(Editor’s note: In case you missed, I did a happy review for the Bills 2011 season. Now, welcome to the “The world is ending!” review of their season!)
During the Bills 2004 season (You know, the one where we were one game away from making the playoffs), I was watching a Bills/Browns game at McFaddens in NYC and the Bills were just laying a beat-down on them. I forgot the final score, but we beat them like, by 30 and we destroyed one of the McCown brothers. So, you’d think that all 150 drunken transplants would be happy, right?
There was this one older guy, probably in his late 40’s, who just wouldn’t stop complaining. The Bills would be up by three touchdowns and if they couldn’t convert on a third down in the 3rd quarter, he’d start going off about the pla- calling or the blocking up front. He was sporting a 1988 Bills AFC East Champion sweatshirt and just had this miserable scowl on his face. He was pissed off from the start of the game to the very end. I don’t even think he was drinking either. I can only imagine what he looked like when the Bills choked against the Steelers in the season finale.
Yes, as fans, I always picture having the devil and the angel on each of your shoulders. When you are about to say something positive, the dude with the halo says something nice and when the sh#$ hits the fan, the devil whispers sweet nothings into your ear. This post is dedicated to that angry soul who didn’t buy into the following:
- 5-2 start.
- The Toronto series.
- The Bills staying in Buffalo after Ralph dies.
- Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller, Shawne Merriman Buddy Nix and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- Terry Pegula and Santa.
- Winning a Super Bowl and life.
Here are five things that will make you get up in a cold sweat as a Bills fan or start yelling at the TV on Super Bowl Sunday.
5) Draft classes/Free agents
I’m sorry if I’m not jumping for joy because our draft class this year actually got on the field. Again, Buffalo fans are always begging to anoint the next big thing when it comes to draft picks (See: Kassian and JP Losman). Need I remind you the hoopla from the 2006 draft class? Everyone was excited because the likes of Terrence Pennington and Keith Ellison were starting. How about the 2007 class? Remember when Marv Levy retired and everyone was happy about him drafting Poz, Lynch and Edwards? Yeah, how did that turn out? Just because they get on the field doesn’t mean they are going to become players. Marcell Dareus was alright, but he wasn’t the game-breaker a lot of fans were hoping for. Aaron Williams made some plays, but he also got burned. Kelvin Sheppard racked up the ever-so-overrated tackles stat, but so did Keith Ellison as a rookie.
The 2010 draft class is still a disappointment. Torrell Troup and Alex Carrington have done hardly anything. Arthur Moats and Ed Wang (Not with the team anymore) are nothing more than Twitter phenumons. Marcus Easley hasn’t played a pro game yet. And I always forget if Levi Brown is on the team or not. However, CJ Spiller did have a nice end of the season. Well, hooray. Here’s the problem with that: the guy that he replaced is probably the best player on the team. So, good luck with trying to figure out carries.
Switching to free agents the Bills have signed over the last two years, the Bills brought in Brad Smith, who did nothing but gain 2-3 yards on short yardage situations. Nick Barnett was fine, but he’s getting up their in age. Dwan Edwards has made like 4 plays in two years. Andra Davis got benched. Oh, and they signed Kirk Morrison, who got more action on Twitter than on the field. Again, explain to me why I should be optimistic about the scouting department?
Lastly, for those who keep thinking the Bills will sign a #2 WR, who would cost them 5-7 million a year, or add Mario Williams, realize that the Bills have signed only 3 free agents who have made more than 5-million a year since 2005 (Walker, Dockery and T.O.). Unless Terry Pegula owns the team, I don’t see why this year will be different.
4) Franchise QB?
We all knew what we were getting with Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s like the Nicholas Cage of QBs. Sometimes, he looks like he should be staring in Oscar Winning movies, the next minute he’s doing crappy ass comic book movies. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a franchise QB. Look at the way Eli Manning and Tom Brady are playing. Spare me with how the Bills beat the Pats by only a field goal. Come on, the Pats turned the ball over four times. You think that will ever happen again? Fitz isn’t even a top 10 QB. What makes a QB a franchise player is about making the weapons around him better. It’s making Deion Branch or Pierre Garcon look better than they actually are. I don’t see Fitz as that guy. He needs to get top guys around him to make him better.
Fitzpatrick started the season well, passing for 1,739 yards, 14 touchdowns with just seven interceptions and a passer rating of 97.8 during the Bills 5-2 start. However, and it has been well documented, he went into a late season tailspin. In his last 9 games, #14 threw for only ten touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His rating went from 97.8 after week 8 to 79.1 for the entire season. Oh, did I mention he lead the league in picks? Well, I just did. Fitzpatrick threw 2 or more picks in half the games he started last year (Only went four games without a INT).
Fitz looked like a grease fire during that 2nd half of last season. It marks the 2nd year in a row that Fitz’s play has tailed off towards the end of the season. Teams catching up? It should also be mentioned that Fitz’s best two games came against the #29 and #31 ranked defenses. Bottom line: You can’t go far into the reasons for why the Bills lost seven straight games without mentioning QB play.
3) 7-game losing streak
Amazingly, Chan Gailey owns a 8 and 7 game losing streak during his Bills coaching career. The whole losing streak was so disappointing after such a great start to the season. It was electric during the 5-2 start. We were a national darling for that first month or so. Fitzpatrick was on PTI, ESPN was coming to Buffalo for the first time since Flutie, players were sporting their teammates t-shirts and even Jerry Sullivan was writing nice stuff about them. By the middle of that 7-game losing streak, I think Bills fans lost all their hope…and so did the team. The losing streak was a combination of a bunch of things: Overconfidence, injuries, teams catching up to them, and just talent not being good enough.
During the 7-game losing streak, the Bills gave up an average of 32 points while scoring 14 points a game. The Bills also only managed 3 sacks and gave up 16 touchdown passes during the losing streak. It’s crazy when you think that only a handful of teams that started 5-2 or 5-1 have not made the playoffs and we are in that group..twice. Hell, I remember at one point, the Bills forced three punts in three weeks (Jets, Cowboys and Dolphins stretch).
During that stretch, we had the Stevie celebration BS, injuries, Matt Moore and Mark Sanchez burning the secondary, Punt blocks, more injuries, centers not knowing how to snap the ball, non-sellouts, even more injuries, Lucic killing Ryan Miller, and no playoff talk come December. The losing streak was like a microcosm of being a Bills fan for the last 12 years. Each loss felt like a “Can you top that?” moment for futility. It was one of the few times I can remember wanting the season to end.
2) The defense was pathetic
The Bills ranking 26th in defense doesn’t tell the whole story about how pathetic they were. This has been a problem for years now. Since 2007, the Bills have given up 23 points or more, 42 times. That accounts for over half their games played during that five year stretch. How about this gem of a stat…Since 2001, only one player has had more than 10 sacks in a year and that was Aaron Schobel. Are you close to vomiting yet? No? Well, in 8 games last year, the Bills gave up over 400 yards in offense. Take out the 14 sacks they got against Denver/Washington and the Bills only had 15 sacks in 14 games. I’d go on, but the toilet may not be close to your computer.
Fans can talk all they want about the Bills secondary or their inability to stop the tight end, but to me, those problems all started with a lack of pass rush. It didn’t matter if it were Spencer Johnson, Shawne Merriman, Dr. Sack, Chris Kelsey, James Jeffcoat or Art Still on the outside. The Bills just couldn’t get a pass rush off the edge. I don’t care if the Bills are moving to a 4-3. It can be a Boeing 747 or a fat Ryan can come coach the team. Until the team finds pass rushers on the outside, they are going to be near the bottom of the NFL in total defense. It is an old football cliche, but it all starts with the guys up front.
If the Bills defense was a middle of the pack unit, the team would have won a few more games. Unless your QB is Tom Brady, you just can’t give up 6 touchdown passes to Matt Moore in two games.
1) 12 years of this?!
Aren’t you getting a little use to this by now? It comes to the point when you forget what your reaction was at the end of say the 2003 season when the Bills missed the playoffs. Was it similar to how you felt at the end of the 2005 or 2008 season? Seriously, the thought process for losing seems to be the same or they just blend into one gigantic pile of crap. The disappointment remains the same no matter how you slice. So, we lost 7 games in row. I mean, we lost 8 in a row last year, had Monday night games from hell, and we blew a game against the Pittsburgh backups in 2004. We have seen it all is all I’m saying. We are regulated to a fan base that excepts the worst and only hopes for the best.
I mention all of this because it’s hard to get excited about the Bills winning 10 games in two years. The 10 games won in a two year stretch represents the lowest win total since ’85-’86. I watched about 10 seconds worth of the pro bowl on Sunday night and I flashed back to the early 90’s when the Bills could charter a private jet to Honloulu because they had so many pro bowlers. They had 10 in 1990. Unless you count the one Jills cheerleader, the Bills had zero pro bowlers this year and have had only five since 2006.
I guess what I’m trying to say is what makes you think the Bills are going to get it right finally? Because Buddy Nix talks a good game? Cause good things come to those who wait? Because San Fran and Detroit turned it around? Sorry, I need more and history tells me we ain’t getting more.
The rest of the worst:
–I bought a Stevie Johnson jersey during the summer. So, he better be back.
–The Bills have won four division games since 2008.
–The Bills had 18 players on IR.
–We may lose the New England game to Toronto.
–Eric Wood has had two serious leg injuries in three years.
–Scott Chandler is best tight end the Bills have had since Jay Riemersma. Problem: He was ranked 23rd in receptions for tight ends.
–The Bills had two kickers on a IR this past season. Has that ever happened?
–Donte Whitner made it to the NFC Title game. Kill me now.
–Aaron Maybin had more sacks than anyone on this team.
–Fred Jackson hasn’t gotten a new deal yet.
–Leodis McKelvin hasn’t been cut yet.
–The Bills haven’t won a playoff game in 16 years.
–Brian Moorman is getting old.
–Who the hell are #82 and #80 again?
–Chan Gailey coaches like he’s down by two touchdowns. In other words, he loves to throw.
–The tuck rule.
–The Bills didn’t have a WR or RB come in the top 18 for yards rushing or receiving.
–The last time the Bills won only one game on the road (season opener) during the regular season was in 1986.