I miss game reviews. Oh, and Buffalo Bills games. We only miss one cycle per season, yet I’m still jittery during the bye like a particularly impatient tweaker in dire need of a fix. With only games like Washington versus Minnesota to assuage the absence this week, the empty feeling can be countered by dreams of matching or even exceeding the first half’s results. That last win over the Jets about 100 years ago made this break bearable, as 5 and 3 is very different from winning only half the time.
It’s not like Kyle Orton needs much more practice. He waited until summer vacation was over before he took his new job, so extra preparation seems unnecessary. Orton can focus his energy on being decisive when it counts, as the willingness to trust his receivers shows why he’s right now’s best quarterback.
Orton’s biggest advantage is his age. Being born in 1982 was very wise of him, as it enables calmness in 2014. Taking over in Buffalo during his 11th season means enough experience to know when he should take a risk. Best of all, he pairs calculated gambles with enough prudence to shrug off what doesn’t go well. The Bills have their present starter, and all it took was properly fortifying the backup position.
The Bills are ideally using idle time to emphasize stopping and attempting more throws. The defense has been famously resistant to permitting much ground on rushes per attempt and game, so everything will be fine as long as they maintain the same invasiveness. The best way to help the air defense is by making offenses resort to being one-dimensional. It’s easiest to thwart passes when everyone knows they’re coming.
Conversely, Buffalo’s offense should be daring teams to limit their throwing gains. Foes are already warily aware of having to prove they can neutralize Sammy Watkins. They don’t want their bluff called, as they’d prefer the Bills try to remain balanced instead of funneling the offense through their best superhero. Hall of Justice diplomacy aside, you don’t need an equal amount of Superman and Green Lantern stories. How’s your rookie of the month, opponent? Oh: you don’t have one? Didn’t think so. The bulk of handoffs should come after they’ve thrown themselves to a significant lead.
Time off is often filled by trying to predict upcoming results, which is like guessing where lightning will strike. It’s easy to assume, say, a win in Oakland and loss in New England. Well, we can’t be so quick, as those who thought Tom Brady’s career was over after the Chiefs game can attest.
Presuming wins is as unhealthy as writing off future contests. Clubs with losing records can appear to be pushovers while successful competitors might seem unstoppable. But neither must necessarily be so, despite how easy it is to get carried away with a season during the two weeks where it pauses. The Bills have shown they can win as long as they play to their strengths.
At least we’ll get many games soon. Would you accept a Thursday night event following Sunday’s glorious return to make up for dividing 17 by 16? The eventual equilibrium in scheduling mitigates the abstinence. Deprived backers will soon discover if the pass defense can catch up to the run-stuffers. We can look forward to overindulging. There’s relief on the horizon this Sunday, not to mention that a week from tomorrow is Prime Time Pizza Night.
Making playoff plans is unbridledly optimistic. But we can still make a case for Buffalo’s ability to reach an elimination game. The precedence of despair always duels with the perseverance of hope. It’s important to resist the urge to conclude the Bills are fated to go either 13-3 or 5-11. Too much time to think results in a tendency to indulge in extremes. Until they make my dreams come true and replace all this rest and planning with daily games, the time off is best used to determine what could be improved while being grateful for what’s already worked.
The Bills have already exploited whatever they’re given. Special teams play keyed triumph against Miami, while Detroit lost because of a guy who’s slight even for his position being unable to aim straight. Then, Geno Smith got Blutarsky’s GPA as his passer rating, which remains a cruel and fun thing about which to giggle.
There is no diminishing the circumstances behind victories. Every good team not only gets fortunate bounces but capitalizes on them. Nobody asks postseason participants how many wins were due to inept enemy kickers or self-destructing passers. Winners exploit weaknesses. The Bills should be using their time off to get meaner. They’re the ones others should dread facing. Knowing what makes their offense go and what to focus on stopping defensively will make the rest of the league’s fear palpable.