Coach wants more passes to T.O.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Bills coach Dick Jauron remains confident in quarterback Trent Edwards and Buffalo's struggling offense even after T.O. was a no-show on the stat sheet for the first time in 14 seasons.
That doesn't mean Jauron would object to a few more passes being thrown in Terrell Owens' direction.
"We'll take more shots," Jauron said Monday, a day after Owens had his 185-game reception streak in regular-season games -- the third-longest in NFL history -- snapped in a 27-7 loss to New Orleans. "We definitely have to get him more involved in the game no matter what the defense does."
On a day in which running back Marshawn Lynch rejoined the Bills after serving an NFL-imposed three-game suspension, much of the focus was on a popgun passing attack and Edwards' inability to shed the label of "Captain Checkdown."
Lynch said he's eager to return and contribute to a running attack led by Fred Jackson, who leads the team in yards rushing (291) and receiving (134). "I'm a ballplayer and it's time for me to go to work," Lynch said, noting it doesn't matter to him who's considered the starter.
Edwards isn't a big fan of the "Checkdown" nickname, which was given to him by critics following an inconsistent preseason performance which has carried over into the first three weeks of the season as the Bills (1-2) prepare to travel to play at Miami on Sunday.
"It's something that, for some reason or another, is going to continually be focused on and that's something I'm going to have to continue to answer," Edwards said.
Yet even Edwards acknowledged the offense's anemic performance against New Orleans wasn't something he or anyone had envisioned when the Bills signed Owens in March to provide another bona fide deep-threat presence opposite receiver Lee Evans.
"It just didn't go the way we wanted it to," said Edwards, who went 20 of 35 for 156 yards, and failed to hook up with Owens on five attempts. "For a couple of different reasons, we were unable to get in sync and obviously, I don't think the way we performed was any vision of any offense of what we wanted to do."
Actually, the numbers show Edwards hasn't been in sync with either of his two top receivers, who have combined for 13 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Owens, who's making $6.5 million this year, has five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown -- that's about $243,750 per catch so far.
Despite his high-priced receiving corps, Edwards has settled primarily for attempting short passes, which by NFL standards are defined as passes that travel in the air less than 15 yards -- yards gained after the catch are not included.
Of Edwards' 91 attempts this season, 78 have been short ones. As for the remaining 13 attempts that traveled 16 yards or more, Edwards has completed only four for 117 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Against the Saints, Edwards' first 20 attempts were short passes, and he only attempted two deep -- both incomplete to Owens.
Edwards said the Saints defensive scheme forced him into making short throws. And yet, in retrospect, Edwards noted there were some deep opportunities he might have missed.
Owens was among numerous Bills players who didn't make themselves available to reporters after practice on Monday, which is not unusual around the NFL the day after a game.
A day earlier, he steered away from causing a disruption during a brief press conference.
Owens repeated the same answer -- "Just going with the plays called" -- on four occasions, and sidestepped a question on what he thought of Edwards' decisions.
"No, I don't want to answer that, because whatever I say you guys are going to turn it to however you want to say," Owens said.
The last regular-season game in which Owens did not catch a pass was his rookie year with the 49ers, when he did not have a catch against Green Bay on Oct. 14, 1996.
Though Owens declined to say anything negative about the Bills, his answers didn't sit well with NBC football analysts, former coach Tony Dungy and former safety Rodney Harrison, during the network's broadcast Sunday night.
Dungy suggested Owens could become unhappy and that could become an issue, saying, "That's hard to coach."
Harrison referred to Owens as "a clown," and added, "He's more concerned with his own stats than the team's success."
Owens shot back at Harrison with several posts on his Twitter page, making reference to Harrison being suspended in 2007 for using a banned substance.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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