I've been as tough as anyone on Aaron Schobel since he signed his $50 million contract in the summer of 2007. When you're making that kind of cash, criticism comes with the territory. Schobel hasn't done nearly enough to justify the huge deal. He got paid for sacks, and he hasn't delivered. Now he's hurt.
But what about the other defensive end who got a big contract extension before the '07 season? Chris Kelsay got a four-year, $23 million windfall from the Bills, who who afraid of losing him to free agency. Has he been worth the money? Well, get a load of this statistic: In his last 30 games, Kelsay has four sacks. Four. For that, the Bills are shelling out an average of $5.75 a season?
Look, I know sacks aren't everything. Schobel is the first one to tell us that. But teams pay big money to pass rushers and left tackles for a reason. Getting heat on quarterbacks is the single most important element in the NFL. If you can't create pressure, you don't get big defensive plays and you don't win. Conversely, if you don't protect the quarterback, you don't have a consistent, winning offense.
The Bills aren't getting their money's worth. It would be one thing if they were getting terrific pressure off the edge. They're not. They were supposed to be more aggressive this year, which would create big defensive plays. The Bills have four interceptions this season. That's 25th in the league. It's a reflection of the lack of pass rush. The front four isn't getting there enough, and neither are the blitzes.
Kelsay is one of the good guys on the team, an honest, engaging voice in the locker room and a team leader. That's probably why he hasn't been a more frequent target of criticism. I've been as guilty as anyone. But if we're going to crush Schobel, we have to be fair and point to the other end of the line. Kelsay has been below average as a pass rusher since signing his big deal. He needs to play better.