10-year old: “Daddy, did you notice that whenever you decide to wear Bills stuff, they lose?”
Me: “Sweetie, they lose no matter what I wear.”
I toyed with a lot of directions for this column, but as we approach the final three weeks of the season, those of you still paying attention know the drill. The same as last December, the December before that, and so on…to paraphrase Green Day, wake me when December ends. Or, to paraphrase our staff photographer Mike Coniairis, in reaction to the Bills appearing on a foolish “In The Hunt” playoff graphic this past week, I feel comfortable making other plans for January.
The Rams game, to me, epitomized the sad story of our beloved franchise over the past decade: poor, often questionable choices and, despite the talent that exists on this roster, the critical mistake — or, lack of execution — at the critical time.
As a one-time defender of Coach Gailey, I’ve got to point to the sequence that bothered me most: the strategic choices and clock management in the final seconds of the first half.
Look, I’m not going to hang a coach – or player – out to dry for one mistake, or even one game. But, to me, this sequence embodied why the Bills (once again!) need to fundamentally re-think how this team is run (and, speaking of “run”…well, more on that in a moment.)
#1: the conservatism of the play-calling at the end of the half dumbfounded me. It’s clear that seriously going for a touch down wasn’t part of the plan. Buffalo had all of its timeouts with a little over a minute on the clock. They faced a 3rd-and-9 situation just outside of the Rams’ 20, but used a timeout with nine seconds remaining to go for a field goal.
OK, fine. But, two questions: 1) Why not take a shot at the end zone? Lack of faith? And, 2) Why not let the clock run down to three seconds? With nine seconds remaining, the Bills still had to kick off, giving the Rams a puncher’s chance at making something happen.
Not that a Jeff Fisher-coached team ever ran back a Bills’ kick in the waning seconds.
This brings us to #2: the remarkable under-utilization of CJ Spiller.
You know, I’ll let someone else say it for me. Watch this whole video at your own peril: I suspect 90 seconds is plenty. I’m not as much of a purist as this guy, but he makes the general point for me.
And, by the way, I apologize if the song parodied here is already out of style by the time you hear this:
I fear my semi-annual “Who will be the next Bills’ coach?” column is forthcoming. Somewhere, Jim Haslett, our Future-Coach-For-Life, is paying attention to what’s happening in Orchard Park.
So, here’s the good news: McFadden’s and Calico Jack’s were pretty crowded, and will be open for business for the duration. See you on Sunday!