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Postgame podcast: Bills/Fins & Sabres talk

Rather than a group of bitter verbs, nouns and adjective (specifically “mighty,” “have,” and “fallen”)  to lead this thing off — for surely there will be plenty of that in these coming paragraphs — how about we begin with a sobering thought that belies how difficult it is to have any depth coming off a garbage season:

Well, that sure looked a lot like last year’s Buffalo Bills.

Yes, our Orchard Park heroes have taken some mighty strides in 2011, but it would be foolhardy to think these Bills are the same ones that started the season over the moon. The defense is a shambles. The offense is a mess. Apparently, some mysterious illness has befallen the punt coverage unit.

For there is no joy in Billsland, mighty Gailey has struck out.

– Apparently, they were saying “Squish the Fitz.”

I’m not sure even those who wanted a new deal for Ryan Fitzpatrick considered him a Top Five or Top Ten quarterback in the league and the money he agreed to be paid indicates he knows he’s not sure bet, either. That said, if you want to be a playoff football team, you need your starting quarterback to bail you out of some defensive monstrosities like this one.

Fitz didn’t come through.

In fact, the loss most closely resembled the 2010 season, where Fitz’s pocket manipulation kept the Bills in games in which they had no business competing for a win. Inevitably last year, there was the one boner that cost them big: Shawn Nelson’s borderline fumble against Baltimore, Stevie Johnson going ghost hands against Pittsburgh, et cetera.

Today, I’m not pinning the interceptions on Fitzpatrick — it would be nice if the Bills receivers allowed themselves to catch — but I am pinning the loss on him. Fairly or unfairly, this is how a quarterback is judged. Right now, Tim Tebow is 4-1 as a starter. Fitz is 5-5.

At least they took a creative route to eight points?

– The receivers took turns getting hurt and dropping balls all day. I’m going to go out on a limb and say there is no way Stevie Johnson had any business playing in this game. There are quarterback misses, and then there are bullet incompletions that make it relatively clear the receiver came out of his break wrong. Such is the case with the Bills opening drive miss that lead to a field goal. Stevie is hurting. You could pretty much tell during the past few weeks when he struggled to do much of anything. There was no pretty much about today.

Plus, Donald Jones went down again and David Nelson joined the bruised and battered. I love Naaman Roosevelt, but when you’re down to him and Ruvell Martin … do I need to finish the sentence. For the most part with receivers, it’s about “x’s and o’s, not Jims and Joes,” but not today. I almost called Drew Haddad to see if he was in a car bound for Buffalo.

– The line. My goodness, the line. Chris Hairston looked like a rookie and Erik Pears continues a slow downward spiral. Andy Levitre is a versatile warrior, but perhaps they could let him practice snaps before he plays an NFL game at center. Why couldn’t they keep Geoff Hangartner around as a sixth lineman? Was it money? If so, it would’ve been well worth it to keep GH Insurance Group, where their motto is “Because no one wants to see a glorious, red-bearded corpse.”

Seriously, I know Eric Wood’s been a phenomenal center since his move, but why not one more year of Hangartner? Why not two solid guards and a center while Bell improved and Hairston learned? I know they had Urbik… I get it… but why the cut? He was a more than adequate center, teammate and grew magnificent facial hair.

– For the third-straight week, the Bills had to all but abandon their most valuable player in Fred Jackson (and then, of course, he too was injured). Before the game, Arian Foster called him the best all-purpose back in the NFL. That can still be true if you consider that “all purpose” doesn’t traditionally include the purpose of flying over the defensive linemen who are in the backfield quick enough to receive your handoff. Ugh.

– This far along and we haven’t talked about the defense. What a pity (both the defense and the fact that we haven’t talked about it). Miami was able to adjust to anything the Bills threw at them save a 1st and 10 from the one (Good on ya, Kelvin Sheppard). Da’Norris Searcy had a Donte Whitner day (large number of tackles despite a number of moments where you wondered where he was on a number of pass plays over the middle.

I’m going to go ahead and say it: as much as I like Sheppard and have hopes for Searcy, you’re not going to win too many football games with a rookie safety and linebacker in the middle of the field. If I’ve learned anything from UB football this season, it’s that safeties are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more important than I’ve ever dreamed (To be fair, I don’t dream about safeties often).

– I don’t want to speak ill of an injured man, but if Brad Smith’s injury removed him from the kickoff duties… that’s not a bad thing. He’s looked very slow for a supposedly-electrifying kickoff man. I won’t say the experiment has failed.

– Drayton Florence… what happened, man? 2011 is 2009 for Florence. Yuck.

– Matt Barkley.

Stat line I liked…

Scott Chandler, five catches, 71 yards

– In a world where tight ends exist…

Stat line I didn’t like…

Bills wideouts, eight catches, 79 yards

— … wide receivers hate high yards-per-catch.

Game ball(s)…



JP Losman…. Richie Incognito…. Shayne Graham…. it’s Miami Dolphins football courtesy of terrible former Bills!

Next week…

At New York Jets. Do the Bills still have very little on the offensive line, defensive line, secondary and receivers? Yes? Okay, then: Jets 38, Bills 14. I predict a HUGE game for Mark Sanchez.