Earlier this week I wrote a column about the Bills considering the approach of “stay the course”. I will now give credit where credit is due because the team is doing just that. They keep losing as year three of the Chan Gailey era painfully inches its way to an end.
There is no “heroic run to 7-9”(Jerry Sullivan’s favorite phrase) coming. On the contrary, there is a complete collapse under way. The Bills have lost 3 straight games since the season preserving victory over a pitiful Jacksonville club. Since the spirit lifting overtime win in Arizona(which was also followed by a 3 game skid), Buffalo is 2-7 and too many times have looked like a club that has bailed on the coaching staff.
In trying to assess Gailey’s future with the team, you can’t even say it’s all on the defense. Gailey’s offense has been coughing and wheezing more than I used to during asthma attacks but they don’t have a rescue inhaler like I did.
The Bills have averaged just 16 points over the last 6 games, scoring a total of 9 touchdowns. The passing game has practically disappeared as Fitzpatrick has averaged 184 yards a game in that stretch. Buffalo has been fairly impotent in the red zone, managing 7 touchdowns in 18 red zone possessions, a conversion rate of 38%.
Miami has a good defense but one thing they have not done well is create turnovers. In fact, coming into this game, the Dolphins had just 1 takeaway in their previous 7 games. They came up with 4 takes on Sunday.
Maybe Gailey can say something to his squad about protecting the football. The Bills lost 3 fumbles on Sunday bringing their season total to 16(among top 5 in NFL), an alarming increase over last season’s 5 fumbles lost.
I will give Gailey credit for getting the ball into the hands of C.J. Spiller. The Bills didn’t abandon the run despite never having a lead and Spiller ended up equaling his season high(which came against Miami last month) of 22 carries.
But Gailey gets a demerit for yet another instance of terrible play calling right before halftime. The Bills had the ball at their own 20 with :33 left and 2 time outs. The first play was a short pass to Dorin Dickerson for a whopping 5 yards. What good is that going to do? The Bills burned their 2nd time out. After a false start(the 4th of the half at a not so noisy Sun Life Stadium), there was an incompletion on a short pass over the middle for Spiller and then the obligatory “safe run” with Spiller. For some reason the Dolphins let the clock run out rather than make the Bills punt and see if they could make something happen with the remaining seconds.
How about throwing downfield? How about trying to knock off big chunks of yardage so you can get in field goal range? I now, they don’t have a quarterback who can do that but why not try? What have you got to lose?
The Bills are now a hideous 3-14 against the AFC East under Gailey. The loss also officially eliminates the chance the Bills could actually improve on their best finish under Gailey, 6-10 last season.
The week began with players talking about how much they love playing for their embattled head coach. Stevie Johnson said he didn’t want to talk about it too much because he would get emotional. Stevie and company sure are doing their best to get Gailey fired. Johnson had probably his worst game in the last 3 years. He was targeted a team high 10 times but managed just 4 catches for 44 yards, leaving him 65 shy of a 3rd straight thousand yard season.
Johnson’s fumble after a catch in the first quarter wiped out a first down in the red zone(insert snide remark here about how they wouldn’t have scored a TD in the red zone anyway).
He dropped a pass later in that quarter that would have given the Bills a first down at their own 33 yard line.
In the 2nd quarter, Johnson was unable to hold on to a TD pass from Fitzpatrick with the ball coming out when he hit the ground in the end zone. That would have tied the game at 7.
Which leads me to my final thought on this game. I HATE THE NFL RULES!!!!!! Who the heck knows what is a catch and what isn’t? And why can someone running the ball have their body in mid air but over the out of bounds territory, but still get a TD if they extend the ball inside the pylon and over the goal line? And it doesn’t matter if a ball comes out after a rushing play has gone over the goal line but it does matter if a guy who catches the ball and runs it in loses control? How stupid is that?
I might be biased because the Bills came out on the short end of the stick but Johnson makes a catch, establishes possession/control and crosses the goal line with the ball secured. How is that not a touchdown?
On Dickerson’s fumble after a catch in the 3rd quarter, it didn’t look like he had the ball secured as he turned to run. I thought you had to complete a football play and it sure looked he had not done that but as is the case many times, the NFL hides behind the excuse that video evidence wasn’t conclusive and the call on the field must stand.
The reason replay review is in the game, in part, is because itncan be difficult to make the correct call in live action. Plays happen so fast that you can’t see what might have actually occurred. But the NFL hamstrings its own replay system by saying the live action, best guess call carries more weight than a video review with slow motion and multiple angles.
For example, I give you the Reggie Bush touchdown run in the 1st quarter. When I looked at the replay going to commercial, I yelled at the TV set that his right foot was touching out of bounds. It looked the same way upon further review but the play on the field by the official who is making a guess in a split second was TD so the heck with what your eyes are seeing, right?
Finally there was the Ryan Tannehill lateral in the 3rd quarter. Again by NFL rules, the replay was inconclusive so the call on the field stood but that wasn’t the part that made me mad.
How many times have you heard a referee explain an on field call or replay ruling and think they MUST be making this stuff up as they go. I was laughing out loud(sorry LOL) as the referee basically told us even though a pass can be going backwards, its considered a forward pass whenever a defensive player makes contact with the passer. WHAT? The NFL is now defying physics…a backwards pass is still a forward pass! God bless them.
By the way, if that is a rule, why did they still review the play? And why would Gailey lose a timeout if the challenge should not have been allowed because the rules state it was a forward pass? Just wondering.
Another miserable Bills game day is in the record books and another miserable Bills season is slowly but surely coming to an end. Here’s hoping Ralph Wilson spent three hours on Sunday watching his excuse for a football franchise and will order changes right after the Bills end yet another life sucking year.