For the last four weeks, I’ve attempted to sit down at my computer and somehow put down my thoughts from four different discouraging Bills losses. Clearly I’ve failed multiple times. But honestly, every week, this is the best I can come up with for in-depth commentary…
What was once a season of such promise has turned into a trainwreck of mangled bodies, inadequate leadership and missed opportunities.
Any notion of making the playoffs is long gone. Some fans gave up on this concept weeks ago. But for me, it didn’t truly sink in until last weekend against the Dolphins. Losing badly to a team that has made the AFC Championship game two years in a row and a team with far more offensive firepower than we have defensive competence was in no way surprising to me. But to see the Bills barely slow down a team with two wins on the season, let alone a division rival, was truly eye opening.
But let’s get past that. Ultimately, anyone who tells you we lost that game because of one 15-yard penalty is a fool. When you lose to a quarterback who only completes 17 passes for 187 yards, but somehow has FOUR touchdown passes (for the first time in his career), you know you had much larger breakdowns than an overzealous receiver.
With that in mind, let’s get to the larger issue that remains for this final push of the season. George Edwards has to be fired. Now. As in yesterday. As in, I’m not sure why they didn’t just leave this guy in New Jersey. Clearly, the organization doesn’t want to do it mid-season. But if anyone in the organization is remotely intelligent, Edwards doesn’t have any real control over practices anymore.
Over the last four games, games we absolutely had to win to stay in the hunt, the defense has given up 134 points. Nothing about our gameplans has stopped or even slowed down anyone. For the 12th year in a row, we can’t stop the run. Receivers are routinely wide open. Which isn’t necessarily a big deal since opposing quarterbacks are never rushed or even threatened anyway. Our tackling is inconsistent. No one shows the least bit of passion. You name it. We don’t do it. And don’t talk to me about injuries. We’ve stockpiled enough defenders over the last four years to have more depth than this. Ipso facto, Edwards has to go.
So the question becomes, what do the Bills have left to play for from here? Perhaps that’s a query for a future post, but I’ll at least say this… if the offense plays with the same kind of heart and passion they played with last weekend, I’ll be satisfied with their contribution. But something has to change on defense. Whether it’s starting every rookie, firing Edwards, switching to a 4-3, asking John Murphy to be our strong side linebacker, whatever, something new HAS to be tried. We know what we have on offense. Our defense is still a complete mystery. They’ve managed to stay in the top of the league in turnovers while making guys like Matt Moore and Mark Sanchez look like Johnny Unitas. In the closing weeks, they’ll face Hasselbeck, Rivers, Moore again, Tebow and Brady. Plenty of opportunity to either show improvement or be embarrassed.
For the record, I don’t want to hear any players in the closing weeks talking that “Everyone’s hating on us now, but we just gotta go out there and do our thing” bullshit. As true as it may be, I have no patience to actually hear it. Four weeks ago, the Bills were 2nd in the AFC East and one of the darlings of the NFL. Then they lost four straight. The playoffs, let alone the league’s respect, are long gone. There’s still plenty left to prove for the 2011 Bills, but it’s only to themselves. Are we really one step closer to postseason success? Or just one step closer to another 7-9 team?