“The Don” Speaks: Week Four

Editor’s Note: Almost immediately following its official inception during the first week of August, the #BillsMafia movement has had followers naming/renaming their Twitter handles using the term “Bills Mafia.” One of the first to do so was @BillsMafiaDon, the self-appointed “Don” of the movement. An active, vocal member of the #BillsMafia community, @BillsMafiaDon has been offered the opportunity to blog here at BillsMafia.com in a special weekly column.

"The Don" Speaks

Family is defined differently depending on who it is you’re asking. For some, this word is used in the most literal sense when speaking of those who share the same blood. For others, family consists of more than just relatives, and includes individuals who have helped them become the man or woman they are today. For me, I’m fortunate enough to say that both of these definitions are valid. The men and women within my lineage are some of the best people you could ever meet, and without them, I doubt I would have even made it to this point in life. On top of having great people amongst the branches of my family tree, I have many great friends who have also been vital to my growth as a human being.

Anybody who knows me could tell you that one of the most important things to me is family. While my family structure hasn’t always been the most normal in comparison to others, I can’t really complain about the people I’ve been surrounded by throughout my life. I was reminded just how lucky I have been this past week, as I got a chance to spend some quality time with the people I love and care for, which unfortunately doesn’t happen as often as I would like it to these days. With hectic work schedules, and a growing family, it isn’t always the easiest for us to coordinate our schedules and spend this much needed time together. When the opportunity to do so arises however, those moments serve as a reminder that life is great, and that we can’t take the people we love for granted.

On that note, this weekend is going to be a very exciting beginning for the Bills Mafia, as the very first tweet up will be occurring at the Ralph. Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance, and I really wish that I were able to be with you all. It just so happens that my wife and I will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary this Sunday. It’s only fitting that my anniversary is coinciding with this big moment for my other family. For those of you who will be in attendance this weekend, I wish you nothing but good times. It’s time to show the rest just how powerful our definition of family can become, simply by showing respect for one another, and believing in our soldiers. Even if your family tree is barren, there will always be a guardian angel or two along the way to guide you. No matter your tree, there is always room for growth. This weekend will be proof that trees can blossom, even in a season where leaves are supposed to fall off the tree.

The Week That Was:
(3-0) Buffalo Bills 20 @ (1-2) Cincinnati Bengals 23

Leading up to this game, there was much talk of this being a possible letdown, but in actuality, this was a great matchup. In the first three weeks of the season, the Bills and Bengals were basically polar opposites of each other. The Buffalo offense had been off to a great start, but the defense had let up 30 plus points in 2 straight games. Despite the scoring numbers, and letting up 300 yard passing performances in consecutive weeks, the Bills defense had made some plays on the ball and helped seal victories for the team. Concurrently, the Bengals defense was thriving, but the offensive unit just wasn’t capitalizing on the opportunities the defense had been giving them. These elements combined made for much better a match up than most seemed to be anticipating. In the end, the Bills lost for the first time this season to the tune of 23-20, and found out what it’s like to let a lead slip away, rather than steal one themselves. Here are some notes from Sunday’s loss in Cincinnati.

  • With the victory, the Bengals snapped a 10 game losing streak against Buffalo. The last time Cincinnati beat Buffalo was 1988, in a game where the 11-1 Bills lost to the Bengals 35-21.
  • Despite not throwing a touchdown in Sunday’s game, Ryan Fitzpatrick remains in the top 5 rated quarterbacks according to ESPN’s QBR ratings (fifth).
  • The Buffalo Bills lead the league in points off of turnovers (62)

Honest Analysis:

As I said last week, there was no reason for us to take this game lightly, as the Bengals defense was looking to be a legit force in the league. After 4 weeks, the Bengals now have the #1 overall defense in the NFL, and I don’t think that we should be completely deflated by losing to them. Just because others weren’t giving the Bengals a chance to win, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have won the game. With that being said, I have to just get it off my chest by saying that I think we got the shaft.

The catch by Steve Johnson in the fourth quarter that was ruled incomplete should have been ruled as a completion. In the 1999 NFC Championship game, there was a similar call made against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when a reception made by Bert Emanuel was ruled incomplete due to the fact that the ball had touched the turf, even though Emanuel maintained control of the ball. Because of this controversial call, the NFL changed their ruling on what constitutes a reception in these situations. The rule states that so long as the receiver maintains control of the football, the ball can touch the turf. On Steve’s reception, both of his knees were down, he was touched by the defender, and he maintained control of the ball throughout the fall to the turf. This was a classic example of why this rule was made, and the officials completely dropped the ball on this one; Not Steve. If the Bills had converted that third down, they would have been able to eat a little more clock as they tried to protect their 7 point lead. Instead of an extended drive, the Bills were forced to punt, leading to a drive that lasted just under a minute and a half. From there, the Bengals touchdown on the ensuing drive completely shifted the momentum of the game.

With all of that being said, I don’t want to make it seem as if I am blaming the referees for this loss, as the Bills were far from perfect. Buffalo definitely needs to improve on third downs offensively, and could use some improvement in the tackling department as well. In the end however, I believe that some of the media types are being a bit harsh on Buffalo for this loss, given the fact that they played such a solid defensive unit, and managed to not turn the ball over in the process. By no means does this loss shake my confidence in this team, as no win is guaranteed in the National Football League. Any team can win on any given Sunday.

The Week That Will Be:
(1-3) Philadelphia Eagles @ (3-1) Buffalo Bills

LeSean McCoy
The Eagles have a stud in LeSean McCoy

This Sunday will be a treat on many levels, and it will certainly be a great test for our Buffalo Bills. In order to come out of this game victorious, the Bills are going to need to retain the Eagles running game, as well as limit Vick from making the big play. The latter of course is easier said than done, as Vick can hurt you in the air, as well as on the ground. On top of the threat Vick poses, the Eagles have a stud at RB in LeSean McCoy. If the Bills are able to contain the ground game, and force the Eagles into passing situations, the secondary needs to continue to create turnovers. The Bills, despite the high yardage totals allowed, are tied for the lead league in interceptions.

Offensively for the Bills, the run game needs to be established against this Philadelphia defense that struggles against the run. Feeding Fred Jackson early and often should be the game plan Sunday, and in passing situations, the Buffalo offensive line needs to give time for Fitz to find the open man, especially against this secondary. This game has the potential to be an absolute shootout, and I am expecting points in bunches on Sunday. Both of these teams share their struggles defensively, and this is especially true in the redzone. The Bills and the Eagles currently rank 30th and 32nd respectively in redzone defense.

My expectations come Sunday is for both teams to surpass the 30 point plateau, and for another game to come down to the wire. I personally don’t know how much more my heart can take with these finishes, but a fourth straight dramatic finish may be on the horizon. These offenses possess the ability to put up points in bunches. On Sunday, we are going to see playmakers making some big plays. That is a promise. My prediction for the outcome is for the Bills to defeat the Eagles 31-30.

Quote Of The Week:

David Nelson, Quote of the Week
David Nelson, Quote of the Week

“We took a step back; this is an opportunity for us to prove who we say we are.”- David Nelson

Calling Out A Hater:

Instead of calling out a hater this week, I’m going to keep it humble. I just want to say again that I hope all of you going to the game have a great time.

Until Next Time,

Peace and Blessings

Sean (aka “@BillsMafiaDon”)
Bills Mafia Blog