When I was young, I tried a variety of sports, trying to find that niche set of skills that would allow me to be slightly above average at something, and therefore slightly proud of myself. One of my failed experiments was a pair of seasons of youth soccer. My lone memory came in one of the last games I played, when I got a breakaway from midfield, and ran in on the goalkeeper. I could see my parents cheering in the stands as I wound up with all the might I could muster, and struck the goalie square in the chest without them so much as moving. That ended my soccer career.
Not all was lost, however, because even if I had to relive that every day, while everyone I’ve ever looked up to watched and jeered at the fact that I managed to flounder away what anyone with an iota of talent would have succeeded with, it would still be better than being Chip Kelly, the man who traded away LeSean McCoy.
The Buffalo Bills, powered by McCoy’s skills, determination, and highly publicized dislike of the opposing coach, to a 45-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The McCoy/Kelly divorce began dramatically with the trade that sent Kiko Alonso (legend and all) to Philadelphia for a flabbergasted McCoy, and continues to make its candidacy as the steal of a lifetime for Doug Whaley. Yesterday’s game was the football equivalent of running into your ex-wife who you moved on from because you thought she wasn’t good enough for you, only to find her more successful, happier, and somehow more attractive, while Jed York is constantly reaching out to you about buying Cutco knives and going around throwing grapefruits at small children on the street for fun.
Here’s a series of things I was told unironically by friends and family in the 24 hours following the game.
-The Bills are going to beat New England twice this year
- Anthony Lynn is a genius, and future coach of this team
- LeSean McCoy is a candidate for NFL MVP
- This is a playoff team
- Tyrod Taylor is a franchise quarterback
- Jar Jar Binks is my favorite Star Wars character
Put yourself back in the mindset Bills fans were in after that week one loss to the Ravens. Everything was on fire and everyone deserved to be fired; we were taking down Bills flags and giving up on the year because that game was awful and we were awful. Imagine someone telling you any of the things listed above then. I personally would have laughed in your face.
Now, if you look at that list, it’s harder to shoot it all down outright. Sure, a couple of those things are bound to fall apart, because this is Buffalo, after all. What are we masters of, if not finding creative ways of building ourselves up as sports fans before having the rug pulled out from under us, sliding off a cliff into an avalanche, and striking a few trees on our way down? But is it really all that crazy to think that this season could finish on a high note?
Crazy things happen when a team goes out and wins four games in a row. A significant portion – 25 percent – of your season goes into the win column, just like that. The “Victory Monday” feeling has become something that you begin to look forward to. The team goes out with confidence and wins a game that they’re supposed to, instead of falling into the classic trap game that sneaks up on unprepared teams. National reporters take notice and start calling your team “sneaky good.” Local reporters are forced to write new articles about how great McCoy is to replace the one from the offseason saying we should cut him.
You may have noticed I’ve mentioned McCoy a lot already. I have. And I will continue to do so because he was the best player to take the field in the entire NFL in Week 6. Four weeks into the Anthony Lynn offense, and McCoy looks like the star we were promised when he came here before last season. He’s seeing his blocking better, he’s making sharper cuts, and he’s exuding confidence that comes with knowing that he’s at the top of his game.
300 rushing yards doesn’t come from just one man, though. Tyrod continues to have a great sense of when to escape pressure and the pocket. On top of that, he continues to make smart decisions at the end of plays, by getting out of bounds and not leaving himself open to the type of hits we see a lot of running quarterbacks get hurt on. Mike Gillislee looks great, Jonathon Williams looked great; hell, I might have been able to look great behind that line. As banged up as it has been, the offensive line continues to give their playmakers as much time as they need to make decisions. In theory, this will only get better as the missing pieces fall back into place.
The passing game gets overshadowed, in part because of the prominence of the running game, and in part because it didn’t put up eye-popping numbers. That being said, the passing game did everything it was asked to do. The quarterback position isn’t always about being the best statistical position on the field. There are games where all you need to do is go out there and control the game, limit mistakes, and pounce on opportunities. Tyrod executed all those points to perfection. That pass to Justin Hunter, Endzone Hunter was picture perfect. Other than getting ambushed on a handoff, Tyrod did a great job of securing the ball as well.
While we’re on the subject of quarterbacks, let’s talk about Colin Kaepernick. Before we start, put your beer cans down, angry patriots, and stay away from those tackling dummies. That was some of the worst form I’ve ever seen from Bills fans executing professional wrestling moves in the parking lot. A spear involves leading with the shoulder, not with your fist, head, or gut. It looked like amateur hour out there.
Kaepernick has been all over the media because of his protest of the anthem and ESPN’s need to remind us of that fact at every possible opportunity, because they don’t know what to report on when Lebron isn’t playing. I had to read so many hot takes on the internet that my keyboard melted and I’m actually on fire. The burning…oh god the burning.
To sum up my thoughts on everyone who has anything hateful to say about Kaepernick, whether a blog post, slur hurled his way, or t-shirt advocating shooting him purchased, I give the universal response “get the fuck over it.” He played yesterday and the terrorists didn’t suddenly invade and wipe away our freedoms. The world is still spinning on its axis. OBJ and the kicking net are still madly in love.
You know who else didn’t stand for the anthem? Jim Kelly. Thurman Thomas. Marv Levy. This is because the NFL didn’t play anthems before games with teams out on the field until 2005. Teams would be in their locker rooms sitting, or perhaps kneeling while the fanfare played. And no one cared. The NFL fines people for wearing cleats commemorating 9/11. They charge to US Military for any sort of celebration of our armed forces. This isn’t some high and mighty pure-bred American organization that he’s casting a light on because he hates America. This is a man who has taken on a ton of hatred from all sides to try and cast a light on something he feels passionate about. While I may not walk the same path he does, I respect him and his right to do so.
As far as his quarterback play, it was pretty average. He under-threw a lot of his targets. He tried to underthrow Torrey Smith on the touchdown as well, but he had enough time to turn around, stop, adjust, read War and Peace, and then catch that ball, because Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams thought it was week two again. Kaep is a good runner, but the blocking isn’t good enough to open holes. It also wasn’t great at pass protection. Or run blocking.
Chip Kelly got to be known as an offensive mastermind for his schemes in Oregon, a moniker he kept alive for a while after he debuted on Monday Night Football and had the Redskins confused by his elaborate formations and schemes. The thing about schemes, though, is that they’re only as good as the personnel you have available to run them. The 49ers team that goes out on the field on Sundays, especially considering the Navorro Bowman injury, is quite arguably the least talented group in the NFL. Week one drubbing of the Rams aside, there hasn’t been a whole lot the Kelly can put on his resume when Jed York inevitably fires him, because Jed York is incompetent. That’s probably being generous, considering the location of their stadium, and the fact that he took a NFC Championship winning team, fired the coach, destroyed the talent around a young quarterback, and still expects people to park on a golf course to watch Christian Ponder take snaps in a couple weeks. We all know that it’s going to happen.
All of a sudden the Bills are 4 and 2. The Dolphins, who have been floundering (I’ll pause here for a laugh at the pun) are up next, and it’s another game that the team should win. I can’t help but be optimistic that this team can pull it out and make it to five in a row. Let’s go Pummel the Mammals.