Work in Progress as Buffalo Bills Take a Break

Photo of LeSean McCoy from

Messing up a winnable game shouldn’t feel normal.  But reality sets in even as the division gets strange.  The New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills all have the same record after five games.  It’s just like everyone predicted, right?  The only one of those teams that isn’t evil has much to prove.  We knew they’d have trouble learning the principle of seeing games through to the end.  In practice, it’s more aggravating.

Optimism washed away in the drizzle.  Those who find enduring the elements stimulating wish the Bills could’ve maximized their splashy Cincinnati fun.  Rain that would make a mailman stay inside provided a fun challenge to both sides.  Delicate dome teams cringed at highlights of cruel precipitation striking hapless players.  In a perfect world, Lorenzo Alexander liberating a slippery football would have been the defining moment.

I hated to cheer against Bootsy Collins’s team and a city hosting Andrew W.K., but football isn’t personal.  Likewise, it’s never perfect.  Clubs find it nearly impossible to simply overwhelm unless they’re the stupid aforementioned Patriots.  The Bills have yet to win consistently in spite of duress.  Fighting through challenges in Atlanta proved it’s possible.  A letdown in Cincinnati shows it’s not yet a habit.

Photo of Tyrod Taylor from

Breaking established patterns isn’t necessarily a virtue. Tyrod Taylor didn’t protect the football at the worst possible time.  The sack that preceded the interception provided a good symbol, not result.  It’s strange to see him not sensing pressure, which isn’t the standard complaint about him.  He must progress on accuracy, not regress on what he already does well.

Coping with adversity isn’t the exception.  Good teams win despite game plans not unfurling perfectly.  If Bills fans have learned anything from trying to enjoy sports, it’s that dominance is at best uncommon.  After encouraging everyone to obey state laws, the shrewd gambler knows winning a little more than half of bets means success, not three-quarters of them.  Don’t believe inspirational plaques: aim for the Moon and land in dirt.

A fanbase that spends so much time looking to the future still hopes the present can be fun.  It’s not comforting after a tough loss, but Buffalo sports teams look like they’re planning ahead even if Jack Eichel heads to the Bruins in 2026.  Lone bad results don’t mean they’re doomed for eternity.  As with the most recent Bills outing, I’m trying to forget Monday’s atrocity where they wouldn’t have looked worse if they had forgotten to wear skates.

Photo from and Getty Images.

Western New York’s teams enjoy loyal fan support you may have experienced.  If you think we’re dedicated now, imagine if either of them were good.  This isn’t the final approach.  It doesn’t feel like the Bills are hitting the afterburner, which means there’s fuel to keep us going.  But someone please let us know if we can get excited this year or not.

The best time for the bye is never.  I don’t have two weeks to wait, and sports is useful at teaching cruel lessons about reality.  In this specific case, the Bills want to prove they’re the team that perseveres.  But their present battle is with scheduled inaction.  Let them stew for twice as long after losing if it motivates them to prevent the feeling again.

Taking a break in the midst of football season is a betrayal of everything Bronco Nagurski fought for. But time to heal is more valuable than McDonald’s Szechuan sauce.

Photo of Charles Clay from

Injuries are never an excuse and always a factor.  Two weeks without a game helps any cure.  A team that got through camp and four games relatively unscathed might have to hold a raffle to find guys who could catch the ball if they played this week.  We’ll miss watching, but our favorite players appreciate the chance for healing.

If we must pause, it’s best to get it out of the way after five games.  Imagine having to put up with a stupid free Sunday late next month.  Pick apples or some other such autumnal activity this weekend to get outdoor time out of the way.  The NFL schedule-makers earned thanks from your future selves like Bill and Ted telling themselves to duck.

The early intermission is a good time to remember that ample chances remain to define themselves.  For now, one game has a huge effect.  3-2 feels entirely different from 4-1.  The big swing illustrates the price of a few defensive lapses and inability to get run blocking going.

There will be no chance to prove critics wrong for even longer than usual.  The bye has the feeling of being sent to bed without dinner.  Learn to avoid what causes untreated hunger.

Thorough game performances would translate to a more fulfilling season.  By contrast, a spotty effort creates uneven results.  That means lack of progress if you haven’t noticed.

Will this relationship mature? The Bills act like a boyfriend who keeps promising to get his act together.  The long history of letdowns hasn’t scared away partners, which is either a sign of devotion or insanity depending on who’s queried.  Just once, it’d be nice to have a promise kept.  It shouldn’t be that hard to take out the trash.

Editor’s babble: Thanks again to Anthony Bialy for his terrific contributions to our blog. You can follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy. 

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.

15 Replies to “Work in Progress as Buffalo Bills Take a Break”

  1. As much of a bummer as it is that the Bills could again finish 8-8, the worst possible finish they could have…at least they’re not the Jets who were legitimately trying to tank and screwed that up by winning 3 games already.

    As for the Bills, their defense is legitimately good. But their offense is legitimately bad. Their D will keep them in games all year and give them a chance to win. But their offense will probably come up short too often to get them to 10 wins. The rest of the league does kinda suck, but it’s probably asking too much for the Bills to get the bounces and calls often that got them the wins against DEN & ATL.

    …unless they want to quickly figure out how to get their running game back to what it was the last couple years. But even with that, after McCoy, they don’t have jack. It was stupid to dump JW. If McCoy gets hurt, the Bills would probably go from the bad offense it is now to fighting for last place in a REALLY bad AFC East.

  2. If the Bills go 10-6 and make the playoffs, then that’s awesome, Bills fans will finally get the “17 year playoff monkey” off their backs. But, I feel when Tyrod faces elite defenses and becomes one dimensional (aka – a passing QB), the Bills offense is screwed as he has shown to only put up 19 points in two losses, so I wouldn’t expect the Bills to go far in the playoffs if they do make it. Also, if the Bills make the playoffs, does McBeane keep Tyrod on the team for the foreseeable future? IMO, it would be a mistake not to look for better options at QB. The Bills have a championship caliber defense, but it’s being wasted with a below average offense.

    I think 8-8 and 9-7 (missing the playoffs) would be the worst as it will be the same we’ve seen from this team year after year.

  3. ” Also, if the Bills make the playoffs, does McBeane keep Tyrod on the team for the foreseeable future? ”

    They might get stuck with him another year regardless of the playoffs… Chances are they’re not going to be in a position to draft one of the top QBs. They very well may draft a QB anyhow, but it might be a guy they don’t expect to step right in and start. Unless they think Peterman is can start, Tyrod might be best mediocre option available again. Curious if Watson is going to keep it up and the Bills should have just drafted him. I wasn’t opposed to them taking him and then drafting another guy next year if he didn’t have a solid showing. Then again, if the Bills would have still unloaded Watkins and been stuck with the garbage they have at WR currently, hard to assume Watson would be having any decent success with the Bills.

  4. I think the team has no illusions about Tyrod being the hang your hat franchise QB even if they do make the playoffs.
    It also seems like teams should stop listening to the so called draft experts (including Bill Polian) who said that last years QB class was a weak one and that even the best were at least a 2 year project. Nice luxury if you can afford it.
    Getting back to TT- the team can make the playoffs and possibly challenge for the division as long as the supporting cast is there- it was there by hanging by a thread but the thread was shredded last week. That’s his ceiling- no higher.

  5. Tyrod is a mediocre QB, but he could potentially be better than he’s currently showing if he actually had some legitimate deep threats. That has been one of his strengths the past couple years and the Bills took that away from him completely. That he hasn’t been worse is actually a surprise to me…then again I’m not seeing most of the games. But that he’s been putting up typical Tyrod numbers despite a below average running game and no deep threats is a surprise to me.

  6. ive watched every game and when he gets a pass off his accuracy seens better, only a couple errant passes per game compared to one out of four or so. hes actually making some very good throws and more over the middle. the problem is that he holds the ball too long, is getting sacked much more and seems to have lost some of his speed. seems like way fewer running yards or big plays for him.

  7. What I learned this weekend…man, the league sucks! If the Bills had their offense of the last couple years (which was overrated, but the running game was excellent and they scored points) and their D of this year…they’d be a legitimate contender…only because everyone is so bad that you only have to be decent to be ‘good’. Unfortunately their offense is putrid and could keep them in their place of Billsyness.

    • Agreed. There is no dominant team in the NFL right now. The Chiefs were the only AFC team I thought could be a dominant team, but they lost to the Steelers who haven’t looked so good themselves. With A.A.Ron Rodgers out, that changes up things in the NFC, especially within their division. The Bears looked decent with Trubinsky yesterday, so their division is now up for grabs. The Jets got royally hosed by the refs yesterday as their TD got reversed into a touchback giving the Pats the ball (total BS call!)

      Anyone read over the weekend about Tyrod saying people are down on him because of his race?! IMO, it’s a terrible excuse. I like Tyrod, but he is very limited as a QB. TT’s strengths: Mobility and escapability; rarely turns the ball over and has a nice deep ball. TT’s weaknesses: Hesitation throwing the ball (needs to see no defender within yards of a receiver before he’ll throw the ball); Is slow with his progressions; Is not a pocket passer and does not do well in the pocket (seems like he can only see half the field (he excels at play action to one side of the field)); and is inconsistent. I compare this team and Tyrod to the Bills of the late 90’s, teams that had a great defense with a below average offense. I would take Doug Flutie over Taylor.

      I feel Dennison is not playing to the offenses’ strength. I wish Dennison would put Taylor in better positions to succeed and he keep using play-action almost entirely throughout the game. Also, Dennison should run the same blocking schemes that the Bills did in their previous two years instead of trying to run his own system. Right now, the Bills don’t have the QB or offensive linemen needed to run Dennison’s system.

  8. “I feel Dennison is not playing to the offenses’ strength. I wish Dennison would put Taylor in better positions to succeed and he keep using play-action almost entirely throughout the game. Also, Dennison should run the same blocking schemes that the Bills did in their previous two years instead of trying to run his own system. Right now, the Bills don’t have the QB or offensive linemen needed to run Dennison’s system.”

    Based on what little I’ve seen, I agree and disagree. I agree completely as far as the running game is concerned. They totally Rex’ed the running game! But coming from a fairly uninformed, box score watching position, I think they’re getting more out of Tyrod and the crappy position they’ve put him in than I would have guessed possible. Then again, maybe it’s just hard to do much worse…they are in the bottom few passing, after all.

    • Dennison shouldn’t use Tyrod at all from the pocket, but we’ve seen him try to do what Roman did during the first few games of the 2016 season and it ended up getting Roman fired. It also doesn’t help that the Bills don’t have a deep threat as they lost two burners (the oft injured Goodwin & Watkins).

  9. it’s a long season. the bills need to come out punching and make the playoffs this year- no excuses.
    McD seems smart enough to use the bye week time to the team’s advantage.

    as for the jets call, would it have been reversed against any other team other than the patriots? seems like the NFL likes to have wiggle room in these possession rules in order to protect certain teams when the need arises.

  10. If I were the Jets, I’d be happy. They’re blowing their tank job! Sure it’s a nice story a quarter of the way through the year, but even in a garbage league, the Jets have no chance at anything. I’d maybe say the same about the Bills with the state of their offense, but there is value in ending the drought as it takes a lot of pressure off the organization.

  11. Good morning…

    The NFL will start weeding itself out as the cream will come to the top. The better teams will start making a move but it has been a topsy turvey first 6 weeks…

    The Pats have a horseshoe up their collective asses as they should have lost to the Texans and the Bucs… The ruling in the Jets game goes right up there with the tuck rule that cost the Raiders the Championship…

    Next up the Bucs, Winston looks like he will be out with a sprained shoulder so the Bills will be seeing old nemesis Fitz on Sunday. Last year he had a career day against the Bills on Thursday Night and I think he was the QB in the other Jets win. Hard to believe the Jets swept the Bills last year!!

    TT using the race card it could be true, there was a problem recently in Tampa with Jamis Winston… There will always be the bigots out there for all races that cause trouble.

    • Of course there will always be ignorant, racist idiots out there. I just think the race thing is overblown and is overly used as a scapegoat for criticism. I think these athletes don’t understand certain fan bases. With the Bills, fans are desperately craving the playoffs, so when they see the Bills have a very good defense who are doing everything they can to keep the team in games and the offense is not putting up enough points, the finger pointing starts at the QB. Let’s just say hypothetically speaking, the Bills make the playoffs with Taylor for a year or two in a row but they get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs due to what we’re seeing on the field (not enough production on the field), fans will point the finger at Taylor and say he’s not good enough. The only way Taylor gets a consistent high approval rating from the fan base is if he throws for 250-300+ yards a game and can lead the team deep in the playoffs. Fans did the same thing to Doug Flutie back in the 90’s and Doug got screwed over in Buffalo.

  12. I guess I haven’t seen enough info on the story about Tyrod and race…but if he thinks he’s being harshly criticized, well he’s not exactly proving the world wrong with eye-popping numbers. Dude does realize he’s a .500 QB with consistent, bottom of the league passing numbers, doesn’t he? No doubt there’s racism out there and he’s subject to it, but that he would think that’s what’s driving the majority of any criticism is pretty naive. He’s a mediocre QB. His own teammates would like an upgrade at the position if they were being honest!