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Time for fans to get out worry beads

The sentiment in a somber Bills dressing room was divided after Sunday's loss in Arizona. Some wanted to get the taste of a 41-17 blowout out of their mouths as soon as possible. Others, including coach Dick Jauron, felt this was a good time for a bye.

There's one obvious benefit to the bye: It'll give Trent Edwards an extra week to recover from the concussion he suffered on the third offensive play against the Cardinals. But Edwards wasn't the only one whose head was spinning after the loss. The players and coaches can use the extra time to figure out what went wrong in the desert and get prepared for San Diego.

Bills fans can use the week off to do what they do best: Worry. It's second nature. Buffalo sports fans are conditioned to be wary of success, to fret over every little detail and anguish about the potential horrors that might lie ahead.

They're 4-1, atop the AFC East but the magnitude of the loss, combined with the team's uneven performance in the two previous wins, has to leave objective fans wondering just how good the Bills really are. There is plenty for nervous fans to worry about. Here are a few of the primary reasons to be concerned:

*Edwards: A concussion is always an issue. Quarterbacks are prime targets, and the effects are cumulative. Edwards is young and can take a hit. He should bounce back. But the Bills have to protect him better. His brain is his greatest asset, and the fewer violent hits to the head, the better. Which brings us to . . .

*The offensive line: This $100 million unit has to play better. Jason Peters has played four games. The holdout is no longer an excuse. It's a continuing mystery why they aren't better in run blocking. Marshawn Lynch hasn't rushed for 100 yards in a game and is taking too many hits at the line of scrimmage. If this keeps up, Lynch might be the next guy carried off the field.

*The pass rush: The Bills had five sacks in the opening game against Seattle. They've had five sacks in the four games since. The Jets were all over Kurt Warner and forced him to turn the ball over six times. The Bills didn't get a sniff.

It's the same sad refrain. Even with Marcus Stroud, the front four isn't getting enough pressure on its own. Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay are being paid big money to make plays. It's about time it happened. Schobel has one sack. I'm sure he'd tell us sack stats are overrated.

*Coaching: They did a terrific job getting this team to 4-0. But they were outcoached in Arizona. After the game, the defensive players said they weren't ready for the Cardinals' quick passing game; they said they needed to work on it because the film would get around the league. It sounded like a message to Perry Fewell.

The offensive staff could have done a better job of preparing J.P. Losman, who suggested that he doesn't get enough snaps in practice. Of course, there's only so much the coaches can do to offset Losman's erratic play.

*The division: Suddenly, the AFC East seems a lot more competitive than it did a few weeks ago. While the Bills were stumbling in Arizona, the Patriots were rebounding in San Francisco. They don't have Tom Brady, but they're not surrendering the division without a fight.

The Dolphins have been a revelation. Any doubt that Bill Parcells can change the culture of an organization overnight? A team that went 1-15 last year has now beaten the Pats and Chargers, who played in last year's AFC title game. The Jets manhandled an Arizona team that wiped the Bills off the field.
It's only one game, but Sunday's loss raised questions about how far the Bills are from true contention. Maybe it's a good thing. Part of the maturation process is finding out you still have a long way to go.


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