Blog Archives

Instigator Podcast #19: Collective Bracing (Sep 13, 2012)

If you went to bed last night and wished for another “Instigator Podcast,” I’d like to inform you this is just a coincidence. Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and myself got together to chat and recorded it.

We talk a little bit about my trip to Columbus, then get into exciting talk about the collective bargaining agreement. We wrap that up with some Plus/Minus, featuring some good NHL13 discussion as well as some Bills chatter.

Got comments? Upset about our sometimes-coarse language? Leave us a note here or on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo.

Things are good.

One of the downsides of running a solo blog is that if you can’t post, nothing goes up.

I was working on a VP-Day post (Victory over Patriots) day post last Sunday. I was doing a good job putting my thoughts together (in my head at least) before I had to leave for the concert at First Niagara Center.

(Sidebar: Foo Fighters were incredible. I became a Rise Against fan as well. Phenomenal, memorable show.)

Unfortunately, it never got finished. Started a new shift at my new job, and all of a sudden, almost a week later, here we are, my first post since the early stages of that Bills game, about a Sabres game no less. For posterity, the two Sabres preseason games since that were a 4-1 loss to Columbus Sunday night and the 4-3 shootout loss in Washington Friday night. But you likely already knew that.

There really isn’t much I feel like needs to be said. The Sabres wrap up the North American portion of their preseason 4-1-1, which isn’t bad for games that don’t really matter. The ownership that has swept in and pushed the franchise toward the light is still too good to be true, right?

The Bills are in first place in the AFC. They’re 3-0, and in first place. Not just the division lead. They have the best record in the conference. If the season ended today, the Bills would have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is the same franchise that started 0-8 last year and finished 4-12.

3-0, first place. Insane, right?

Oh, and they just beat the Patriots for the first time in eight years. No big deal.

But something needs to be reiterated: things are really good for Buffalo sports fans right now.

Will you be able to make that statement a week from now? Who knows. The Bills season could come crashing down in Cincinnati. The Sabres could fly back from Europe with a couple losses and more questions than answers. The way things have been going, would anyone expect that? No. And that’s a good thing.

There’s this sense of hope that is the special kind we don’t see in Buffalo too often. It’s not the hope that usually shows up at the start of each season, totally disregarding any past history and overrating what our teams really are. This is hope with merit. The Bills just beat the Patriots. The Sabres just went and bought a whole bunch of good players this offseason. There’s tangible results to back this up.

It’s not just hope, it’s optimism.

Anyways, I’m heading to Cincinnati this weekend with some friends for the Bills game Sunday. Maybe I wouldn’t be making this trip if I didn’t believe the hype. But the way things are going, there’s a little Mark Miller in all of us.

It’s good to have this confidence in our teams and ourselves. The end result is far off, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the moment. At the moment, things are good.

Buffalo all the way this time.

(Be sure to follow me @3rdManIn on twitter for updates and other random insights)

First impressions of the Bills in a meaningless game

pic_owens09hofYeah, Tuesday is a little late for a recap of Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game.

So what? The Bills were off on Monday. So was I.

Here are a few things I picked up watching the game (when the feed was coming through during that insane thunderstorm, at least):

  • Still a little weird seeing WR Terrell Owens in a Bills uni. But, damn, he looked good in those Bills colors. Owens caught two passes on Buffalo’s opening drive. That’s good enough for me.
  • The rookie that stuck out most (in positive ways): LB Nic Harris. Showed good speed, good instinct. I’m a fan so far. TE Shawn Nelson didn’t look too bad either.
    Read the rest of this entry

The T.O. Circus sets up shop at Fisher

pic_owens09campJust think, today is the third day of training camp.

In the last few days, we’ve seen Bills fans crowd the campus of St. John Fisher to take a look at T.O. in action.

Terrell Owens has been the center of attention since the team arrived at campus Friday and Saturday’s opening of camp was all about the new guy in town.

They cheered his routine catches. They cheered the way he stretched. They roared when he hauled in a 65-yard bomb from Trent Edwards in the afternoon. They hollered, “Getcha popcorn ready.” They wore his No. 81 jersey. They carried boxes of his cereal.

When Owens responded to one fan’s exhortations with a big smile and a peace sign, the fan gushed, “That just made my day!”

With the Bills being the first team to open camp thanks to the fact they will be one of the first two teams in preseason action come August 9th, all eyes of the football world have been on Pittsford, New York. And Terrell has not disappointed the media, being his usual story-creating self.

And, of course, The T.O. Show makes its return to the airwaves tonight at 10 PM on VH1.

Pretty boring start to camp, huh?

Read the rest of this entry

Bills training camp officially underway

pic_reedjosh09campAaron Maybin and Eric Wood are still unsigned.

Trent Edwards has a hair cut.

Josh Reed has his television to watch The T.O. Show on Monday nights.

The players are ready. It’s training camp at St. John Fisher, Bills fans, are you ready?

Optimism is never in short supply in Bills country once July rolls around, and this year is no different. Sure they’ve finished 7-9 the last three seasons. Sure, the same coaching staff is back. Sure, the Bills haven’t made the playoffs this millenium, but damn it, we got Terrell freaking Owens! Read the rest of this entry

Bills need tight ends to step up. Or A tight end. Okay, ANY tight end.

Sunday’s Buffalo News had a great article about the Bills’ struggles in the red zone. The evidence of futility is quite breathtaking.

Last season, the red-zone offense was clearly in protective custody somewhere. The Bills went inside the 20 just 34 times and produced 13 touchdowns and 17 field goals. Their touchdown percentage was just 38.2 percent. Now compare that to the Bills opponents who ventured into the red zone 56 times and produced 25 touchdowns for 44.6 percent.

The key to red zone success is to have multiple threats to keep the defense honest. With a lack of a passing game, the defense can focus on the run. When you’re running the ball deep in the opponent’s territory, it’s hard to get the personnel on the field to open up the passing game.

You need to have two stud receivers and a tight end who’s a threat. The Bills have Lee Evans and rookie James Hardy to fill those receiver slots. Tight end? Not so much.

The Bills haven’t had a stud tight end in a while. If ever. Who was the last notable Bills tight end? Pete Metzelaars? Read the rest of this entry

Holy crap, there’s a Bills game tonight.

It’s time to get things going, Bills fans.

The Buffalo Bills officially begin their preseason schedule tonight at 7 PM (TV: 7, Radio: 97 Rock) as they take on the Washington Redskins.

The starters, including QB Trent Edwards, probably won’t play more than a drive or two, so it’s mostly about getting an idea of who’s going to be filling out the depth chart. We’ll get our first look at rookies such as CB Leodis McKelvin and WR James Hardy, as well as new faces like DT Marcus Stroud and LB Kawika Mitchell.

Personally, I’m just hoping to see Matt Baker get some snaps.

The Favre circus comes to the AFC East. Awesome.

Good news, Bills fans! Just when you thought the Brett Favre unretirement saga was ending, it just got a bit more interesting.

The Brett Favre era in Green Bay officially came to an end late Wednesday night as the legendary longtime Packers quarterback was traded to the New York Jets, the Packers announced.

The exact compensation wasn’t immediately available, but it is believed to be a fourth-round draft pick that increases in value depending on how the Jets perform in the 2008 season.

Of course, all this does is move all of the NFL training camp coverage from Green Bay to New York.

This whole thing has been a complete joke. Lead story on every news update. Program-interrupting “Breaking News” of Brett Favre getting on an airplane. A special “FAVRE” ticker on ESPN’s BottomLine. But now there’s actual relevant football conversation to have.

All of a sudden, the Jets are being discussed as a playoff team, with Favre under center. Forget they were 4-12 last season (and two of those wins were over the 1-15 Dolphins). Forget everyone was pretty much writing them off before this happened.

It seems a bit ludicrous that one player, a quarterback who turns 39 this season, can take a team of scrubs and turn them into a playoff team just by showing up. Favre hasn’t even taken a look at a playbook yet, and the Jets play their first preseason game tonight. How much of a learning curve is there going to be for a guy who had been with the same team for 16 years?

The Jets had been trying to figure out whether Chad Pennington or Kellen Clemens would be starting under center this season. With Favre in the fold, it looks like Pennington will get the axe. It’s too bad, because although he is a “quality, classy quarterback”, he didn’t really seem to do too well against Buffalo. Now, New York’s coaching staff has to get the new QB into the system with only a couple weeks until the games count.

Odds are Brett will be up to speed by the time the J-E-T-S come to the Ralph to play the Bills for the first time on November 2. But will the Jets still be viewed as a contender by then?

Monday Morning… Catch-Up?

So, a lot has happened over the past few days. Let’s recap:

Bills – Three draft picks, including James Hardy, signed on Thursday. Camp opened at St. John Fisher, and now their first pick, CB Leodis McKelvin, signed a five year contract on Sunday.

Sabres – Former Amerks head coach Randy Cunneyworth took a job as an assistant with the Atlanta Thrashers. The list of candidates to lead the Portland Pirates is thinning.

Bandits – Lost defenseman Kyle Laverty in the NLL Expansion Draft. Laverty had been with the Bandits since 2004.

Oh, and there was a little thing called “Fann Cup” that happened this weekend. Post about that most likely coming your way on Tuesday.

To start getting you pumped for football season, here’s a nice little video to help you remember that there was a time when the Patriots could be beaten: Read the rest of this entry

Summer is basically over

Lee Evans

That’s right. Fall is right around the corner. Why? Bills training camp opens soon.

Like, this week.

Lee Evans and his teammates report to St. John Fisher on Friday.

If you’re planning on heading out to Rochester for practice, the Buffalo News has a nice feature on what you need to know. Check it out.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend, because your summer vacation is about over. You’ll blink and it’ll be November any day now.