First off, let me apologize for my absence last week for missing my usual weekly Saturday drivel. Many of you living in WNY can relate to an early winter snowstorm dumping three feet of snow on trees still heavy with leaves causing ‘arborgeddon’. Along with wreaking havoc on practically every tree in our county, we got to live the old fashioned “wyo way”… no electricity for three days.
That stated, I can now turn attention back toward my second greatest love in life, our long-suffering Buffalo Bills. There probably aren’t very many fans fossilized long enough to remember that starting Thad Lewis at QB this week is not the first time the Bills have been forced into “disaster QB” mode.
For those of you who remember Ed Rutkowski as a football player instead of a politician, this blog entry should drag out some fond (and maybe some not so fond) memories buried under decades of despair and frustration. Being labeled the “Disaster QB”, isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement of support from the fan base.. However, there is precedent in Bills history for such a scenario for fans to draw upon.
Though my memories of Ed Rutkowski coming in and playing for the Bills are deeply faded, I do remember having the same feeling I now have about the situation facing Thad Lewis when he starts against the resurgent Bengals. With fans (and hopefully players on the Bengals defense) riding “same old, same old” Buffalo Bills bandwagon, expectations on Thaddeus Lewis arguably could not be lower.
Couldn’t help but chuckle at the expected histrionic response by the fan base when EJ went down (again). One hopes that while EJ is recovering, he discovers some better mojo about how to spare himself from injury when running with the ball.
Which leads to the perfect ‘segway’ about what’s been on my mind regarding how Thad Lewis might be able to come in and surprise a lot of fans… with his feet. I’ve read a lot of the moaning and groaning this week from the media, as well as from fans on the Buffalo Bills Message Board (BBMB), who predictably and increasingly resemble Chicken Little more than Billy the Buffalo.
Yes, the Bills have their backs against a wall. Any logical person might rightfully assume that there isn’t a team in the NFL with a “worse” QB situation at the moment. First, we have the RAW rookie first rounder with his second knee injury in seven NFL games (counting preseason).
Because the vet who the coaches arguably counted on to start the season as QB1 concussed himself to the point of a season-ending injury (arguably career threatening)… said “RAW rookie” became the undisputed starter and leader of this team. This is not an uncommon situation for any NFL team.
However, the decision to start Thad Lewis over Jeff Tuel against the Bengals was somewhat unusual. The focus now shifts to Thad Lewis, like it or not. Yes. Practice squad Thad Lewis. Surely this guy is set up to fail, as we rarely witness a practice squad guy being elevated to QB1 within a week.
That’s stating the obvious, but as many of you know, I refuse to be roped into the herd of fans who live by the motto of expecting the worse so as to not set oneself up for “inevitable disappointment”. While this might a good strategy for some fans, it doesn’t work for me.
Believe me, I’ve tried it. I’ve lived it, explored it, rolled with it, and there is still that burning light inside me that refuses to go out. Having always been a staunch believer that adversity creates opportunity, starting a practice squad QB is no different in terms of how it reverberates through my thick skull.
To those “gloom and doomers”, let me challenge you here to think out of your comfortable, insulated box. Thad Lewis has been handed HIS MOMENT. Twice, but now under much better circumstances. It’s times like these that thrust you into a position that becomes a pivotal inflection point for the entire trajectory of your professional life.
From everything I’ve seen in the video press conferences with Thad Lewis, I don’t see a guy who looks like a deer in the headlights. In fact, what I see is a QB who seems to embrace the chance of a lifetime. If you haven’t, go to buffalobills.com and review the interviews with Mr. Lewis. You won’t be disappointed.
This is no “ordinary practice squad” guy. The wry smile he gave reporters who kept trying to goad him into saying he was nervous… that was enough for me know that Thad is embracing something many fans are missing; the beauty of the living joyously in the moment.
I’ve always rolled with the philosophy that there will be plenty of time to lament disaster AFTER a game. I’m old enough to realize that whatever time I have left on this earth, I don’t want to spend it worrying about what I can’t control. What I can control are my thoughts, and have found that over the years there is little to be gained wasting time worrying about the future outcome of any situation in life.
So, in congruence with that philosophy of life, as a Bills fan I chose to embrace this unknown QB. I welcome his odd opportunity to not only change his life, but that of an NFL team as well. Going only with gut instinct, and very little tape to watch on the guy, I’m going to put it out there and categorically state that there is something about Thad Lewis that reeks of possibility.
It’s his feet. After his brain and throwing arm, his feet become arguably is most important asset to winning this game against the Bengals. See Thad Lewis get the ball. See Thad Lewis run. That’s what I’ve got lined up as the visual imagery of how Thad might come out and surprise a lot of people in the game against the Bengals.
It’s easy to see that in this situation, relying on the timing of this QB to get his rhythm established with WRs he’s barely played or practiced with is no doubt daunting. So the obvious plan of attack would be to focus on the running game to take the pressure off Lewis.
However, instead of putting the load on a banged up Freddie & CJ, or even Tashard Choice, why not see what happens when Thad picks his holes and establishes a running game of his own? As long as Hackett is going to put out a run, run, pass vanilla scheme for for EJ, why not Thad?
I believe that Thad is more decisive going through progressions, and is a stronger runner than EJ AT THIS POINT in time. That stated, Hackett’s got the ability to emphasize running the QB in a game plan, and Thad appears to have the legs and smarts for a more “Michael Vick” type approach.
Why NOT let Thad open up the running game for CJ and Freddie? If the Bengals defense is forced to account for Lewis’ feet, would that not open up more opportunity for Freddie and CJ to be able to run the ball, or (gasp) start throwing a few screen passes?
I’ve lined up at least a half dozen crows to put on the barbecue should Lewis stink up The Ralph. To those on the BBMB who know me as the “Ultimate Perseverist”, it won’t be the first time I’ve eaten that delicacy, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
However, it matters not a fig to me. I’m all in on supporting the possibility that Thad Lewis might just surprise a lot of people this weekend. But it might not be with his arm, it might be with his feet. Never has my foot fetish been stronger :)
Show us ‘whatchu got’, Thaddeus.
Quick Shout Out: A very special thanks to BBMB member -realfan-, who touched my heart this week. For those who know me there as “wyo”, this is a “Beautiful” tribute.