By Ch2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore
Let's not get totally carried away here - the Bills are 2-8 Afterall - but has there ever been a more fun 2-8 team to watch in recent NFL history?
You can admit it now, but when the Bills fell behind 28-7 in the second quarter at Cincinnati and Ryan Fitzpatrick was handing the Bungles, er Bengals, the game on the proverbial silver platter, you were thinking "same old Bills, they were due for a blowout after so many solid games in a row".
If you were NOT thinking that, you're a lot more bullish on this team than I am.
I'm of the opinion that the idea the Bills should languish in last place in the NFL to get that #1 pick that would turn into franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, who, by the way, was sensational in Stanford's blowout win over Cal over the weekend, is the worst thing that could happen for this franchise.
The Bills have had a losing culture for too long now, and we're just now beginning to see that Chan Gailey and his staff DO know something about offense at least, and even personnel.
Whether it was gm Buddy Nix or Gailey or both, the decision was made in the off-season to give Steve Johnson a chance to play, without bothering to offer Terrell Owens a new contract. Sure, money may have been a factor, but let's give the Bills some benefit of the doubt on this one.
Johnson, who had a huge future article focusing on him this week in Buffalo News, almost outdid himself in the stunning 49-31 win at Cincinnati. The number don't say it all, but they say enough; 8 catches for 137 yards and 3 touchdowns. But Johnson's plays also lifted the Bills and came at key moments in a game that was far more up for grabs than anybody knew after Cincy bolted to the big early lead.
T.O., despite some nice numbers in Cincy, is clearly a distraction on the team and, in my view, one reason the Bengals can't say good-bye to coach Marvin Lewis soon enough. T.O. was not in the Bills' future anyway, and they are now developing a potential star in S. Johnson.
We're almost saving the best for last, but the biggest single reason the Bills turned what looked like a certain defeat into a blowout win, was the unflappable poise of Fitzpatrick. "Fitz" could not have gotten off to a worse start, with two picks and a third that didn't count, but to his credit, he never even blinked.
It was Fitzpatrick who led the biggest Bills comeback in 13 years, almost willing the Bills to a 35-0 second half advantage over the shell-shocked Bengals. After the two int's, Fitzpatrick wound up 21-34 for 316 yards and four touchdowns against his former team, and even more difficult to believe or even write, is that Fitzpatrick outplayed former #1 overall pick Carson Palmer.
There is no question the Bengals are a very bad football team that clearly quit on its coach, and the Bills also took advantage of injuries to their starting safeties in the comeback. But this does not diminish what happened in terms of where the Bills are at this stage under Gailey. To improve, you have to beat the BAD teams first, and the Bills have done that two weeks in a row after nearly beating some pretty good teams in weeks prior.
No #1 pick, and I know you know this, is ever a "guarantee" to become the next Peyton Manning or Jon Elway. On the other hand, being able to take a successful college qb early in a draft is a higher percentage move than hoping you'll get the next Tom Brady in the 6th round.
The point here is, it's looking more and more like the Bills may blow that shot at #1, but I say that is a GOOD thing for many reasons. If the Bills begin winning some games here, and they still have a half dozen games left, there IS a carry over effect to next season in many ways.
Confidence begins to build in Gailey and his coaching staff, although I'm still not sold on defensive coordinator George Edwards, and the players begin believing in themselves. The pervasive losing culture begins to fade, and hope becomes legitimate, and not just a word.
The players owe it to themselves and their fans to try to win every game from here on out, regardless of next April's draft, and by that time, the picture of what's needed and who will be available will sort itself out a bit.
I still love the way Luck plays the game and would go for him if he falls to the Bills, but somehow I don't think that is now going to happen.
And believe it or not, that is a positive situation for these Buffalo Bills.