Two Buffalo offensive threats entered Ralph Wilson Stadium through different entrances in many different senses of the words, except for birth. New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Buffalo’s Naaman Roosevelt are both NFL players courtesy of Western New York, but each represents the choices many WNYers have to had to make over the years thanks to the stunted economic growth of the area.
Gronkowski is a big tall kid who appears straight out of “Hoosiers” if Shooter made sure all the players had access to only the best in whey protein, creatine and assorted muscle builders. He was so successful at a local public high school that he moved to a perceived better region of the country to get better exposure to elite college scouts. It worked: He was recruited by Arizona, Clemson, Louisville, Maryland, Ohio State, and Syracuse before choosing the first of the bunch. After a successful career and many nationally-televised games Gronkowski freaked out the combine with his skill and size to be drafted by the perennial power of the Patriots.
Naaman Roosevelt came from private school St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, where he was football dynamite in most senses of the word. He came to play for Turner Gill at a bad team in a lesser conference of Division-I football, the University at Buffalo. He came to UB because he was promised a shot at playing quarterback. He got it, but only saw his potential come through by learning an entirely new position, wide receiver. He went undrafted and was signed by his hometown Buffalo Bills only to be cut and resigned.
Both players played well on Sunday in front of a great deal of Buffalonians who have made similar choices: skip town and make it happen in a political and economic climate that harbors more development and exposure, or stay in town and fight against all odds to succeed.
And in Roosevelt’s case, it’s a microcosm of how far you still have to travel to turn relative achievement into larger scale success. The Bills have revitalized their Canalside and have plans to make it better if the “Development People” can get out of their own way. The Patriots have four extremely strong, competing Canalsides.
Anyone for a duck boat tour?
And then one Thomas Brady improved to 17-1 all-time against the Bills…
— Tom Brady is really good. He rubs me the wrong way on tons of levels, but I think it’s because he embodies a combination of the work ethic we admire with the glossy glow we often don’t.
Brady only completed 15 passes, but you don’t have to worry about passing 50 times a game when you can run at-will and average one touchdown pass for every nine dropbacks. He’s an incredible player playing under a fantastic football mind.
Now, the truth requires mouthwash.
— My goodness, were the Bills a mess, especially Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was a J.P. Losman game, where for every moment of wonder there were two disastrous decisions. Moreover, it was the negative side of the balls-to-the-wall gunslinger. When you think you can make anything happen, you do things other players can’t. You also have the chance to stand-out like rotten vegetables at a fruit pie stand. Fitz did the latter today.
— The question of this week will be whether or not Brian Brohm should start against the Jets, and the truth is I don’t care. Whether it’s the beard or the Brohm I’ll be okay with it.
— Akin Ayodele had 17 tackles, which is one more than 16. Ayodele has had a good-enough year with the team to stick around if he wants. I’ve liked him better than the limited view we received of Andra Davis (who I also like).
— I have to keep reminding myself that punting in Ralph Wilson Stadium is difficult. Brian Moorman is experience an almost season-long slump.
— I know he’s the sort of player Buffalonians should root for, but Danny Woodhead looks like a guy worth punching in the face… if life weren’t easier being nonviolent, of course.
— C.J. Spiller run ball well. C.J. Spiller fumble ball twice. Me no happy C.J. Spiller (but what a wonderful catch he made a la Lee Evans in a non-Stamp year).
— First time all season I didn’t notice Kyle Williams.
This week’s cut…
Maybe I’m the only person who thinks Drayton Florence has played most of this year like a more talented Eric King. He could celebrate successfully making it 60 minutes without breaking a shoelace. His act is weary and was much more palatable when he was borderline lockdown in 2009.
Mansfield Wrotto is not very good at American football.
Stat line I liked…
Naaman Roosevelt, four catches, 74 yards
– It was very nice to see Roosevelt continue his NFL success for a second week. Quite literally the only thing I really want to see in the season finale is a receiving touchdown for No. 18, which would make him the third undrafted receiver to make a snag for the Bills in their rookie season of 2010.
Stat line I didn’t like…
Patriots, 41 carries at 5.3 yards-per-carry.
The Bills have made not just steps but strides in the right direction under Thomas Chandler Gailey and (I suppose) Buddy “Buddy” Nix, but this game underscores how far away they are from true success.
Whether the Jets need it or not, I think they’ll win. Perhaps it’ll only be because they saw what happened to the Bengals when they quit in last year’s finale. I despite the Jets, but call it 31-16 in the favor of the home team.