1. We'll start with the obvious question. What has changed since Perry Fewell took over as head coach for Dick Jauron?
The team looks a little more motivated, a little more aggressive, and a little better overall. They're obviously the same group of players, but when they say that a team takes on the personality of its head coach, the proverbial "they" are absolutely right. Fewell's a higher-energy, more assertive personality than Jauron is, and the team is playing like it.
Fewell has also made some intelligent personnel calls, including starting Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, Fred Jackson at RB, and rotating Donte Whitner between nickel corner and strong safety. The game plans are crisper, they're being executed more efficiently, and the results speak for themselves.
2. What are your thoughts on Fred Jackson starting at running back over Marshawn Lynch?
It needed to happen. Jackson's having a great season, but Buffalo's running game wasn't working with a split backfield, and neither runner could get into a rhythm. Jackson does more for an offense than Lynch does - he's a better receiver, a better blocker, and a smarter performer - so Fewell made the smart play. In no way does this mean the end for Lynch - good NFL teams adequately utilize two backs, and Lynch remains the more talented back of the two. But Buffalo's offense functions better as a unit when Jackson's in the lineup, so starting him and giving him the full rushing load was really the only smart move to make.
3. What was the biggest factor in Buffalo's upset of Miami? Will it carry over into Thursday?
Miami missed some critical opportunities early, including a strange Wildcat throw by Ricky Williams that was intercepted, snuffing out the Dolphins' opening drive and killing their early momentum. They also gave up on the run a little bit in the second half, and once Buffalo took their fourth-quarter lead, they were able to turn the tide by forcing turnovers and adding on insurance points.
I put the loss more on missed opportunities by Miami, but the Bills did play really well. They hung around thanks to Miami's mistakes and really laid it to them in the fourth quarter. It was nice to see. I do think the Bills have a little momentum now - they're more confident now under Fewell than I think they've been at any point this season - and they should be a tough out for every team remaining on their schedule.
4. Jets fans saw both Bills quarterbacks in the first meeting. What does Ryan Fitzpatrick bring to the table that is different from Trent Edwards?
Decisiveness. That's really the only difference. Edwards, for whatever reason - blame it on concussions or simply not knowing who to please on the coaching staff or in his receiving corps - went into a shell. He was hesitant to make risky throws, and as a result, Buffalo's offense became ridiculously easy to slow down. His problems are 100% mental.
Fitzpatrick is erratic with his accuracy and lacks elite arm strength, but he's a gamer. He can make plays through the air and with his legs. He's got a nice rapport with Terrell Owens (14 catches, 293 yards, 2 TD in the last two games), and the offense has put up 46 points. He's not a world-beater, but he gives Buffalo the best chance to win. Buffalo is now 3-2 in games in which Fitzpatrick got the important reps at QB.
5. Based on history, I think it's fair to say Jets fans aren't upset this game is in Toronto instead of Ralph Wilson Stadium. Even when the Jets got wins up in Orchard Park, it was seldom easy. What kind of role do you think the crowd will play in Toronto?
I honestly have no idea. The game is sold out in name, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a good chunk of empty seats in the stadium. This is a matchup of sub-.500 teams, and the CFL is coming off of a fantastic finish to its Grey Cup, so I'm guessing levels of apathy toward the NFL and this game in particular are high. Think of it as a neutral field, because that's exactly what it will be. No home-field advantage. May the best team win.