The Bills game against Jacksonville last Sunday was blacked out, with several thousand tickets going unsold. The only way to get a glimpse of the action was to be in attendance, so Ryan and I decided to make the trip out to Orchard Park.
We couldn’t miss a game. Sitting in the stands and being able to cheer for our team was a nice change for us (there’s no cheering when you’re credentialed media covering an event). It was nice to just forget about rebuilding and Buddy Nix for a while and remember the joy of attending a professional sporting event.
Then the game started. By now everyone knows what happened in the game, so I won’t get into specifics. But it was fun. More so in the first half when we had the lead, but I wasn’t expecting a win.
On the way back to the car, it got a little more serious. The questions I’ve been asking all year long came up: What did we learn today? Can we take any positives from the game? I really had a hard time after this one. We played a bad football team, and we were worse.
Andra Davis had an interception; that was good. Our defense held them to field goals instead of touchdowns, which I guess is a positive. But they scored points on eight drives. Eight! (3 TDs, 5 FGs.) As a defenseman, anytime you allow points, you failed. How do you go back to the sideline eight times knowing you failed? Where’s the killer instinct, the desire?
From there, the conversation turned to blackouts. The decision was unanimous: There are going to be a lot of games this year that get blacked out. Nobody is going to come out to watch this team. Unless some groups step up, it’s possible there might not be another home game on TV this season.
I don’t care about the score of games this year; I just want to see improvement, mostly on defense. But after this game, I’m not even sure we had that.
So that’s the ugly side of this team. I did have fun at the game, though.
I liked that the Bills built an early lead, but I don’t like that we gave it up. We scored 10 points in the first five minutes off two Jacksonville turnovers, but that also means in the last 55 minutes we were outscored by 20 points.
I had Steve Johnson and Josh Scobee starting on my fantasy team, and both of their big days kept my spirits up.
On a discouraging note, I also had Maurice Jones-Drew starting for my team. I’m not mad that he didn’t put up big numbers (I won my game), but I am bothered by why. MJD is an elite back in the league, and the Bills are anything but at stopping the run. He was set up to have a heyday, but the simple fact is that Jacksonville didn’t need him to win. They had such success through the air against the Bills that they didn’t need MJD to pound to rock. The Bills D was beaten by tight ends all day long. Paul Posluszny looked lost in coverage at times and David Garrard threw three touchdown passes. David Garrard!
I wouldn’t say Ryan Fitzpatrick was good in the game, but he managed the offense and made a few plays (resembling… well, David Garrard). Steve Johnson looks like his favorite target.
The defense, however, concerns me. And when I say concerns, I mean keeps me up at night. They are so, so bad. I’m struggling to even think of one player who stuck out in my mind as having a good game.
I think we’re going to need to bring in some free agents. I expect to see the Bills take a QB and an O-lineman in the draft, but even if we used all of our other picks on defensive players, we’d still need more help.
Speaking of the draft, here’s where this week’s stats come in. We recently picked up a fourth round pick from Seattle for Marshawn Lynch. There will be players in that spot who could help out team–but finding them hasn’t exactly been our forte.
Bills fourth round picks since 2000:
2000- Avion Black
2001- Brandon Spoon
2003- Terrence McGee
2003- Sam Aiken
2004- Tim Euhus
2005- Duke Preston
2006- Ko Simpson
2007- Dwayne Wright
2008- Reggie Corner
2008- Derek Fine
2009- Shawn Nelson
2010- Marcus Easley
Stat #2-Buffalo’s leading rushers
Fred Jackson 32-160
Ryan Fitzpatrick 12-96
C.J. Spiller 19-80
Roscoe Parrish 1-4
Corey McIntyre 2-3
Brian Moorman 2-1
As I noted on Twitter, at the time Lynch was dealt, it left Ryan Fitzpatrick as our leading rusher. Against Jacksonville, Jackson went 12-73 while Fitzpatrick was only 2-4; meaning after four weeks, Fitzpatrick had accumulated 92 yards on the ground, but Jackson had only 87.
If you’re wondering where Moorman’s second carry came, it was on Sunday. After punting on 4th & short, the Bills decided to run the fake punt run on 4th and 8 from about the same spot on the field. Come on, Chan. That one doesn’t even work in Madden.