Short-Term Optimism and Big-Picture Pessimism in Buffalo

After the Bills 37–34 overtime loss against the Eagles, the team's most important figures — the head coach and franchise quarterback — have found themselves on opposite ends of the praise meter.
Buffalo Bills v Philadelphia Eagles
Buffalo Bills v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

A double-edged sword can be used as a figure of speech when defining something that has both positive and negative attributes. After another agonizing loss to the Eagles on Sunday, Buffalo's most important figures have found themselves on opposite ends of the confidence spectrum — or in this case, the sword.

Josh Allen gave his team every opportunity to win on Sunday evening, contributing 420 total yards of offense and four touchdowns. Instead, Sean McDermott and his team took advantage of every opportunity to lose the game — something that's been a recurring theme during his tenure in Buffalo.

Under McDermott, the Bills are 28–28 in one-score games. The latest rendition of close-game struggles came against the Eagles, where Buffalo squandered separate ten-point leads in the second half, before eventually losing in overtime.

McDermott, hailed as a defensive head-coach and the play-caller for Buffalo's defense, has failed to pull the right strings during high-leverage situations. This season alone, the Bills defense has given up game-winning drives in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime against the Broncos, Patriots, and Eagles — and that doesn't include defensive meltdowns from previous seasons.

Without reminding Bills fans of other disappointing losses like "Hail Murray" or "13 seconds", it's clear that McDermott has failed to close-out big games as a defensive-minded head coach. In fact, every facet of the team has failed to execute and stay discplined in high-pressure moments.

In the Bills recent loss against the Broncos, a missed field goal attempt from Broncos kicker Will Lutz was called back after Buffalo's field goal unit was penalized for having twelve players on the field. The Broncos completed the ensuing kick and scored a walk-off victory.

While McDermott isn't responsible for throwing or defending a pass, his team has choked away countless games during his tenure as head coach — finding unimaginable ways to lose on numerous occassions.

For this talented a football team, eventually that stems back to coaching and barring a miracle run from the Bills in 2023, the team should begin a new head-coaching search this offseason.

But Sunday's loss was decked in silver lining — and yes, Bradley Cooper was in attendance for those movie fans who would like to make reference.

If the Bills are looking to run the table this holiday season, they will have to rely on Allen to lead the way. Since the Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Joe Brady, Allen has seemingly gotten his swagger back.

While looking at Allen's box score is pretty, those who watched Sunday's game realized that his performance was special. Allen made plays all over the soaked field in Philadelphia, showing off his prowess both through the air and on the ground — in fact, it was a vintage performance that fans haven't been used to this season.

Allen's abilities should never have been in question, but with the Bills stumbling this season and Allen amongst the NFL's leaders in turnovers, the league's national media and online community started to close in on the 28-year old franchise quarterback.

Allen has struggled at times this season, but he's certainly regained his confidence and it gives the Bills a fighting chance at making the playoffs. If Allen continues to play like he has in the past couple weeks, the Bills can beat anybody, as long as they clean up the other areas of their game.

But with McDermott at the helm, is that possible for a five-game stretch with the team's backs against the wall?

During the McDermott era, the Bills have won 72 games in large part because of Allen. When they're playing their best, they've been virtually unstoppable during the past few seasons. But often times, they beat themselves.

For the Bills to make the playoffs, at this point, Allen needs to stay hot and the team needs to stop shooting itself in the foot. Both were true of the Bills 37–34 loss against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon, with the latter being part of a recurring theme in Buffalo.

Before another season of Allen's prime goes wayside, McDermott will have to inspire some cleaner football down the stretch before his job is stripped before his eyes — and at that point, the next chapter of Allen's career begins with a new head coach who can hopefully exercise the team's Super Bowl demons.

For now, each remaining game serves as Super Bowl or bust for the 2023 Buffalo Bills.

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