Disclaimer: Optimists take heed, ominous views may cause severe mood changes. Only realistic Bills fans should enter this post.
If you fell asleep during the latter portions of Sunday's Bills-Jets season opener like I did, upon waking, you probably scrambled to the computer in disbelief to make sense of, and hopefully disprove, the terrible dream you just endured.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 56 percent completion, three interceptions. What the #$%!. … Freddy Jackson, injured in the second quarter. Would not return. … Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams, Mark Anderson: Two combined tackles, ZERO sacks. … Mark Sanchez threw for how many touchdowns?!
Pinch yourself. Welcome to reality.
If you're a realist, Sunday's nightmare shouldn't come as much of a surprise, although not even the most pessimistic Bills fan could have drawn up a prediction that abysmal.
There were plenty of reasons heading in to believe this team might be different for a change.
The Bills were outplayed, outwitted and outmatched. In the end, it was a typical Jets game. It was a typical divisional game. Nothing new to see here.
Long gone are the days of the 5-2 team of just about 10 months ago. This is a team that has lost nine of its last 10, with a quarterback and head coach which consistently fail to stack up to their more successful counterparts time after time.
But what were you expecting? The Bills could sign a defense of 11 Mario Williams and it still wouldn't make up for the team's deficiencies in the two areas of a team where having an elite presence is absolutely critical to sustaining success — coach and quarterback.
The Jets don't have a superior quarterback by any means, and everyone has their own opinion of Rex Ryan. But if Sanchez and Ryan know how to do anything, it's embarrass the Bills.
Now, I slept through my fair share of classes in high school. You can't help but wonder why Gailey and Fitzpatrick continue to snooze through Rex Ryan's lessons. Perhaps if they paid attention, they may learn a thing or two, like how to beat the Jets.
You get the feeling that as long as Chan Gailey is the coach and Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback, the Bills will continue to look dumbfounded when it comes to competing with real NFL teams.
The least they could have done was make it look like they had a clue.
Right from the onset, Fitzpatrick looked lost. Four quarters, three interceptions and countless off-target passes later, and Bills fans are once again reminded of the low, low feeling of not having much to believe in, left to wonder when the time will come they'll get the chance to feel good about their football team again.
The final score, 48-28, hardly tells the story.
So who's to blame? Chan Gailey, for failing to adequately prepare his squad for the Bills' biggest home opener in recent memory? Gailey is now 0-6 against the Jets during his time with the Bills, and his counterpart, Rex Ryan, is like the big bully who continues stealing Chan's lunch money.
Ryan is always one step ahead, and Gailey has yet to prove he has any business coaching against the big guy. Not to mention, where was the run game? The only clear advantage the Bills had over the Jets heading into Sunday. I blame Gailey for not exploiting that.
Buddy Nix? After all, he's the architect of the team. Not one of his big-ticket offseason signings made so much as a peep Sunday. The big guy, Mario Williams, finished with one measly tackle, and managed to get. The fact he whined about the replacement refs following the game certainly won't attract the sympathy of many Bills fans expecting much, much more from their team's $100 million investment.
The Robin to Williams' Batman, Mark Anderson, was just as dreadful. In fact, if you look at the box score, you wouldn't even know he dressed for the game. Zero tackles. Maybe it's unfair to single out those two players, considering the defense as a whole was out of touch the entire game, but they're the ones who were brought in to improve the defense, and if there was an improvement evident in that game, I must have been sleeping.
For the most part, everyone is to blame. But in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter who was responsible for this opening-day disaster. All that matters now is how the team will answer the abundance of questions it has now left unanswered.
Can Fitzpatrick find his way? Can Gailey show the rest of the league hasn't caught up to his coaching philosophy? Can the defense figure itself out?
There comes a point when people stop asking questions and begin demanding answers, and, as Bills fans, we've lacked answers for a long time, so there had better be some good ones on the way.
Were there positives? Sure. Well, one: C.J. Spiller looked every bit as explosive as a No. 9 overall draft pick should, which is promising, especially if Jackson is forced to miss any chunk of time. The offensive line played well.
That's probably the most demoralzing part about this game, that the run game was working and the O-line allowed just one sack. All Fitz had to do was manage the game, hit a few passes, maybe toss a touchdown or two, and there you go. It's a game. Instead, he fell flat on his face and was really the sole reason the Bills lost.
The players who Gailey and Nix are depending on playing like difference makers consistently fall short. That's just the trend of this roster.
We can sit here and dissect the team all we want. The bottom line is this they just may never stack up against the league's elite. They'll likely cruise through mediocre competition the rest of this season, barring the few games against actual teams, and Bills fans will continue to buy in.
Is there plenty of time to right the ship? Could I look like an complete moron 10 weeks from now for writing this post? Absolutely. But don't count on it.
At the end of the day, this piece could very well turn out to be a complete overreaction to one game, because even I'll concede that is all that this loss was — one game.
But we've had this dream before, so save the shock and despair if you wake up five months from now only to see the Bills for what they are — a mediocre football team led by a coach and quarterback incapable of winning when the city needs it most.
You almost certainly don't agree with Brandon's opinion on this matter, so please, let him hear about it in the comment box or be sure to follow him on Twitter @B_Schlag and express your distaste.