Somewhere in the bowels of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Jeff Fisher sits at his desk, lit by the flame of a single candle. In one hand, a half empty bottle of Keystone Light: in the other, a picture of Tyrod Taylor's look of bewilderment after throwing a touchdown pass. Splayed in front of him are local newspapers detailing how his coaching threw the game away. “That's some 7-9 bullshit,” chant the voices in his head. A single tear runs down his cheek. A call comes in from Jared Goff, sent to voicemail.
It wasn't pretty, or encouraging...or...impressive...but the Buffalo Bills have their first three game win streak since 2011, thanks to their 30-19 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. You may remember 2011 as the season the Bills beat the Patriots to go 3-0, and marched to a 5-2 start, before losing 8 of their last 9 to finish 6-10; a season that football insiders refer to as “Bills-esque.”
I'd be remiss if I didn't start with reflecting on the history that we saw yesterday. First, the Rams scored their first touchdown in Los Angeles since the Carter administration. More importantly, though, we saw Tyrod Taylor line up behind left guard and call for a snap, causing a wild scramble and an 18 yard loss because this whole quarterback thing is just chock full of surprises in this crazy world we live in.
Tyrod seemed mentally absent for 99% of yesterday's game. The snap was one thing, and that alone will power SportsCenter’s Not Top 10 for a while. On top of that he looked incredibly confused after throwing a touchdown to Justin Hunter to cap off that drive, as if Hunter had dropkicked a puppy into the stands directly afterwards. Having flown from Buffalo to Los Angeles before, I know the jet lag can be tough, and I sympathize, but I also am not allegedly one of the greatest physical specimens in the most violent sport in the world.
The passing game itself was a tire fire on top of it. Charlie Whitehurst, the fifth quarterback to play for the Browns this year, had more yardage and big plays than Tyrod in a quarter less of action. Before you tell me that's not a fair comparison, go and find a good play Tyrod made yesterday. I'll wait here. I know you can't see my through this text based medium, but I'm twiddling my thumbs.
The Rams were missing ¾ of their starting defensive line and Tyrod still looked like his mental clock was set on panic and scramble, which doesn't help the whole “overthrowing receivers” thing that seems to be going on. Take away the 22 yard scramble on the first drive and Tyrod was responsible for 130 yards of offense. I'll give you the scramble back if you want, but that number still isn't good. While the Rams have a pretty good defense when healthy, the strength of it was standing on the sidelines yesterday while forming a circle and chanting to transfer their energy to Aaron Donald, who is essentially a bipedal hippopotamus that human beings are expected to block.
The running game, on the other hand, is getting better by the week. It might get lost in the shuffle of offseason fights with cops at a nightclub, trying to throw a party for only female guests, and Buffalo sportswriters bashing his contract (1v1 me irl, Bucky Gleason), but LeSean McCoy looks every bit the part of a featured back in a league where running back by committee is becoming the norm. He's now the sixth active running back to reach 8000 yards in his career, which puts him in pretty elite company: Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Frank Gore, and Matt Forte if you were wondering. It's amazing what an offensive coordinator who understands how to play to his strengths has made such a difference. Not gonna act like Anthony Lynn has been a cure-all, but the running game is night and day.
Three things in life are certain; death, taxes, and Jeff Fisher being unable to resist the urge to fake a punt. Thanks for being you, Jeff Fisher, because if it wasn't you at the helm of the Rams yesterday, maybe the team would have gone for it instead of kicking a fourth field goal, in lieu of relying on Jonny Hekker’s sneaky athleticism.
For the record, I don't feel bad for Rams fans in the least bit that they're saddled with Fisher as their head coach. Their owner is a crook who played into Roger Goodell’s singular fixation that their needs to be a football team in Los Angeles - even though two other teams have already left for greener pastures before - to rip the hearts out of St. Louis. They undid the brains of taking a slew of picks for the draft pick that became RG3 by trading up for a quarterback they don't have any intention of using. Now when the Rams bottom out we get to see their top 5 draft pick get used by Tennessee to pick another Big 10 lineman who will try and make sure Marcus Mariota lives to see 30.
More important than all of that, is the fact that Case Keenum is their starting quarterback. I refuse to believe that Keenum is one of the 40 best quaterbacks available to an NFL team, and the fact that the Rams trot him out there week after week shows they just don't care about winning a game that doesn't come entirely from defensive touchdowns and 50+ yard Legatron field goals. Todd Gurley is getting hit behind the line of scrimmage on over half his carries because opposing defensive coordinators look at Keenum, laugh derisively, and then put 8 guys in the box every play. That is also part of the reason Keenum’s yardage totals are average, instead of awful. Not to go unnoticed were Nickell Robey-Coleman and Lorenzo Alexander, who championed the defense yesterday in holding the Rams to four field goals, while tacking on three takeaways and 4 sacks.
What does an NFL player do when they’re suspended? My extensive research has turned up the answer “it depends.” If you're Tom Brady, you work out a ton, and throw passes to old teammates and your supermodel wife. If you're Marcell Dareus, you claim to go to rehab, go partying instead, and apparently don't keep peak physical form, allowing you to get hurt on your first day at practice in a month. Enjoy your millions Marcell. You're on your way to an amazing Jamarcus Russell territory of bad contracts in another bad decision’s time.
All that being said, a win is a win. We head to week six against San Francisco with ever mounting questions.
Can the Bills push their win streak to four? Is Justin Hunter good at anything but being tall? Will Reggie Bush be active two weeks in a row? Stay tuned Bills fans, different bat-time, different bat-channel, same bat-division.