After watching the Jets nearly stick it to the Patriots in a last second field goal attempt on Thursday evening, I was struck by the contrast in the ‘tale of two quarterbacks’. On the green team, there was Geno Smith, much like his draft peer EJ Manuel. Geno is a raw quarterback who is careless with the ball and plays with an overall reckless style.
Then on the other side you have Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game (yes, that’s painful for a Bills fan to admit). Like Geno, Brady has a makeshift offensive line this season that forces him to throw the ball in less than two seconds or get repeatedly pummeled.
However, for Brady two seconds is plenty of time. He knows exactly where to throw the ball, and placement has always been his forte. In the earlier part of the season, he was throwing an errant pass on occasion. Usually he followed that up with some laser sharp spirals, and a masterful cadence all the way to the end zone though.
What you see when you watch any veteran quarterback who is comfortable with his offense looks almost a like dancing a tango down the field. Speed up or slow down, it doesn’t seem to matter. An elite quarterback moves an offense with precision in an almost artistic (albeit surgical) manner.
The effortless flow of an offense in rhythm is one of the most enjoyable parts of watching football. Every player knows their role and executes it to perfection. When it’s working right, it’s a thing of beauty to watch.
However, such has not been the case with the Bills offense for quite some time. Ryan Fitzpatrick could do it on occasion, but the last quarterback who crafted an offense in rhythm for the Bills was Drew Bledsoe. It’s an ‘it’ thing, you know ‘it’ when you see it. And we haven’t seen ‘it’ for a long time as far as rhythm on offense.
Kyle Orton gives the Bills a veteran quarterback much like Fitzpatrick. Very smart, decent arm, good ball placement, but prone to mistakes on occasion. However, EJ’s progress was paralyzed by whatever demons still possess him. Orton has shown in two games that though flawed, he certainly can get the ball where it’s supposed to be without laying out wide receivers to be killed.
However, we are only going into the seventh game of the season on Sunday against the Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium. There’s plenty of time for this offense to pull its act together and execute more efficiently. Kyle Orton is more than capable of getting the ball to receivers, tight ends and running backs.
You can see Sammy Watkins is improving his route running and moves to gain separation from defenders each week. If the offensive line can start to perform more consistently, the rhythm that has been absent may start to show itself.
Right now the Bills offense is operating like an old steam pipe heater. Clanging and banging, and completely out of rhythm. The offensive line cannot run block effectively enough to allow CJ Spiller to move vertically through the line.
CJ’s running style reminds me of the old Rowan & Martin “Laugh-In” show where the guy gets on a tiny bike and rides about three feet and falls over. He must be monumentally frustrated at this point during his contract year. But CJ is a consummate professional and will stay focused and driven to overcome the obstacles he’s facing.
It’s a shame this very good Bills defense cannot catch a break by getting some production on the other side of the ball. As we have seen many times in the past, they are on the field way too long because the offense struggles to get first downs.
Somehow, some way the offense must find a way to get in sync with one another against the Vikings. They need to let themselves feed off the crowd as much as the defense does. If the offensive line can run block enough for the running game to become effective, that rhythm may just kick in.
The rhythm issue with this offense reminds me of what happens when a person’s heartbeat becomes irregular. The individual feels odd sensations in their chest and they may not be able to walk, talk or move comfortably.
However, when the arrhythmia is corrected, everything slips immediately back into full function. If the Bills offense can take advantage of the Vikings defense and learn how to go up and down the field at will, they will take the next step as a team and slip into that “full function” mode.
We saw all too painfully last Sunday against the Patriots that the Bills are who we thought they were in the preseason. The offense is shaky at best, and the defense keeps the team in most games.
The Vikings don’t play very often at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills fan base is rabid, and reeling from a disappointing buzz kill last Sunday against the Patriots. The Pegula era was launched with a loss, and the Sabres are in even more abysmal shape than the Bills at the moment. Both teams ‘achilles heel’ is a lack of production on offense.
I keep waiting patiently for that day when we see the Bills offense have their “a-ha” moment. When the “a-ha” happens, it is a beautiful thing to see. Now would be a great time to begin to see the game slow down a bit for our rookie players on the offensive line.
The Vikings have their own challenges, with a young quarterback in Bridgewater. Their defense is not nearly as fearful as Viking teams of the past, but they won’t roll over for the Bills offense. They are a formidable team, with talent on both sides of the ball, and the Bills will have to work hard to win the game.
It’s time for this young Bills offense to make a bold statement. It’s time for them to refuse to be denied the ability to execute a thoughtful and creative game plan. They must take their game to the next level and allow this defense to shine instead of being grinded into the ground.
We are nearly at the midway point of the season, and we still don’t know the potential of this offense. Hopefully with a more creative scheme, this offense will find its rhythm in time to make a push for the playoffs.