Owens’ star has drastically fallen in Buffalo
As the trade deadline loomed only a few hours away Tuesday afternoon, a high-ranking AFC executive was rattling off some tidbits about potential movement around the league when the conversation turned to the value of Buffalo Bills wideout Terrell Owens(notes). Still hyped by the media as a commodity at this week’s deadline, Owens had been relegated to footnote status long ago by this particular talent evaluator.
“He’s hit the wall,” the AFC executive said. “I think he has. I think it’s done or close to it. He’ll have a couple of games here and there where he shows up, but big picture, long term, I think it’s done.”
That was an opinion echoed by multiple front-office executives contacted by Yahoo! Sports this week. Posed with two questions (does Owens have any significant trade value, and where is his career going) the answers were resounding: He now commands little on the market, and beyond a “name” that sells tickets, his impact going forward is expected to be marginal at best. Like Marvin Harrison(notes) last season, the soon-to-be 36-year-old Owens is viewed by personnel men as the NFL’s dying supernova of 2009 – a star on the verge of a fascinating final collapse that many NFL front offices want to avoid.
Their opinions aren’t solely driven by numbers, although that would be understandable. Through six games, Owens is off to arguably his worst start since his rookie season: 15 catches for 215 yards and one touchdown, and a yards-after-catch average (3.3) that is the lowest of his career. Part of the ineffectiveness can be blamed on the offensive pieces surrounding Owens, but personnel men familiar with his film say that’s hardly the only issue.
“I hear that he’s one of the greatest of all time, but I don’t buy it – never did,” said one general manager. “He drops balls. He’s not a natural catcher. He’s not a great route runner, blah, blah, blah. He’s big and strong and good with the run after the catch, if he catches it. I can give you 100 negatives. It’s just not worth it.
“Someone else [on another team] will say the opposite. [They’ll say] ‘We’ll get him to catch better. We’ll get him to do what we want.’ [They’ll say] ‘He’s a threat just being on the field. He’ll open up other players.’ Well, when you’re talking about that, you’re talking about using a guy knowing he’s a failure and who might shock you with a touchdown or two. But basically you’re sacrificing him to free up our other good players. That’s what I’ve been hearing for two years, and that’s the death march right there.”
In fairness, whatever Owens has lost off his game has been made exponentially worse by some of Buffalo’s other decisions. When the franchise traded anchor offensive tackle Jason Peters(notes) to the Philadelphia Eagles in April, it essentially began a complete gutting of the offensive line. Thanks to the makeover and injuries, Buffalo actually started three rookies against the New York Jets last week: right tackle Jamon Meredith(notes) and guards Eric Wood(notes) and Andy Levitre(notes).
The inexperience of those players, along with concerns about health at the quarterback position, has created some significant changes in scheme. There isn’t the protection for deeper drops and more developed routes downfield – the kinds of routes that would best suit Owens. There are also more maximum protection situations, resulting in fewer receivers released in routes and more opportunities for defenses to double Owens.
“Their offensive line is really struggling,” former Bills coach and general manger Marv Levy said. “It’s young, it’s inexperienced and now add to that that they’re beaten up and battered. They’re seeing a tremendous amount of double coverage on their receivers. Then they get behind and have to throw the ball. As a result [of the double teams] they have to throw a lot of dump off passes, so the offense field gets shorter. So there aren’t many going to him. That’s really what it amounts to. You can force it to him, but that’s when you get interceptions.”
But even blaming the offense doesn’t tell the full story. One Jets player said that when New York was prepping for Owens, the strategy for dealing with him was fairly basic. He wasn’t reacting well to physical contact at the line of scrimmage, and didn’t warrant double coverage. While superb cornerback Darrelle Revis(notes) was expected to be singled up with Owens most of the day, the Jets delivered simple instructions to whoever found himself across from the receiver: get your hands into his chest at the line of scrimmage and don’t worry about surrendering short area passes. The result was Owens getting targeted eight times, catching three balls for only 13 yards.
Terrell Owens’ touchdowns in the NFL by year with notable incidents during his career.
Owens' star has drastically fallen in Buffalo - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
Re: Owens’ star has drastically fallen in Buffalo
My fantasy team agrees :confused:
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