Immediate Reactions: Jacksonville Jaguars 34, Buffalo Bills 31

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At some point, we all quit. Right?

Yes, E.J. Manuel was incredibly disappointing during a cataclysmic second quarter, and the defense was anything but perfect, but there’s one promising play with an awful ending that seems to sum up the Bills season so far.

LeSean McCoy had a solid day, and a bad fumble while trying to stretch for a touchdown (one that would’ve been pulled back for Robert Woods making a hard block, because big dudes bumping helmets violently at every snap along the line is okay, but other guys hitting each other is too vicious).

And yes, that very fumble was a bit like the Bills season, especially coming against assistant to the regional manager Doug Marrone.

(See photo: right)

— Also:

— Season is far from over. So are these next two weeks.

— It started poorly from the get-go: a Chris Hogan drop. Miserable line play. Chris Gragg running a route and setting up shop out-of-bounds.

But E.J. Manuel took his weapons’ mistakes and raised them next level with a fumble (returned for a touchdown) and a laser vision interception (returned for a touchdown). There was later another interception dropped in the end zone.

— There were some good throws from Manuel today, but really he continues to be the same guy. Accuracy issues. Live arm. Getting back to being the mobile threat we first saw in a Bills uniform. Mostly he’s an average on a good day backup quarterback. Like Matt Cassel with superior physical tools. There. I said it.

— How about that pass interference call on Corey Graham? Football!!

And really, what the Bills needed was game management. Blake Bortles made most of his awful throws to the turf or sidelines, while Manuel threw a bunch of his to the Jags.

— I think the Bills linebackers are pretty poor. Aside from Preston Brown’s two-interception game, what have you liked about them this year?

As a brief distraction from the British nightmare, would you consider some blue-and-gold gear from another “football” club in Buffalo? It’s stylish.

Stephon Gilmore is having a great season, and is a wonderful cover corner. He defied a lot of those facts during the first half. Maybe it was Britain.

— Let’s get this out of the way: the four-play goal line stand was a brilliant piece of business for the Bills defense, regardless of being aided by the Jaguars’ stubborn insistence on getting Toby Gerhart a touchdown.

But with the Bills having pulled to within 14 points, against all odds, by halftime, I can’t give credit to the defense for allowing the Jaguars to reel off a soul-sucking 9-plus minute drive. That time off the clock might as well have been another 3-6 points.

— The main reason I’m disappointed with the 3-4 Bills? I was looking forward to Buffalo being good so I could see if my recent disdain for the NFL was just related to our moribund hometown team (Still leaning no).

— Let’s also not forget who was missing from this NFL game: Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor, Percy Harvin. That’s big.

The big question: Something about Matt Cassel.

The bigger question: How hard should we be throwing things at “The big question”?

Three stars…

  1. LeSean McCoy? Before the fumble?
  2. Robert Woods? Before the block before the fumble?
  3. Denarius Moore? Before the last fair catch? Help?

Three things that troubled me…

  1. E.J. Manuel’s second quarter
  2. The linebackers
  3. Bobby Madley (Oh that’s the other football.

Game ball(s)…

Were properly inflated?

Next week…

The bye week, where I’ll consider whether to quit all American football-related activities for the rest of my life. Let’s spend some time with our families. Maybe read some books. Go Sabres?

Email: nick@fcbuffalo.org

Follow @NicholasMendola

21 Responses to Immediate Reactions: Jacksonville Jaguars 34, Buffalo Bills 31

  1. I’m avoiding the tape on this one, the Bills lost for one obvious reason. May he finally be finished here. And the Bills now have many must-win games after their bye to remain in the playoff hunt. Where we’ve been endlessly since I was a wee lass.

  2. Call it the Revenge of St. Doug!

    Ugh.

    Well, here we are: It’s not yet Halloween and, in obvious disagreement with Nick, the Bills season is basically over. Barring a miraculous finish, this team will finish in the middle of the pack.

    Oh, they will win a few here and there, and will still be mathematically “in the hunt” for a while, but they will eventually post a mediocre record.

    Fitting, for a mediocre football team.

    As for the game today, the Bills very much earned their loss to the Jags, and got it. It really all came down to a 5-minute stretch early in the 2nd Quarter. And in those five minutes, EJ Manuel once again clearly showed why he will never be a competent QB in the NFL.

    Fumble returned for a Jags TD.
    Pick returned for a Jags TD.
    Pick (hi Poz) leads to a Jags TD.

    20 points. Game over.

    The day that the Bills drafted EJ Manuel I said that it result in three wasted years. I wanted him gone last year, and now even his most diehard fans cannot possibly defend his future on this team.

    Anyway, after that miserable stretch, the Bills dialed things back for our beloved EJ. It was all safe passes, outside, quick throws, no more risky stuff. He hit a few deepish sideline throws, but the damage was already done.

    It almost worked – because the Jags went into a shell, and Bortles returned the gift with a pick-6 of his own. The Bills were too close to committing a crime: winning a game they did not deserve. But, in crunch time, game on the line, this highly-paid “elite” defense failed, and Bortles got the winning TD. It was justice.

    For the most part, the Bills defense wasn’t horrible. It was EJ Manuel, much more than the Jags offense, that beat the Bills. Still, is it too much to ask a “great” defense (lol) to stop the Jacksonville Jaguars when it really matters? I mean, the Jags have been – oh, I don’t know – only the worst team in pro football for years.

    Anyway, I’m sure the excuses will only get louder now…

    But, the Refs! Yes, that was a brutal PI call, no doubt. But good teams overcome bad calls, and, the Jags still had 40 yards to go for the winning TD. How about you stop them AFTER the bad call? And, the injuries, oh the injuries!

    So, you know, if the Refs didn’t hate us so much, and if/when we are healthy, we are truly a great football team. Just wait and see. And I’m still betting that Pegula will buy it, and preach patience. Next year, Bills fans.

    Get your tickets now!

    Now, we get the bye. Time to heal up and get ready to make that “playoff” push. Lol. But, for me, all that’s left in this season is to watch Tyrod Taylor play pro football.

    I’m not encouraged, but there still remains a sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe, Tyrod can make progress. In truth, I’m not expecting it. The Bills (still) probably need a starting
    QB.

    And a competent Head Coach, and a competent GM, and a…

    :(

  3. So let’s see if I got this righet. Wrecks Ryan, the self proclaimed defensive genius, has his defense give up an 80+ yd drive in the last five minutes to THE JAGS!!!!!! And the Bildos lose again.

    I’m so glad some team was stupid enough to give him an HC position. Nothing makes me laugh like Wrecks coached teams. Though in terms of being laughable I don’t think the Bildos needed any help.

  4. Since it’s the bye week, and bound to be slow around here…

    I’ve got a few observations about the Sammy Watkins twitter “incident” that occurred earlier today. It especially rather nicely works to encompass several points I’ve iterated in the past.

    As I’ve related before: I love the Bills (I can’t help that) but I don’t very much *like* this particular team.

    And now, it’s easier to add Sammy Watkins to my dislike list. I’ve always appreciated the kid’s talent, and his heretofore rather humble and courteous demeanor, and, I furthermore cannot blame him for his injuries (who, in their right mind, could?) but his “rant” today – wherein he purposely belittled people – was terribly distasteful.

    It showed both ignorance and immaturity. Two topics whose increasing ubiquity in American culture I have previously lamented in my comments here.

    -The ignorance hardly needs to be detailed: Sammy’s own written words, horribly constructed, garbled, and nearly illiterate, speak quite loudly of the comprehensive (ahem) education young Watkins received in his 3 years at an American college.

    Look, no babe in the woods am I.

    I fully realize that Watkins was, like nearly all big-time “student athletes” at big-time colleges, basically 5% student, and 95% athlete. So, I suppose it’s just too much to expect young Sammy to be able to express himself with the written word at least somewhat above the level of your typical under-educated citizen, isn’t it?

    I ask this rhetorically (and snarkily) of course.

    But, I do hasten to add that I am, myself, a high-school dropout. Yet somehow I still absorbed enough knowledge to be able to string a few words together, properly. But then again, although I was a wide receiver as well, my 40-time just didn’t measure-up.

    Else, I could have ignored any study of proper English grammar and usage, and simply matriculated at Clemson University – on a full “scholarship” no less!

    -The immaturity that Watkins displayed is indicative of a seemingly increasing contagion that I have witnessed, and spoken of, in our modern culture.

    Sammy Watkins is not a teenager but a grown-man. A young man, to be sure, but a man nevertheless. And yet, like too many of his age and even older (exhibit one, your honor: Donald Trump) he seems incapable of engaging any critics (whether right or wrong) with anything but childish, hurtful, playground-type barbs and putdowns.

    It makes one tremble for the future of our country.

    Lastly, this latest Watkins “incident” should, I hope, finally stand as clear proof of a truism that I have previously attempted to instill into the heads of Bills fans…

    The Bills players you so adore – DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU.

    They don’t. They play for money, and for each other. With very few exceptions, they do not play for *you* or your *city*. Now, there are always a few players who do actually come to care about the community, and the people, which surround the team to which they sign. But they are the exception, not the rule.

    Anybody who has spent (as I have, in the past) any time around Bills players when they aren’t “on”, in casual circumstances, learns this very hard lesson: They all mostly know how to say the right things in public (we LOVE our fans, we LOVE this area) but in private: they hold their “fans” in almost complete contempt.

    They laugh at fans behind their backs. And they (the smart ones) make their millions, purchase their cars and homes and toys, and go merrily on their way – to another city, usually. What Sammy Watkins did today was to simply let the mask slip. He showed how he and most (not all) of his mates *really* feel.

    Now, maybe Watkins will redeem himself. Maybe these aren’t his true colors. Maybe he isn’t truly ignorant, or immature, and maybe this too will pass. Maybe he will get healthy, and have a wonderful career in Buffalo.

    And just maybe, he will justify the two #1 draft picks that Doug “the genius” Whaley mistakenly paid to obtain him. Or maybe not.

    Either way, just remember, he will laugh (with you/at you) all the way to the bank.

    • This Sammy ‘story’ is very intriguing to me, especially as someone who grew up quite poor and extremely sensitive to class warfare and such.

      First, Sammy made a mistake simply posting pics at Disneyland on his vacation. Not just because his injuries have become a major problem, and he’s walking around not rehabbing in the middle of the season. Many people, including myself, going to Disneyland is/was a pipe dream. It may be childish, jealous and wrong, but I understand how it can set some people off. Like it or not, when these people indirectly pay your gigantic salary, the criticism was inevitable.

      As for Sammy’s language skills, embarrassing. His apology was just as bad. But, I’ll avoid my rants on the State’s education system which needs to be stripped to its core.

      Finally, the taboo subject: The massive gulf between professional athletes and fans. You stated it very well. How anyone today can think athletes give a single care about fans or the local community is hopeless naivety. This even happened right when Sammy was drafted with the bull of him being a Bills fan and its his favorite team.

      The thing is, the athletes are right on this. there are some that use their fame to do good for causes and help people. But, they should look down on fans and think they’re losers. This culture around sports teams, especially in areas like Buffalo, is unquestionably unhealthy. But people in the media, probably even including Nick, won’t admit to this. Schopp had a caller (I know, but this topic intrigues me) that basically said all this about fans and he could only chuckle saying ‘I can’t agree with that.’ I know he does agree.

      Personally, I want to believe Sammy didn’t direct his ‘little jobs’ comment at me. I struggle not to. I know how people are. I’ve also talked with various athletes. To be frank, it still really pisses me off. It makes me feel like subhuman trash. And I’m going to want Sammy to fall flat on his face now.

      • This is going to be a short reply considering the length you’ve both devoted to the subject, but I unquestionably agree that the culture around sports teams is unquestionably healthy. It’d be an interesting debate as to how much worse it is than “Friday Night Lights” Culture or SEC territory, but I digress.

        I don’t think Sammy Watkins’ “little jobs” comment was supposed to hit home with people like us. I think it was supposed to hit the people who were jabbing him. Does that mean it should be applied universally to people like us, people who don’t come from upper-class stock? As I said on Twitter, earning a reply from Leelee, I don’t think so, but I also think its ignorance stems from the same sort of banter we often here from a certain brand of politician that cannot recall any sort of connection with the “average” human being.

        Where will most professional sports be in a couple decades? And will we want to watch?

        That said, the Rugby World Cup final was awesome.

  5. “It makes me feel like subhuman trash.”

    Well, that, you are surely not. How do I know? Because, if you are, than I am too.

    And I’m quite effing certain that I am neither subhuman, nor trash. But, you may be thinking – no, Scott, you just don’t understand the life I was born into and have lived, and therefore you cannot possibly understand the experiences that make me feel this way. Oh, but I think I do. More than you know.

    We briefly discussed this issue back when you had your old blog (I still miss it, by the way) but I never really delved into my own upbringing. I think you would be surprised by our similarities. In short: We were both born into lower working-class families of mostly Eastern European descent (yours Russian, mine Polish) and raised in the urban (inner-city ghetto-ish) areas of the moribund Rust Belt of WNY.

    Now, perhaps, one day we will meet up and compare in greater depth our somewhat Dickensian childhoods. But, in the meantime just see if any of this rings true with you…

    I was born poor. My family was considered “white trash”. Nobody in my extended family ever attended college. Few even graduated high school. We were blue-collar working class folk: janitors, clerks, bartenders, cab drivers, etc.

    My family never owned a “new” car – they were always used, and usually “junkers” – which, when they broke down (often) we fixed ourselves. We always lived in (rented) apartments only, never an actual “house” of our own.

    We did usually have enough food to eat (cheap, unhealthy stuff mostly, but it filled our bellies) and clothes to wear (never fashionable, often hand-me-downs) but there were times when we couldn’t pay all the bills, and therefore utilities might be turned off unless/until we sought public assistance.

    We celebrated holidays like Christmas (Catholic, of course) as best we could. There were gifts under the tree, but nothing luxurious or fancy. We occasionally took vacations, which were mostly car trips within a few hundred miles of home. Yes, in my neighborhood too, a place like Disneyland would be considered exotic and mostly out of reach.

    When we went to school, the other kids (the snobs – whose parents were doctors or lawyers) tended to look down on us. They’d laugh at our clothes. Especially, for boys, at our sneakers – if they weren’t the nice leather “Nikes” that all the cool kids had. But if we begged for a pair of those, our parents would scream – What, $40 for a pair of sneakers?!
    These ones are only $10 and they are good enough! If/When we did finally get a pair of our own – we felt like kings.

    I could go on and on, but won’t.

    Now, I wonder if any of this sounds familiar to you? Maybe your experiences were slightly different (better or worse) than mine, but I think you would agree that I can certainly get where you’re coming from. And that was my only point in mentioning any of this.

    I can relate to you, Olga Aliana. Very much so.

    But, I have never once succumbed to class-warfare. I barely ever discuss my past (I don’t want anybody’s pity, ever) but I have never hid from it either. I have never been ashamed of where I come from, and I never will be. It is what it is. My parents met, produced a child, did the best they could – and here I am.

    And, eventually, things got better. My parents worked hard to improve themselves, and were finally able to reach a more middle-class rung on the socio-economic ladder. They gave to me many things, not least of which was…

    My mind.

    Though neither of my parents could ever be described as “brainy” or “intellectual”, by some strange elemental mixture, they were able to produce a child with the “smarts”. Just like you.

    For, you have previously described how you were rather precocious, and thus able to read and write (bilingually) and solve problems and puzzles (and Scrabble with grandma!) and “show off” for the older folks with relative ease.

    So, while your parents may not have provided you with everything you might have wished, they did bestow on you something of infinite worth…your beautiful mind. And mine did, too.

    And it has been this mind that has steeled me against any slights or misconceptions that my “poor” background might have otherwise engendered in others. Because of this, I have never once felt inferior to anyone – regardless of class, creed, color, or profession.

    And that would, of course, include Sammy Watkins.

    Okay, fine, Scotty, she may be thinking – but what good is this damned mind if it cannot bring me the abundance of riches that should (in a perfect world) attend it! I was smart, I studied hard in school, I was no criminal or drug addict, I treated people well, I went to college, and obtained a pretty good job in the growing field of IT and computer technology, and yet…

    I will probably never be as rich as Sammy Watkins. It’s not fair!

    No, it’s not. Because the world is *not* perfect. It is not, truly, a meritocracy. Your gripe is certainly real, but no less legitimate than that of a, say, young medical researcher toiling away in a laboratory for 14 hours a day while striving to find a cure for cancer – all the while earning far less money in one year than, say, Marcel Dareus makes in one day – playing a game!

    It’s an obscene imbalance. But, there it is.

    The best and the brightest aren’t always justly compensated for their more noble endeavors. This is nothing new. It was just as true 50, 500, or 2000 years ago. In ancient Greece, we had the patricians and the plebeians; in Medieval times, the lords of the manor and the peasants; and today, there are the trust-fund babies and the working poor.

    So, what to do? Well, you can get pissed-off at those folks, like Watkins, and his ilk. But, if that’s the course you choose, there will be a multitude of people at which to vent your anger. As you know, Sammy is just a symptom of a much greater disease.

    Many pro athletes, and TV “reality” stars, and film celebrities, and politicians, and…

    If we wish failure upon all these types of ignorant, immature, vulgar people, we will only be more disappointed when most of them, ultimately, succeed. However undeserving.

    It’s a pointless waste of time, and unhealthy. We must find our own true worth outside the parameters of our placement on the human scale of achievement. Else, we can become susceptible to bitterness, and desperation. The kind of desperation that might lead to one reaching for a shotgun, pointing it at the brain stem, and…

    (No. Just no. Not an acceptable option)

    When it comes to pro sports, or any other such relatively unimportant diversion (TV, Film, Music), my own approach is to pay less attention to the actual people involved – for I could not care less about whatever they might say or think about me – but rather just sit back and say to them…

    Entertain me. You are being paid to amuse me. Do so.

    I will give you a few hours of my time and, like a modern-day Roman Emperor in my lounge chair, I will enjoy the spectacle you provide me. When completed, I will offer my thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the merits of your performance – but with no lethal consequences, of course. The worst I will ever do is offer critical comments on a blog.

    Then, I will proceed to fill the rest of my day with the endeavors that give me my true worth: reading, writing, good food, exercise, the sublime enjoyment of Nature, and the company of friends and family.

    Finally(!) – and I know you know this – but “wealth” and “riches” and “worth” and “esteem” are all simply in the eye of the beholder. For all those who might look up to a Sammy Watkins with jealousy, there are at least as many that would look up to *them* with even more envy. One can imagine, somewhere existing a young woman who might think…

    Just look at the damn Leelee Phoenix! She’s so tall and pretty and smart and funny, and she’s got a man, and a car, and a house, and a well-paying job, and oh…I just hate her! She’s got so much more than me!

    It’s all relative. And I know you are very grateful for all you do have, and would never look down on those who might have less. For, in your open heart and brimming mind, you must realize that looking up to those “above” you, or down upon those “below” you, is not the true measure of the life of any human being.

    One can look up at the “haves” with jealousy, anger, hatred or frustration.
    One can look down at the “have-nots” with sadness, sympathy, contempt or derision.

    But, rather than looking up or down, why not just look straight ahead? Look straight into the eyes of those in your life who love, and cherish, and appreciate the immeasurable worth you bring to the world, and to them.

    In the end, the ignorant or immature words of any vulgarian are meaningless. They are…

    “…a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”

    This comes from the heart, from one poor little boy to one poor little girl…

    (((Leelee)))

    • Thanks for your kind response.

      I’ve already emotionally dumped on this topic many places, and this is probably the worst place to do so, so that’s it.

      I’m never going to root for Sammy again, though.

  6. Rejoice, Bills fans! Your team can’t really win games, but they won their Bye week.

    Nearly every “contender” lost this week in what is a
    horrendously bad American Football Conference. And the Jets have no healthy QB at the moment.

    (Feel bad for Fitzy, though) :(

    So, c’mon Bills, just go ahead and post your mediocre 8-8
    record, and you may still be able to actually back into an
    undeserved wildcard spot.

    Playoffs! (With a possibly worse record than last year)

    :/

    • I’m not ready to give up on this season, yet. The difference is Tyrod, and people seem to be forgetting he was pretty good.

      The problem is the Bills have no margin for error now, lose 1 of the next 2, and that’s probably it.

  7. As pleasant as it is to see you the more chipper of we two, I must now bring my own gloom.

    First…For me, the season is basically over. Not mathematically, of course. But they do not look like a truly worthy playoff team. And even if they somehow thieve their way into the postseason with an 8-8 record, I will not consider it some great achievement, but rather merely indicative of their being the least stinky in a smelly AFC wildcard race.

    Second…Truth is, Tyrod (and you know I *want* him to succeed) has not been all that good lately. At least not throwing the rock. He started very slow in his recent games (and only put up good numbers later, after helping to dig first-half holes) and in fact barely pulled out the win versus the Titans – primarily with his feet.

    Honestly, the last time (and maybe only time) he did look really good, was against the Fish. Whereupon you just couldn’t keep your lovely lips shut, and thereby jinxed it for us!

    ;)

    That said (with apologies to Will) I have not come to bury Tyrod…but to praise him.

    Even though I consider the season over, this team is still worth watching – because of Tyrod. My hopes for him may be diminished, but they are not extinguished.

    But, he must be better. He must show that he can read and stand tall and throw (and not just run) with consistency – else, I fear he may just be another RG3. Take away his legs (because of injury, of the fear thereof) make him stay put and read the whole field, and he may well prove simply ineffective.

    Where we do agree is – in the importance of these next two games. Must wins. Anything under .500 (after the Pats slaughter us) is dire. We need these next two – the Jets game even more than this week, I would argue.

    But, as negative as I sound, I actually expect a win tomorrow. (Oops, today. To hell with you, world, and your “normal” human hours!)

    I like the Bills in this spot against the Fish. I’m not expecting a blowout like the first time, but I see Buffalo winning this one fairly easily. Now, if they can actually look good doing it (especially Tyrod) then just maybe my own dark heart will allow a few glimmers of light to penetrate its lugubrious chambers.

    Maybe enough, even, to feel as sanguine as one Leelee Phoenix. :)

    P.S. I hope you’re right. I always want you to be right.

  8. No Reactions from Nick? Well, here’s mine anyway…

    A needed win. Expected, but not quite as spectacular as the score (or some fans and media) would indicate.

    Big plays.

    Bills fans can rejoice if they wish, but the team I watched today was mostly pretty average on both sides. I liked the result, not the method. I liked the end, not the means. It was 3 big plays that basically made the difference.

    Three 50-ish yarders: Shady’s long run, and two bombs to Sammy.

    Truth is, for large portions of the game, Miami was more effective. Even after it started badly for them when butter-fingers Tanny gave away 2 points on their first play. Still, they had a number of long sustained drives against this mediocre Bills defense.

    Bills offense early was basically this: Tyrod not passing well or at all, so let him run – either by necessity or design. Then, McCoy rips a long one (big play) for the TD.

    Miami responds with an efficient TD drive. Then, again, Buffalo passing game is pedestrian until the first bomb (big play) to Sammy – wherein the DB fell down, and Sammy bobbled but caught it – setting up a TD run by Karlos (nearly fumbled away).

    The Fish then completely botch the end of the half. Dumb Dolphins coaching saved the Bills. 20 seconds left they should have taken a timeout and gave themselves a couple shots at the TD. Instead, they let the clock run, get forced to a 4th down, go for it and get stopped.

    They compounded one mistake with another. After not taking the timeout (stupidly) they should have just taken the 3 points. Bad coaching.

    Bills lead 19-7. Even though, I would argue, play by play, Miami was better. Big plays just don’t impress me. Sustained success play after play after play, does. The Bills did not show that very much at all.

    Miami comes out strong in second half – easy TD drive. Too easy for an “elite” defense to allow. Later, Hughes makes a nice strip-sack recovery on Tanny. Bills offense just continues stumbling around until (wait for it) on a 3rd and 14 another what-the-heck bomb (big play) to Sammy for a TD. By the way, Suh was blatantly held on this play.

    So, it should have been in fact no TD at all, instead – no flag. But the Refs hate us! Funny how Bills fans aren’t whining like babies when the breaks (the DB falling down) or the bad no-calls (Suh being held) go their way.

    14 points scored or set-up by Sammy’s two big catches. Two plays that basically represented the Bills ENTIRE passing offense – and both were helped and/or dependent upon a guy falling down, and a missed penalty call. And this is the “formula” that we will use to win many games and become a playoff team? Of course, predictably…

    Bills fans all love (unrequitedly) Watkins again. “Sam-my, Sam-my, Sam-my! Lol.

    Anyway, after that, it was all but over. The Fish squirmed on the hook, but they were reeled-in. Some big runs by Karlos (when Miami basically gave up) ran up the score and made this look like a bigger blowout then it was.

    A win is a win. Yes. They had to have it, and they got it. But, when a team can’t sustain drives – play by play, series after series, they are not very good. The Bills did not show that kind of sustained play much at all.

    And Tyrod Taylor still hasn’t shown me what I need to see. He was jittery, indecisive, reluctant, and absent Sammy’s bombs, his numbers were: 9 completions for roughly 70 yards. Yes, I know the bombs count. But, my point is: They cannot be counted-on.

    If his two bombs to Sammy fall incomplete, would anybody think Tyrod looked like a competent NFL QB today?

    This is not the kind of QB play that screams “franchise guy” and is not a good formula for SUSTAINED success. It is not repeatable, game after game. I don’t care if Tyrod can run around and make a play here or there with his legs, or, throw deep prayers a few times a game. I want him to stand in the pocket and shred defenses…with his arm.

    For that is the way of the modern NFL. Big plays (and not much more) can beat mediocre or bad teams. Not the good ones. I understand that people are happy they won. But, let’s maybe pump the brakes a bit on them “finding” their true offense, as some are saying.

    Unless the plan is: Run for 250+ yards, throw it like 10 times, hit a couple bombs, give up 400 yards on defense, and win going away! If that’s what Rex or the fans or the media are selling as a sustainable “plan” – well, I’m just not buying. I’ll save my money, thank you very much. Or invest in something less risky, like, oil reserves on Mars.

    But I predicted that they would win, and they did. Except, I wanted them to look good doing it. And, for the most part, they did not. A handful of big plays cannot hide the 35 or 40 other bad or ineffective plays.

    Anyway, now it’s off to Jersey. A bigger game (in the standings) and a bigger test. Go win this one, and keep things interesting for a while longer.

    But unless/until they beat the Jets, my heart remains dark.

    • I guess Nick is finally done with football.

      I agree that the score was somewhat deceiving. Dolphins were moving the ball steadily most of the game, but made some mistakes. And I’ll agree that Tyrod having passing days like this is concerning if it continues. That being said, deep balls to Sammy need to happen much more. Rules make it the smart play. Guys will fall down sometimes.

      Need to win Thursday, get to 5-5 and hope for the best.

  9. “I guess Nick is finally done with football.”

    I hope not. I enjoy his takes. Maybe he’s just waiting (and hoping) for the Bills to reach some level of relevancy this season. A win this week might help.

    Come back, Nicholas! Don’t abandon us.

    Anyway, I know I came across as Mister Sourpuss this week, after a win no less. It’s not that I was unhappy with the result (I predicted it, and got it). But, I suppose, it’s reading and hearing the reactions to the game from fans and media that drives me to distraction.

    Based on most reviews and comments of this past game, one would think that the Bills solved ALL their problems, and everything was great, and the “plan” has been established, and now its playoffs for sure, and…

    Sigh.

    And mostly, it was the analysis of Tyrod’s game that bothered me. I read things like “we have our franchise guy” and “he proved he can be a pocket passer” and other such inanities, when, in my view, Taylor showed nothing of the kind on Sunday.

    He threw the ball 12 times in this game. Twelve. Brady throws that much in one drive. And, absent the bombs (which were very nice, to be sure) he did not look all that good. I simply want and expect more from Tyrod – if he is to ever become the true “franchise” guy we need.

    Thus, my focus isn’t on one game, or one throw, but on the future.

    With those long pass plays, Tyrod did nothing more than what we’ve seen EJ Manuel do on several occasions. Even EJ has thrown some beautiful bombs here and there. So what?

    Maybe a better example would be – JP Losman – who was a kid I never hated as much as others. (Never loved him either, for that matter) But, eventually Losman proved that he just he wasn’t good enough. He had a good arm, and he could scramble well, and he could drop back and heave-up nice bombs (to Lee Evans mostly) and win a game here or there.

    But, where did that get us?

    I’m not comparing Taylor to Losman, but I do see some similar tendencies. Even so, I’m still excited about the possibilities that Taylor *might* bring.

    Tyrod is more dynamic as a runner, and smarter, and better able (slightly) to read and dissect a defense than Losman could – which was JP’s downfall, along with inconsistent accuracy. But these could prove Tyrod’s achilles heel, as well, and that makes me skeptical of him. I need to see improvement.

    Now, I do agree with you that bombs (to Sammy especially) are sometimes prudent and a good call. Anything can happen: a guy falls down, a PI penalty, or a great catch – all positive results. So, yes, bombs should play a part in the Bills arsenal – but they cannot become your bread-and-butter, your best option, or your ONLY option (as happened Sunday).

    Take away Sammy’s two big catches, and the Bills probably lose.

    Brady throws bombs; Rodgers throws bombs; Rivers throws bombs; Dalton throws bombs; but they don’t *need* them to win games. The Bills, as it turns out, did. That is not good football strategy or tactics.

    Okay, I know, I’m venting a bit here.

    But I hope you know that I’m not venting *at* you, but *to* you. I know you get it. Honestly, and I’m dead serious here, you may be the only person who likewise follows the local football team that I feel actually knows what she’s talking about, what she’s seeing – who knows *how* to watch a professional football game.

    And after being subjected to the utter ignorance that passes as “expertise” which bombards the local newspapers, radio, and fan forums, it’s comforting to know that at least *you* are out there too, bringing clarity to confusion. Okay, I’m done now.

    So, like Elsa, I will…Let It Go! :)

    Yep. Thursday is a hugely needed win.

    I’m a bit iffy on this game. I think I slightly favor the Jets. But it’s certainly a winnable one for the Bills. My gut tells me that maybe Fitz is ready for one of his lesser outings. It pains me to say that, because I genuinely like and respect Fitz, and I’m glad to see him doing well. Just not this week.

    He’s been pretty steady this season, so maybe it’s time for him to have one of his three interceptions (and a fumble, to boot) type of games this week. He’s certainly capable of that. And many of these Bills defensive players know him quite well – his tendencies, weaknesses, and such.

    I dunno, just a hunch.

    Plus, on the other side of the ball, the Jets seem vulnerable right now in the passing game. Lesser QB’s have hung some big numbers on them lately. So, come to think of it – forget everything I said earlier! This week, go right ahead, Tyrod…

    Bombs Away! ;)

  10. The Bills beat the Jets, but it was about as unconvincing as it gets, relying on Jets’ mistakes to win. When the hero is Bacarri Rambo causing two fumbles, while arguably the worst cover safety in the league, that’s the opposite of sustainable.

    This performance by Tyrod leans me more to ST’s concerns on him. His ‘only throw to what you see’ very conservative tendency cripples his short/intermediate passing game. Is that Tyrod or is it the coaching staff? If I’m going to be consistent after blaming EJ Manuel similarly for years, it’s very likely Tyrod. However, when you’re one like me who wants to throw the TV in the trash when Phil Simms says ‘Rex Ryan wants to win 17-14’, I get paranoid and want to fire every NFL coach.

    All that being said, 9-7 is probably good enough for Bills utopia, and that’s only 4-3 the rest of the way. Even with lousy pass efficiency, fair chance they do it.

    • Well, it’s no surprise (as you will see in my review below) that you and I watched the same football game.

      We tend to view things through the same set of eyes, with little need for rose-colored glasses – like 90% of typical Bills fans.

      Yes, as you could guess (knowing me) this performance did nothing to bolster my concerns about Tyrod. He just wasn’t very good. He hasn’t been very good (passing) in quite a while.

      Now, it’s obvious that he’s still hurting, so I want to cut him some slack, but his lack of anticipation (that you note) is becoming persistent. And this flaw is making him very, very timid now.

      The positive from that is: Tyrod doesn’t make too many dumb turnovers. But, eventually, to be a true top-tier QB you have to throw to *spots* and not just wait until you see guys clearly open.

      He’s playing safe – maybe it’s coaching but (like you say) probably not. Taylor isn’t trusting himself, maybe because he knows he should not.

      This safe “17-14” groundy-poundy strategy will work against the other mediocre or bad teams (Jets, Fins, Titans) but not against the good ones.

      Should this type of timid QB play, along with luck and a bad AFC, be enough to thieve a playoff spot this year – I won’t be satisfied.

      I need to KNOW if Tyrod can be better. Not just a “guy” that can lead the Bills to 8 or 9 wins and lots of pretty-please prayers for a playoff spot every year.

      I have no interest in that kind of half-assed “utopia” that most unambitious Bills fans are too willing to settle for.

      I’ve always been a full-ass type of guy, anyway. :)

      Speaking of playoffs: I dunno, I still think 9-7 is an outside shot for this team. That 4-3 you mention is really 4-2, unless you think they’re beating Brady next week. (Lulz, I know you don’t)

      Right now, I still say 8-8. At best.

      Oh, how I long for the days when 11 or 12-win seasons were expected, and not just pipe dreams. And if Tyrod Taylor doesn’t take some big steps forward soon…

      Those pipe dreams will be all we have.

  11. Jets game review…

    Well it certainly wasn’t pretty, but it counts in the win column.

    The Jets tried to give the game away early, and the Bills tried to give away the game late. Truth is, after building a 19-point lead, the Bills were very lucky to get the victory.

    Two failed 4th down attempts (forgoing easy FG’s) by the Jets in the Bills red zone were basically the difference in the game.

    Really not much to say about the first half, unless you like ugly football. It was basically a 6-3 game. Except the Bills got a big break on the fumbled kick-off return for an easy walk-in TD.

    Otherwise, this was an old school defensive struggle. The Bills had more success rushing than passing – ground & pound, baby! McCoy was slippery which helped keep drives alive.

    Tyrod wasn’t looking to run much (he was gimpy, which hindered him) but stood in there – to no avail. Nothing really worked in the passing game. They did blitz him a lot, and he wasn’t able to beat it. Threw a few good balls, a few bad ones. A couple bombs – both incomplete, as expected.

    Bills D did well in the first half against the run, and Fitz – who was just off-target, mostly. The Jets had mainly one good sustained drive. A great half of pro football – for the year 1942!

    Second half started all Bills.

    Very good first drive culminating in a TD to Karlos. Jets didn’t blitz, Tyrod had plenty of time, and found Karlos matched-up against a LB.

    Then, NYJ fumble the very first play of their next drive. Bills cash-in for a FG. Turnovers killed the Jets resulting in 12 points (of the Bills 22). Buffalo truly earned only 10 points, the rest were a gift.

    Then, the Bills offense reverts to putridity again – three straight 3-and-outs. Ugh.

    Jets drive for one TD, and then drive into the red zone – close to another one. Then, another huge break. A quick pass which Decker drops for an easy first down. Jets go for it on 4th and get stopped.

    If Decker makes that catch, the Jets are set-up to score and make it a 22-17 game, with almost a full quarter to play. And, at that point, the Jets were moving the ball easily, and the Bills were not, at all.

    As it is, the Jets did score later and make it 22-17 anyway. Fitz got hot and threw some very nice balls. The Bills, AGAIN, go 3 and out and punt. Except…

    It’s blocked! Fumbled, really. Ugh. Jets set up on the 13 for the go ahead score. But the Bills D stands tall and gets the game-winning stop – albeit Davis is wide-open on the 4th-down play but can’t get his eyes on the ball fast enough.

    Yes, the Bills were *that* close to losing.

    And it could have been a different game if the Jets take the FG there (I would have) and another on the earlier 4th down (again, I would have) making it a 23-22 loss, technically.

    But they didn’t, and the Bills hung-on. Luckily.

    The two defenses were comparable; the Jets offense was a bit better, and outscored the Bills offense 17-16. Timely defensive stops, turnovers, and a few breaks went the Bills way.

    But it was a must-win, and they got it.

    Now, barring the Upset of the Century against the Pats next week, the Bills will be 5-5. Right where I thought they would be. The very definition of an average football team. The question is:

    Can they possibly somehow rise above their mediocrity and win at least 4 of the last 6? Personally, I doubt it. They are not a very good football team, but they are in a not very good conference, so anything is possible.

    Their offense relies too much on running (both RB’s and QB) to be truly effective. Tyrod Taylor is still a flawed passing QB. Their defense is just merely good (at its best) and not great (ever).

    But maybe they squeak-in and steal a playoff spot this year. (As if just breaking the “drought” is the only goal, and not, ya know, building a championship-level team, and such). Anyway, for now, I simply refuse to get overly excited about…

    A mediocre football team.

    P.S. And now ditch those red uniforms, forever. No likey.

  12. Seems like the same couple people keep writing in, hope all is well Nick. With Jets game 3 things I like,
    Sammy Watkins getting open against revis all night
    McCoy has been what we wanted the last couple of weeks
    Secondary, darby, graham, and gilmore have been pretty good all year and now Rambo is coming into his one, along with McElvin getting back into the mix.
    3 dislikes
    Having anxiety when carpenter kicks extra points
    Inability to take control when we have the lead
    Anxiety everytime Tyrod is about to get hit, we need him the rest of the season.

  13. Review of Pats (Part Deux) game…

    Well, a Bills loss was not unexpected, but this was a very strange football game. Had the Bills actually won it, it would be long remembered in Boston as the…

    Inadvertent Whistle Game. :)

    Instead, the Pats found a way. Even though the Bills defense played a whale of a game, you cannot say that Buffalo deserved to win this game. They didn’t. The Pats were better.

    Adding injury to insult, with two crucial upcoming games, the Bills got really banged up, and especially Tyrod Taylor. Tyrod did not play well in this game, even before the shoulder injury, but I still hope he can play next week.

    First Half – truth is: it could not have gone better, defensively. It is a very rare sight to see Brady as confused and ineffective (and taking lots of hits) as he was early on. Credit to Rex and his D. This kind of gameplan and performance is what you hoped for when they hired Ryan.

    Unfortunately, on the flip side, the Bills offense just couldn’t take advantage. They ran it okay, but Tyrod was hit and miss. Mostly miss. He made a few runs, kept things alive, but Hogan was basically is favorite (only) target.

    But, on the two really big throws of the half, Tyrod was off. He’s got Hogan wide open for an easy TD and under-throws him badly. Then, late, he’s got Shady WIDER open and puts too much air under the ball, allowing McCourty to recover and make a nice pass break-up.

    If Tyrod throws those two passes on a rope, it’s easy touchdowns.

    These two plays highlight my concerns about Tyrod. It’s nice that he can be creative and make plays, but a true franchise guy has to make *those* two throws – that’s 14 points in a very tight game – at that point. You’ve got the Pats on the ropes a bit, you must land those BIG shots, and not let them off the hook.

    The Bills could have, SHOULD have, had the lead at halftime. Instead, they drive, Carpenter doinks one off the post, and sets Brady up for a late drive. Which, of course, he turns into a TD.

    10-3 at the half. Bills fans should be thrilled. But, oh, what could have been.

    Then the 2nd Half starts with a HUGE break for the Bills. Pats are driving but that bad whistle stops a sure TD to Amendola. We never get the breaks! The Refs hate us! – scream Bills fans.

    Um. Nope. You got a MASSIVE break, due to the continued incompetence from NFL zebras. It’s a joke that this league gets away with such shoddy officiating, but it does time after time. But the breaks usually go both ways.

    Anyway, the Pats drive stalls with a missed FG, and Buffalo takes advantage and responds with TD drive, where Shady gets loose and dives for the pylon. It’s ruled a score, and upheld.

    So, in the blink of an eye, instead of being down 17-3, it’s a tie game.

    Dems da breaks.

    Bills offense sputters. The D keeps the pressure on Brady, but he burns them, as he eventually does. They blitz him, he finds Amendola wide open, and they quickly run it in for the score.

    Bills offense sputters. Sigh.

    The D holds Brady to a punt (after an iffy holding call on the Pats) and so the Bills are only down 7, and getting the ball back, and just maybe they can…

    Leodis fumbles the punt! Ugh. Really, of all guys, it had to be Leodis?

    Anyway, the Bills D steps up and at least hold them to a FG. Then, the Bills offense sputters. AGAIN. So, it’s a 10-point game after 45 minutes. A crazy 3rd Quarter of football.

    Pats start off the 4th quarter well, big completion to Gronk, but Brady makes an ill-advised throw. He gets picked by Gilmore on a tipped deep ball that should have never been thrown into that coverage.

    Another *break* for the Bills. (You hear that fans?)

    The Bills eventually kick a FG and cut it to 7 points, but can get no further – a last desperate 2-minute drill came up way short, and that was that.

    A great defensive effort, but not enough offense.

    As far as Tyrod, my view on him is becoming more and more settled. I’m afraid he’s just not good enough. He was very inaccurate tonight (even before he was hurt) and not able to make the important throws. Or any throws, at all, between the hashes.

    When he’s contained, he’s just not able to dissect a defense and pull the trigger on the tough throws. Here again, time and again, we see him drop back and toss-up deepish sideline throws – PRAYING for a good outcome.

    Sometime he hits them, mostly he doesn’t. (He missed two TD’s today)

    And, anyway, that is NOT a competent offensive plan. It will not work consistently in the NFL. Tyrod is a gutsy and exciting player in many ways, but I truly feel that the Bills need to start looking for their next “franchise” guy.

    I think we need a QB. Still. Sigh.

    Anyway, next up are two big AFC games. The Chiefs one is crucial. It’s basically a must-win – if anyone is still dreaming about a true wildcard run. (I am not) It’s certainly winnable – KC is not all that great – but they do have momentum and a good defense, plus that stadium is no picnic for a visiting team.

    Maybe the Bills can keep the dream alive, but I’m not picking them next week. In fact, over the next few weeks, I could see this season quickly starting to…

    Circle the drain. As always, I hope I’m wrong.

    P.S. Maybe a new post soon, Nick? Comments on this one are about to expire.