After watching the Patriots* extend their record to 2-0 on Thursday evening, I felt even more pride for the “latest edition” of the Buffalo Bills. As advertised, this season’s Bills are a very young team who will need some time to get into a rhythm which will define them for years to come. The Patriots* had a second game in a row where another young team gave them a lot more trouble than they are used to having against AFC opponents.
I observed many comments on the Buffalo Bills Message Board that primarily focused upon what the team was doing wrong that caused them to (once again) lose to the Patriots*. The plethora of commentary regarding the use of the “up tempo” offense with around four minutes left on the clock apparently rankled quite a few Bills fans.
Instead of focusing on what went wrong with a young team with a new coaching staff, I tried looking at what I saw that stood out as being somewhat different this time around. The turnstile of “new coaches” and teams the Bills have put forth over the last decade of despair has had some similarities.
However, there were some important distinctions observed from this venerable fan that are worthy of noting, if for no other reason than to share some jollies. This edition of Bison Droppings might provide a good laugh at the end of the season, if nothing else.
It wouldn’t be the first, nor the last time we can all have some fun at my expense. I’m experienced at reading the inevitable commentary of “I told you so.” It’s part of what Bills fans do to each other, and if you live outside of “Bills Nation” as I do, from living among fans of other teams.
One observation I found curious after watching the Patriots* barely beat the Bills, and then barely beat the Jets at home on a nationally televised game. It was evident that their inexperienced players were unprepared to play at their respective positions. From this anti-fan perspective, this might be one of the few times I’ve seen a Belichick coached team actually perform at a subpar level.
What their performance against the Bills and Jets provided was something I hadn’t observed over the last decade. It is quite clear that their “DIENASTY” will last only as long as Brady is playing the game. The idea that Belichick will be able to turn water into wine again has been settled in my mind. The Patriots* will cling to the top of the AFCE division only as long as “long in the tooth” Brady remains standing behind center. Once he’s gone, so is their so-called “magic”.
If you consider how well the Bills youngest and lesser experienced players stood out in the season opener, it was in direct contrast to the subpar performance by some of the Patriots* shiny new toys at WR. I would not trade our new group of WRs for theirs for any price.
It’s truly unfortunate that Marquise Goodwin will be out for a bit with his injury, but I feel little doubt that Marcus Easley could step in and show the world why he was so highly regarded coming out of college. And (snicker)… without a doubt the Robert Wood Show is about to raise some eyebrows that will catch the “sell to the mass media” analysts off guard.
There are also players who emerged in the opener who were unfairly maligned during the preseason who had their chance and showed why some Bills fans need to take a deep breath, and just let this season unroll as a learning experience for all of us.
Plenty of Bills fans (presumably also distressed about Byrd’s ‘hold out’) were from my view unfairly critical of Da’Norris Searcy and Aaron Williams during the preseason. I read plenty of whining from fans that without Byrd, and especially after Gilmore’s injury that Tom Brady was going to torch the Bills secondary.
What I saw from Mr. Searcy, Williams and notably McKelvin was quite the opposite. They were arguably the best unit on the field Sunday. Leodis McKelvin played out of his mind. Da’Norris Searcy appears to have finally found a coach who can bring out his underrated talent. Aaron Williams may have found a position he can thrive as a professional player. Leodis was flat out balling, and that was a great thing to see. Kiko Alonso made me smile and think about how much I enjoyed watching good MLB play, something we haven’t seen since the days when Takeo Spikes was a Buffalo Bill.
So, contrary to the opinion of some Bills fans, I was very encouraged by what I saw coming out of the newer and less experienced players. The area of greatest concern to this Bills fan was centered around a couple of on-going problems by the more experienced players. The most obvious egregious carry over problem is with the lack of discipline displayed by the number of penalties called against players who should know better than to commit stupid penalties. I might completely lose my mind if I witness another game with numerous flags for false start/encroachment .
However, the area of deepest concern for this fan is the inability of this defense to stop the run. I’m looking at this defensive line squarely ‘in the face’ here. Allowing 158 yards on the ground is unacceptable, especially when we are given the spoon fed mantra about how deep this defensive line is for the Buffalo Bills. Deep… “my petunias”… if they cannot do a better job against the run, they will once again find themselves as a group of underachieving basement dwellers.
All in all, it was the younger and less experienced group that seemed to shine in the season opener. I haven’t mentioned the steady performance by EJ Manuel, because I’ll leave that for all the QB-centered pundits to ponder. This team’s inexperienced players are the ones to keep your eyes on. If the more experienced players get their game up to what we should expect from them, this team may continue to improve and have more success at closing out games with a win, instead of coming up short as they have for most of the last decade.