Let me first say my lack of literary inspiration has not come on account of the Bills struggles, but because I was out of town for 2 weeks so that I could be made an honest man of and then honeymoon in Hawaii. It has been interesting to get married and honeymoon during such a terrible stretch of Bills football. In a way, when compared to the joy, happiness, and total elation that come with tying the knot with the love of your life, it really makes you realize how down right miserable it can be to watch the Bills take the field.
As I think back to my wife and I standing face to face, looking into each others eyes, pledging our dedication to one another, I can’t help but draw a parallel to my relationship with the Bills. The Bills are a “partner” with whom I renew my “vows” with every September. No matter how rocky the previous year was, I always make sure to publicly rededicate myself to our relationship and promise to love and support them through “sickness and through health.” The only problem is, it’s a one way street. The Bills never vow anything back to me. They never pledge their love, if anything they bypass promises completely because, like a partner with a fear of commitment, they know, odds are, they will be unable to be faithful. The Bills are an abusive spouse who routinely leaves me with a black-eye and like many victims of domestic violence, I keep going back. I tell my friends “they really don’t mean it when they do things like this”, “you don’t know them like I KNOW THEM”, and “they only do this because the love me TOO much!” Sure, I might occasionally file a police report, but at the end of the day I never press charges. I don’t have them locked up and I never can remove them from my life.
Getting married was true bliss. Honeymooning in Hawaii was a dream come true. Returning home Sunday night, having withstood 10 hours of media blackout because I recorded the game, only to watch the Bills throw together another lackluster effort, was like walking out of the ice cream parlor with the tallest, most delicious looking ice cream cone only to have it tip over and go “splat” and melt away on the hot, summer blacktop.
The media pundits will tell you it’s time for Ryan Fitzpatrick. They say “enough check downs!”. I’m frustrated too. But I will continue my quest to look beyond the “easy targets” (QB/Head Coach) and analyze the team from one simple perspective: health. You cannot say there is a clear difference between the play of a healthy o-line in weeks 1 and 2, and the line that was minus both starting left tackles in weeks 3 and 4. (Bell played some of week 3 I believe) The run lanes are less abundant, and pass protection is all but non-existent. Is it any shock that Edwards had 4 TD’s to 1 INT in the first 2 weeks and now has 4 INT’s to 1 TD in the last 2? We knew coming into the season the offensive line would be a question mark. Now we know they were good enough as starters, but have no depth to make up for injuries at arguably the most important positions on the line. If you don’t win in the trenches, you don’t win, I don’t care who’s coaching and who your QB is. Joe Montana could be under center, and Lombardi could be on the sidelines, but if your men up front are named Chambers, Wood, Levitre, Scott, and Hangartner (who no one seems to want to call out for his inability to snap the ball above Trent’s knees the last two weeks) you are going NO WHERE. Don’t get me wrong, I like the inside 3 guys, but they can only do so much. The tackle position is an oiled turnstile for defensive ends, and they’re about to set a record for attendance in the backfield.
Yes, I would like to see more deep balls, who wouldn’t?? But next time you watch a game that the Bills aren’t playing in, watch and see how many deep balls, by deep balls I mean 40+ yards, and count how many there are in the game. I have done this recently and was surprised by how many teams don’t throw deep. Granted, most teams don’t have TO and Evans, BUT those are useless weapons if you can’t give them 4 seconds to get downfield and right now, the Bills can’t give them 2. I recall Tom Brady winning his first Super Bowl and people clamoring (I was one of them) “yeah, but he just throws check downs and screen passes, he can’t throw deep!” As he sat polishing his ring, with an arm around his model girlfriend, I doubt Brady lied awake at night about his “lack of long passes”…oh by the way, turns out, as he developed; he throws a pretty good deep ball.
Maybe the coach stinks. Maybe the QB is no good. But I will argue, over the last 3 seasons, the Bills inability to stay on the field has plagued the franchises ability to progress. We are 4 games in and have lost 2 starting o-tackles, starting middle linebacker, 2 starting safeties, 1 cornerback/returner, and a starting tight end…not to mention our running back missed 3 games due to suspension. Great teams would struggle with this adversity, let alone young teams who depend on every snap to help build chemistry and cohesion.
I will also continue to argue the 21st Century NFL just isn’t the place for a 19th Century owner. I love Ralph, but the front office needs as much upheaval as the coaching staff. For crying out loud, we don’t even have a true general manager! The catch 22 is, when Ralph goes, for all we know, the team might go with him.
Well, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back in the kitchen. The Bills will be home soon and if I don’t have dinner on the table, I fear the neighbors might be calling the authorities and report another domestic altercation….
Win the next 2, and it’s a whole new season.