by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert

We have known for a long time that the Buffalo Bills are not the most talented team. They have weaknesses at many of the offensive positions and then we have to add the injuries to key players and it is downright difficult for this team to win.

Sunday’s win versus the Detroit Lions was all about teamwork and want to. Since Detroit acquired Damon Harrison from the New York Giants at the trading deadline, they have been very difficult to run on. The Bills playing with their third and fourth running backs were able to get 117 yards on the ground, with many of those runs coming at opportune times. The offensive line played one of their better games of the season, as their pass blocking gave Allen plenty of time and they of course opened up holes for the run game.

I felt Josh Allen played his best game in quite some time. He was patient and didn’t panic. On paper he was only 13 of 26 but he had some drops and his off throws weren’t off by much. Add to that the fact that he is throwing to a group of receivers who would not be able to start for most NFL teams.

Foster Shines

That said, rookie Robert Foster has come on of late and Sunday finished the game with four receptions for 108 yards. Foster has very good size and excellent speed but he is very raw. He still is a work in progress. I have seen his route running improve, but he still has a long ways to go. Don’t forget, Foster was an undrafted free agent coming out of college and there was a reason for that.

Coming out of high school, Foster was a 5-star recruit but was never able to become a full time player while at Alabama. He finished his career with only 31 receptions. His scouting report was that he was a better athlete than a player. Don’t forget, reality is Alabama’s receiver corps was better than the Bills is right now. Had Foster gone to a different school he would have gotten much more playtime and been further developed. Because of his great athleticism he could have a bright future but the onus is on him to do the work required during this coming off-season.

Ford Runs

Another player who flashed in Sunday’s game was rookie running back Keith Ford. Ford is another whose college career was less than stellar because he never lived up to his talent level. Ford, like Foster was a 5-star recruit who originally began his college career at Oklahoma. He flashed his first two years in Norman but was never a full-time player. He also had a suspension and disagreements with his position coach causing him to transfer to Texas A&M. In his only season at A&M he ran for 669 yards playing in a rotation.

Sunday was his first real opportunity to play as a pro and he fared well gaining 46 yards on 14 carries. I doubt Ford will ever become a full-time player in the NFL but he has the talent to be a very good role player. Ford is best as a between the tackles power guy as he lacks the speed to be consistent outside. Being that the Bills don’t have a consistently good inside runner, there could be a role for Ford in the future.

Defensive Standouts

On defense, three players deserve mention. Rookie Mike linebacker Tremaine Edmunds continued his excellent play, finishing the game with eight total tackles. On the season, Edmunds has 98 total tackles and in most years he would be in the running for All Rookie honors. This year though there are three other rookie linebackers who have stolen the show in the Bears Roquan Smith, the Colts Darius Leonard and the Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch.

Safety Jordan Poyer led the bills with 11 tackles with most coming in key situations. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander may be 35 years old but he plays like a much younger guy. Sunday he made numerous big plays with six total tackles including two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits as well as a PBU.

 

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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