One Team’s Two Faces

Bills fans have been bracing to see which team will show up for any random game. The emerging group which inspires optimism has occasionally made Sunday appearances, but so has the frustrating gang specializing in handing away chances. At least we can feel half-pleased that both showed their faces in Jacksonville. This squad played well enough in the even quarters to win, finishing on a high note in a generally low season. Qualified happiness will have to be enough for now.

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

With the playoffs officially off, those who wish to avoid gloominess near Christmas should focus on when they ran at will and moved the ball at length through the air. Looking on the bright side is an active process. Is it better to emphasize EJ Manuel’s carelessness about guarding the ball or how carefully he delivered it to clear favorite target Robert Woods? It’s the time of year to be generous about forecasting that he’ll play consistently well as he plays more.

Some deep success counteracted screens which went nowhere. Similarly, the former offensive lineman who serves as head coach can be pleased about general rushing success while simultaneously feeling displeased that his quarterback suffered four sacks. Doug Marrone can’t be satisfied with ambivalence.

On defense, analysts can focus on either Kyle Williams smashing through the token protection offered Chad Henne or pass defenders taking excessively severe angles while attempting to tackle. Aaron Williams made up for a tough moment by generating a turnover. Forcing a fumble at the last possible moment later in the game means he came out ahead.

Good individual efforts overcame some group shortcomings. Most notably, Manny Lawson really damaged a fake play on a day when the defense was occasionally faked out by misdirection. And they seemed to be letting Jacksonville back in when Nickell Robey and Stephon Gilmore calmly put a stop to false hopes. The flashes of promise helped the Bills beat a team that will draft earlier than them. But 2013 has become about small victories, and this counts under those relatively minor circumstances.

At least few people were exposed to a choppy affair between franchises apparently keen on showing why they’ll only be watching January football. Seeing it in person was an available option that few selected. Maybe Jacksonville needs to cover more sections, although they’re just another team whose consistently wretched record means the front office can’t be disappointed by consistently looming blackouts.

Competitors could concentrate without the distraction of cheering on a rather schizophrenic day. The instinct to celebrate a road win is tempered by noting it was against the Jaguars, a team that serves the purpose of making the Bills feel better about their team’s state.

It's been a few years since Miami played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in December. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
It’s been a few years since Miami played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in December. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

No signs of progress can conceal that they’ve doomed themselves to moral victories. Players must imagine how exciting it could be to play a December game with playoff implications versus Miami. For the visitors, it may as well be contested on one of the planet’s poles. But enhancing their own prospects as the Dolphins endure a chilly ordeal is something nobody on the roster personally remembers.

Despite what the visitors think, the Bills aren’t literally hosting a game on a freighter near Santa’s house. Regardless of the conditions, cleaning up mistakes must become an in-game priority. Start making it a habit now. Further, negatively impacting their mortal enemy’s playoff positioning could be fun. Frostbite will ideally be as fearsome as the pass rush.

But the prospect of acting as a spoiler only offers a modicum of motivation. It shouldn’t be this challenging to get excited about the last afternoon at home. A good game on its own terms will have to suffice until this team consistently impresses more than it depresses. Sunday was a good start, sort of.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.