By Ch2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore
Although we can't look at the Bills latest thumping by the Patriots as meaningless, it doesn't change what we already know about the 2010 Bills under new head coach Chan Gailey.
They're getting better, and they still have a lot of work to do.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite going over 3,000 yards passing, had a horrible day. He threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles and wasn't able to get the Bills into the end zone at all. He did make some plays in passing for 251 yards, but made some poor decisions that we're not used to seeing from him. Just after a terrific 41-yard completion to C.J. Spiller, the Bills were in great shape with a 1st down at the Pats 17-yard line trailing only 7-3.
Spiller, oh by the way, was the Bills next worst player as he lost two fumbles. To his credit, the Bills #1 pick told the media after the game it was "the worst game I've ever played in my life". Tough to argue that one.
But back to Fitz.
Almost inexplicably, instead of taking a sack when a linebacker came free, Fitzpatrick tried to throw the ball as he was falling, and bad things - not good things - almost always happen in that circumstance. Ball out, Pats recover, and they proceed to march 80 yards to another td and the game was already getting away.
It's not all about the quarterback, but on this day, it was. Tom Brady didn't have to be great because the Bills couldn't come close to stopping the Pats running game, but Brady was great anyway with 3 td passes and NO int's. Again.
Still, I'll take Fitzpatrick over Chad Henne or even - seriously folks - Mark Sanchez in the AFC East, which would make Fitz the second best (by a country mile though) qb in the division. The Jets are 10-5 because they are MUCH better than the Bills defensively and have a better offensive line and receiving corps.
The Bills did find out they are not totally devoid of talent at wide receiver, with Stevie Johnson going over 1,000 yards and even UB/St. Joe's product Naaman Roosevelt coming up with 4 catches for 74 yards to help offset the loss of Lee Evans.
We'll say it again though, that Fitz is NOT the Bills franchise qb, but he is also not their biggest problem, the Pats game not withstanding. The Bills simply MUST get better on defense and on the o-line.
The Bills will miss out on the only "sure thing" qb in the draft in Andrew Luck, assuming he comes out, and from what I'm now hearing from people around the NFL, it's a crap shoot after that, including Heisman winner Cam Newton.
Newton would be a brilliant pr move by the Bills, as fans would suddenly feel they have some hope for the future. More realistically though, he might not even play next season and even if he did, I'd doubt if his production - given the o-line and wr corps - would equal that of Fitzpatrick.
My gut tells me gm Buddy Nix and Gailey are not in this for pr reasons - they need to improve quickly - and the way to do that is to grab an impact defensive player with their #1 pick and go from there.
There is still a big gap between the Bills and Patriots, although not as big a gap as the 34-3 score. That same Pats team was also blown out by the Browns not that long ago before they pulled back together.
The Bills are improving, but this game was a step back, without question.