Will This Buffalo Bills Team Learn From Their Mistakes?

One common theme Bills fans have heard from the rotation of coaching staffs who have come and gone over the last decade is that new regimes do not respond to questions about past regimes. We constantly hear the same mantra from every new head coach (and some new players) that “they weren’t here” for the decade of despair.

(Photo by Seth Wenig/AP)
(Photo by Seth Wenig/AP)

That response tends to inflame many Bills fans, who HAVE been supportive of this team for what seems like an eternity since the team put a competitive product on the field. As fans, we have heard what must be every excuse in the book as to why this team cannot seem to make a quick turnaround, as seen by other teams in the NFL.

When fans continue to hear the same mantra that players and coaches “just need to execute better”, it raises the level of frustration to the point where many Bills fans react with extreme negativity to every loss. That “excuse” no longer resonates with many Bills fans because we are the ones who HAVE been here, waiting for what seems forever for this team to finally get its act together and start to win games on a more consistent basis.

So when the Bills lose a game to the Jets that was theirs to win had they “executed better,” it is naturally received by Bills fans as “the same old Bills with the same old lame excuses.” Players and coaches have asked Bills fans to be “patient” as they attempt to change the culture of losing.

This young team, while full of talent, is making many of the same mistakes we have seen in the past from “new regimes.” When “new regimes” put a product on the field that continually makes the same mistakes over and over, it becomes a challenge for fans to find any real solace in the empty suggestions that we should all just be more patient and watch how things will get better as the season progresses.

Naturally, many Bills fans are now responding with “show me the baby” at this point. We are tired of being the doormat of the NFL. We are tired of wearing our Bills gear with pride when we can’t even respond with any data when fans of other teams ostracize us for our “stupidity” for supporting a ‘loser‘ franchise.

What is most disturbing about this “new regime” is that the “easily correctable mistakes” do not seem to be easily corrected. This team has demonstrated several glaring problems that were evident since the first preseason game.

First, a ridiculous amount of penalties once again has emerged as a “seemingly easy problem to correct”, but (again) the Bills coaching staff has shown that they have not found that “easy answer” they purport to have to correct the problem that has plagued this team. The false starts, the disciplinary penalties for taunting, the untimely holding calls all continue to dog this team no matter who coaches them.

Furthermore, underachievement by first round draft picks continues to plague the Bills. It’s pointless to even list the first round picks who are no longer with the Bills, or in some cases not even playing in the league. It is not unreasonable to expect that first round draft picks should come in and immediately contribute to upgrading a team. We are still waiting for first round draft picks like CJ Spiller and Marcell Dareus to consistently produce at a level expected by their draft position.

When under pressure, Spiller still regresses back to bouncing to the outside, and cannot seem to garner the tough yardage that is there for him if only he would get his timing down in terms of protection. This is his fourth year in the league. It’s time to stop making the same rookie mistakes that have dogged him, including costly fumbles at crucial times during a game. Getting him to produce on a consistent basis is critical for the development of EJ Manuel, as this will hinder EJ’s development as well if teams do not have to fear a consistent running game.

Dareus admittedly is now on his third defensive coordinator in schemes that have changed each year he has been in the league. Like Spiller, both have suffered personal tragedies that undoubtedly affect their ability to keep their head in the game.

However, one glaring difference between the two is that CJ seems to work extremely hard during the off season. I’m not sure what if anything Dareus is doing in the off season to take his game to the next level. It’s becoming tougher not to compare him to what happened when the Bills drafted “Big Mike” Williams at this point.

The mind boggling thing about the Bills is that they seem to get the most productivity from their lower round draft picks. Guys like Kyle Williams, Stevie Johnson, Freddie Jackson and even Jairus Byrd illustrate how poorly the Bills draft in early rounds.

Hopefully EJ Manuel will break that trend, but even he was admittedly chosen as a “raw talent” who will need time to develop. Bills fans are rightfully frustrated by what seems to be a decade of picking first round players that take until the end of their rookie contract to begin to produce, if at all. That trend must stop if the Bills ever hope to shed their image of perennial losers. First round players for the most part need to step on the field and immediately start to contribute to improving the team’s performance.

We’ve been told by this latest regime that this team will continue to improve as the season goes on. I’m hopeful that is exactly what will happen, as they adjust to a new scheme on both offense and defense. This will be necessary if this Bills team will finally break that tendency of implosion in the last half of most seasons over the last decade.

This new coaching staff does appear to be somewhat sensitive to the plight of Bills fans who have waited for far too long for their team to be competitive again in the NFL. However, both the players and coaches need to stop using the “I wasn’t here in the past” mantra to soothe the fans. Frankly, it only seems to make fans more frustrated.

Accountability increases with each game played THIS season. Fans do not want to hear the same old tired platitudes. The Ravens game will prove to be an enormous test of this team’s promise to continue to improve as the season progresses. It’s time for both players and coaches to show positive results from their promise to the fans that “this time it will be different”. The world of difference between going 1-3 versus 2-2 does not need to be amplified.

Bills fans are rightfully in a state of mind where “show me the baby” better start happening THIS week against the Ravens. The first quarter of the season will be over after the Ravens game. Improvement in the win-loss column must be seen in the game against the Ravens. If not, this fan base will rightfully conclude that the “improvement” we’ve been promised so many times in the past will just be more “hot air” than a reason to ‘BILLIEVE.’

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BuffaloFAMbase.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynMundyWYO.