The Bills are in Trouble
An Optimistic View
by Tony Bogyo
November 22, 2005

Trouble is opportunity in work clothes

  • Henry Kaiser (1882-1967)

  • The Bills suffered their worst loss in years yesterday and a Patriots victory has the locals here in Boston talking smack once more, but I’m a happy guy.

    I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that the complaining curmudgeon who writes this column, a veritable black hole of positive thoughts about the Bills, has finally lost it. The guy who regularly rails against the Pollyannas out there has now taken up the cause? It must be drugs. Or mental illness. Or some sort of alternate reality akin to Superman’s Bizzaro World.

    So how can any Bills fan, much less a nattering nabob of negativity such as me be even somewhat happy about the Bills being hung, drawn and quartered in San Diego? Is it because it now allows me to dance on the graves of those who said the playoffs were within reach while doing my “I told you so” jig? Not quite.

    I’ll admit that my fantasy football quarterback was Drew Brees and that he helped me pull out a critical victory this week (I really didn’t play him hoping he would kill the Bills – Donovan McNabb was my other option and his groin problem/hernia/leg problems/bout with ebola finally sidelined him). But a strong performance from Brees is also not the reason I have some joy today.

    After Sunday’s drubbing, reality has set in, and that makes me happy.

    It should be readily apparent to almost everyone now that the Bills aren’t going anywhere other than the golf course after week 17. Most of us knew this was not a legitimate playoff team after losses to New Orleans and Atlanta, but the truth is now shining bright for all but those with industrial strength rose colored solar observation goggles.

    No longer do the Bills have to “win now” because “the playoffs are well within reach”. No longer do we have to hear that John Kitna, er, Kelly Holcomb “gives us the best chance to win right now”. No longer do we have to sacrifice next year’s season for the sake of going 6-10 this season. The Bills can now give the fans what they’ve been calling for. Let the J.P. Losman era begin.

    When the Bills started the season we were told that we would develop our quarterback of the future AND win now. It seemed a tall order, and the pessimist in me didn’t believe it. What I expected was that the Bills would develop their quarterback of the future OR win now. My expectations set correctly, I was prepared to come out of the season with one of these items. Unfortunately, as the Bills tried to do both they started down a path that was leading them to neither, and that’s what got me, and many other fans, mad.

    I’ll take 4-12 under Losman if we get to see what we have invested in a first round draft pick and groom him to be the starter if he’s got the ability. I won’t accept sitting him on the bench while Holcomb leads us to a sub-.500 season. At some point you have to play the kid, and that time is now.

    Despite the brutality of Sunday’s “game”, I liked what I saw from Losman. He didn’t have stellar numbers (20-36, 168 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble on a bad exchange), but he looked so much better than he did earlier in the season.

    Although Losman was sacked 6 times, he looked to have a good ability to move around and make plays with his feet. His “escapability” allowed him to avoid additional sacks, and he scrambled 30 yards on a play that would have been a touchdown except for the ankle grazing he got from a Chargers defender. For a young quarterback playing behind a bad pass blocking offensive line, I think Losman did fairly well and believe he’ll only get better with experience.

    Losman did make some nice throws, including a 42 yard pass to Lee Evans. More importantly, he didn’t make many bad throws. Gone were the throws where the ball was forced into coverage. Or the throws that were way off target. Or the throws right to the defenders. Gone also was the general sense of confusion in the offense and the “deer in the headlights” look we saw earlier in the season.

    If you need to be happy about something, be happy that Losman got an opportunity and did OK. While I’m not yet ready to write him a ticket to the Pro Bowl, he does appear to have what it takes to be the man in the future if his development continues. It puts a smile on my face.

    I’m also happy that the light of reality has finally shone on the overall state of the Bills and should start to illustrate what we need to do to be a better team in the future. Is there any doubt that we need to seriously address the offensive line to break .500? Is there any doubt that the defense needs some major adjustments to stop the run? Is there any doubt that regardless of what Nate Clements says about being a playmaker and being the best at his position the guy really doesn’t deserve what he thinks he’s owed?

    Playing for and planning for next year gives me some joy when I should be feeling pain. The Bills should be putting serious thought into how to build a successful organization in 2006. That means playing younger guys now to help decide who stays and who goes. That means evaluating every position in the organization, starting with the General Manager and coaching staff down to the third string quarterback. I believe there need to be some serious changes at the top in order to get back to success and now that the Bills don’t have to joust at windmills any longer they can start the evaluation process.

    There’s plenty of work to be done. It may not be pretty, but there is an upside. The future is now, and if today’s troubles create tomorrow’s opportunities, I’ll continue to be a happy Bills fan.