It's hard to avoid the feeling as a Bills fans that we're watching, year after year, a series of experiments that inevitably go wrong. Combinations of personnel and plays and intangibles amongst players and coaches, mixed together with a seeming haphazard flair, accompanied by varying hints of optimism from fans and franchise alike. Never a true sense of "this is what it takes to win and we have it, let's all have fun," but instead "we think this might be the one, please trust us?" Frustration levels vary depending on what kind of fan you want to be from week to week or minute to minute, and what kind of team we happen to have in front of us every Sunday.
The Flutie years had fan optimism high, but franchise confidence was suddenly low and we got something else instead. Losman had fans and franchise on more similar planes, followed by Edwards and other guys I don't care to remember, and then a Harvard guy who looked to our layman eyes like a shit sandwich but who had been molded into a winner, briefly, by a coach with a charming, deceptive drawl.
We're duped because it's nearly impossible for us couch-dwellers, and seemingly for the "football guys" employed by Ralph "wears a gold-plated diaper" Wilson, to know the difference between Kurt Warner and Ryan Fitzpatrick until one of them is winning a goddamned Super Bowl. We're duped because believing we have Warner and not Fitz is a hell of a lot more fun than the other way around.
And then there is this season, with this coach and this QB, and it was both different and the same for each of us watching it all unfold. The franchise seemed both progressive and consistent with it's prior, terrible versions... a new system with new rules and new aggression; an old system with phenomenal players left behind, uncompensated by the franchise they've sweat and bled for, with fans like myself bounding across social media, rationalizing the decision to let uncommon Buffalo Bills talent walk away from the Sisyphean challenge of getting this fucking thing right.
And then there is this season, with the promises and renewed sense of purpose; the stunning efforts and sharp growing pains; the rising legend of new powers on defense; the quarterback who has left games with more of our love and hope, the benefit of the doubt held firmly in his poised grasp.
And then there is this season, with growing hope following a great win against Baltimore, followed suddenly and cruelly by a moment so predictable, we couldn't believe it...