Monday, October 16, 2006

Maybe Jim Leyland was coaching the Lions?

Oy. The Buffalo Bills, fresh off getting clobbered by the best team in the NFL, promptly went out and posted a lackluster 20-17 loss to the Detroit Lions, allowing the Lions to break into the win column for the first time this season. Ugh.

There's not a whole lot of positive to be taken from this game -- in fact, there's even less positive to be taken from this game than last week's game. Seeing your young team get rolled by the Bears is one thing, but seeing your team play poorly against the winless Lions? Ugh!

For obvious reasons, much of the focus after each Bills game this season is on how JP Losman played. Personally, I didn't think he did too badly yesterday. He completed a majority of his passes, he threw for two touchdowns, and had respectable yardage numbers. However, he threw one very bad interception, fumbled, and got knocked on his ass all day. The interception came because he locked onto his primary receiver from the second the ball was snapped, and everybody watching the game could see it. I don't really blame Losman for the fumble, since it came on one of those sacks from his blindside that QBs never see coming. Every QB in the NFL has fumbled like that before, so I don't begrudge Losman that one. But I would like to see some more actual leadership from JP. Any Bills fan knows what Jim Kelly would have done if one single offensive lineman had given up 3.5 sacks to the NFL's worst pass-rush. Everybody thought Kelly was a jerk when he called out Howard Ballard publicly after Ballard had a bad game in 1989, but right after that Ballard suddenly became one of the anchors of the O-line that carried Buffalo to four Super Bowls.

And besides all that, what I saw in yesterday's game indicates that even if Losman's just not a good QB, his play is far from being the Bills' biggest problem. The Bills still are not a physical presence at the line of scrimmage. They just aren't. JP Losman didn't give up 120 rushing yards to the Lions yesterday. JP Losman didn't let Roy Williams grab ten catches for 160 yards. JP Losman didn't fail to block for Willis McGahee. And there's a point: I hear a lot of people talk in Buffalo about how McGahee doesn't seem to have the burst that he had in college, and when is he gonna bust it out, and so on. But aside from when McGahee plays the Jets (and the Bills always run well against the Jets; Thurman Thomas owned them, too), when's the last time anyone saw a running play on which McGahee was even able to hit the hole at full speed?

And frankly, I'm more and more inclined to believe that designating Nate Clements as the franchise player was a mistake. The Bills could get play like that from a rookie CB, for a lot less money. It was telling that on the defense's biggest play yesterday, the fourth quarter interception of a long John Kitna pass, it was rookie safety Ko Simpson who came over and made the pick right in front of Clements.

No, JP Losman didn't play terribly well yesterday, but he wasn't a disaster either, and the Buffalo Bills have a lot of bigger problems than JP Losman.

Next up: the New England Stupid Patriots come to town. They're coming off a bye week. Oy.

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