MIAMI (WGR 550) -- Fear not Buffalo Bills fans, the season is almost over.
With the way the team operated on Sunday, however, you could argue that this team may have already found their inner off-season mode.
Their second effort against the Miami Dolphins proved to be more of the same of what we saw from the first run-in. The Bills were hapless on offense. Except this time, the Dolphins offense actually showed up and won a game that should have been, and was, theirs.
Let's review, shall we?
- Right from the onset of the matchup, there was little passion on the sidelines. There were a few exceptions, of course. Stevie Johnson, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and others seemed amped up for the game. However, at their first ounce of adversity though, this team crumbled. To say they are mentally beaten down from the way this season has progressed is not that far of a stretch. You could just read the 'Here we go again' mentality all over their faces and body language. The one guy that should be playing his tail off, because he's the highest paid defender in NFL history, wasn't -- flat out. Throughout the majority of the game, Mario Williams just seemed a bit lackadaisical. There was no urgency (which is a word you'll see again (spoiler alert)), he was leaning on the offensive tackle at times and never provided an effective pass rush from the left side. Lest we forget, he was going up against second-string tackle Nate Garner. Where does the blame for the flat effort get attributed to? Who deserves the blame for being mentally weak enough that they can't bounce back from adversity? I think you all know the answer to that question. Head coach Chan Gailey has to go. If it wasn't evident after last weekend's debacle, it is now. They very well could come out and beat a Greg McElroy-led New York Jets squad, but it won't matter much. The damage is done. A change is needed.
- The days of challenging a solid defensive team are long gone in the Chan Gailey era. In 120 minutes against Miami this season, the Bills managed to muster up a whopping 22 points on offense. Five field goals, one touchdown. Oh, and that touchdown? That didn't come until the Bills and Dolphins played for 111 minutes and 8 seconds. Coming in to the game, a lot was made of the Bills' failure to convert on clutch chances in Dolphins territory, on third down and sometimes both. In two games, the Bills went 8-of-26 on third downs. Just as the Bills did to the Dolphins in round one, Miami was begging to allow the Bills get back in to the game. Buffalo just isn't as good as Miami, it's that simple.
- I mentioned that buzz word that begins with a 'u' earlier, so it's time to bust that out again. Another thing that was a humongous concern is the lack of urgency and communication shown in two different instances. One was a shining example, while the other was minute but leads in to the larger point. The way the Bills approached their final offensive drive was the exact opposite of awe-inspiring. They called it a 'no-huddle' mode, but how they can justify that as a no-huddle when they're blowing 25 seconds in between plays with under two minutes to go. Yeah, that happened -- after a run call when they were trailing by 14 points, no less. The overall mishandling of the game clock when they got the ball with 5:51 to go is dumbfounding because it happens repeatedly. The smaller example? The Bills complete a play at the end of the first half and there is thirty seconds on the clock. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks over at Chan Gailey waiting for instruction, Chan Gailey signals to spike the ball after a pair of seconds tick off, and as Fitzpatrick is running over to the line to spike it, Gailey ends up calling a time out. Five seconds that could have been crucial in a late-half situation were instead wasted. It's a smaller example of a bigger problem.
- So much for fixing their errors on the read-option game, eh? This time it wasn't their positioning that was the problem, it was the overall execution. It looked as though the Bills had Miami bottled up on that play. Bryan Scott had the proper angle, all he had to do was stay level and make the tackle. He didn't, and away Ryan Tannehill went. The Dolphins quarterback scampered all the way up to the two-yard line, setting his team up for one of their three touchdowns on the afternoon. If this Miami offense had one more playmaker, I have a feeling the Bills would have been laughed out of Sun Life Stadium on Sunday. Buffalo deserved to get beat by more, but Miami's offense wasn't good enough to do it.
- Coming in to the contest, I was of the opinion that Cameron Wake would be one of the single biggest factors in the contest. If the Bills could deal with him (a tall order, I know), then they stood a chance. If they couldn't, well, you saw what happened. Sam Young was overmatched by the Dolphins' fantastic pass-rusher, and couldn't even get a finger on him as he sped by and strip-sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was a difficult afternoon for the Bills' third-string tackle.
- The lone bright spot, once again, was C.J. Spiller. The Bills' top running back bit off little chunks of yardage all game long and then finally busted loose for a 62-yard gain. In his 21 other carries, Spiller gained 76 yards. It just goes to show how important it is to have a home-run hitting type of player that can make a big play out of nowhere. His 62-yard run was truly special, leaving countless defenders stuck in their spots. A congratulations to Spiller, who now has 1,500 yards from the line of scrimmage this season, and is also only the third Bills' player to have 10 games where he gained 100 yards or more from scrimmage in one season. The other two? O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas. Elite company for Spiller, but he's worthy of it.
- What a frustrating afternoon it was for Stevie Johnson. It seemed like it was going to start strong with his initial catch that led him to some more yards. However, a Dolphins defender reached right in and stripped him clean, accounting for one of the Bills' four crucial turnovers. A little later on, Stevie attempted to catch a very well thrown ball with his pads and it dropped to the ground. Then, it looked like Stevie was about to turn it around with a would-be touchdown reception… that was then ruled incomplete. He's one of the Bills' top players on offense, and even on the team altogether. When he's not clicking, and the Bills were missing both Donald Jones and Scott Chandler, the passing game really struggled to get started.
- Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick called the first half of this game one of the most disappointing and frustrating in the three years he's been with the Buffalo Bills. A meek three points wouldn't argue much with those thoughts. With each passing game, Fitzpatrick looks more and more like a beaten man, understanding the inevitability of the off-season. He's a smart person, he knows what the NFL is all about. If you don't produce wins as a quarterback, you're not going to last very long. With a 15- 29 record as the Bills' starter, we could be just one start away from the end of the Ryan Fitzpatrick era in Buffalo.
Bills' MVP: HB C.J. Spiller - 22 carries for 138 yards, 4 receptions for 35 yards
Bills' LVP: DE Mario Williams - The highest paid player on the Bills looked like he didn't want to be apart of the game.
Up Next: Sunday, December 30 at 1 pm: Season finale vs. the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
- Changes they are a comin'. At least one would think. The Bills are now only eight days away from some very serious decisions that need to be made regarding the future of their franchise. Next Sunday could mark the end of the Chan Gailey era, the Ryan Fitzaptrick era, the Dave Wannstedt era, or all of the above. The proof is in the production, or lack thereof. If the Jets score just nine points against Buffalo, the Bills will have given up the most points during Chan Gailey's stretch as head coach. It's hard to ignore this fact, too: Three seasons as a head coach, three seasons with at least ten losses. Once again, it's time for a change at One Bills Drive.