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Kelly on Bills changes: 'What do we have to lose?'

9/14/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jim Kelly neither professed his support nor disapproval of his old team's decisions to fire its offensive coordinator and left tackle within 10 days of the season opener.

When I asked the greatest quarterback in Buffalo Bills history about the moves, he merely shrugged his shoulders and said that it couldn't get any worse.

"Put it this way: What do we have to lose?" Kelly said at ESPN's Chalk Talk luncheon to preview Monday night's opener between the Bills and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. "We haven't made the playoffs the last I don't know how many years. Of course, this coaching staff has had back to back-to-back 7-9 seasons.

"They went out and got T.O. They got a couple other guys. They got a young offensive line. What do they have to lose? Let's just go with it."

It has been nine years, Jim, since the Bills made the postseason.

Ten days ago, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, who was Buffalo's backup quarterback in Kelly's final two seasons.

"It's hard when you have only a few days of preparation and the reins are thrown over to you within one week before a 'Monday Night Football' game, an opener, away, in New England," Kelly said. "That makes it more difficult. A little pressure on Alex tonight."

But Kelly expressed confidence in his old understudy and fellow Western Pennsylvania native.

"I know what type of football mind he has," Kelly said of Van Pelt. "I know what he can do. Just like anybody, you wish you had more time in training camp to be able to implement some of the things you know you can do. But I'm sure Alex is going to throw some of this wrinkles in there."

Bills head coach Dick Jauron axed Schonert the morning after quarterback Trent Edwards and the first-team offense -- despite an extra game, no less -- concluded the preseason with zero touchdowns and one field goal on 16 possessions.

Kelly offered Van Pelt some advice as they rode to the airport together before flying into New England.

"What I told him is 'Put yourself in Trent's shoes. What would you do if you were out there?' because I trust his football mind," Kelly said.

"Hopefully, Alex will get this thing turned around. Look across the board. They have some weapons with Lee Evans and [Terrell Owens] and Roscoe Parrish, who can run with it once he gets it. The backfield's not too bad."

Buffalo's biggest question mark is its green front five. Less than a week ago, the Bills released Langston Walker, their most experienced offensive lineman. They will start two rookies and a second-year pro with NFL experience against the Patriots.

The Bills' projected O-line starters have 56 career starts among them, the fewest in an opening-day lineup since the 2002 New York Giants. The Patriots' starting line has 372 NFL starts.

"But I've watched them practice, and they've got some attitudes," Kelly said. "That's the type of attitude of an offensive lineman I want on my football team. The experience isn't quite there. It might take a little time, and they don't have it right now.

"It's buckle the chinstraps, put the cleats in the ground and let's play a little 'Monday Night Football.' "