So my wife and I took our daughter to the Botanical Gardens Sunday – a first for all of us. It was nicely decorated for the holidays, complete with train sets and a big chair set up for Santa himself, who was scheduled for an appearance later that afternoon. We were able to get some nice pictures of the kid, and enjoyed a nice walk inside during what turned out to be a friggin’ snowstorm for everyone south of Walden Avenue. Damn well took more than an hour to get back to the ranch (the Thruway was a parking lot around the Ridge Road/219 exits).
That meant catching most of the 1st half of the Bills/Colts game on the radio. And it got me reminiscing about the old days a bit. You know, when the snow would be piling up outside, and the Bills were playing big games. Season-on-the-line kind of games. Games they more often than not would win.
Boy is that ancient history.
The annual failure that is the Buffalo Bills has passed well beyond the state of aggravation. It’s just dumb now. In a league where week in and week out, many teams do plenty of stupid things in attempts to lose games, the Bills have persevered to out-stupid most of the AFC, 13 years and counting.
Look, we could look forward and discuss the upcoming exciting matchup this Sunday with the Jag-ee-wahrs. Really, we could. But seeing as how I doubt ESPNCBSFOXNBC, or the NFL Network itself will spend even :30 COMBINED on this all-timer Sunday morning, why am I gonna do the heavy lifting for them? Nah, instead let’s treat ourselves to yet another autopsy on the Bills as their season approaches entering rigor mortis before the calendar turns to December.
There are plenty of reasons, big and small, why the Bills are where there are as a franchise. As I see it, here are the big ones, in no particular order:
–Head Coaching less effective than the scripts of “Whitney”. Look, I don’t pretend to think that running the sidelines of a professional football team is an easy gig. Giant rosters, byzantine rules, schizophrenic application of said rules, game planning getting treated like the Normandy Invasion – the amount of bear traps a NFL head coach must avoid are many. The best at the gig – Belichick, Coughlin, Harbaugh – can. The Bills, amongst many others, would do well if their guy could manage to not get their team killed any given Sunday. Of course, most head coaches are only as good as the players they have, which falls on his boss.. And if the Bills’ head coaches have stunk, well let’s go over what been happening in the Administration building.
—Drafting J.P. Losman. Yes, the Bills have had a lot of
missteps disasters befall them in the draft the last 13 years. Mike Williams, Aaron Maybin, John McCargo, James Hardy, and many more. But the Losman pick was devastating. Panicked from not being able to move ahead of the Steelers to get Ben Roethlisberger, then GM/Pres. Tom Donahoe trades back into the 1st round to pick a quarterback that did ANYBODY have going there???? So what happens next? After just missing the playoffs at 9-7 the next year, the Bills cut ties with Drew Bledsoe (literally paraded into Orchard Park as a savior 3 years earlier) in order to get Losman into the lineup. And the rest as they say is history. The organizational memory of that pick continues to this day. In the 8 drafts after J.P. was taken in 2004, the Bills have picked exactly TWO quarterbacks – Trent Edwards (3rd round) & Levi Brown (7th round). Considering that, and the play callers the deep thinkers at One Bills Drive have passed on recently, you think they’re still gun-shy about spending any pick, let alone a 1st rounder, on the most important position on the field?
—How about not having a General Manager for half a decade? Tom Donahoe may have blown it while sitting in the GM chair, but at least he was an actual GM. After his departure, the team was put into the hands of 1)An 80 year old, out of the game for a decade, never been a GM former coach, and then 2)A marketing executive. Geez, why didn’t things turn out better? Of course, who made those decisions?
—This is where you write the “Fish rots from the head down” cliché. You write that, because in the Bills’ case, it’s true. Ralph Wilson may be well deserving of being the Hall of Fame, but his franchise’s all-time record ain’t one of them. What’s the record? It’s 368-423-8 as of their latest loss to Indianapolis last week. 55 games below .500. That ranks 23rd out of the existing 32 franchises. Yechhh. You’re not more than a game below .500 for every year of your team’s existence unless you’re doing something wrong, right?
—The unending merry-go-round of something less than mediocrity at quarterback. I mentioned Drew Bledsoe before. He last suited up for the Bills on January 2nd, 2005. And that is arguably the last time the Buffalo Bills had a legitimate starting quarterback on their roster on gameday. Here’s the rundown on the fellas that have been under center in Buffalo since that afternoon:
That, my friends, is a powerful amount of suck crammed into just 8 names.
HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS! The fastest way to turn this sucker around is get that position right. Preferably through the draft, but if it’s by trade, so what at this point? That worked for New Orleans just fine. Despite the deep disappointment of the defense in the first half of 2012, the explosion of confidence-eroding decision making by Chan Gailey, and the ongoing mystery of the state of the owner (and with that the very existence of the franchise in Buffalo), much of that can be overcome if the Bills can finally get the most important position in the sport right. They’re not near Super Bowl contention just yet, but no way would they not be in the playoff hunt this year in a down AFC if they had legit QB starting for them. Time for this franchise to go all in in the offseason and find him.