Like Clockwork, Buffalo Bills Break Down

At least the Bandits start in January. Indoor lacrosse fans can take comfort in knowing there presently doesn’t appear to be a strong chance of Buffalo Bills games that conflict with the schedule. Overlap is a welcome problem: monitoring two of Terry Pegula’s teams simultaneously as many dedicated fans of masochism did last Thursday is seen as perfectly normal Buffalonian behavior. Similarly, both of them frustrating us is a sadly regular occurrence.

The football franchise did its best to spare fans the burden of getting carried away with successful scenarios. Push that boulder up the hill and act shocked when it rolls back down. It’s asking a lot for a touchdown this week.

Sports teach important aspects about our world, such as how nothing auspicious is safe no matter how certain the feeling. Readying oneself for the possibility of disappointment is a good skill to learn even if it’s not particularly fun. Humans like to presume achievement is imminent and permanent, as we hope to spot patterns while seizing on promising developments. But the Bills emphasize the fleeting nature of exhilaration. We should feel grateful that they teach us about taking nothing for granted, although I’m not in the mood to write them a nice thank-you note at present.

I’d feel more inclined to appreciate the sobering reminder about how nothing is promised if I wasn’t dealing with the regular November meltdown of this teasing franchise. It’s tempting to presume wins will be followed by more of them as if they become an unavoidable tendency. But expecting encouraging trends to continue often leads to wallowing in despair. It’s my understanding that some fans of non-Buffalo teams get to smile through season’s end.

Extra time off means chances to search for certainty. But conclusive answers can’t be found until action returns. That realization of powerlessness leads to more apprehension about a team that’s already created enough. If anyone knows a way to halt the descent, I’d love to know it.

For now, Bills fans cope with knowing the team is presently seen as unable to execute a timid game plan. Now, they can only overcome frittered chances. It would be nice to believe the lapses aren’t a pattern. But this franchise may as well have the reliable Colton Schmidt pull away the football.

Neither the present nor future appear to be in good shape. Other than that, the progression of time is enjoyable. Inconsistent passing continues to doom this team, a trend you could find identified on this site if archives went back to 1997.

If Kyle Orton continues to target ghosts, it’s unjustifiable to continue postponing the pain of EJ Manuel learning through making live mistakes. They may as well play the youngster if the incumbent’s favorite target is going to be grass. Of course, Manuel might not be the long-term answer, either. But this team doesn’t even have short-term solutions.

Wasted careers make the annual slump even more pleasant. Specifically, the Bills only get so many snaps with this defensive line. Double-teaming each of them leaves only three people to handle the ball, which present conventional strategy deems impractical. But ends and tackles can’t compensate for an offense which treats the end zone like a toxic waste dump to be avoided due to fear of mutation. We should try to convince them that they may get superpowers from exposure.

Maybe Doug Marrone is putting his hopes in Kyle Williams finding a way to score. The defensive line can only do so much for so long. This level of dominance is inherently fleeting, especially when players want to be simultaneously compensated handsomely. Marcell Dareus will naturally want money in line with his unparalleled ability to pulverize foes, while Jerry Hughes wants to knock money out of the owner’s hands like how he separated Ryan Tannehill from the ball.

Meanwhile, Mario Williams likely wonders if his contract will be honored for its full length in the weird NFL world where two parties agree to a deal which one can break. It’s a challenge to keep the band together even while there are hits to be made. Rock fans know that Guns N’ Roses is the same entity that rocked our skulls in name only.

The Bills endure another lengthy break wondering if the offensive line’s leakiness will sabotage their counterparts’ efforts. Sloppy plays have countered an indescribable amount of preparation. Long hours spent getting ready are wasted if the coach uses them to conclude that punting while down late is what winners do. Sleep at home if that’s the tactic designed after not leaving the office.

Planning themselves out of wins has been worse than literal bad breaks. The cultural manner in which the Bills self-destruct is remarkable in its perverse way. The people involved change, but tendencies don’t. The new owner should make it clear that nobody’s job is safe if the decline continues through season’s end, as hopes are still getting dashed as they were while Sammy Watkins was in grade school.

Falling apart every year despite optimistic signs isn’t quite what we meant when we said we wanted consistency. Getting crushed like it’s scheduled makes change seem unreachable. Evidence this franchise is ready to embarrass the doubters is vanishing. Breaking precedent starting against the Jets with a thoroughly focused effort is the sort of unexpected shock this snowed-in franchise could use.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.