I’ve been a Bills fan since I was four years old. As a result, I’ve seen a lot of ugly play and poor games from my Bills over the years.
But NOTHING has topped these past three weeks.
A season that began with such promise has completely and totally unraveled, as the Bills have endured three straight blowout losses at the hands of the Jets, Cowboys, and Dolphins – teams that don’t exactly rank among the NFL’s elite.
The most shocking thing about these losses is the fact that almost nothing has gone right over the course of those three games. Almost zero positives. Just wall-to-wall complete ass-kickings. I’ve never seen anything like it – especially from a team that was playing so well.
So what’s happening? Who’s to blame for all this? There’s no shortage of candidates:
Coach Chan Gailey – The Bills’ second-year coach was getting deservedly getting acclaim all over the league early in this season. With one of the league’s least-talented rosters, Gailey led the Bills to a 4-1 mark that included two huge comeback wins. The offense was rolling and looked unstoppable.
Somehow, that’s all changed. The offense can’t score points. He’s made some baffling decisions recently, with none more ridiculous than the decision to put Andy Levitre at center this Sunday against the Dolphins. All week long in practice, Levitre reportedly couldn’t make the shotgun snap. So I have no idea why Gailey thought that was going to change in the game…and predictably, it didn’t – Levitre made about 20 bad snaps from center, killing the timing of the offense. Just a horrible decision by Gailey. (To his credit, he took full blame for the choice and has moved Kraig Urbik to center for the rest of the season.)
Worse, this team looks like it is quitting on him, or at least has no confidence in itself right now. Gailey has to find some spark, some imagination, some something or he’s almost going to have to go.
Defensive Coordinator George Edwards – No one’s going to pretend Buffalo has elite or even good defensive personnel, especially with star DT Kyle Williams lost for the season. But this defense is horrible beyond words right now. The Bills can’t rush the passer, stop the run, or cover anybody. The team is still getting destroyed by tight ends and receivers out of the backfield. The Cowboys and Dolphins have scored at will the past two weeks in the first half before calling off the dogs in the second. Whatever Edwards is doing, it’s not working. When was the last time you saw an opponent confused at all by what the Bills were doing on defense? They’re so predictable, so easy to read, and not nearly talented enough to make up for it. Edwards shouldn’t survive this season as coordinator.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – The calm, fearless leader we all loved through the first five games has been replaced by an anxious, frustrated-looking, turnover machine. Granted, you can’t blame all off the interceptions on Fitz – it’d be nice if the receivers could catch a ball that hits them square in the hands or chest rather than letting it bounce into the hands of a safety. But our biggest fear about Fitz – that he’s not accurate enough – is being totally realized right now. He just can’t throw it downfield accurately enough, and teams are just crowding the line of scrimmage. The short dink-and-dunk offense the Bills ran to perfection early has been scouted out, and the Bills don’t have an answer unless Fitz can get it downfield.
The wide receivers – Of course, a big part of the reason Fitz is struggling so badly is this group. Simply put – they can’t get open. And when they are open, they don’t catch the ball. We all love the story behind these guys: a group of undrafted rookies and castoffs, determined to prove they belong. And they do belong …but not as top receivers. The Bills have a lot of guys how would make good #4 receivers in the NFL…but the team needs some #1 go-to guys who can get open and make an impact. I’m not seeing it right now.
Leodis McKelvin and Drayton Florence – I’ve ranted enough about these two, but long story short, they can’t cover anybody. The lack of pass rush doesn’t help, but they have been awful.
The whole defensive front seven – Losing Kyle Williams and Shawne Merriman for the year hurts, but come on now. Someone’s got to get the quarterback sometime. The Bills get absolutely no pass rush. If Buffalo wants to spend all of its draft picks on pass rushers next year, I’d be okay with that. Find someone who get freaking near the QB once in a while, please.
The strength and conditioning team – Okay, maybe I’m just an idiot, but there has to be some reason the Bills lead the league in crippling injuries every year. This is just getting ridiculous.
Every front office executive the Bills have had in the past decade – This team just isn’t very talented. Period. The sins of past drafts have once again come back to roost.
Now I’m all depressed. Got anyone you’d like to add to the blame list? Let me know in the comments.