Each NFL season consists of 256 regular season games. Some of these games will produce moments which will live on forever in highlight reels, blooper reels, and in the memories of those who watched and attended the games. That being said, for the sake of the Buffalo and Charlotte residents who were subjected to yesterday's contest, I hope we all forget about this game faster than Doug Marrone sends out the punt team on fourth down.
What a truly terrible football game. Any matchup that goes on for that long and has no offensive highlights should be deleted from the NFL archives and never spoken of again. Ince next week’s games start, any reporter who wants film of it should find their search ending in a dark room full of people talking about how they made the footage disappear, "for the greater good." The greater good for the NFL is to forget this game ever happened. The Jets, who are trying to go 0-16, and are well on their way, outscored Buffalo and Carolina combined against a team that is making a good case for being top 5 in the NFL. Kevin Hogan came off the bench for Cleveland and threw a touchdown. This game set football back five years.
The passing game is horrendous. I mean, I don't know what I expected when Tyrod lost his top three receivers from last year (four if you count the illustrious Bills career of Justin Hunter), but I never envisioned it being as bad as it was Sunday. This team has regressed from being second-last in passing offense last year, which is a sentence deemed offensive to the word "regressed." Tyrod is a quarterback most comfortable sitting in the pocket and throwing downfield, so we've given him all the tools to succeed by taking away his favorite vertical passing target, continuing to never have a good amount of offensive line talent, and changing the offense on him again. I've seen and heard a ton of Bills fans wanting to move on from Tyrod to Peterman, but I don't know what more Tyrod could have done yesterday. It felt like he was pressed for time every time he dropped back with the galloping ghost of Julius Peppers hot on his trail.
These fires were fueled further by the game clinching play where he looked to connect with Zay Jones as the Bills drove down the field as time was running out. I know we want to point fingers, but does scapegoating Tyrod or Zay make it better? The fact of the matter is that this offense went out yesterday and just got beat into submission for the better part of 60 minutes. McCoy had 9 rushing yards on 12 carries. We had one first down in the entire half. This isn't all on Tyrod.
We like to vaunt the quarterback in the NFL like they're the be all and end all of a team winning. To a degree this can be true - your quarterback handles the ball every play and is in charge of breaking down the defense to give his team the best chance of success in the chess game at the line of scrimmage. At the same time, it's hard to win a chess game with one king, a couple of multi-directional pieces, and a bunch of pawns. Tom Brady doesn't walk into Charlotte on Sunday and throw for 447 running for his life and trying to throw bombs to Charles Clay and Andre Holmes.
Does this excuse Tyrod? Not at all. He leaves plays out there, more some weeks than others. There are throws you want him to make that he doesn't...or can't. I just don't see where throwing Peterman into the fire makes things better. Nate looked pretty good at points in the preseason, but so did the 0-16 Lions team (4-0 preseason champs). It's easy to look ready when half the guys you line up against are out of the NFL or on practice squads right now. This isn't to say that we should never give him the chance to start, but the second you hand the ball over to him, you admit that you're desperate and that the season is a loss. If their response to the Watkins and Darby trades speaks to how Beane and McDermott feel about throwing in the towel, then they'll ride with Tyrod until they can't justify it, and then maybe a couple weeks longer.
I had a slightly different game day experience than usual this week, as I was driving to Toronto during the entirety of the game, and had the radio on instead of my normal comatose pose on the couch with two screens of football and some wings and beer. The first thing I heard turning on my car was talk about how Brandon Tate was benched for the game. Tate has earned the title "return specialist" because he isn't good enough to suit-up frequently at wide receiver, but is still here. I don't get how this man has a job at all in the NFL. In his career as a punt and kick returner, Tate has three returned touchdowns, and has fumbled the ball 12 times. He is four times as likely to cost you a possession than to score. Dante Hall and Devin Hester were return specialists. Brandon Tate is a returner. There's nothing special about it. This comes from a team that also had a kick-off specialist. These are code words for "we only had 52 players with enough talent to make the NFL roster." This is why people were mad Brandon Reilly got put on the practice squad. At least he can run routes.
That being said, let's take a step back and enjoy the defense for a moment. The pass rush was alive and well on Sunday. Jerry Hughes was mentioned on the broadcast more than any other Bill. Kyle Williams, black eye and all, continues to be a warrior. Shaq Lawson got in on the action with a sack and a big hit on a goal line run stop, which was encouraging to see as he continues to get more comfortable at this level of competition. Eddie Yarborough continues to be a feel-good story in a sea of sorrows.
Even with all of that, Jordan "how was I rated a 68 overall in Madden" Poyer was the best Bill out there Sunday. It seems that he has truly found a scheme that he can thrive in. His 11 tackles and one sack has won me over. This guy is playing his heart out on the field and it shows. For as bad as the Bills have been at drafting, they have found some quality free agent defenders over the last couple years.
The thing I'm glad to put behind me is all the radio talk about how unique of an athlete Cam Newton is. At best it makes me jealous that he's better than any Bills QB who has suited up since Jim Kelly. At worst, it becomes ridiculous because he's not an elite level passer. He makes up for some of that with his mobility, but that gets limited every time a lineman launches themselves into him while the officials look the other way while telling Cam he hasn't earned those calls yet. It's amazing he can still formulate sentences the way people dent his helmet. Heaven forbid we be graced with a guy who smiles and has a personality in the NFL these days. Tune in next week when Al Michaels buries Cam while praising human robot Matt Ryan.
Next up is the Denver Broncos, who just stomped on the throats of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. If you thought McCoy had a rough day, go watch Zeke Elliot try and run against Denver to the tune of 8 yards, This is not a good sign. Denver, led by vaunted pass rusher and guy taken one pick ahead of Marcell Dareus, Von Miller, looked killer on the defensive side of the ball. Meanwhile on offense their seventh round pick QB has looked real good so far. This has a chance to get bad early if the Bills don't show up offensively. This will be the biggest test of this team yet by far. Come next Monday, we'll have a good idea how this season will play out.