The reaction by many Bills fans on social media outlets after yesterday’s big win over the Chicago Bears in OT was perplexing, albeit not surprising. After 14 years of heartbreaking losses and ‘playoff absentia’, it’s obvious that some Bills fans are not used to dealing with unexpected success.
We don’t dare let ourselves rejoice because we have been conditioned to expect the Bills to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It’s almost like Lucy pulling the football out of way every time Charlie Brown gets ready to kick the ball.
Perusing Twitter, other websites, and message boards after any game is dicey business, win or lose. If the team loses, there is abject hostility toward the team and often even with each other. Winning is often met with disbelief and frank suspicion. Far too many Bills fans lack faith that this team is capable of changing its losing culture.
The Bills are now 1-0, sitting on top of the AFCE, and getting ready to face a revved up Dolphins team. They will be coming to a newly spiffed up Ralph Wilson Stadium with a head of steam. The Dolphins are riding high as well after crushing the Patriots in their home opener in Miami.
The Dolphins looked impressive. Cameron Wake made Tom Brady his personal rag doll all afternoon. The Bills offensive line is going to have to put on a heck of a performance this week to help EJ Manuel stay upright and deliver the ball.
While the offensive line did a good job against the Bears, there’s no one on the Bears defensive line that comes close to Wake’s ability and athleticism. It would behoove Hackett to put Hairston in as an extra body to protect EJ, just as he was used in the Bears game on certain plays as a tackle eligible.
However, it’s probably best that I leave the game plans and schemes to the experts. They do a wonderful job of educating knuckleheads like myself who have to watch a play at least three times to figure out what’s going on.
This week I’d like to build on the discussion regarding what we could do as a fan base to improve our relationship with this team. We need to rock ‘The Ralph’ like it hasn’t been rocked in years.
We need to raise the decibel level throughout the entire game. Hopefully with the new construction in the stadium they improved the acoustics to enhance the noise level. After all the years of stinking up the field, the stadium is a lot quieter now than it was during the ‘Glory Years.’
That has to change. It has to change THIS Sunday. If we want this team to believe in itself, then we have to do our part to show them that we believe in them and support them as well. There’s still a ‘disconnect’ between fans and this team that needs to be resolved on Sunday.
There is no doubt that the booing during preseason stung this young team. They don’t understand what 14 years of failure feels like. Some of them weren’t out of diapers the last time the Bills went deep into the playoffs.
It’s difficult for players to understand why the fan base has a fuse less than a nanometer long, when they had nothing to do with the terrible product this franchise has put on the field for the better part of 20 years.
If we embrace the notion that we are the 12th man (who is up on the Wall of Fame), then it’s just as important that we put our own game plan together to do our part to will this team over the hump. The players want to win. We want them to win.
We have to rise up and get over what the last 14 years has sucked out of us as fans. If we can’t get excited and ‘Billieve’ that this team will make the playoffs, what is the point in going to the stadium, or investing our time and resources supporting this team?
We support them financially, but we won’t let ourselves support them emotionally because it hurts too much if they fail? What’s that all about? If we want a different outcome, we bear as much responsibility to change our own attitude as much as we expect the players to change theirs.
It’s very easy to be cynical, especially after all the years of futility. However, when a team comes out and brings home a tremendous road victory, they need to be rewarded by their fan base. EJ Manuel in particular needs to know that this fan base is behind him at home.
It’s never been more important to support this team than it is now. The sale of the team is moving along rapidly at this point. We should be getting news on the stadium committee recommendations soon as well. The future of the Bills in Buffalo is far from certain at this point.
We need to show a new owner and a young team what this team means to this fan base in Western New York. Instead of putting our money where our mouth is, in this case, we should put our mouths where our money goes to support this team.
We need to develop the same “different attitude” that Marrone spoke about after the Bears game. The players are trying to change the losing culture. Isn’t it time we look in the mirror and figure out what we need to do to change the effect that losing has had on our fan base?
To those who are lucky enough to be attending the home opener, please represent for the rest of us around the world who cannot be there. Be loud and proud. Rock the Ralph like it’s the last time you’ll ever get to see them play. Will yourselves to believe they can and will squish the fish. And when they do, let’s rejoice and enjoy the good times. We can do this! Go Bills!!!