It was difficult to shed that feeling of deja-vu after the Buffalo Bills’ schizoid 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, a game that will likely be remembered for producing one of the better defensive performances in recent history. Buffalo’s six sacks were indeed a gaudy display on defense, unfortunately it was only to be squandered by an offense that showed up DOA in Charlotte.
There was a vague feeling of familiarity percolating in the recesses of my aging brain on Sunday as I watched Tyrod Taylor struggle to establish any sort of rhythm on offense. While the defense played their hearts out, LeSean McCoy got repeatedly shut down by a Panthers defense determined to force Taylor to prove he could pass effectively from the pocket.
Sometimes if you live long enough you begin to see patterns and cycles in many aspects of life. Even the ills of the Bills appear to repeat themselves if you pay attention to that sort of thing.
Consider the following parallels to the 2001 edition of the Buffalo Bills (3-13):
- Gregg Williams took over a team in flux after the abrupt departure of Wade Phillips, just as McDermott comes in after Rex Ryan was fired.
- QB Rob Johnson played his last year with the Bills and showed why he was not the QB of the future for the Bills. Tyrod Taylor seems to be facing the same set of questions this season.
- A guy from Pitt named Alex Van Pelt sat on the bench behind Rob Johnson and ended up finishing the season as the starting quarterback in 2001. Could Nathan Peterman play a similar role this year?
- The Bills played the Panthers, Saints and Falcons in 2001. However, they won one of their three games against Carolina, unlike Sunday’s heart-wrenching loss :(
- The 2001 season ushered in the Tom Brady era after Mo Lewis of the Jets put Bledsoe in the hospital and Brady on the map. Lewis also essentially ended Rob Johnson’s career two weeks later in 2001 with a hit that ushered in the Alex Van Pelt era. Could the Bills be possibly lucky enough to be witnessing the last stages of Brady’s historic career? Will the Patriots reign of terror in the AFCE ever come to an end?
These are the vexing questions that plague the mind of this Bills fan, as I grasp for any sort of spiritual meaning as to why this fan base has endured perpetual suffering for nearly two decades. If history teaches us anything, maybe we can find some solace in going full circle. Are we slowly finding our way out of the morass, or are we about to find out there’s no end to the cycle of perpetual suffering as a fan base? I prefer to focus on the former and see where it takes us down the road.