Our Bills were embarrassed.
— So the guts of this game was the guts of the season and will be the guts of the offseason: Stevie Johnson. No. 13 was benched after costing his team 15 yards with a “Happy New Year” undershirt touchdown celebration.
Was the benching warranted? It’s not possible to know “immediate reactions” style because we need to hear from Chan Gailey and Johnson. I do know this: Johnson knew he would be penalized. The way George Wilson talked to Johnson on the sideline afterward sure looked like, “Dude, come on,” but is it a “Dude, come on, we don’t need that” or a “Dude, come on, you know Chan said he’d sit anyone who did that.”
Fact of the matter is I think the rule is a silly one. Johnson can’t write on his undershirt but Aaron Hernandez can show up the Bills defense with a goose-step into the end zone and Sterling Moore (?!?) celebrated his pick-six for approximately two hours. He may have been recreating “Fantasia.”
That said, Johnson knows the rules. If he was told there would be repercussions for doing it again, it’s on him (and I’d bet he was told just that). Also, I doubt Thomas Chandler Gailey is playing the role of harsh disciplinarian if the game is more meaningful, which leads us to…
— Had a mini-Twitter scrum with some fellow media members after WGR’s Mike Schopp tweeted something about keeping in mind that the Bills wouldn’t have gone-for-it on two fourth downs if they were 9-6 and not 6-9. My take is that that’s ridiculous, but Jeremy White and Howard Simon — good friends of mine — disagreed. My thoughts are this: I can count at least two scenarios in important games where Gailey’s mind was aggressive despite the odds and even common sense:
1) Week Three. Second-quarter score: Pats 14, Bills 0. Fourth-and-14 from Pats’ 34. Bills go for it. Picked off.
2) Week Nine. Second-quarter score: Jets 3, Bills 0. Fourth-and-2 from Jets’ 38. Healthy Rian Lindell. Bills go for it. Incomplete (in fact, Bills had 2nd-and-2 on drive and passed thrice).
— Whatever you do, don’t touch Tom Brady. In fact, I would pantomime sacking him if you get close to him, because touching him is not okay, as we learned when Drayton Florence popped Brady on Nick Barnett’s interception return.
— In my book, Drayton Florence was a pretty big disappointment this year but he’s responsible for the pick-six that put Buffalo on top 31-24 against New England in Week Three. He’s also responsible for looking like a turnstile after Aaron Hernandez gave him a single wiggle in the second half of this match-up versus the Pats. I find it hard to be too critical of the secondary when the pass rush was almost non-existent save for the Skins game this year, but I look forward to the day the Bills can afford to snag a better corner than Florence without sacrificing a needed upgrade somewhere else on the defensive unit.
— The Bills need an elite outside linebacker/pass rusher. If they stay 3-4, he needs to at least be able to forgivably cover a tight end as a rookie. Arthur Moats is a nice story, but I find it remarkably difficult to imagine him as anything but a pass-rushing linebacker who would get exposed in a 4-3. Problem is the best prospect available is a guy who lifted up his girlfriend by her hair and tried to throw her to the ground after she slapped him (Courtney Upshaw). The next best is the guy I have the Bills picking in a mock draft: Quinton Coples of UNC. Problem there? I haven’t found an unbiased Youtube video of him where he doesn’t look too slow-to-react for a Top-15 pick. Other guys I think will sneak up by the draft: West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin and Southern Cal’s Nick Perry. In free agency, Anthony Spencer of Dallas seems an interesting pull but I expect he’ll be overpaid by someone else.
— SPILLER WATCH: 17 touches for 100 yards. Finishes season with a final three games combining for 57 touches for 402 yards and 4 TDs. Over the course of 16 weeks, that’s 304 touches for 2,144 yards and 21 touchdowns.
— Two more sacks for DT Kellen Heard, who quietly distinguished himself as a roster player this season and another sack for Dwan Edwards, who I’ve been high on for a while. The Bills look pretty decent up the middle on the defense, future-wise. They should be able to get a franchise corner or OLB out of the draft’s first round, which works for me.
— Some good news? I don’t think the Patriots have a real look at the Super Bowl, even though that means they’d have to lose inside their giant mall. Some better news? The Jets missed the playoffs.
Stat line I liked…
Derek Hagan, 7 catches, 89 yards
– Finishes his four-game audition with 13 catches for 138 yards and a score.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Patriots tight ends, 15 catches, 246 yards, 3 TDs
— Honestly, I’d rather watch the Bills get torched by wide-outs than any of this. Every holiday season it’s like the Ghost of Seasons Past comes back and it’s Ben bleeping Coates.
— Despite a bad missed tackle late, Barnett continued his strong-enough 2011 season. I’m confident it’ll be Kelvin Sheppard and Barnett in the middle of a 3-4 should the Bills go that route post-George Edwards (It’s going to be post-George Edwards, right?)
6-10 is three wins better than 3-13, though the Bills had a relatively easy schedule. Gotta think Chan’s fire without 8 or 9 wins next year.
Locker clean-out is tomorrow. I imagine there will be a lot of partying next week.