Bills Hit New Low
By Ed Kilgore
After their total second half meltdown against the New England Patriots - 45 points allowed in the second half - many of the Bills talked about how embarrassed they were and how they found it difficult to sleep at night. It's hard to imagine how they feel now after a humiliating 45-3 blowout loss at San Francisco that made any talk of this being a playoff team both absurd and laughable. None of us who watched the game can possibly know how it feels to actually be a PART of something like that on the field, but from where most of us sat, it was simply pathetic.
The Bills incompetence on defense has ignited a race to the record books to find out just how bad this two game stretch was, and in some cases, that means going back in time before the current NFL was even formed. But what does it matter? When the Bills defense didn't play well in pre season, coordinator Dave Wannstedt talked about how they were still learning the transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3, and by the time the regular season rolled around, they'd be fine.
As horrific as the Patriots second half surge that wiped out a 21-7 Bills lead was - 580 yards of total offense with two runners going over 100 yards and two receivers also going over 100 yards - the 49ers debacle was even worse. Who knew that Alex Smith would be Tom Brady on steroids? Smith probably didn't even shower after this one, because nobody touched him. Nobody.
The object of everybody's ire is clearly Mario Williams, who was again virtually invisible. Oh, we almost forgot, he has a sore wrist. I remember actually saying to someone before the season started that if Williams stayed healthy, the Bills defense should be improved. At this point, would it matter at all if he played or didn't play?
But un-Super Mario isn't the only culprit, obviously. Marcell Dareus has shown flashes of brilliance as a #3 overall pick, but he too was virtually invisible in the 49ers debacle as Frank Gore led a rushing attack that gained over 300 yard to go with a passing game of over 300 yards as well. Kyle Williams? Did he play? We know Mark Anderson played because he was dinged at one point and I distinctly remember seeing his #93 out there. Not doing anything, but out there.
Where do you even stop? Rookie corner Stephon Gilmour, after being one of the few bright spots in the Patriot meltdown, couldn't cover his own shadow, and Aaron Williams was no better on the other side, as he badly misplayed an early td throw that put the 49ers on the board. How much of this incompetence is related to talent, which is Buddy Nix's department, or Wannstedt, or Chan Gailey, the head coach of the whole mess?
Oh, that's right, we haven't even talked about the offense yet. Equally pitiful. At least Ryan Fitzpatrick's 12 td passes led the NFL through four games, even with his seven int's, but Fitz was simply awful in this one, beyond what the numbers say even. He had some chances, but his erratic throws fell to the turf, or in one case, was intercepted. It is a valid excuse that the offensive line is reshuffled with two starters out, but some of Fitz's poor throws came when he had time to make them. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller had little chance to make an impression because the offense was playing catch up most the day.
Only five games into this 16 game season, the Bills have hit a low spot few of us saw coming after their win at Cleveland made them 2-1. The 48-28 loss to the Jets might have been an anomaly, we thought. We thought wrong. The Jets are what we thought they were; not very good. Except, that is, against the Bills.
But back to who's at fault and what should be done about it.
All must share the blame, from Nix to Gailey to Wannstedt, and the only reason I would let them hang around for another day is because to make a change at this point wouldn't be fair to anybody. The only gm's or coaches you'd want are currently busy, but the search should be on right now.
The current health of soon to be 94 year old Ralph Wilson complicates the situation, because financial man Jeff Littman isn't a football guy and CEO Russ Brandon is a smart marketing guy but not a football guy either.
The Bills still don't have a franchise quarterback, and while they do have some supposedly good younger players, they need more of them and people who can coach them up.
My fervent hope though, is that long suffering Bills fans will separate the current disappointment we all feel about this team, with the importance of getting a new lease done to at least ensure the Bills can remain in Buffalo for the foreseeable future. Love 'em or hate 'em, and most Bills fans have felt both emotions - sometimes in the same game - seeing them leave us in a long line of moving vans someday would hurt far more than watching a couple embarrassing performances.