So what do you do when all hope is lost, when the best players are missing and the fan base is ready to riot?
You go plan to win the next one.
And with that, we put the Ravens game in the rearview mirror. The Buffalo Bills, despite reports to the contrary, are 0-1, not 0-16. Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan and Greg Roman are still the brain trust, despite calls for their heads. And instead of wallowing in self-pity, the winner of Thursday night’s divisional showdown with the New York Jets will be alone in second place, with a 1-0 AFC East record.
So how does this happen? With creativity, intelligence, and eliminating mental errors. Let’s break it down.
Greg Roman Calls A Deep Pass Just Once: The passing game was an abject failure against Baltimore. Tyrod Taylor was 15-22, which is decent, but for only 111 yards, which is bad. Sammy Watkins had just six of those attempts, with four catches for 43 yards and a long of 19. With his status thrown into flux Monday morning (as of press time, he hasn’t been ruled out, but everything from he could play Thursday to he may be out of the season has been put out by smart Twitter accounts), other guys will have to step up. How nice would it be to see Tyrod heave a bomb to Marquise Goodwin or Charles Clay to start the game, even if it’s picked off? Just tease us, Greg. The conservative play calling backfired in a big way, and even potentially took points off the board (Watch the second down play again on 2nd and 8 before Dan Carpenter missed a field goal. I dare you.). Balance is overrated. It doesn’t matter if you call 12 passing plays or 52 passing plays. But the variance within those calls is important, and if you cannot get a defense to even respect the deep passing game, they will cheat up and apply pressure packages that the offensive line cannot handle.
Pay Closer Attention To That Slot Receiver: No team last season lined up with three receivers more often than the Jets. You better believe they were thrilled to see a safety (Duke Williams) lined up on Mike Wallace in the slot Sunday afternoon. On the game’s only touchdown, the Bills got caught looking into the backfield on a 3rd and 1, and Joe Flacco took advantage as Wallace ran through the middle of the field for a 66 yard score after coming to the line with trips on the right. Even worse, the Bills played zone in the middle tier and got beat over the top. GEE, THAT WOULD BE NEAT TO SEE BUFFALO DO. Regardless, the Bills need to know the personnel against them at all times and not cost themselves when put into obvious disadvantages.
Pressure Fitz To Make Him Make Decisions: Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard. Also, Fitzpatrick is a guy who has yet to see a hole he can’t fit a football into. This gunslinger mentality is a double-edged sword, and the more times he is forced to make a quick decision, the more opportunities there are to create turnovers and bad decisions. The Brothers Ryan should be looking to make Fitz uncomfortable, flushing him out of the pocket and thinking he can throw across his body 30 yards down field. We’ve seen it before, and if the defense can force at least two turnovers, the Bills will be in good shape.
Drink Lots Before The Game: The Bills last hosted a prime time game at New Era Field in 2012. Every team has hosted at least one since then (seriously, look it up). So go nuts and enjoy the moment. Win or lose, Buffalo sports fans are some of the best in the country. Don’t let anyone tell us differently. Make it loud, make it obnoxious and don’t get arrested.
PREDICTION: No one can cliché…like the Buffalo Bills cliché. 19-17 home team. Go Bills. See you Thursday.
Check out our latest show where we chuckle at the offense from week one and look ahead beating Fitz and the Tantrums.