Perhaps it is fitting that Bill Polian was at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday to finally go on the team’s Wall of Fame. While not technically being the case, it sure seems like the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since his departure.
The Bills are 3-4 going into their bye weeks and mathematically very much in the playoff race, but it’s hard to fathom even the most optimistic fans turning a blind eye anymore. Buffalo blew a home game against a pretty lousy team they essentially needed to win and with road contests at Houston and New England looming, the Bills are staring 3-6 and 13 years of playoff futility directly in the face.
Whether you’re a fan or any sort of media type covering them, the consensus has to be this team is incredibly frustrating to be associated with, no?
Their 35-34 loss at home to Tennessee was bad enough. The way the defense played, however, was utterly inexcusable. How the Bills can go into this bye week without removing Dave Wannstedt as defensive coordinator is beyond me, but head coach Chan Gailey made it clear post-game no coaching changes will be coming.
Incredibly, Buffalo has now given up at least 35 points in four of seven games this season. That’s not acceptable for any team, let alone one that spent nearly $100 on one defensive end, used two early first round picks on defenders over the past two seasons and early second and third rounders in 2011 on guys (currently) in the starting lineup.
For a lack of a better term—they stink.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to draw an awful lot of heat over the next two weeks for his costly interception late in the fourth quarter, and for once the critics are going to be wrong about him. Sure, his turnover proved to result in Tennessee’s winning points, but this game is not on the beleaguered bearded gunslinger. Fitzpatrick completed 27-of-35 passes for 225 yard and tossed three touchdowns, including two beautiful passes in the middle of the field to Donald Jones and Stevie Johnson.
Even after Fitz’s ill-advised pick, the Bills merely needed to make one play—one (!) on defense to seal the win and couldn’t.
Having the ball with 2:57 left from their own 48 following the turnover, Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was sacked by Kyle Williams and Kyle Moore for an eight yard loss on first down. That didn’t rattle the Titans. A Justin Rodgers missed tackle on Nate Washington allowed the receiver to gain 19 yards on the very next play.
On the play following the two minute warning, Bills safety George Wilson couldn’t corral a game-winning interception that hit him in the breadbasket. Two plays later on fourth and nine and the game on the line, Washington beat Rodgers up the field and Wilson froze at safety as the winning score happened and the air collectively left the Stadium.
Chris Johnson struggles against everyone else but plays like Gayle Sayers against the Bills. He rushed for 195 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. Last year the Bills “held” him to 153 yards.
Part of the reason for Johnson’s outburst? If you have the benefit of All-22 or at least a DVR, go back and watch both his touchdown runs. On each, fullback Quinn Johnson one-on-one manhandled a Bills linebacker to spring gaping holes. On the first it was Kelvin Sheppard that allowed Johnson to score from 13 yards away and Nick Barnett got the same treatment that sprung Johnson for 83.
We’ll have much more on this crushing defeat over the next two days, although all the overanalyzing in the world isn’t going to change the simple fact that is not a very good football team, the coaching staff is lousy and the people upstairs making the big decisions need to start being held accountable.
Like most that have preceded Marv Levy, this current regime is a mess.