Monday, November 10, 2003

Stick a fork in 'em....

Yeah, I think that the Bills are done now. They're unlikely to make the playoffs now, after losing to the Cowboys yesterday 10-6. Strange thing is, I'm not sure how to react now. Sure, I could be a typical football fan and get all mad and stuff, but I don't much see the point: I'd already decided that the Bills faced an uphill battle to get to the playoffs, and that their current coaching staff just doesn't seem up to the task of mounting such an uphill battle. I think they'll finish with no better than a 9-7 record, and the division will go -- Lord help me -- to the Patriots.

Yesterday's loss was the type of loss that, had it happened in the first month of the season, wouldn't be discouraging, really. The defense played very well, the running game showed some life, etc. But after two months of sporadic offense and road-blowouts, the Pyrrhic victory of hanging tough with a good team on the road ain't much to get excited about. Thoughts:

:: OK, I'm finally starting to fall off the Drew Bledsoe bandwagon. Two lost fumbles and general ineffectiveness will do that. But also, it's November. Shouldn't that young offensive line be showing some improvement at pass-protection? Can't they ever pick up a blitz? If you're an offensive coach, and your quarterback is a guy whose effectiveness drops like a rock whenever the pocket collapses, wouldn't you do everything in your power to keep the pocket from collapsing?

:: Another game with just one sack of the opposing QB by the Buffalo defense. They have to get a passrusher in the offseason. It is a moral imperative.

:: And for Heaven's sakes, when are the Bills' defenders going to start catching the ball instead of deflecting it? By my count, they had at least two instances of plays where the defender would have been able to run unimpeded into the end zone had they merely intercepted the ball instead of knocking it down. Maybe the Bills' current defenders don't give up lots of yards, but I think back to the days of Kurt Schulz, Nate Odomes and Mark Kelso and I remember that if those guys were in a position to pick off the ball, they picked the damn thing off.

:: My complaint this week about Buffalo News columnist extraordinaire is this: he referred yesterday to "the Bill Parcells Myth". Now, I'm not sure if he meant this to suggest that Parcells is overrated, but I don't like Jerry so I'll charitably assume the worst. Bill Parcells is a damned genius, as far as I'm concerned. The guy's on his fourth franchise, he has taken over each team in a moribund state and propelled each of them to respectability. His Giants won two Super Bowls in five years. He took over a 1-15 Patriots squad and rebuilt them on-the-fly, getting them to the Super Bowl in three years. (They lost the game, but they played the Packers tough before finally bowing to a superior team.) He didn't get the Jets to the Super Bowl, but he got them to the AFC Championship Game in 1998. Now he's got Dallas at 7-2, and the last time the Cowboys were 7-2 was also the last year they won the Super Bowl. NFL history is studded with coaches who worked wonders with one franchise but couldn't translate their success to another franchise; Parcells has done it everywhere he's been. That's no myth. That's history.

Other football babbling:

:: When the season ends and the Bills are in the market for a new head coach, I hope they don't hire the Dolphins' Dave Wannstedt, who is almost sure to get fired now that the Dolphins' playoff hopes are flickering just a tiny bit brighter than the Bills's are. It was sure fun seeing the Dolphins get blown out yesterday, though. They're starting December a little early, aren't they?

:: Because San Diego beat the Vikings, I expect the small chorus of Bills fans who have never gotten over the misbegotten idea that Doug Flutie might have brought the Bills a Super Bowl victory to start singing again. Thanks, Vikes.

:: The Jets' receiver Santana Moss had the best touchdown of the day when he caught the ball and got wrapped up by an Oakland defender, who tried to spin him to the ground but only succeeded in spinning him around a full 360 degrees and basically giving him a speed-boost toward the end zone. This was the best missed-tackle I've ever seen.

Finally, here are the current divisional leaders, with my original divisional picks in perentheses:

AFC East: New England (Buffalo)
AFC North: Baltimore (Pittsburgh)
AFC South: Tennessee (Tennessee)
AFC West: Kansas City (Kansas City)

NFC East: Dallas (Philadelphia)
NFC North: Minnesota (Green Bay)
NFC South: Carolina (Tampa Bay)
NFC West: St. Louis (San Francisco)

Two out of eight. Ugh. And my pick for Super Bowl champs, the Bucs, look unlikely to even make the playoffs. Oh well.

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