In a stunning turnaround that drastically affected the 2016 seasons of two original AFL franchises, entrenched Oakland franchise QB Derek Carr skyrocketed and teetering Bills franchise QB wannabe Tyrod Taylor nosedived. The Bills were on a kimmelweck roll and built a 15 point lead in the third quarter and then melted down.
The two franchises now seem to be on a different path after just this one disastrous twenty minutes of play. If the Bills held on and performed the last third of the game the way they did the first two thirds, the Buffalo franchise would have been re-energized and hellbent on a playoff role after beating the AFC leader on the road in convincing fashion.
But the Bills haven’t won in Oakland in 50 years, which feels like, well, 50 years. More than most of our lifetimes, and the team just tanked.
Tyrod blew a rod and the defense was defenseless. The Raiders of the lost art, winning, scored four straight touchdowns and sent the Bills home reeling. Suddenly, the team is questioning if Taylor can even be a franchise guy, whether or not Rex is still the man to command the ship, and even if GM Doug Whaley and President Russ Brandon will still have front office jobs.
It was a nuclear meltdown.
Derek Carr absolutely shredded the Bills defense and looked like the second coming of the Mad Bomber, ex-Bill Daryle Lamonica during the Raiders heyday. Rex and his staff had no answers, except bad ones, for how to defend Oakland. Ryan’s insistence on only rushing three linemen on so many plays, which allowed Carr to sit back in idle forever, was confounding.
It’s been almost two years now and Bills fans are still waiting for the Rex Ryan defense, sending waves of rushers and pressuring the opposing QB into mistakes.
One may ask if we are not getting Rex Ryan’s defense, why are we getting Rex Ryan?
On offense a completely different scenario emerged, although with similar disastrous results. Tyrod Taylor was white lightning in the first quarter and free-falling into the Raiders’ Black Hole the rest of the afternoon. TMobile seemed to be running in mud, and thinking in it, too. He made several bad decisions and missed several open receivers.
In Tyrod’s defense, the Bills receivers consisted of half a Sammy Watkins, Marquise Cantwin, Ben Rotate, and Jack Nicklaus’ grandson. A literal “who’s not” of NFL caliber receivers. I’m not sure even Derek Carr could have performed much better.
Okay, I am pretty sure Carr would have performed better. But it would be interesting to see Taylor get a chance to play with a healthy Watkins, Woods and Charles Clay. That hasn’t happened once this season.
The run game is and was terrific, led by superstar Shady McCoy and supersub Mike Gillislee who continues to shine off the pine. TD Mike has taken over goal-line carries from Shady with his quick decisions, severe determination and snowplowing straight forward style. Gillislee has a rare combination of vision, power and breakaway speed.
The Bills are loaded in the run game and lowly in the pass game. And unfortunately, the team ran for the Oakland Hills in the last twenty minutes. Changing the direction and projection of the franchise.
The Bills still have a slight snowball’s chance in hell at the playoffs if they beat the Steelers in the snow at The Lid this Sunday, but have fared poorly against any team with true franchise quarterbacks this season.
As crazy as it sounds, a win against the Steelers could easily lead to a four game win streak, a 10-6 record, and still another complete re-evaluation of where this franchise is headed come January.
So come on down to the madhouse on Santa Monica for some holiday cheering, free wings at halftime, and ice cold Labatt’s, with a couple hundred franchise fans still at the top of their game.
By Pete Rosen