Immediate Reactions: Bears 22, Bills 19

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(WECK 1230) — Alright, the Bills are 0-8 after their third-consecutive three-point loss. I’ve got a lot to say about the actual 22-19 loss to Chicago in Toronto, but there’s something bigger dominating my football mind: Fans need to stop with the 0-16 talk.

This team deserves better. It’s a bunch of under-talented guys who could be playing overwhelmed but keep bringing their proverbial lunch pails to work. In honor of these undrafted free agents and left-for-dead veterans, I’m beginning a new campaign:

“Operation Win”

We need a logo for “OW”, so hopefully some of you graphically-inclined folks can send some our way to or post them in the comments box below. We’d sure appreciate it.

On to the game…

— One of the things I’m still learning as a play-by-play guy is you need to “leave yourself some place to go” regarding the emotion in goal calls, so I’m not going to go nuts on this, but how poor was Chan Gailey’s choice to challenge Roscoe Parrish’s “not-even-close-to-being-in-bounds” fourth-quarter snare? The computer wouldn’t even challenge that in “Madden 2003.” The timeout would’ve come in handy later, and how knows whether or not the Bills would’ve had better luck on fourth down had Chicago not had an extra four minutes of rest? The Bears defense had been on the field for 4:11 heading into the review. Whoever told Chan to throw the flag made a silly choice.

EDIT: My summer co-broadcaster for the Buffalo Flash games, Gregg Torlone, points out that Gailey may have been planning on using the time-out in that spot anyway, and figured he’d see what happened on the review/potentially gain more time. Very interesting proposition.

– He’s not near the top of the Bills list of problems, but Lee Evans appears heartless on the football field. At the very least, he has poor focus. Buffalo’s richly-paid wide receiver dropped multiple balls for what seems like the fourth or fifth game in a row, and his three catches for 31 yards performance isn’t wowing anyone.

In a league where undrafted free agent Chargers WR Seyi Ajirotutu can haul in four balls for 111 yards  and two scores out of nowhere — or Fresno State — Buffalo needs more out of its $37-plus million man.

— Not a great game for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he’s not the reason the team lost. Fitz made the best of a mediocre performance from his offensive line and worked himself into decent passing positions on several left-for-dead plays. The game plan with him at quarterback rarely states “throw 51 times.” Hopefully, we’ll get a mid-week email alerting the media that his 299 yards passing have been changed to 300.

Maybe I’m being nice because I can’t get the image of his wonderfully haggard beard out of my noggin. This guy looks like Jeremiah Johnson fronting a thrash metal band, which is much different than quarterbacking the Bills… or is it?

— We’ll deal out a bunch of laurels and high-fives to Stevie Johnson later, but that 299 could’ve been 300 already if he didn’t take a dive short of the first-down marker late in the goings. I know getting hit hurts and the league is about safety-first, but your team needed a first down. Whether they got it after or not is irrelevant. Bad form, Peter.

— I have zero desire to plant the 0-16 flag, but I have no problem losing in Toronto. It’s a quieter joint than the Air Canada Centre for a Leafs game, which has been the biggest letdown of a crowd in sports for me. The similarities are striking, too, as the Leafs games hold out the passionate fan in favor of suits and the “Bills in Toronto” series shuts out Bills fans from a home game. Keep sending the money, however.

— Defensive coordinator George Edwards looks lost out there, and it’ll be very interesting to see whether Shawne Merriman sees time over Chris Kelsay or Reggie Torbor. The former looks pitiful at OLB in this 3-4, and the latter hasn’t been much better. I feel awful for Kelsay. He’s a terrific leader and guy for the locker room, but he looks like guy in that old lottery commercial who bought the Mets and decided to make himself the third baseman. Awful. The worst part is that no one is going to email me and tell me to stop overreacting.

— I have zero problem with Gailey choosing to go for two after the Bills went up, 19-14. That’s what you do there when you have gumption and common sense working side-by-side. Period.

— Paul Posluszny not only looked like a real NFL middle linebacker, he played like a good one. Score one for him, as well as Jairus Byrd. The second-year man took advantage of the Bears poor line to knife into the backfield for several good plays.

— Speaking of good guys, I want Akin Ayodele to do much better after a pal sent me looking for his quote from this month’s Esquire, “Surprisingly, Buffalo does have quite a few good restaurants around here. There’s a place I’ve been going to at least once a week — it’s called Papaya. Duck, pad thai. The food’s pretty good up there.”

Another point for the QC.

— Arthur Moats is a big dude.

— More good play from Kyle Williams, who has become the default “guy to compliment” on the Bills roster.

This week’s cut…

Whoever was supposed to block Israel Idonije on extra points. Yeesh. Also, Tim Ryan and Sam Rosen for constantly informing us that Idonije was thriving at home. Manitoba’s not all-that-close to Toronto, and Idonije was born in Nigeria. Get a map.

Stat line I liked…

Stevie Johnson, 11 catches, 145 yards
— I don’t know that I agree with Bills postgame guy Brent Axe’s “a star is born” sentiments, but Johnson has stopped lining up offsides and is catching nearly every ball thrown near his hands. Now, if he could only catch the one-hoppers.

Stat line I didn’t like…

Bills running backs, 16 carries, 37 yards, 2 TD, fumble
— Save for one 15-yard C.J. Spiller run, this is pathetic. Now that the team can somewhat pass block, can offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris start to focus on what’s supposed to be easier (run blocking)?

Come on, boys.

Next week…
The Lions come to town, perhaps without Matthew Stafford. It’s going to be very difficult for the Bills to stop Jahvid Best. The Lions have two double-digit wins this year and only one big loss on their record. I’d love to call “Operation Win” an instant success, but I just don’t see it: Detroit 28, Bills 20.

One more thing… We’ve moved our pregame show to a Monday Night Football outing at Hucklebuckets. Come watch my show from 7-8 on Mondays, followed by whoever is tangoing on MNF on a ton of nice TVs. I’m unaware if the collective weight of the televisions is over 2,000 pounds. Also, you can rarely guarantee which random athlete or personality might be joining me for the hour, plus Luke Russert on the horn.

6 Responses to Immediate Reactions: Bears 22, Bills 19

  1. You’re an announcer in Buffalo. Not only are you allowed, you are expected to be the biggest homer with every goal call.

    Oh for crying out loud, you could find a way to defend your boy Gailey on that horrible Parrish challenge. Is Thomas Chandler a member of your wife’s family or something. There’s no reason he should waste in a timeout in that situation. There’s 2:30 left on the clock. Even if he doesn’t score on that possession, there’s still time. He NEEDS that 2nd timeout. You’re getting a Gailey tirade on your show soon.

    Chris Kelsay had a good game. He managed to get numerous pressures today. This is probably because CHI’s pass blocking is the worst in football, partly due to Mike Martz’s scheme. But, still, I can’t believe it.

    Posluszny still has poor tackling technique and routinely overruns plays. This was very noticeable with Urlacher on the same field today.

    I predict that the Bills win next week.

  2. Nick – you deserve a medal and certainly will be viewed upon favorably at the Pearly Gates. Covering the 2010-11 Bills, Sabres, UB Bulls football, and Canisius hockey might be worth putting pen to paper for a book. Interacting with the garden variety Buffalo-sports-talk-caller on a daily basis throughout this ‘epic fail’ only adds to the flavor for the book. These last 9 months may rival biggest regional train wreck in history…how can anyone look away? This moment needs to be preserved – fresh.

    Too bad you aren’t also a Cubs-Celtics-US soccer fan…if you were, you’d be the most qualified ‘sports sufferer’ on the planet 2010. This might be a book worth reading – if only because it would be new and fresh…Lombardi is overplayed…the shit going down in Buffalo sports right now is epic (From the shithead kids at Bills training camp to Larry Quinn’s health…at this rate I fully expect UB to play a game without a goalpost because somehow it will be misplaced.)

    And god forbid if you were politically Liberal….what a way to start the ’10s