Not that you deserve any excuses, but here are some that each partially explain is letting the home opener go with little mention here.
First, the less obvious... I worked a 12 hour day on Friday, plus caught Liverpool's away match to Chelsea at the newly minted 'The Team,' Carragher's new little brother situated next door on West 39th. Between the work hours and the elation at a sports team winning an improbable game away from home against recent champions and likely title contenders, gearing up to write about the Bills' loss to the confusing and unironically shit Jets was a non-starter. A busy weekend of varied personal and familial tasks kicked the can further down the road.
Second, the obvious. Yes, they were bad. Yes, the idea of heaping on scorn was both appealing and nevertheless unsavory after waking up to Buffalo twitter's commendable implosion. All true things. All reason enough to take a few days off, but not the whole story.
Third, the practical. This team became impossible to write about in a compelling way for a few days. Not for everyone, obviously; I didn't but read a smattering of the takes on the loss and everything that came thereafter, but it was clear that at least some of those takes were worth writing and having other people read. Slam dunk subject matter of a completely indefensible pro sports franchise, for sure. But not for me, I guess.
Partially because I wasn't interested in bringing a tired perspective to the table (though I'm good with doing that now), partially because I knew the people that read us here do so out of a voracious appetite for #content, meaning they will already have read others with actual circulation give a serving of fair takes reflecting the altogether consistent hatred of this fucking football team among the fan base and local media, and partially because suddenly the landscape of the Bills kept changing over the course of the 3rd quarter and then on through the rest of the weekend, I let it lie for a few days. It was hard to gear up with a well-balanced take when it seemed likely it would be mooted by some forthcoming report we'd inevitably be given a few hours later.
Ok, so there's the background, and it's that last point I want to take up for a little two-step.
I watched the second half of last week's game on DVR at 1 o'clock Friday morning. My body gave out around 10 Thursday night, during halftime, and I went to take a "nap," waking up diligently to finish the game in about 30 minutes. For all intents and purposes, I'm sitting right in the beginning laps of middle age, and maybe I need a Red Bull or five to stay up late and pound beers like I am wont to do, but I can rally with the best of them. Even for a football team I love to hate and hate to love.
At first, it was gravy. Man, the start of that second half was fun as balls. These motherfuckers had me scribbling notes about the good things I was seeing - Sammy drawing coverage away from secondary targets; Tyrod making it work despite his weaknesses and the play-calling ruts; the way the defense was attacking the ball; Tyrod calming the bench down after his TD to Salas, like he knew there was a lot of work still to do (there was); Sammy getting hyped as hell for his fellow receivers; the kickoff coverage; Leodis and his fumble recovery. There was a lot to bemoan about the first half (which I watched on mute hashtag marriage hashtag billing hours) - failing to make Fitz pay for early mistakes, weak play calling (again), and curiously poor coverage in the secondary, for starters - but for a little while in the 3rd quarter the team had me drawn back in. I was exhausted and parts of my brain were probably still asleep and accordingly much of my memory of how everything went down is unreliable, but I found myself sitting there all "man Hartman was right, this team can be fun and that's good."
Haha, what an asshole that guy is.
Nearly as quickly as the bug of "shit are they really going to win this, fucking awesome" got caught, the Bills scorched the hope with a glazed malaise of prototypical Buffalo Football and all momentum fizzled with a muted squelch. A quick useless drive after Robey-Coleman scampered into the endzone with the kind of purpose that fuels the legs of a middling roleplayer, forfeiting the team's best (only?) opportunity at solidifying a two possession game; cornerbacks asked to do too much while being far too gassed by the abbreviated time that the offense possessed the ball; a pretty bad team's dream playing out through the Jets' night; a similarly bad but persistently worse team facing a reality we'd been assured would not come.
Even for those of us who never really bought what Rex has been selling, the clarity of the failure was shocking.
With the tech assist from my DVR, this failed denouement lasted no more than 12 minutes of real time. Though my tired eyes had a hard time comprehending the new depths of garbage that this team insists on wading into, it's ultimately nothing more than an inevitable shoe drop these days.
And now, the Tuesday after, the shoes haven't really stopped dropping. Maybe that's the only positive to find in the landscape of this moment: at the very least, the club's near-instant reaction to the pair of spectacularly Bills losses confirms that what we watched was, yes, really bad; so bad that the organization's track record of artful PR and head-in-sand management was no match for the clarity of this recent run of Suck.
Of course that positive has its limits, and the last four and a half days have seen the local sport punditry try to make sense of the doubly fucked scenario, asking "why is this team so shit?" and "even if the club recognizes that it's shit, are the people in charge equipped to right the shit?" This second question arguably deserves to be first, and it's probably an easier question to answer: Nope. No evidence that anyone - from top to bottom, from Terry and Kim to Russ "Burns When He Pees" Brandon to Doug to Rex to Rob to the entire coaching staff to the trainers and the room full of jamokes just waiting to throw someone under the bus - has any real competency in the area of making this a good football team. Roman was by no means the top of anyone's list of most culpable, and so long as his remains the only head to have been severed against the chopping block, his firing will remain a move nakedly futile on its own.
When the ship is sinking and remains so in perpetuity, everyone is accountable and no one accountable.
Maybe that changes soon, and again, that's the optimistic angle if you want one: someone pretty high in the ranks got kicked to the curb, meaning the Pegulas do not like owning and watching a shit Bills team. And, frankly, that's no small thing when compared to the Odious Taint ownership that we lived with for so long. Even so, it's just not enough. Now that the prism of our consumption of this team isn't bound to the fear of it leaving Western New York, now that #OneBuffalo has been branded onto our subconscious and that prism of fear replaced with a marketed commitment to success and community through this team, it's right to expect more from the Pegulas. If these teams of ours are going to claim to reflect the best of us as a community of neighbors and friends and sports fans, it's right to look at Roman's firing and exclaim "great, good, what's next?"
All the same, it's exhausting as hell to be at the familiar crossroads where the best we can hope for is a quick road to abject failure, draft picks and yet another One Bills Drive reboot, each more pathetically distant from that 90s small screen magic as the last. No amount of optimism or #OneBuffalo corporate circle-jerking can cure that in the short term, with the best case scenarios hitting pay dirt some years down the line.
The sooner the Pegulas wash their hands of all the terribly milquetoast football management talent in their employ, the better. So, what's next?