2009 Was Another Down Season

Another year and another non playoff season, for the 10th straight year the Bills missed the playoffs and now they are cleaning house. 2010 will have a new GM, new head coach, and new coaching staff. The roster may also see up to a 50% turnover. Now for the tenth year in a row we do our position by position final exam grades as well as individual player grades for key players at each position. We also will take a look ahead at one might happen with next season's roster:

Quarterbacks: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, Gibran Hamdan

The Bills wanted to find out if Edwards was the quarterback of the future when the season started. Mission accomplished... they realize they don't have one. Edwards was benched when Perry Fewell took over as head coach. Capt. Checkdown did nothing to grab hold of the job. Fitzpatrick took over and did have some success but his game deteriorated as the season went on. The fans began clamoring for Brohm who came over from the Packers practice squad in November. They got their wish for one game, a 31-3 loss to Atlanta.
Final Overall Grade D: The starting QB for next year is not on this roster.
Fitzpatrick D: Should come back as the backup quarterback and nothing more.
Edwards F: His Bills career is over unless the new coach thinks he can resurrect him.
Brohm Incomplete: His one start wasn't very good but he was not prepared since he only ran the scout team for the first month he was in town. They will give him a closer look this summer.
Hamdan F: Was released when Brohm came aboard and came back to back him up when Fitzpatrick and Edwards was injured. Will not be back in 2010.

Running Backs: Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Corey McIntyre

When Lynch was suspended for the first three games, Jackson showed that he was a starting running back. Jauron stubbornly stuck with Lynch when he returned which didn't do either back good. When Fewell took over he put Jackson back in and he was able to get to 1,000 yards thanks to a 212 yard effort in the season finale. McIntyre passed Lynch on the depth chart in the final game and had the first carries of his career.
Final Overall Grade A-: Jackson may be the most underrated player in the league.
Jackson A+: The unquestioned number one back next year.
Lynch F: Will look to trade him or he may be released.
McIntyre C: Will likely return as the lone fullback on the team.

Receivers: Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish, James Hardy, Steve Johnson, Shawn Nelson, Jonathan Stupar, Derek Fine, Derek Schouman, Joe Klopfenstein

Owens did not open things up in the passing game like everyone thought he would when he signed on. The weak offensive line and the inability for the quarterbacks to throw downfield stunted his game and Evans as well. Both players had very down seasons as Owens had just 55 catches for 829 yards while Evans had 44 catches for just 612 yards. Reed was the number three guy and had a down season as well with 27 catches for under 300 yards. Johnson, Parrish, and Hardy barely saw the field and the tight end position was under utilized like it has been since Jay Riemersma left town.
Final Overall Grade D: There just doesn't seem to be playmakers on this unit anymore.
Owens C+: Did his job from a marketing standpoint. No chance at returning in 2010.
Evans C-: Had a very down year but will be the top guy again next year.
Reed D: His mediocre career in Buffalo has likely come to an end.
Parrish F: Was disinterested all year and will likely get his way and be released or traded.
Hardy D: Didn't get much playing time at all but will likely be the number two guy next year.
Johnson Inc: Barely saw the field may get more playing time next year.
Nelson C: Shows some promise as a receiver. Should be top TE next year.
Stupar C: Will fight for roster spot next year.
Fine C: Injury short circuited season. Will battle for backup spot next year.
Schouman C: Injury ended his season early as well. Will battle Fine for number two next year.
Klopfenstein F: Saw some time at the end of year. Won't be back next year.

Offensive Line: Jonathan Scott, Demeterius Bell, Kirk Chambers, Brad Butler, Eric Wood, Adam Levitre, Geoff Hangartner, Sean McKinney, Kendall Simmons, Richie Incognito, Jamon Meredith, Andre Ramsey

This season was a disaster for this unit and it started with the trading of Jason Peters and the release of Langston Walker the week the season opened. Add to that six players going on injured reserve and it made for a turnstile of players especially at tackle. The results were what you would expect as they gave up 46 sacks and numerous of other pressures as the quarterbacks had little time to throw. They did make enough holes in the running game to get Jackson to 1,000 yards.
Final Overall Grade F: Have some young, promising players in the middle. Tackles need to be addressed.
Scott D: When he wasn't injured he could do little right at either tackle spot. Lucky to be a backup next year.
Bell F: Will be back but hopefully as a backup since he's not ready to start in this league.
Chambers F: Forced into a lot of playing time but will likely not be back next year.
Butler C+: Was playing well before season ending injury. Could start at right tackle next year.
Wood B-: Showed a lot of promise. Hopefully he can be full strength after gruesome broken leg injury.
Levitre B-: Could be a starting guard for years to come.
Hangartner B+: Was the only linemen to start all 16 games at same spot. Will be starting center again next year.
McKinney F: Awful when called upon before getting hurt. Won't be back as UFA.
Simmons F: Signed off the scrap heap and started right away but was awful. Won't be back.
Incognito B: Did ok when he came over from St. Louis. Should be willing to bring him back as a backup.
Meredith C+: A young player that actually showed promise at tackle. Should come back as a backup.
Ramsey C-: Young player who struggled some when called upon. Likely won't be back.

Defensive Line: Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay, Ryan Denney, Marcus Stroud, Kyle Williams, Spencer Johnson, Aaron Maybin, Chris Ellis

This unit had a much better year in 2009 than in 2008. They went up from 14 sacks to 25 this past season. The difference was the return of a healthy Schobel who had 10 sacks on the season. Kyle Williams is a Pro Bowl alternate after a very solid season in the middle that included four sacks. Chris Kelsay was a rock as he played 80% of the plays and had the best season of his career.
Final Overall Grade B+: Solid play from this unit this year.
Schobel A: Thinking of retirement and very well may do that. If not, he'll be back as the starter.
Kelsay B: Solid season will start again next year at left end.
Denney C: Likely won't be re-signed unless Schobel retires.
Stroud C: Didn't do a great job clogging the middle but will likely be back as a starter next year.
Williams A: A huge jump in his career. Will start again next year.
Johnson B: Did a really nice job off the bench will be the number three again next year.
Maybin F: Wasn't good enough to see the field. Will need to make huge leap next year.
Ellis F: Hasn't developed and likely won't be back.

Linebackers: Kawika Mitchell, Paul Posluszny, Keith Ellison, Chris Draft, Bryan Scott, Nic Harris, Marcus Buggs, Ashlee Palmer, Jon Corto

Another unit decimated by injuries as four players were put on injured reserve including two starters and two top backups. Mitchell's season never got untracked. Posluszny developed into a solid tackler and really came on late in the year. Ellison and Buggs were similar undersized players who ended up hurt. Scott moved over from Safety and performed admirably. Draft was found on the waiver wire and added some stability. The team finished 30th in run defense mostly thanks to this undersized, undermanned unit.
Final Overall Grade D: couldn't do much with little depth and injuries.
Mitchell D: Struggled before injury. Will be back as the starter.
Posluszny B Really developing well but may be better suited on the outside if a middle backer can be found.
Ellison B: Did well before injury likely a backup next year.
Draft B: Really played well but will likely not be brought back as UFA.
Scott B: May be brought back for depth at LB and safety.
Harris C: Has some promise, likely be a backup next year.
Buggs F: Too undersized to play in this league.
Palmer D: Likely will not be on the roster next year.
Corto C: Local boy gets a start at LB. Likely back as special teamer next year.

Secondary: Terrence McGee, Drayton Florence, Leodis McKelvin, Jairus Byrd, Donte Whitner, Bryan Scott, Ashton Youboty, Reggie Corner, George Wilson, Ellis Lankster, Cary Harris

This unit also had its share of injuries but no matter who was put in they seemed to do the job as they finished the year number two in the league in pass defense. The Byrd was the word as he was the Bills lone Pro Bowl selection as he finished with a rookie record 9 interceptions. Florence became a good cover corner when McKelvin went down. Whitner lost playing time down the stretch as Wilson really developed into a solid safety.
Final Overall Grade A: One unit they don't have to worry about.
McGee A-: Lockdown corner who has a new long-term contract.
Florence A-: Did an excellent job in coverage. Will likely be third corner next year.
McKelvin D: Struggled before injury made it a lost season. Will be given a shot at earning back his starting job next year.
Byrd A: Johnny on the spot but needs to do better against the run. Will be a starter next year.
Whitner D There is a chance he won't be back next year. If he does return it will likely be as a backup.
Scott B: Did well at safety before moving to linebacker. They will look to bring him back next year but at what position?
Youboty D: Didn't play much but got hurt when he stepped on the field. Fragile player who may be gone next year.
Corner B: Decent slot cornerback who will likely be number four next year.
Wilson A: Should be starting safety next year but with biggest cheerleader in Jauron gone, who knows?
Lankster C: Will have to fight for roster spot next year.
Harris B: Came off the practice squad, was moved to safety, and had two picks in finale. Enough to give him a look next year at safety and corner.

Special Teams: Rian Lindell, Brian Moorman, Fred Jackson, Leodis McKelvin, Roscoe Parrish, Garrison Sanborn

Lindell and Moorman each had excellent years as Lindell missed just five field goals and none from inside the 40. Moorman broke single season records in punting average and net average. Jackson took over the kick returns job when McKelvin got hurt and finished with over 1,000 yards in returns with a healthy 24.7 yard average. Coverage units were a little better than average.
Final Overall Grade B: Not a bad job with players coming in and out because of injuries.
Lindell A: Another solid season from a very underrated kicker. He will be back.
Moorman A: A record setting season from team's best all time punter. Will be back.
Return Game C+: No touchdowns and were just a little bit above the average in yards returned.
Coverage Teams C+: Slightly above average in covering kicks and gave up no touchdowns.
Sanborn A: Didn't see any botched snaps and maybe one or two slightly off the mark.

Coaching: Dick Jauron, Perry Fewell, Alex Van Pelt, Bobby April

Dick Jauron's tenure as Bills coach ended after a 3-6 start as he the team showed no identity under his leadership. Fewell did a good job keeping the team together as an interim coach winning 3 of 7 games. Van Pelt was in way over his head with a pathetic offensive football team and had no answers. April did his best with a rag tag special teams unit and they finished better than average.
Final Overall Grade D: None of the coaches will be returning next year.
Jauron F: Already gone
Fewell B: Did a fine job as interim head coach and did well with an undermanned defense. Likely to end up in Chicago
Van Pelt D: Couldn't do much when taking over on the eve of the season. Hopefully latches on somewhere as a QB coach.
April B: Good job with what they had. Will have his pick of jobs around the league.

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