Preseason Immediate Reactions: Bills 35, Jags 32 (OT)

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard or read various versions of the following “football concepts” on radio and the Internet.

– “The Bills first unit has only two field goals on its six drives of the preseason. This is going to be a long year.”

– “You have to wonder if Chan Gailey really cares or expects to win games at this stage in his career and for this owner.”

– “I would’ve accepted a second- or third-round pick in exchange for Lee Evans, but a fourth?”

Realizing that we almost certainly live in a land somewhere between the two extremes of a Super Bowl champion and the first pick in the draft, I expect these same voices and laptops to proffer these sentiments after the Bills first team offense played very well against Jacksonville on Saturday evening.

– “The Bills first unit has scored 23 points in the equivalent of one football game. That would’ve been Top 12 last year!”

– “You have to wonder if Chan Gailey isn’t making one last run for it to prove to the world how underrated he’s been.”

– “Marcus Easley? Paul Hubbard? Kamar Aiken? If WR depth in this league is this deep, how did we swindle a fourth out of Baltimore for Lee Evans?!?”

The point is this: Before the preseason, we’re careful to remind ourselves that “it’s only preseason football,” that “no one is using more than 1/10 of their playbook” and “let’s wait until the ‘real bullets’ are flying.” This preseason, it’s as if no one recognizes how jerky the reactions to two games have been (and this coming from a man who types “Immediate Reactions” even after said preseason games.

Let’s watch the football, and then realize that some of these guys are getting “starts” not because they are starters, but because their head coaches want to see how they’ll play against first teamers. This is real-enough football to garner some insight, but not much more than some of it.

Either that, or we should all go bet on the Lions and Rams to be undefeated right into their NFC Championship tilt for the right to play the undefeated Houston Texans.

So… about tonight:

– Ryan Fitzpatrick had a lot more time to throw, but Gailey also appeared to be maximizing the number of underneath routes per given play. I’m not going to make the mistake of simply gushing about the Bills air attack gashing Paul “Can’t really cover running backs” Posluszny, but I’m also going to realize that the loss of Lee Evans isn’t the end of the world. Through three preseason appearances, Fitz is 25/37 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Most of us would take that in Week One against Kansas City, which is exactly the point. Fitz is capable of putting up numbers, but a stat line isn’t going to tell you whether the Bills won. He’s still going to be the guy who makes “gunslinger” decisions with “spray and pray” accuracy.

I also wonder if Bills fans’ hesitancy to get behind Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a lot to do with the foaming-at-the-mouth theory that there must be a franchise quarterback available in every round of every draft, and if not there’s the next Matt Schaub, Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jake Delhomme or Brett Favre hiding unrecognized on someone’s bench. Granted I wanted Colt McCoy a bunch, but if it turns out Alex Carrington is going to be a legit outside linebacker, perhaps I need to pipe down for a bit.

– Wouldn’t it be funny if Chan Gailey wasn’t “disrespecting Fred Jackson” by starting CJ Spiller last week and that Jackson was just fairly-justifiably going all Rodney Dangerfield on the media? I don’t think there’s a sane football coach on Earth who would dismiss Jackson considering Spiller continues to prove he isn’t ready to be a consistent inside runner. I understand thinking Spiller would be Chris Johnson at the start of last year, but with what this coaching staff knows… well… nevermind. Probably shouldn’t speak so soon.

– Hopefully Marcus Easley is over his case of the dropsies. It’s easy to forget that the physically-gifted receiver has limited experience even playing the position.

– I’ve had food poisoning this weekend, and I wanted to give you all a piece of advice: Don’t get food poisoning. It’s awful.

– Tyler Thigpen has about one more week before I completely — instead of just partially — understand why he wasn’t able to turn a completely respectable 2008 season with Gailey in KC into another starting job in the NFL. He’s a more erratic, quicker to scramble Fitz. I’m also quite pleased we won’t have to play the “Hey der, looks like we got our Frank Reich” game this season because the past is history, the future is a mystery and now is a gift that’s why we call it the present (this is a joke).

– Color analyst Steve Tasker — the Internet works, folks — said something along the lines of, “Starting to get the feeling that when Brad Smith is on-the-field, he is going to be the true focus of the play.” Me, too, Steve, and you can bet the rest of the NFL will pick up on that in game film. Hopefully, there are a bunch of plays designed where he’s the decoy.

– Either Lee Evans got homesick and grew six inches or we had a Ruvell Martin sighting! One catch for nine yards.

– Is it bad that when Alex Carrington got the start for Chris Kelsay, I pretended Kelsay wasn’t injured?

– Forgot how much I liked Dwan Edwards, and then he went out and ate a whole bunch of sandwiches this offseason. Looks big and fierce.

– Cecil Shorts III.

– MAC pride: Ball State LB Robert Eddins with a sack on the evening. This is a 6’3″ backer who is athletic enough that he returned two punts as a sophomore in Muncie. Not bad.

– Only one preseason game to go: nick@fcbuffalo.org

5 Responses to Preseason Immediate Reactions: Bills 35, Jags 32 (OT)

  1. Buffalo Rude says:

    “I also wonder if Bills fans’ hesitancy to get behind Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a lot to do with the foaming-at-the-mouth theory that there must be a franchise quarterback available in every round of every draft, and if not there’s the next Matt Schaub, Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jake Delhomme or Brett Favre hiding unrecognized on someone’s bench. Granted I wanted Colt McCoy a bunch, but if it turns out Alex Carrington is going to be a legit outside linebacker, perhaps I need to pipe down for a bit.”

    Or maybe the “fans’ hesitancy” is caused, in part, by the team’s complete and utter failure to land/find even a middling quarterback since Kelly retired. When Doug Floutie is our most exciting QB since Kelly, there is nothing to be optimistic about until Fitz starts delivering results.

  2. Leelee Tennis says:

    Stop listening to local sports radio. At least until someone tells us what job he’s obtained which he has been hinting at for the last 58 years on Twitter.

    There’s hesitancy with Fitz because he’s not going to be the starter long-term. The NFL is all about QBs now, and Fitz is like 20th at best. He’s a nice story, beard, etc… but that’s not good enough. In order to win, you need to get an elite QB, period. If that ever happens while the Bills are still in Buffalo, it will be amazing how appealing the franchise becomes.

    Welcome to reality with Thigpen. He’s athletic… but, has a noodle arm and most importantly, cannot read defenses to save his life. He’s the one success Gailey had, desperately installing a simple, quick read offense for him in KC. If Fitz goes down, oh man.

    The Bills’ defensive line is super good.

  3. [...] Preseason Immediate Reactions: Bills 35, Jags 32 (OT) | NickMendola.comNick Mendola gives his reactions to last night’s game. [...]

  4. Scott Hakes says:

    Nick,

    I can’t believe you blew off the Flash Championship to cover a Bills pre-season game!

    The Shaker

    • Nick says:

      This is how rumors get started and how rumours get started in Canada. I wouldn’t blow off a lukewarm taco buffet — let alone the chance to call a title game — for a preseason football game.