Buffalo Bills fans have been frustrated this preseason by the display put on by the starting offense. That's putting it mildly, actually. The Bills have had four preseason games thus far, with one more to come -- they had five this year instead of the usual four because they played the additional Hall of Fame Game -- and in those games, the starting offense has not scored a single touchdown. Ouch.
Now, there's all the usual remindering of how the preseason doesn't matter and how the games don't count and it's about shaking off the rust and breaking in the youngsters and evaluating talent and yada yada yada. And I don't think anyone would care if the Bills still lost all their preseason games -- the 1990 Bills went 0-4 in the preseason, before going 13-3 in the regular season for the first of their four Super Bowl seasons -- but fans would still like to see some evidence of improvement, of basic competence. Fans would like to see some evidence, any little scrap of it, that the team hasn't actually managed to regress. That evidence has not been forthcoming.
I remember back during the 2001 through 2003 seasons, when Gregg Williams was the Bills' head coach, and the offense was as inept then as it is now. (Except for '02, when the offense was actually good for a single year but the defense was awful.) The Bills would lose a game 17-7, 13-6, 20-3, or something like that, and Williams would take the microphone at the postgame conference and, when asked for positives from the game, say things like "We punted the ball well today." It was mindboggling to me then, and now -- the one guy on your team whom you do not want to have a career day is your punter. But there was Williams, praising the guy whose job it is to kick the ball to the other team when you've failed to advance it. Oy.
Which brings me to last night's preseason game against the Steelers. Now, we're talking about the Steelers here -- defending Super Bowl champions, two Super Bowl titles in four years, one of the NFL's top three teams, and the NFL's best defense -- so it wasn't totally shocking that the Bills couldn't put any points on the board. But still, you'd like to see some movement, some evidence of competence, however slight. Instead, the Bills totaled 135 yards overall. Their quarterbacks combined for 96 passing yards. They converted zero out of eight third-downs. They were, simply, bad.
And now, this morning, I see that head coach Dick Jauron was looking for positives from the game, and he proceeded to opine:
"I guess I could say I thought we punted it well."
Where oh where is Marty Schottenheimer?