Wondering how many children cried on Kids Day is a natural reaction to this preseason. Football die-hards are keeping track even if they’re not really keeping score, and the Bills are already making viewers wish they had other plans.
Camp is officially done and the preseason essentially so, aside from a game tomorrow that will be notable for the desperation of players out to snag a final roster spot. Those who make it will be rewarded for playing frenzied. A similar mania will be necessary to fix a passing offense that should be released.
A final chance for starters to look good won’t erase memories of grotesque drives. The last real chance to impress was more disturbing than Tampa Bay’s uniforms, which appear to be how people from 1981 dreamed alarm clocks would look like in 1998. Sometimes, peering into the future only leads to finding something dated. There’s nothing visionary about where this is headed.
It isn’t enough to start playing proficiently halfway through the third quarter. Trying to find good signs about throws is more tiring than being Alan Branch’s lawyer. We can’t write off this season just yet: the only sure thing is that kickoffs will be dreadfully boring thanks to incessant touchbacks, which is true for every team. There’s no need to waste a roster spot to make it so. But anyone who’s seen too many checkdowns and not enough accuracy is struggling to explain why it’s not as bad as it seems, no matter how skilled Bills fans are at it.
There are no excuses for preseason creakiness. If they were rusty, then every other team should have been in similar condition. Tampa looked like it had eradicated oxidation. Maybe the Bills can blame youth for their alienated ways, as if they’re the only team trying to stir in youngsters. How about sticking their troubles on player absences? Buffalo’s offense seems to be leaning on Sammy Watkins before he’s even played a real game. Dependency this early is not a strong sign for the relationship’s future.
Everyone knows these semi-games doesn’t correspond with regular slate. Maybe. The Lions famously won all their preseason games in 2008 before losing all the ones that counted. So, preseason means nothing, except when it does. By contrast, the ring-wearing Seahawks won all their exhibitions least year as they set the tone by emphasizing victories while the kids were still out of school. Individual culture determines the approach. The importance of winning games that don’t count depends on the franchise. Either way, Buffalo did not come out ahead.
Score aside, the real summertime win comes in looking competent. By that measure, the passing game lost. Trepidation about sloppy play overwhelms fans looking for any sign loyalty will finally be rewarded. Bashing attendees who booed just because they paid to see a poor effort is not making an understandably cranky audience feel sympathetic toward the performers. Fans want evidence up front. A Bills Mafioso may presently feel like a doubting Thomas, and not Thurman.
Exasperated observers may feel challenged enough to research the benefits of pessimism instead of creating scenarios where a largely uninspiring preseason was an aberration. A tempered outlook for the regular schedule isn’t any more enjoyable than implausibly postulating why they’ll make the playoffs without improving from woeful scrimmage showings. The offense still needs to establish proof. Backers have spent months this offseason and years since the last January game looking for progress. Now, it’s players’ turn to show it.