At the beginning of the season most fans reviewed the schedule and expected the Bills to enter the bye week 4-3. Once they made it to 3-3 there was an even greater level of confidence with the Titans coming to town – and although some games have been abysmal this season most would have been fine with that record. Going into the bye week with a 4-3 record with the easier portion of the schedule coming up would have relieved fans of some of their recent indigestion. Instead it just got uglier against the Titans – they are 3-4 – and there isn’t enough inventory of Pepto Bismol in Western NY to go around.
The Bills have many things to contemplate over the next two weeks – as it’s looking more and more likely that playoff football will not happen for the Bills. In order here are the things that will keep the coaches up at night:
– The Defense – This is by far the most baffling development of the disappointing season. They cannot stop the run, and they cannot stop the pass. For those new to the game – those are two pretty crucial elements of playing defense in the NFL. Everyone expected much greater things from the defensive line. Mario Williams is a ghost on most Sundays, Mark Anderson is injured, and Marcell Dareus seems to have regressed – which might be the most bothersome development. Stephon Gilmore seems to be improving – but he is definitely not a shutdown corner yet – and Aaron Williams seems to be regressing as well. The linebackers are average at best – with Kelvin Sheppard still struggling like he is a rookie. The safeties are decent and Byrd handed the team a win in Arizona – but one week later George Wilson failed to make a play to seal the victory by dropping an interception against the Titans. And then there is the coordinator. Dave Wannstedt seems to lack the ability to put his players in a position to succeed. They don’t blitz when they should – they seem to always be in the wrong coverage schemes for the moment on hand – and overall they just seem poorly coached. It seems he’s sticking around – so I am not sure we’ll see vast improvement any time soon.
The Quarterback – Man I want this guy to succeed – and I think most Bills fans feel the same way. He seems to be a great guy – a great teammate – and so much more likable than many of the players in the league. But then there is the whole throwing of the football thing – again apparently it’s pretty important. At time he can look really good – with the emphasis on good – not great. And unfortunately those times have been few and far between this season. All Quarterbacks can have good games in this league. Rob Johnson had a couple great games with Jacksonville that got him the starting gig for the Bills – how did that turn out? The problem with Fitzpatrick is the maddening inconsistency. Even after a really good effort against the Titans he lost them the game with two turnovers – in addition to the defense’s efforts of course. He is just not the answer – and I am really sorry to say it. Unfortunately the front office has NO contingency plans – so fans need to get accustomed to the roller coaster ride.
In terms of the rest of the offense there are many things to feel optimistic about. The running backs are great, and offensive line has been very good when healthy, and even the receivers seem competent. They get open – their QB just misses them.
In terms of the Head Coach I am wavering. I think most fans used to be in his corner – but now I am not sure that’s the case. He has made questionable decisions recently and deserves to be on the hot seat. However, he has called some really good offensive game plans only to have his players mess them up. Is it possible like Wade Phillips that he is a great coordinator?
So in summary there are so many things to be concerned about – and I am not sure the answers can come in a two week period. They may need a full off-season to fix this mess, and we should be optimistic based on their previous offseason efforts, right?
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