Estimated reading time: 9 minute(s)
1. By Sunday morning before the Broncos game, I had come to realize something important about being a Bills fan. It doesn’t matter to me if the Bills fire their head coach. It doesn’t matter to me if Jason Peters plays or doesn’t play. It doesn’t matter to me if Trent Edwards succeeds or fails.
The Buffalo Bills matter to me. I’m a Bills fan, and I watch the games. I root for my team every week. I love it when they win; it hurts when they lose. I get pleasure out of it every week, even when they lose. All the rest is just noise, and the noise makes me unhappy.
So I was completely at ease Sunday afternoon, because I was ready simply to enjoy what I love – another Bills game. Well, not completely ready. There was a big storm in New England, so I drove to a local sports bar instead of one of the better bars. The local joint only has about 12 TVs. We walked in; 9 TVs had the Pats blowing out the Cards, and 3 had the beginning of the Jets game. THe Pats game kept going and going. Finally, after about 10 minutes of dealing with waitresses and changing tables, 10 minutes of my blood pressure rising, the Bills were on – and down 7-0! First thing I saw was the Bills first offensive series. I would have been better off watching The Deer Hunter or some other upbeat movie.
2. The past couple of months have been so discouraging, I’m finding it hard to get excited about a win. I have to stop and think about it first.
This was a great win! Come from behind, on the road, bad weather, against a playoff-contending team with a winning record. Great win! The team was dealing with the Peters thing, Lynch being injuired, Trent coming back, all of the noise about the coaches.
I love the players on this team, and they deserve some success. Against the Broncos, they got some.
3. There are a lot of things wrong with this team, and slow starts is one of them. It’s absolutely maddening. I didn’t see the opening drive, and I haven’t gone back to review the play by play. Why should I? I’ve seen it before. The defense can’t stop the opening drive, and the Bills can’t move the ball to open the game.
I’m convinced it’s because everyone knows what the Bills are going to do. The Bills have announced to the world that they will play passive, bend-don’t-break defense and adjust as the game goes along. That’s an invitation to offensive coordinators to script the first drive and take advantage of the Bills’ passive approach.
On offense, it’s clear the Bills will try to run the ball and won’t throw deep. So the defensive coordinators script their opening defenses to attack the standard offense and give the QB some new looks.
The Bills were down 10-0 before they began to compete. It’s happened virtually every week.
I think the coaches put the players at a serious disadvantage by playing such predictable schemes. When the Bills play predictable schemes, they have to be better, physically, to win. Other teams also win by outsmarting the opponent, disguising defenses, presenting different looks.
4. A bad-weather win for Trent! The first of what I hope will be many.
Here’s what I like and don’t like about Trent Edwards:
a. He stands in and takes a hit.
b. He makes decisions in the pocket promptly, and he works to find the open man.
c. His throws are accurate. (Anyone wonder like I did that the ball he threw behind Roscoe was intentional? BIlls were going left to right on the screen, Roscoe came off the left side of the line, and about 12 yards downfield cut across the middle. Looked to me like the linebacker was coming into the zone, Trent saw it and threw behind Roscoe. Was Roscoe supposed to see it too and settle in the spot instead of continuing the crossing pattern?)
a. He’s a drama queen after he gets hit. Get back up and show your team you’re ready to go.
b. His throwing motion is ugly and impedes his ability to throw the deep ball. He needs to work on that.
c. I’m still not convinced he recognizes when a receiver will get open. Having said that, he didn’t have trouble finding Josh Reed. Josh made the Broncos pay for doubling Lee all day.
I still think Trent is the QB of the future. He’s in his second year in the league, 15th in passer rating, 5th in percentage completion and 12th in yards per attempt. In QB rating, he’s ahead of McNabb (can we please stop with the “sign McNabb” pleas?), Favre, Roethlisberger, Delhomme and this year’s savior, Kerry Collins.
5. The bad play I liked the most: Marcus Stroud’s hold. Cost the Bills a takeaway (and cost the Ball Burglar nearly $400) in the process. Why did I like it? Because it was a guy trying to make a play. He was trying clear a path for his teammate to make a run at the QB. He didn’t just quit on the play because he was blocked – he understood what was happening on the play and tried to make something more happen. He helped create the pressure that may have forced a quick throw and the interception. Of course, the INT may have happened anyway. Still, Stroud was doing whatever he could.
6. Speaking of the interception, I thought the DBs played pretty well. That’s a big-time passing offense with a really effective QB, and the Bills forced 20 incomplete passes. That’s a lot. McGee was outstanding. Just running down the wideout on the end-around saved four points – if they’d gotten the touchdown on that play, instead of field goal later in the drive, at the end of the game a field goal would have tied the game. He had some nice pass breakups. He’s a good player.
I continue to like Leodis. The INT was nicely done – he has closing quickness better than anyone on the team. There was a third down pass in the second half that they completed against him for a first down, but he was right there.
What bothers me about the back seven is that they can be in the zone, give up a completion and have three guys there to make the tackle. Why can’t one of them be there for the breakup? Poz, particularly, seems always to be a half-step late. Maybe he isn’t good enough. Maybe he’s still learning.
Corner made some plays and got beaten badly sometime too. The game ending play, he was beaten. His recovery was spectacular.
I guess the Bills had Scott at strong and Whitner at free. I saw Whitner cause the fumble Corner recovered, I saw him overrun Royal on the end around when McGee saved his bacon. I didn’t see much more of him. He was playing free safety against a team that put up 532 and he made 3 tackles? What’s with that? 3 tackles? Were the Bills in the zone all the time? I don’t know, but I think the Bills are not turning him loose. He has his assignments and he does them. When you draft a safety in the first round, he’s supposed to be someone the offense game plans for. The Bills haven’t made him into that kind of player.
7. The Bills running backs are GOOD. Obvious, I know, but it has to be said. Marshawn had several sweet runs, and Fred did too. They’re getting some running room and they’re making plays. Second half, particularly, it looked like the Bills had worn the Broncos down. Unfortunately, by then the Bills were down to Jackson and Omon, and the Bills (wisely) weren’t going to pound Fred over and over again.
8. I really like how the offensive line is performing. No sacks, nice run blocking. It does appear that the line is coming together, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done. I’d like the running game to be dominant, and they have a ways to go to get there, or even near there.
I have no idea about Peters. No idea. Poor guy has all this talent and behaves like a jerk. We’ll never know, of course, but the Bills probably share some of the blame here. If it’s true that they haven’t even talked about redoing the contract, they’ve bungled this situation. We don’t know what was said when Peter’s came back, but the sense people got was that the Bills had committed at least to get started. The contract should be redone in the off-season; in order to accomplish that, the Bills should have been having conversations during the season – not to finalize the deal but at least to advance the ball. Jason should have known what the schedule was.
If, as I fear, everything has gone sideways, the Bills may now have a guy who doesn’t want to be here, who wants even more money, and who will be that much more difficult to motivate in the future.
In short, the Bills should have been building a relationship with Jason over the past three months, and it seems like they weren’t.
As I said at the top, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’ll be rooting for the left tackle wearing the Bills uniform next season. I hope it’s Jason Peters. If it isn’t, I’ll still be at the games.
9. Everyone complains about the pass rush. You know what? With a very few exceptions, if you rush four in the NFL, you don’t get to the QB. Most teams do not have a guy who beats his man one-on-one very often. The offensive linemen are too good.
Mercifully, as the game wore on the Bills came with some blitzes. I would have come with more. Pressure created the McKelvin interception, and pressure created the Mitchell interception. You need regular pressure, so that the QB hurries throws and so that the QB is always worrying that you’re coming.
And the opposite of the blitz is that awful prevent defense with a three-man rush. Get rid of that baby – that’s an automatic first down every time the Bills run it. Terrible. Against good QBs, and Cutler is a good QB, no pass rush leads to pass completions.
The defense on this team is okay. They keep the score down, and that’s a good thing. But they give up a lot of yards. Look at the scores this time of year, and look at the teams that are winning. They have defenses that are shutting the opponents down. Tight. The Bills are much too soft.
10. Fred’s catch and run was the play of the day. Fabulous. If Trent had thrown it deeper and to the sideline, does Fred go straight to the end zone? Did Trent lead him into the middle of the field intentionally? It was an easier ball to catch that way. Did anyone else worry that Fred would get stripped from behind? I did.
The catch was followed by Xavier not-ready-for-prime-time Omon twice, a great job by Johnson running his route and a great throw by Trent delivering the ball. I will NOT anoint Johnson as the second coming of anyone, but he’s definitely showing some stuff.
A woman from Kenmore who now lives in South Carolina and comes to New England for the holidays showed up for the game at the table next to mine at the sports bar in Glastonbury, Connecticut. She was there with her husband, a Packers fan. Bills fans are loyal.
I gave her a Ball Burglar business card and asked her to join. The Ball Burglar has cruised past the $10,000 mark, but we’re not done yet. We need you and your friends to join. The Ball Burglar is THE Buffalo Bills fan movement – hundreds have joined and we need hundreds more. Proceeds go to Hunter’s Hope and Carly’s Club, two great western New York charities fighting serious childhood diseases. Please join today – all we ask is a buck for every takeaway the Bills get. www.Ballburglar.com. Thanks!
Happy holidays to all! See you next week.