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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cowboys 25, Bills 24

I guess I need to say something about this game, which has already attained legendary status in Buffalo's annals of negative sports outcomes. I tend to have a sunnier outlook on stuff than most Bills fans, so here it is: I don't think Dick Jauron should be fired (yet), and I think that this game may turn out to be a key foundational event in building the character of a good team to come.

How's that?

The offensive play-calling is baffling, and of this current coaching staff, if there's anyone whom I think should be on a "Job Endangered" list, it's offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. I don't understand running a reverse on third-and-one; I don't understand the continued refusal to take shots downfield; I certainly don't understand his continued refusal to run the ball in obvious running situations late in games. This was the third time this season that the Bills went "pass-wacky" in a late-game situation:

:: There was the long bomb at about three minutes to go in the Denver game, which the Bills led at the time, 14-12. Had they simply run the ball and kept the clocking going, and everything else had unfolded the same way, the Broncos would have run out of time before kicking the FG to win 15-14.

:: The Bills threw in a similar situation in the Jets game, thus failing to run any time off the clock. This left the Jets enough time to attempt a drive for a tying FG. They came up short when Pennington threw an interception, but it wouldn't -- and needn't -- have ever come to that.

:: And in this game the Bills led 24-16 with six minutes to go. Third-and-eight from the Dallas 11-yard line, so they're easily within FG range. Instead of running, grinding away a minute or so of game time, and getting three points in the bargain to go up by 11, Fairchild called 'pass'. The pass was picked off. The Cowboys didn't get points off that turnover, but they preserved clock and the more manageable point margin they needed to overcome.

I genuinely don't understand why the Bills' coaches keep doing this stuff. It makes no sense. I don't know a single Bills fan who would rather have the offense score touchdowns than have the whole team win games.

On the quarterbacks: I personally think that JP Losman has to be put back in now, if he's healthy, but with the proviso that he's got to show his stuff, now. He had time for growth last year. If the Bills go another four or five games and he still looks the way he did in the first two games this year (when he didn't so much play poorly as barely play at all), then bring on the Edwards Era. (Of course, if some other team wants to offer up a compelling trade offer for Losman, including one or two high draft picks, I'd hope the Bills would take it.) I've been rooting for Losman because, frankly, I like the guy and hope he has a great career. Losman just seems like a good guy, and I like that. But production's production, right?

(However, some perspective is always helpful: if Losman had been under center Monday night and produced the exact same result -- 150 yards or so passing, 0 TDs and a very bad INT, leading the offense to producing just three points -- Bills fans would be calling for his immediate one-way ticket to the waiver wire.)

Finally, I'm hearing a lot of negative stuff about Dick Jauron, how he's too stoic and he's not that good on the X's and O's and how his press conferences can be maddening affairs. (His defense of that third-and-eight pass play? "Well, you don't know that if we run the ball, the back doesn't fumble." Huh?!) I agree to a point. But then I think of how lackadaisical and just plain apathetic the Bills looked through large whacks of the Gregg Williams and Mike Mularkey "eras", where this year's team (and last year's), play with as much fire and heart as I've seen a Bills team even during the glory days. They come up short because of talent, injuries, and yes, poor strategy. But when I look at the way this supposedly overmatched team came out and very nearly knocked off the NFC's best team, I wonder if we're not selling Dick Jauron short as far as his motivational skills go.

Anyway, this week's a bye week. Next up, the Baltimore Ravens, with former underachiever Willis McGahee making his return to Buffalo. I hope they kept his old hotel room and video game controller warm for him.


Anonymous said...

I think that was the first time I've ever seen the Bills play. They almost never show their games in this part of the country. I am disappointed that the Cowboys won. It was close. Damn, I always hate when the kicker wins the game. (Well... maybe not always)

Roger Owen Green said...

I HATE the Cowboys, but the Bills literally tossed the game away with 6 minutes left, throwing an INT deep in Dallas territory.