Autopsy Report: Does Bills 9-3 loss to Panthers bring team full circle?

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It was difficult to shed that feeling of deja-vu after the Buffalo Bills’ schizoid 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, a game that will likely be remembered for producing one of the better defensive performances in recent history. Buffalo’s six sacks were indeed a gaudy display on defense, unfortunately it was only to be squandered by an offense that showed up DOA in Charlotte.

There was a vague feeling of familiarity percolating in the recesses of my aging brain on Sunday as I watched Tyrod Taylor struggle to establish any sort of rhythm on offense. While the defense played their hearts out, LeSean McCoy got repeatedly shut down by a Panthers defense determined to force Taylor to prove he could pass effectively from the pocket.

Sometimes if you live long enough you begin to see patterns and cycles in many aspects of life. Even the ills of the Bills appear to repeat themselves if you pay attention to that sort of thing.

Consider the following parallels to the 2001 edition of the Buffalo Bills (3-13):

Buffalo Bills coach Gregg Williams sets the defense for cornerback Nate Clements Sunday, September 14, 2003 at Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville. The Bills defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 38 – 17. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
  • Gregg Williams took over a team in flux after the abrupt departure of Wade Phillips, just as McDermott comes in after Rex Ryan was fired.
  • QB Rob Johnson played his last year with the Bills and showed why he was not the QB of the future for the Bills. Tyrod Taylor seems to be facing the same set of questions this season.
  • A guy from Pitt named Alex Van Pelt sat on the bench behind Rob Johnson and ended up finishing the season as the starting quarterback in 2001. Could Nathan Peterman play a similar role this year?
  • The Bills played the Panthers, Saints and Falcons in 2001. However, they won one of their three games against Carolina, unlike Sunday’s heart-wrenching loss :(
  • The 2001 season ushered in the Tom Brady era after Mo Lewis of the Jets put Bledsoe in the hospital and Brady on the map. Lewis also essentially ended Rob Johnson’s career two weeks later in 2001 with a hit that ushered in the Alex Van Pelt era. Could the Bills be possibly lucky enough to be witnessing the last stages of Brady’s historic career? Will the Patriots reign of terror in the AFCE ever come to an end?

These are the vexing questions that plague the mind of this Bills fan, as I grasp for any sort of spiritual meaning as to why this fan base has endured perpetual suffering for nearly two decades. If history teaches us anything, maybe we can find some solace in going full circle. Are we slowly finding our way out of the morass, or are we about to find out there’s no end to the cycle of perpetual suffering as a fan base? I prefer to focus on the former and see where it takes us down the road.

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynMundyWYO.

6 Replies to “Autopsy Report: Does Bills 9-3 loss to Panthers bring team full circle?”

  1. Interesting comparisons to now and the 2001 season. After seeing the Bills offense under Taylor get completely shut down by the Ravens in game 3 in the preseason and on Sunday against the Panthers, I feel the offense will continue to look that way against Denver and other top defenses. The next question is, will McDermott finally bench Taylor in favor of Peterman to see what the rookie can do? How many abysmal showings will it take with Taylor at the helm before McDermott has had enough? I know it won’t happen this week after the Panthers game, but will we see it in the first half of the season?

    It seems the Bills have been flip-flopping which side of the ball is good. Under Marrone, the defense was good under Pettine, then improved even more under Schwartz, but the offense was terrible. Under Rex, the defense was terrible and the offense was good. Now, we’re back to the defense being very good, but the offense has regressed. It would be nice to have some balance on the team, but that all starts with the QB and having a good pass protecting O-line. I just hope Leslie Frazier stays on as the DC long enough for the Bills to turn the offense around.

  2. unfortunately i don’t see conclusively that this will be taylor’s final season as the Bills starting QB.
    we don’t know peterman’s ceiling yet but it most likely is not that of a top ten NFL starter. when they do draft another QB next year he will most likely not be the starter- which leaves taylor, peterman or an unidentified free agent. could easily be taylor at that point. but taylor was not the Bills biggest concern on offense yesterday.
    the Bills were able to do a good job in pass protection and run blocking last week with half of an offensive line. the panther’s did not need to be defensive rocket scientists to figure out that all they needed to do was stop the Bills strong side OL and you stop the Bills offense.

  3. I can’t imagine them bringing back Tyrod if he looks like he did yesterday more often than not. I can’t imagine Tyrod starting the rest of this year if he has many more games like he did yesterday…

  4. Good morning…

    I went to watch the game with Garyg and his wife Patty, I brought my grandson Dino (who wore his Shady jersey) and met my daughter and her boyfriend Zack.

    We had a great time even though the game was dull. it’s what I expect this year the defense to be very good and getting better each game with the offense struggling as they learn the new system. It starts up front and the Bills need to address the O-line in the up coming draft as they need more talent. They were going against an excellent front 7 and they shut down the Bills running game.. The Bills defense kept them in the game and they had a chance to win at the end. They did put a beat down on Superman Cam!!

    TT gave is best but we will see if he can adjust to this offense. When he scrambled he didn’t have the speedsters like Watkins & Goodwin streaking long to stretch the field and to make a play.

    The building blocks are being put down for the future, the Bills defense was aggressive and played attack football no more read and react. Dareus was invisible again as for the season he now has 1 tackle and one assist. He didn’t provide push up the middle and we saw him get pushed to the ground way to easy!

    Denver has played 2 straight home games and after a big win over the Cowboys they will be ripe for an upset!

  5. I’ve been impressed with Lawson and Poyer on defense. Lawson has been a beast as a run defender. I’m not worried right now if he doesn’t get a ton of sacks as this is essentially his rookie year (after having shoulder surgery, missing a ton of games and not being a fit for Rex’s defense last year). So far, Poyer looks like a steal. I have to admit, I knew nothing about him before he joined the Bills. Poyer seems to be everywhere on the field. It’s nice to see the safety position as a strength compared to a glaring weakness as it was under Rex.

    With Taylor, it seems that he is unable to do a good job reading the whole field. When he was effective, Lynn had him roll out and scan one half of the field and he was able to make plays. We’ve seen Roman and now Dennison have him stand in the pocket and try to be more of a pocket passer and it’s not working. Dennison needs to stick with what works for the time being (until he gets a better QB) and have Taylor roll out to the sides more and utilize half the field vice trying to have Taylor scan the whole field. Also, Taylor is too hesitant on this throws. It seems he’s afraid to throw it into tight areas and needs his receivers to be completely wide open in order to make the pass. Is he afraid of being intercepted or taking a chance?