I had a discussion (if you can call it that) on Twitter with a Bills fan (long suffering, as if there are any other kind) begging for wins against “good teams”. Building a championship caliber team takes time. It is not a linear event, even with a “franchise” quarterback.
In Jim Kelly’s first 4 years the team was 4-12, 7-8, 12-4 and 9-7. Thereafter, a totally dominating team followed. Time and patience. It will not be an overnight event. They have beaten 3 teams this year that people consider mediocre, 2 on the road.
It is better than losing to 3 teams that are mediocre. It is confidence building to know they can overcome mistakes, hang in games and pull out wins. This team is one year removed from what I considered one of the poorest 6-10 teams I’ve ever seen, especially on offense (the defense was way better than that of a 6-10 team). Patience. Better personnel. Growth. It is coming!
People get frustrated with Josh Allen for what seem like inane decisions. Much of those decisions, in my opinion, are borne of an overwhelming competitiveness and desire to win every single play.
Jim Kelly was like that too. Jim never doubted himself, never wallowed in his mistakes, kept pushing to compete and win. I see a lot of that in Josh. The Bengal game was that in a microcosm. Great 1st half plays and a few mistakes. Huge bonehead play in the 2nd half, then a winning drive that he spearheaded like a veteran QB.
Per Pro Football Reference.com in Kelly’s first 4 years he threw 22 TDs/17 INTs, 19/11, 15/17 and 25/18. He also fumbled 76 times in his career. There were mistakes.There was growth. There were better personnel being added, experience gained and ultimately a 4 year run for the ages (any place but outside of New England, Pittsburgh and Dallas).
What IS consistent though when looking at them both is their teammates bought in to them as leaders and for what they brought to the table every week. THAT is critical.
People look at the game Sunday as a measuring stick game. I can see that. I just wouldn’t put too much stock (win or lose) in it. The NFL, if nothing else, is a week by week proposition.
The “mediocre” teams the Bills played in the first 3 games may well be something completely different when injured players return and other teams face injuries and adversity. In hindsight you can see what was a good or “bad” win.
The Patriots, however, are the gold standard and outlier for a team in this league compared to any other in my 65+ year lifetime. The consistency and quality of play is amazing. They almost never beat themselves.
If the Bills are to win on Sunday, they are going to have to beat them with their play because I doubt seriously the Pats will beat themselves or help the Bills do so. I want to see the Bills play up to their standards on both sides of the ball and special teams for a full 60 minutes. If they do so, I think they will be in position to win. If they don’t, I see them learning how far they may have left to go before they reach the highest echelon of play in the league.
All that said, I see some similarities between the Bills and Pats, even in this early stage of growth for the Bills. Attention to detail, winning culture, players only doing 1/11th, no “me” players, effort, accountability, disciplined, well coordinated in all phases and coaches that insist on it.
The Patriots, however, have a 20 year head start. They also have the greatest QB of all time (love him or hate him, I think it is undeniable). This, for them, is just game 4 of a long season getting in position to take their 4th Super Bowl in a row.
The Bills aren’t there yet and can’t rush the process to do so. Be patient. Better days are ahead and may already be here but we don’t have hindsight to determine that. There is clearly light at the end of a long dark tunnel for Bills fans. Wins over “good teams” will come. I’m just not certain it will be this Sunday. It’s game 4 of 16. There are many more stories to be told throughout the year, both good and bad, win or lose this Sunday.
I’d like to see the Bills try to get the Patriots defense out of rhythm by running some up tempo, no huddle concept plays. Try not to let them lock in on what you’re doing and make substituting difficult for them. Don’t let them know you, either on offense or defense. Once they lock in on you, you are dead. Keep changing things up and if you haven’t shown something all year, now is a good time for it.
Editor’s babble: Joe may be an “old geezer” but he’s right on target here. Not getting blown out by the Patriots is a good place to start. Thanks to Joe for his insightful and wise contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.