Over the past decade, we Bills fans have become eternal optimists conditioned to expect the worst. How did we get here?
We’ve certainly gone through a sad assortment of coaches who couldn’t out-coach or out-scheme or even out-dress our opponents. Then we watched each one leave town and go on to a productive career with another team.
We’ve seen our share of quarterbacks, some of whom were athletically gifted, practice warriors, but all of whom couldn’t avoid making nauseating plays on Sunday, typically ending in a fumble, interception, sack, or concussion.
We’ve seen dozens of heart-wrenching games where the Bills brought us to the edge of victory, only to see it slip away, inexplicably, almost impossibly in the final seconds.
We’ve all scratched our head as challenge flags weren’t thrown, defenses were out of position, and third and long plays led repeatedly to the predictable halfback draw up the middle.
We’ve groaned, we’ve screamed, and we may have even shed a tear or two. But, in all honesty, it was never unexpected. It was just unfortunate. It was just Buffalo Football.
But oh the offseason! All Bills fans awake with a renewed sense of optimism at the beginning of the offseason. It’s time to think about the possibilities of a new GM, new coaches, free agents and draft picks. If only we had a left tackle worth a damn! If only we shifted to a 3-4 last year! If only our coach would show some emotion! Success lies just an offseason away.
And so we embark on the shiny new Buddy Nix / Chan Gailey era, a duo we hope can return Buffalo to the top of the AFC, and respectability, and profitability. A duo that can avoid the pitfalls of the past decade: misguided first-round draft picks, a meddlesome owner, a lack of focus on the trenches, and more players on injured reserve than on the field.
Can they do it? Sure. It’s not rocket science. Every coach cites the expression about “once you listen to the fans, you’re destined to become one.” But Bills fans are pretty knowledgeable about the game. We know the smell of failure, and we see bad decisions for what they are. We can predict ass-backwards play calling just as quickly as opposing coaches, and we can see questionable personnel decisions a mile away.
So what do I want this offseason (other than a collective bargaining agreement?) I want a switch to the 3-4 (check!). I want Maybin at OLB. I want a nose tackle and a left tackle. I want an offensive line with Levitre, Wood, and Incognito manning the middle. I want better strength and conditioning. I want wide receiver slant routes, and tight end seam routes, and effective screen plays. I want more blitzing, man-to-man coverage in the red zone, and bigger, meaner guys on the defensive line.
I want to regain our swagger from the early 90’s. It’s not rocket science. And Buffalo fans deserve nothing less.