With the season on the precipice of historical heights or dispiriting disaster, the Buffalo Bills popped a bubble instead of a champagne bottle. All of the great goodwill built up in the victory over the Pack at The Ralph last week, was thrown up/thrown out by The Raiders at the Dark Hole.
And now Kim and Terry Pegula have big, tough decisions to make.
Doug Marrone didn’t change the culture; this was the same ol’ sad sack(less) Bills. The playcalling, at times, was criminal. The Bills actually called a play-action pass from their own 20, with 2:51 to go, down by two scores, after having run for 13 yards for the entire game. Kyle Orton was immediately sacked. Did they really think the Raiders were expecting run? That is unconscionable offensive coaching.
Orton is not only not the answer; he may not even be in question. Orton is due 5.4 million dollars next year. Five days after the Super Bowl he has a player option to void that last year. It’s highly doubtful he will at this point. But the Bills can release him with little dead money on the books.
But Sunday, there was a lot of dead money on the field.
C.J. Spiller looked like he was still on IR and probably should have stayed there. Marrone and Hackett have clearly not found a way to get Spiller in open space.
Jamaal Charles. Jim Brown. Mercury Morris. Gayle Sayers. Barry Sanders. Adrian Peterson.
That is every single running back in the modern era to average 5.0 yards per carry for their entire career. CJ Spiller averages 5.0 for his career, even after these two terrible years in the Marrone Hackett offense.
Even under Chan Gailey, the Bills were 13th and 13th on offense in the NFL on average yards per play. With arguably better players and inarguably a better defense behind them, the Marrone offense is 29th and 29th in the NFL.
Fred Ex unfortunately looked like an ex-star. Sammy Watkins had a great early TD downfield and then we decided to stop throwing it to him. On 3rd and 1 we threw a half yard pass to Chris Hogan who has inexplicably become the focal point.
The offense started out poorly this year and regressed, with sporadic spurts of hope for the future in Watkins and Robert Woods, but now that’s about it. The running backs were woeful, and yet slightly better than their blockers up front. Craig Urbik did one of the best belly flops of all time on a screen pass against a DB. Too bad there was no pool.
The OL has disintegrated. Glenn, Woods, Pears and Urbik all took 1-2 huge quick steps back. and not to get in good position to pass block. Seantrel Henderson went from Seventh Round Pick to Steal of the Century and back to Seventh Round Pick. 2nd rounder Cyrus Kouandjio rarely saw the active roster and never saw the field. 5th rounder Cyril Richardson saw the field a little too closely, face planted or driven backwards into it, often seen pulling it out of his facemask.
The defense lost two of its studs in Marcel Dareus and Stephon Gilmore and immediately lost its edge. The Raiders gouged our line, often the backups, for huge chunks of O.co Stadium. Derek Carr at one point was 6-21, and then we made him look like Bart Starr.
Jim Schwartz, who had been calling great games all year, decided to only rush three on 3rd and 22. Carr had all day on an afternoon stroll-out, and then made a miraculous pitch and catch for a game-changing first down, which Corey Graham made about four bad decisions on.
Monumental blunders, but the prototype same old Bills. Some were hoping this year was different. But the same sad story had a very familiar last act.
With one more week to go, into New England against hated, heathen, slimy, evil incarnate Cheatriots, the Bills will try to end the mercurial 2014 season with a miraculous win. Come on down to the madhouse on Santa Monica for some end of the year Holiday Cheer, and something to hang our Christmas hat on for next year.
New ownership. Deep pockets. Perhaps new guys in charge. This Sunday is the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. Perhaps a season on the brink of greatness.