This season was supposed to be THE season. You know, the one where Buffalo crushed their 15 season playoff drought and burst into the playoffs? Yeah, that season was supposed to be this season.
As a fan of a hapless franchise, it is not a matter of if but when the other ugly shoe will drop. We all know the feeling, it happens every fall or winter if we’re lucky.
The Buffalo Bills enter each new football year with those high apple pie in the sky hopes. “This year will be the year”, all the fans say. It all sounds very familiar every July when training camp starts up.
This year was no different. Rex Ryan came into town on and turned everything upside down.
With how the Bills finished off last season, coupled with the clout Rex Ryan brings to a football team, fans were not talking about if the Bills would make the playoffs but how many games this team would win this season.
As this roller coaster season has progressed, we’ve come to learn this year’s edition of the Buffalo Bills are no different than any of the last 15 versions, but these Bills are less a sinking ship and more a floundering fish.
Things have come to a head with the team’s latest uninspiring loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a game most Bills players and fans dubbed “a playoff game”.
With a victory, the Buffalo Bills would’ve controlled their own destiny in the chase for a Wild Card berth after the 12th week of a 17 week season, with seemingly easier match-ups as the season progressed. Crazy to think that was possible with a franchise as jaded as this one.
As we all know by now, the Buffalo Bills floundered and gave up a golden opportunity to take a Wild Card spot away from Kansas City, with another big game coming up this weekend against the surging Houston Texans.
“We need to have more sense of urgency on the field,” wide receiver Sammy Watkins said to the Buffalo News. “We have to finish games.”
Bills players are remaining positive and upbeat in the face of adversity, which is a good sign for the next five weeks, but the Bills are in a very tough position moving forward.
“We have a five-week season left,” guard Richie Incognito told the Buffalo News, following the loss to Kansas City. “We have to win out.”
How did the Bills get to this point? This season has been a very odd one, to say the least.
Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins, LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Aaron Williams, Alex Carrington, John Miller, Marcus Easley, Marquise Goodwin and MarQueis Gray have all missed time this season. A few of those players have ended up on season-ending IR.
Injuries are absolutely a part of the National Football League due to the game’s recklessness and seemingly endless weekly grind, but even if you take away the best team’s depth, they will still struggle in some form on the football field.
While a growing injury list is no excuse, the Bills may have been able to win a couple more games had quarterback Tyrod Taylor stayed healthy, for example. Maybe the Bills would not have had that crushing loss in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars? Perhaps LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins did not have leg muscle issues earlier in season, the Bills might be sitting pretty in the Wild Card race at this point.
The could have/would have/what if list grows ever long as the weeks pass by and the losses continue to pile up.
This team has also been plagued by ineffective defensive play. Under a different defensive coordinator last season, the Buffalo Bills racked up 54 sacks, a league-high. 48 of the Bills’ 54 sacks (89%) came from their powerful defensive line.
The Buffalo Bills brought back the core of that top-5 NFL defense from last season to this season. How has that defense responded?
The Bills stand at T-29th in the league with 16 sacks through 12 weeks (50% of sacks have come from the front four). Embarrassingly ineffective does not begin to describe how poor the Bills’ front four have been this season. To go a little further in-depth, the Bills currently rank 19th in total yards allowed, 24th in passing yards allowed, 14th in rushing yards allowed and 15th in points allowed per game.
Is it the lack of consistent play due to injuries? Is it a different coaching philosophy with first-year defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman? Whatever the case might be, it is not lost on Bills’ players that there has been minimal pressure this season.
“We have to play what’s called,” linebacker Preston Brown told the Buffalo News following Sunday’s loss. “We tried our best. We had those guys rushing up front. We believe in those four. We don’t have to pressure with those guys. It just didn’t happen.”
By no stretch of the imagination is it time to run Rex Ryan out of town, as some are already point to. It takes time to build a winning football franchise. It takes luck to not only have everything work out for you, but to have other uncontrollable things fall into place.
Jerry Hughes said on Monday that Tyrod Taylor has been pushing the team through a trying time. “We’ve got to pull the guys back into it,” Hughes quoting Taylor to the media. “The season is not over with.”
As the losses pile up, so does the frustration. Frustration at One Bills Drive and frustration from Bills fans throughout the world, as another potentially wonderful season falls by the wayside.
Many have pointed out that this season certainly is not over yet, and that is absolutely true.
Five weeks of football remains, and literally anything can happen in those games. However as the season matures, the signs certainly continue to point to another dud season for a despondent fan base. We all have absolutely watched this story unfold 15 times previously, and it seems as if the Buffalo Bills are getting ready to put the final touches on their 16th straight playoff-less season.