1. What caused the Bills to change starting quarterbacks, and do you think benching EJ Manuel for Kyle Orton was the right move?
Yeah, they had to make that move. Manuel has not developed in any significant way since his final season at Florida State, and he was absolutely killing the offense with bad reads, missed reads and ugly throws. There were simply too many mental errors and missed opportunities to overlook it any longer, and the Bills are simply acknowledging that Orton will miss a smaller percentage of those opportunities. The Bills have enviable skill talent, and they're now playing the quarterback that will do more with it.
2. How has Jim Schwartz's defense performed so far this season?
Quite well. They aren't a great defense, but they're fairly close to that level, and certainly playoff-caliber as a unit. Where they have made a tremendous step forward, at least so far, is defending the run; that has been an area of weakness in Buffalo for about a decade, but right now they rank third in the league in run defense and are giving up just 2.9 yards per carry, which ranks second to only Seattle. It helps Schwartz that he has a lot of individual talent to work with, especially up front.
3. How would you evaluate Sammy Watkins' performance through four weeks?
That's a tremendously difficult evaluation to make, for two reasons: Watkins is only just coming out of a several-week period in which he was dealing with a rib injury, and annoying things like this keep happening to him on the field. His talent is undeniable and easy to spot, but he's also had some consistency issues -- he dropped two first-down conversions last week in Houston, for example. More consistent quarterback play will do wonders for his level of play.
4. If the Bills are going to beat the Lions on Sunday, what is one matchup that they have to win?
They have to be much better in pass protection than they have been in the last two weeks. Dwight Freeney and J.J. Watt both had field days against Buffalo's front, which may end up starting two rookies once again (left guard Cyril Richardson and right tackle Seantrel Henderson). They are especially vulnerable at the guard positions, where three different left guards have struggled and right guard Erik Pears, a converted tackle, is often painful to watch; they have to find some way to at least slow down Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Clearly, their job isn't getting any easier.
5. After starting 2-2 and changing quarterbacks, what are the expectations for the Bills for the rest of 2014?
One way or another, they have to get into the playoffs. Maybe they'll be good enough to contend for an AFC wild card spot, but there are enough contenders in the North and West where that may not be feasible. The East may be more wide open than originally thought, too, given the way the Patriots have been playing so far this season. If Orton can will them to a slightly-better-than-.500 record, they could have a shot at either of those scenarios. With new ownership coming in, this regime sort of has to make a serious playoff push.
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