It could be worse. Searching anywhere for a shred of something grateful after watching the tire-fire season opener at New Era Field on Sunday, I finally found a pearl of gratitude. At least fans of WNY sports won’t be subjected to watching last season’s Buffalo Sabres and this year’s Buffalo Bills at the same time (although technically it is within the same calendar year). Gasp.
The blessing of entering the elderly zone is that if you live long enough, you’re likely to have seen just about every configuration of despair as a Bills fan. The specter of 1984 hit me about halfway through the first quarter when the Los Angeles Chargers paraded through the Bills defense like a hot knife through butter. Let me frame it for those too young to harken back to what were even darker times (yes, really).
Although Buffalo drafted Jim Kelly in the first round of the 1983 draft, he wanted to be in Buffalo about as much as Vontae Davis did on Sunday. Kelly was off cutting his teeth with the USFL Houston Gamblers while the 1984 Bills gave up a team-record 454 points on defense, more than 28 points per game.
However, even though Buffalo still had a good quarterback Joe Ferguson, the sting from “wasting” a first-round pick, who at the time vowed to never play football in Western New York weighed heavy on the emotions of most fans. At that time we had no way of knowing the USFL would fold and Kelly would ‘relent’ and eventually play for the Bills.
At least Josh Allen wants to play in Buffalo, although one could certainly understand why he might wistfully wonder after Sunday’s game why the Broncos didn’t draft him.
As usual, I’ll leave the x’s and o’s of Sunday’s disaster to the experts who analyze them and focus on my area of expertise – taking a peek at the intangible aspects of this slow-moving train wreck. There are several areas of concern regarding some of the ‘intangibles’ after two horrendous performances to open the 2018 season. Let’s dive in.
Assessment of Free Agent Acquisitions
While the ‘McBeane’ duo appears to be doing a good job drafting the right players, their track record getting the right free agents is littered with pot holes and I’m not sure why. While it’s understood that the pool of available free agent talent is limited, especially while purging dead-cap space faster than a bad date – one can’t help but wonder if there are clues Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott are missing in terms of the commitment veteran free agents are willing to make by signing with Buffalo.
If you’re trolling to fill the roster with free agents on one-year contracts, it would seem logical the ‘fish’ you catch aren’t only looking at one source of ‘food’. It’s reasonable to assume if one side is not willing to give long term security the other side is likely to give you very little in the way of loyalty.
Furthermore, if there is also a “cultural-fit” criteria added to that list, the pool of candidates meeting said criteria is likely to shrink even more. I remember vividly in 1984… that level of despair about “nobody good ever wanting to play in Buffalo for the Bills” was profound and painful.
We as fans must realize this regime will sacrifice talent if the “cultural fit” isn’t there. That’s bound to inflame a large portion of the fan base, but not me.
Relax, bad performance by entire team will NOT have detrimental affect on Josh Allen’s mental development.
Here’s where I can offer hope and put to rest any concerns that a “tire-fire” season would destroy Josh Allen’s confidence. It won’t.
Most of you reading this did not watch Josh Allen’s college career at Wyoming and if you did, my guess is you’re not from Wyoming (not many are) – so you would have little context to understand the mindset and type of college program Josh Allen came from. It’s different here, trust me ;)
Josh Allen might be an almost a perfect fit for Buffalo from my twisted view, especially if you’re looking for the “right mindset for being a successful Bills quarterback”. There was no other quarterback more unfairly vilified by local and national media than Allen, especially throughout the entire period leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. The amount of negative commentary was truly remarkable.
So far, Allen shows the same mental toughness he did at Wyoming. All you needed to see was Allen firing up the defense on the sidelines on Sunday to know this is the right guy for Buffalo. Allen has all the talent in the world, and is perfectly capable of ignoring media harpies and continue to ‘Josh On’, as I expect he will.
Bad performances will weed out those with less commitment in a hurry
Oh my, Vontae. Such a fecal storm created by walking out of a game at halftime. Doing it to the Buffalo Bills even ramps up the national lampooning ten-fold. The blessing in this latest ‘middle-finger’ to the Bills is how it will weed out the locker room in a hurry. Look for this team to have a “come to Jesus” meeting very soon and the outcome of that might not be such a bad thing.
Funny things can happen when a team gets galvanized by humiliation. Stay tuned.
Editor’s babble: The blessing of old age is having seen this level of bad by the Bills a couple of times over the last five-plus decades. There is a way out and it isn’t by recycling through another set of coaches and general managers. Believe it or not, this too shall pass. Here’s how twisted my mind works… I’m more fascinated by this Bills team than many others over the years. How the players and coaches navigate NOW is more revealing than when times are glorious. This is going to be a fascinating season. There. I wrote it. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.