2016 will probably go down as one of the worst years ever socially. We lost a lot of good celebrities, and we had one of the worst elections in the history of elections (which, regardless of how it went, would have ended up with one of the most hated candidates of all time being elected.)
Despite what happens in the outside world, Buffalo generally can keep its head down and continue to push through – as long as it’s not steel mills and factories closing. One thing that’s been consistent, however, has been our Buffalo Bills; and by consistent, I mean that we can trust them not to make the playoffs…consistently.
A lot of this feels like the 70s. We LITERALLY didn’t beat the Miami Dolphins in the entire decade. Much like that era, we have another team we can’t seem to beat in the Patriots. The only difference is that the Patriots’ dominance is going on almost two decades.
The Bills tend to lose in the “Billsiest” ways. Everyone remembers the Leodis McKelvin prime time fumbling debacle and the 2004 Pittsburgh game when we couldn’t beat scrubs and saw Willie Parker’s breakout performance. The problem always seemed to be the coach. They were never fired up enough, intelligent enough, either too strict or too relaxed. The Bills were blessed with a great dynasty team in the 90s, But even that team was marred by turmoil. The Bills drafted Jim Kelly, who decided he was too good to play for Buffalo and went to the USFL. If it wasn’t for a strange series of events in which its owner died and our current president-elect drove it into the ground, Jim Kelly may not have ever come to the Bills. We may not have had those four super bowls to hang our hat on.
Is there a curse for the Bills? Was if giving us four super bowls, but losing each one, some retribution for sins of the past? You would have thought just one…right? Scott Norwood’s wide right (which, if Thurman would have gotten out of bounds and Jim could have gotten him three more yards would have been in his range on grass to make that field goal.)
If we won one, would we have gotten to four? What if Don Beebe doesn’t run down Leon Lett? What if Frank Reich doesn’t play against the Oilers, who had whooped us the week before? Every team has its issues but the Bills are an interesting case. One owner for 50+ years and no NFL championships. He has scouts and player personnel people who have been around since the glory days but have never won – scouts who can’t hit on first round picks but seem to do fine in the later rounds. Where exactly does the change need to happen to change the path of a team? Is it the coach? The GM? The Owner? The Scouts? The player personnel staff? Should we fire anyone and everyone who has some impact on the Bills roster decisions and start over? Do we need to burn down the Ralph – I mean New Era Field – and start anew? Cleanse the demons so to speak?
This finally brings me to the news today in which the Bills have fired their eighth coach since Marv Levy retired in 1997. The Bills have had 13 QB’s who’ve played meaningful time. Pittsburgh has had three coaches in 50 years and have won six super bowls with 27 playoff appearances since Chuck Knoll took over. They’ve had three franchise QBs and nine different QBs play meaningful time since 1969, to put the Bills problem in perspective.
Now that Rex is gone what’s next? What kind of coach are we going to get this time? Tom Coughlin’s name has been thrown around but he’s a retread coach who has two rings because of two lucky catches. I think he did well with the Jaguars in the 90s, basically turning an expansion team in a playoff team in three years, and he maintained a good team for three more before it dipped back to mediocrity. He took the Giants to the super bowl twice and had four seasons out of 12 with 10 wins or more. Most other years he was 9-7 or less. Are we going to an offensive minded coach? Or defense? Are we going after Mike Pettine again? Can we lure Jim Schwartz from the Eagles? Are we going to hit the college ranks?
A new coach means new staff, new play book, new communication, new QB, etc. The law of Probability gives us hope that at some point we will have a series of events occur that will be in our favor. I’m willing to give Doug Whaley another chance. I believe the roster is better since he took over. We have depth, which is something we spent years without. There are guys like Keith Ellison and Coy Wire who were backups to starters who wouldn’t be starters on other teams. At least now there’s not a noticeable drop off. We also seem to have more questions at positions we thought were locked down after Rex was hired than before.
Our entire defense seemed locked and had depth. Now, there appears to be holes at safety, corner, defensive end and linebacker.
The offense still needs another wide receiver. Woods is a good slot guy but shouldn’t be on the outside. Hunter was barely used but showed us the importance of a big body in the red zone, as he usually scored when he did play. Then there’s Tyrod Taylor. He recently had his first 300 yard passing game of his career. He’s very Michael Vick-like in that he has the ability to scramble and make something from nothing, and he can hit a deep ball like no one in the league, but he can’t make all the throws on the field. However even Drew Bree’s wasn’t Drew Brees his first few years and even when he did finally have a good year, the Chargers still drafted a guy to take his place.
Regardless of who the Bills get, at least there will be something to talk about this offseason.
The Pegulas being in charge of two Buffalo teams have yet to produce a winner. The Sabres are still struggling even after tanking and getting a lot of top draft talent. They made bold moves and spent a lot of money on the Bills roster only to have that not pan out either. They’ve changed the coach, they’ve changed the name of the field, they brought in a new QB, shipped out some unhappy talent and we’re still no better off.
I think we need to blow it all up. Build a new stadium downtown with a dome or retractable roof. Make it an event down there with shops and bars that surround the stadium. Designate parking lots near the base of the Skyway that are vacant for tailgaters and run shuttles. I think we just need to change it all. Leave nothing to remind us of the past – just like breaking up with a girlfriend in high school when you burned all the pictures and notes. What do you think Bills fans? Where do we go from here? Who do you want to see brought in? Anyone else fired? How about the QB and many free agents we have? Hope you all had a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate as long as you celebrated the hell out of it and have a happy New Year!