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Gene Wang
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Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Look Out for Buffalo

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The Buffalo Bills could well be this year's version of last season's Miami Dolphins, going from the bottom of the AFC East to the playoffs. That's the kind of positive impact Terrell Owens can have on a franchise.

Say what you want about Owens being a distraction, but you can't argue with his production over a career that could land him in the Hall of Fame.

In San Francisco, he posted five seasons of at least 1,097 yards, including three in a row with at least 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 49ers haven't won a playoff game since he left, and the last time they won in the postseason, Owens caught the decisive touchdown against Green Bay.

With Philadelphia in 2004, Owens had 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns even though he missed the final two regular season games. Then he was perhaps the best player on the field in Super Bowl XXXIX, finishing with nine catches for 122 yards despite a steel plate and screws in his ankle.

In Dallas, Owens was instrumental in the Cowboys reaching the playoffs in 2006 and '07. The Cowboys lost both games, but it wasn't Owens' fault either time. Some detractors may lead you to believe Owens was so polarizing in the locker room that Dallas was bound to fail. That's simply revisionist history. The facts are Tony Romo couldn't handle a field goal snap in the 2006 postseason and then threw a game-ending interception in the end zone in 2007. But of course you can't cut the quarterback, so blame Owens and release him.

Owens's presence in the Bills' locker room makes the offense better immediately. For starters, Trent Edwards will be a better quarterback and wide receiver Lee Evans won't face another double-team again. Second-year wideout James Hardy, 6 feet 5 and 220 pounds, will be able to learn from perhaps the best physical wide receiver of his generation.

Bills running backs Marshawn Lynch (despite his three-game suspension to start the campaign) and Fred Jackson should be especially eager for the season to start, too, considering that the safety they're used to seeing near the line of scrimmage isn't going to be there anymore. He'll have to provide help over the top to make sure Owens doesn't get loose deep.

Owens may not last beyond two years in Buffalo, but that's not a concern at the moment for a franchise that has had one winning season this decade. Right now, the Bills should be comforted with the knowledge Owens has made the playoffs with each of his three previous teams and they could well be the fourth.

By Gene Wang  |  May 29, 2009; 8:44 AM ET  | Category:  Buffalo Bills , Dallas Cowboys , Gene Wang , Miami Dolphins , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I have to agree with you on all your points that you make. Buffalo will benefit bigtime if Owens can stay healthy and on the field. Wr Lee Evans will have a chance to put up some monster numbers. TO will help QB Trent Edwards to develop as an NFL QB more than people think, Edwards will now have 2 not just 1 wr that he has confidence in. That is HUGE for a young passer to have and can go along way in his development !

Posted by: BeltwayBoy | May 30, 2009 4:25 PM

I think your spot on...Buffalo seems on the brink. Offense looks to be on the top shelf...what about D?

Posted by: DD163 | May 31, 2009 12:30 AM

I've watched T.O. closely his whole career (from S.F.) so i know all of his strengths and weaknesses.

Mr. Wang is exactly correct. Dallas' problem quite simply was that T.O. was the hardest worker on offense and it showed. T.O. has been in the limelight far longer than Romo and has dealt with it far more effectively.

Buffalo needs a gamer and an offensive pitbull like T.O. to deal with the Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins. No one in the AFC East has the requisite skill to shut down even an aging T.O. - he learned from Jerry Rice long ago how to work out and stay on top of your game.

Posted by: mykulw | May 31, 2009 11:56 AM

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