The total second half collapse of the Buffalo Bills last Sunday warrants a federal investigation into the corruption, mishandling and subsequent manhandling of the Bills after an all out ambush by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Help for and from the defense was sorely lacking, and why a congressional probe into how that happened is this week’s political football. And the problems with the defense were both agonizing, multiple, and likely could have been prevented. There is zero pass rush from 250m worth of four oversized contracts and egos. The Rexorcist does not let these guys do what they do best, but they weren’t doing well when they were doing what they do best. There is way too much complexity and confusion as the Bills defenders are often still communicating, er, bitching, to each other when the ball is snapped. Opponents are following a blueprint to beat the team in blue.
The injurious bastards struck again when Sammy Watkins went down with an ankle injury while unable to come to a complete stop at a regular stop sign. Seantrel Henderson, who needed his head examined several times while healthy, now needs to go through the NFL concussion protocol. Percy Harvin was out with a hip injury and didn’t make the London trip, actually home contemplating retirement. Tyrod’s horse-collar hand-cuffed the offense that EJ couldn’t get his big hands and little head around. And while injuries were a major factor in the loss, they weren’t the reason and not an excuse.
No team will win games against bottom dwellers let alone undefeated bullies like the Bengals if forced to play with their backup QB, no 1-2 WR, and one good leg between their top 2 RB. And yet it was the relatively healthy defense, save for safeties, that was the big letdown and what investigators need to get to the bottom of before the Bills get to the bottom of the division and NFL stats lists.
Rex was outwitted, and maybe outed, for the third game out of six, and his staff, especially Dennis Thurman and Danny Crossman had terrible game plans and games. On offense, Greg Roman was limited if not snakebit by injuries, but still managed to screw up elements of the NFL like time management in the hurry up offense that had nothing to do with injuries.
EJ Manuel, who’s been a good ambassador for the team from his foreign outpost on the bench, had a chance to be a world hero but suffered through the same problems of leadership that plagued the first two years of his tenure. He was better but not good, and often too inaccurate and indecisive—and while not the reason for the loss, EJ wasn’t the field general or playmaker that he needed to be.
There were a couple glimmers of sunshine as Shady McCoy returned to action and while he wasn’t fully healthy, he did rush for a healthy 90 yards and a TD, showing flashes of his talent and burst. The offensive line opened a few holes and some eyes, and kept the powerful, sneaky big cats off EJ’s back most of the day.
The Special Teams, which have been horrendous most of the season outside of Colton Schmidt, are especially bad teams. Ron Brooks should face the firing squad (okay, being cut not shot) for losing his head after a routine tackle on a KO, taunting the Cinci returner, who looked up at him and yelled, “YOU’RE RON FREAKING BROOKS!”—more upset by who was taunting him than the actual act. Glass Goodwin looked skittish on his KO returns again, got hurt again, and promptly went to IR again, perhaps playing his last game as a Bill. The Marquise Goodwin Experiment, which I admit I was a proponent of, has simply not worked and likely needs to be put to pasture.
But enough about the Bengalzi fiasco. Bills fans will argue over who was responsible until they are blue in the face and jersey, and likely no real answers will ever be known (or at least made public).
The Bills Nation must put it all behind us as our faithful travel across the pond to bloody London to face the bleedin’ Jaguars on the world stage. The first game ever streamed only online, on Yahoo, instead of shown on national TV and NFL Sunday Ticket promises to be an early English breakfast of bangers and mash—as in M*A*S*H* units. The Bills are so banged up we may start Earl Grey at wide receiver this week.
But luckily, it’s the Jags, they of Doug Marrone and Nate Hackett, incentive alone for the battered, bickering Bills to band together and go on a murderous rampage. Marrone thankfully walked out on his players last New Years and then found out nobody liked or wanted him. Good riddance to a bad actor.
The Bills, however, are still in a good spot in the AFC playoff race, despite their aggravating, aggregate start. A win in Wembley Stadium would propel the wobbly Bills to a 4-3 record and a week off to heal their wounds and get ready for the Jets in Jersey. A win against the overrated, over-confident, Fitzy-led Jests and we are right in the middle of the race to the playoffs.
This Sunday it’s the Mick Jones/Joe Strummer classic clash, “London Calling,” so come on down to Busby’s for some early bird specials as the Buffalo hunt Jaguar, and look to ambush a much weaker jungle cat than the Bengal. There will be no Bengalzi this week. The Defense will be back, and hungry.
Watch out for, and come watch, the stampede.