You know, I find football fans to be an amazing lot. Before the season started, I’d hear lots of fans on sports radio shows and in regular life saying things like, “Geez, with this schedule, we’ll be lucky to be 6-10” and “Wow, they’re gonna open up 0-4” and stuff like that. Now that the Bills actually are 0-3, suddenly we’re all shocked — shocked! — that the team is struggling mightily. Of course, that’s probably a function of how the team is struggling mightily; most fans expected a team that would lose games by scores like 28-20, 38-24, 45-27, and the like. No one expected a team that would, after three games, have two offensive TDs on the year.
JP Losman’s effectiveness was questioned strenuously by fans after both the first two games; I was unimpressed by him, although I didn’t call for a pulling of his plug, and I feel slightly vindicated by what happened today. Losman was injured on the very first series and came out of the game after the third play, leading to rookie (third-round pick this year) Trent Edwards, who had a couple of good drives in pre-season which was somehow enough to sell a lot of people on the idea that he’s bursting with intangibles. Which isn’t to say that he isn’t bursting with intangibles; I just think that one doesn’t want to estimate a rookie quarterback’s intangibles based on a fourth-quarter drive against the Detriot Lions in a pre-season game. But that’s just me.
I’m also weary of hearing youth and injuries cited as reasons this team struggles. I think it goes to drafting and coaching. The greenest players each year, the ones who are really marginal NFL talents at their positions, always manage to make NFL rosters by virtue of special teams play, and the Bills’ special teams units are always well-prepared and they almost always execute well on the fundamentals. Today, a perfect downing-of-the-ball on a punt was executed by a rookie (Josh Wendling, a fifth-round pick this year), and in making that play he looked like he’d been doing it for years. That’s coaching. Funny how Bobby April manages to get so much more out of the same general batch of inexperienced youngsters than any of the other coordinators and coaches on the Bills’ staff, isn’t it?
Anyway, let’s move onto more pithy replies:
:: The Bills have a very good punter.
:: The Bills had one very good drive.
:: Bill Belichick challenged two calls within five minutes in the second quarter; both went against him. I remember when those calls would probably have gone his way. I wonder if there’s some quiet bit of punishment for the whole Belicheat thing going on.
:: I got the floor vacuumed in our apartment! Woo-hoo!
:: The announcers for this game weren’t very good. They made odd points, like “Dick Jauron’s had success wherever he’s been”, and “The StuPats have been good because they’ve had continuity at coach and quarterback, where the Bills haven’t.” I’ve heard that latter point a lot lately, not just in reference to New England, but to teams like Indy and Pittsburgh. The point seems to me exactly backwards: success doesn’t come as a result of continuity in the coaching staff and the roster; rather, continuity comes as a result of success. Does anyone think the Bills would have had any better a recent history if we were on Year Seven of the Gregg Williams/Rob Johnson era? Or Year Four of the Mike Mularkey/Drew Bledsoe era? Winning comes first, then continuity.
:: Chris Kelsay did a better job tackling. The defense continues to play really hard. They don’t make big stops or big plays, but they can’t be said to be lacking in the area of effort.
:: Marshawn Lynch. Not “Meh” for his effort, just “Meh” that he’s so potentially good on so ugly a team.
:: Longtime readers know I harp on this every year, but it wouldn’t be a Bills post of mine if I didn’t complain about the Bills’ constant lack of command at the line of scrimmage. Screw the quarterback situation; this team’s focus has to be getting better at the line of scrimmage.
:: Well, this game sure can’t be blamed on JP Losman. Trent Edwards completed fifty percent of his passes for under 100 yards, no TDs, and an interception. I’m not knocking Edwards, but this team is fundamentally bad in the trenches.
:: Maybe the Bills should just eliminate all their tight ends and sign some new linemen, since the TEs are useless here anyway.
:: Maybe it’s just my rabid hatred of the StuPats talking, but there’s no way Wilfork wasn’t gunning for Losman’s exposed knee on that play.
:: More injuries. What did the Bills do to so alienate the football gods? Now, rookie linebacker Paul Posluszny has a broken arm and will be out for quite a while. JP Losman will probably miss some time. About the only thing that can be hoped now is that some youngsters who would otherwise have never seen the field somehow turn out to be diamonds in the rough.
Well, that’s about it. Next up: the New York Jets, at home. The Bills usually play the Jets tough. But then again, once Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay and Donte Whitner all get hurt next week on the same play, the Bills will be fielding seven guys on defense.