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Bills Fans Need A Hug ... And Other NFL Thoughts
November 12, 2010 - John Whittaker
Bills fans need a hug.
Seriously, this is a fan base that has been through a lot in the last 20 years or so.
Even when the Bills were one of the three best teams in the league, they got laughed at because not only couldn't they win the Super Bowl, they invented ways to lose them (see Wide Right, the Lost Helmet, The Collapse and The Blowout).
Now, nearly 15 years removed from the glory days, the Bills are 0-8 and finding new and inventive ways to lose games. Missed field goals (or, they're just finding their old ways to lose games) to other teams making miracle plays to steal wins the last two weeks to official's decisions on questionable calls helping snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Bills are entertaining to see just how they're going to get beat.
Let's face it — nobody thought the Bills would be any good this year. But nobody thought they'd be this bad, either.
Here are the highlights:
• They finally get a big-name defensive end/linebacker who was a perfect fit for their 3-4 defense (if it was 2004) only to see him get hurt 15 minutes into his first practice in Orchard Park and be listed as out indefinitely.
• Their starting quarterback in Week 1 was benched and released in the span of a week. Their former franchise running back fell to third string on the depth chart and ended up being traded to Seattle in the middle of the season.
• They play two games a year in Toronto — which is great since it's so easy to get across the U.S.-Canadian border these days.
• Terrell Owens leaves Buffalo and rejuvenates his career, which is great for Bills fans who watched Owens drop balls, answer questions about his lousy attitude and pout through the last half of last season. Put him with the shaky Carson Palmer in Cincinnati, and all of a sudden Owens is one of the most productive receivers in football.
• They've been looking for a quarterback of the future for the last 15 years. Buffalo fans, among the most loyal in the country, have been stuck watching the likes of Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt, Trent Edwards, Kelly Holcomb and J.P. Losman fight over the position for so long they've forgotten what a real quarterback looks like. Quarterback play has been missing so long in Buffalo the front office might as well just post the position on a milk carton next year.
• They've been through so many general managers and coaching regimes in the last 10 years that the franchise has a collective identity crisis. Can anybody send me a list of defensive identities the Bills have had in the last 10 years? How about offensive philosophies? This team is a mess, in part because they have no idea collectively what type of football team they want to be.
And so, when the Bills finally win a game, think about the positives Bills fans — since the game isn't on TV this weekend, you don't have to watch two teams with a combined record of 2-14 stumble around like drunken fools playing Duck Duck Goose. Trust me, nobody wants to see this game.
Let's face the inevitable point that hasn't been made yet. This is a horrible team in need of the football equivalent of Viagra — the number 1 pick in the draft. Much like actual Viagra, we still need to see if they know what to do with it. A few high draft picks in the hands of a capable general manager (Bill Polian) turned the Bills into a Super Bowl contender for almost a decade. Is Buddy Nix that guy now for the Bills?
Sorry Bills fans, I really was trying to help — except for the Buddy Nix joke, that was just too easy. Seriously, wasn't that guy in Deliverance?
Some other NFL thoughts:
• I'm not too worried about the Patriots' 34-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns last week. It was a classic trap game for the Pats — Minnesota in the rear view mirror with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis coming up in the next two weeks. Kudos to the Browns, though, for showing the ways you beat the Patriots defense. Run the ball, throw play-action passes and control the clock. It was a simple game plan that beat the Pats — which is great when Jim Caldwell is among the coaches on the upcoming schedule. That guy is barely capable of a simple game plan. Because he's not smart. Or hardly alive, even.
• Of the teams in the AFC that really scare me, the Patriots get all three in the last half of the season. Pittsburgh and the Jets are allegedly the class of the conference, and their blitzing, aggressive defensive schemes could take otherwise flawed teams all the way to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, does anybody count out Peyton Manning, ever? Seriously, I think you could put him on the field with a Division 3 team, or even one of those high school teams from Texas, and he'd find a way to finish 10-6 and scare somebody in the playoffs. I can't stand the guy, but he's the one player I hate to see on the schedule, especially if your favorite team (I'm looking at you, New England) has inexperienced corners who are susceptible to play-action passing and double moves, meaning you have to play a lot of zone coverage on third down, except that plays right into Manning's hands because he's the most accurate passer of all time. Now I think I need a hug.
• Can we all admit Dallas sucks? Is that possible? I've heard enough. They're San Francisco with a less interesting coach. They're the Bills, except their owner just built a multi-billion dollar stadium, paid his players a crapload of money to be terrible and fired his overmatched coach to promote an even more overmatched offensive coordinator. Seriously, way to "earn" that promotion, Jason Garrett. I can just see the Ivy League-educated Garrett, hanging out with his buddies, scheming how to get Wade Phillips fired.
1. Since our offensive line stinks, let's throw 45 or 50 times a game. That way, our overrated franchise quarterback gets hurt. There's no way we can win with Jon Kitna, right?
2. Since we can't pass block, let's throw every down. We wouldn't want to run the ball and control the clock. Yeah, glorified Tecmo Bowl it is.
3. Since Jason Witten is our best offensive weapon, let's make sure our game plan takes him out of the action entirely.
4. Once the offense sucks, let's put pressure on the defense to have to be perfect, creating team infighting that will make Wade Phillips look like he's lost control of the team.
What can I say? Jason Garrett is a smart guy.
• I'm not surprised to see Randy Moss bouncing from team to team. Minnesota needed to do something to try go get things together, but the team is in such disarray that the chaos otherwise known as Randy Moss just didn't work. I think Bill Belichick, one of maybe three coaches in the league who can handle Moss, saw things slipping out of his grasp and decided now was the time to unload Moss. I'm not entirely convinced that Moss will make it through the season in Tennessee — not that we'll know why. Publicly, Moss knows he has to do and say the right things o ensure he gets a contract for next year. Is he capable of being a solid force in the clubhouse? Can he work with Vince Young? Can he handle getting maybe three balls a game thrown his way without turning into Nancy Grace? Wouldn't Jeff Fisher like to know.
• Kudos to the Chiefs for making things interesting in the AFC West, but I really see the Chargers finishing 10-6 and winning the division. Also, let's just call the AFC North race for the Packers — who just keep plugging away despite injuries. Who'd have thought St. Louis could possibly win their division a year after having the number 1 pick in the draft? And, it's an interesting race in the NFC South — with three teams separated by two games. All four teams in the AFC South are still in play to win the division, and Pittsburgh and Baltimore are slugging it out in the AFC North.
All of which is my way of saying it's going to be a fun last half of the season.
• Since I haven't said it yet — Brett Favre's genitalia.
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