By Ed Kilgore
It's finally happened. My rose-colored glasses have shattered, and my glass half full is half empty. Other than Stevie Johnson's brilliant one-hand catch and a run or two from C.J. Spiller, there was not one positive aspect of the Bills 50-17 blowout loss to the Seahawks in the Rogers Centre. Always the optimist, I actually thought the Bills would give the Seahawks a battle even though we all know playing in Toronto is nothing like an actual home game for the Bills. Oh yeh, there was that sack by Kelvin Sheppard on Seahawks qb Russell Wilson on the first play of the game, which was pretty much the last time the Bills touched him.
Supposedly the Bills and folks in Toronto are moving closer to renewing the original 5-year deal, which has now expired, but this fiasco sure didn't help the Bills leverage in negotiations.
I'm always one believing it's better to win every game you can and worry about the draft position later, but this is one time losing out might not be such a bad thing. It makes it very difficult for gm Buddy Nix, who as we know takes orders from Ralph C. Wilson, to justify keeping Chan Gailey as a head coach much less Dave Wannstedt as a defensive coordinator. With likely losses at Miami on the road and at home against the Jets ahead, the Bills will again be in position to draft a "difference maker".
After watching the Bills pathetic performance against the Seahawks, we have to hope Nix simply burns the tapes, or he'll want to cut and trade just about everybody. That goes for people we thought could play, too. Rookie left tackle Cordy Glenn had been coming along nicely, or so we all thought, but he had a horrible afternoon. The thought the Bills finally had a left tackle for the future is now a question mark, just like many others.
Just when it looked like T.J. Graham was coming along as a wide receiver who might help the deep passing game, we see him look like a reach for sure for a third rounder the Bills actually moved up to get. I still think rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore will be a solid if not outstanding player in the league, but after this game that no longer seems like a lock.
I love Kyle Williams, yet I've never seen him get pushed around like he was in Toronto, and Marcell Dareus was just as invisible. Mario Williams did show some hustle at times, but he was also a non factor. The Bills linebackers were simply dreadful, and while the ineffective play of the front four was surprising to me, the linebacker play was not. The Bills need serious help in that area.
Virtually all of them will have to have Marshawn Lynch's cleat marks removed from their uniforms before the next game.
All this, and we haven't even gotten to everybody's favorite punching bag, Ryan Fitzpatrick. As long as he's the starting quarterback, the Bills are not going anywhere. When the running game clicks and his receivers are healthy and the defense is actually doing its job, Fitz can be pretty good. But it just isn't possible to build a team where all that works at the same time. Most NFL qb's throw far more int's when they are playing from behind, but Fitz makes it an art form. Once again he overthrew virtually every deep attempt he made, and once threw a ground ball to Spiller on a third down play that would have kept the chains moving.
It's no longer enough to admire his toughness and intelligence, not to mention the class way he handles himself even in tough post game situations, but it's painfully obvious he just isn't "the guy".
The real problem though, is how to obtain an upgrade at the qb spot. Forget "let's see what Tavaris Jackson or Tyler Thigpen can do". We already KNOW what they can do. Believe me, Gailey would be playing either one of them right now if he thought they'd give him a better chance to win. I've seen enough of both of them to agree with his reluctance to put them in there, because it CAN get worse.
There is one aspect of the emergence of Russell Wilson that could change the way the Bills approach their search for a qb both in the draft and via free agency in the coming off season. Jon Gruden actually predicted Wilson would be an exception to the rule about the size of qb's when the Seahawks took him in the third round, having no clue at the time he would turn into the qb and leader he is. He's under six feet tall, but he has a strong, accurate arm and is quick and elusive. The Bills need to look for somebody like that, although now everybody else will have the same idea of course.
As for Gailey, he all but lost me in the Rams game by punting from the Rams 34 yard line on 4th and 7 early in the 4th quarter of that game. Playing not to lose sends the wrong message, and I was one of the only people that liked his call of a Brad Smith option pass late in the game at Arizona. Smith shouldn't have thrown it and it was picked, but I thought it sent the right message to the team. I'd rather be too aggressive than not aggressive enough, because that's how players think and they want to play for a coach like that.
Until this game, I thought the Bills still wanted to play for Gailey, but barring a miraculous turnaround in the next couple weeks, the search should be on. They flat out quit in this game, and spare me the outrage if you disagree. Don't get hung up on getting a "big name", because that isn't going to happen. Still, there are plenty of bright young assistants or even college head coaches out there worth looking at.
I remember during the off season after the Mario Williams and Mark Anderson signings, and re-signing of Stevie Johnson, the Bills looked like at long last they might have the "right stuff".
They still don't.