. You can read all of his excellent work on the Bills over at Buffalo Rumblings.