Hear that hissing sound? That is the air leaking out of our community balloon. There are plenty of different things that could frustrate a Bills fan over the years. An all too familiar one is watching the Bills lose to a team that we're all pretty sure isn't that good. The Jets team that beat the Bills on Sunday came in with no real playmakers to fear on offense and a rookie quarterback at the controls.
Then the game started and Stephen Hill started catching rainbows and the Bills rookies started making mistakes. The Jets took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards on 12 plays. The last two yards came courtesy of Kiko Alonso when the rookie linebacker thought it would be a good idea to push Geno Smith into the end zone rather than wrap him up and try to keep him from scoring. Not a heady play at all and maybe a bad sign for the kind of day it would be for some of the Bills youngsters.
Rookie wide receiver Robert Woods, with lots of room with which to work, stepped out of bounds on his own to keep a 29 yard gain from being even bigger. Again, not heady.
The most important rookie of all is of course EJ Manuel. The Bills quarterback had a day to forget, completing less than half his attempts and struggling with an aggressive Jets pass rush. Despite being so badly outplayed, the Bills found their way to a 20-20 tie in the 4th quarter after Manuel hit Scott Chandler for a TD and Stevie Johnson for the Two Point Conversion. But Manuel just couldn't get away from the rush and didn't have many open targets to throw to when he did. High and wild on many throws most of the day, it's the kind of day that reminds you that becoming the new savior of the franchise can be a lengthy process. Your patience will be put to the test.
Manuel struggling on Sunday might feel worse because the Jets rookie quarterback looked good. Geno Smith wasn't perfect, but he converted long 3rd downs, threw the ball deep often and pretty much blew Manuel out of the water in their first meeting.
So rather than getting a week to ponder what it would mean for the 2-1 Bills to host the defending champs, we now stare a 1-3 start in the face and the prospect that the Bills have not been struck by quarterback lightning. Instead we're in for the all to typical growing pains that can come with youth.
Take a deep breath. The season for me is largely about figuring out how good Manuel can be and how soon it will happen. He had his first really bad day Sunday after two pretty good outings. It's disappointing for sure that we didn't find our way to the express lane.
Oh, and the defense. That challenged Jets offense had 360 yards halfway through the 3 rd quarter. They ended up going over 500 yards. 500! The Jets! Geno Smith was on target and that banged up Bills secondary finally sprung some leaks. Leodis Mckelvin going out early proved to be the breaking point. Justin Rogers was a disaster.
Add all of this up and this game had the feel of any other year with any other cast of characters. When it feels like that I think it's important to remind yourself that these guys are all new and that these things take time.