Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the knit-one, purl-two nominee #1

a look at some really crabby, whiny, sourpuss content from major media sources in the buffalo area concerning the bills and the sabres

***nominee #1--jerry sullivan, the buffalo news, dec. 13, 2010***

the set-up...the buffalo bills grind out a hard-fought victory in inclement weather vs. the cleveland browns to push their record to 3-10...except for one poor performance over the previous six weeks, the bills have been playing very well in losing causes and have shown a willingness to play hard even when there's nothing at stake, except for losing a shot at the #1 overall pick and the chance to draft consensus #1 pick, qb, andrew luck, who may or may not declare himself eligible: 

Look, I don't mean to come off as a Grinch. The Bills won another home game Sunday. They finally beat the Browns, 13-6, after three years of excruciating losses. They were the tougher, more resilient team. The usual cast of plucky upstarts played their hearts out. People who were blacked out might have missed something, after all.

Still, I feel strangely unmoved by it all. Maybe it's the long season, or the oppression of the holidays. This online shopping has my head all twisted around. But really, what does it mean? In the big picture, what is the long-term significance of the Bills beating another mediocre opponent and raising their record to 3-10?

You can say good-bye to Andrew Luck, for one thing. This victory pretty much assures the Bills will not finish with the worst record and the right to select the NFL's next great quarterback in the draft -- assuming, of course, that Luck decides to turn pro, and that he doesn't change his mind if it means coming to play in Buffalo.

This victory might even prevent the Bills from taking the top defensive player in the draft, or the second quarterback if they're so inclined. OK, it's hard to have confidence in Tom Modrak and his scouts regardless of where they pick. But at some point, it would be nice to pick from the cream of the crop and maybe get it right for once.

It's understandable if some fans want to cherish every win and hope it leads to bigger things down the road. There's a learning curve with young athletes, and Chan Gailey, the head coach, believes his team has been growing up over the last two months.

"I think I learn something every time I go out there about 'em," Gailey said. "I think I've known their character. I think they are understanding a little better about winning as a team. Nobody goes out there and wins by themselves. I think they're understanding it doesn't just have to be one side of the ball or the other. They can win as a team and win different ways. Hopefully, we can build on this. We'll see."

There's a lot to like about this team. The offense, defense and special teams complemented each other against the Browns. The coaches had them ready. George Edwards, the beleaguered defensive coordinator, made some shrewd adjustments on his defensive line after Cleveland's opening drive.

The Bills got contributions from a slew of underestimated players who are fighting for their jobs in the league, guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, Donald Jones, Stevie Johnson, Bryan Scott, Jonathan Stupar and Arthur Moats. The Bills are riding a bunch of players who were drafted low, or not at all.

But I'm tired of getting up on my chair and applauding them for trying hard and not quitting. They're supposed to try hard. They're professional athletes, and handsomely paid regardless of where they were drafted. They're still 3-10. Fans have the right to demand that management surrounds them with elite players who can help them make the transition from feel-good losers to legitimate contenders.

Gailey says they can build on this. Maybe. We heard that sort of happy talk every year from Dick Jauron, when they were playing hard and stringing together 7-9 seasons like faulty Christmas lights.

Last year, they finished 3-3 under Perry Fewell after Jauron was finally shown the door. Lots to build on, right? Gailey came in and took away the starting jobs of Fitzpatrick and Jackson, who had led last year's stirring finish. They bolted to an 0-8 start. That's building on the previous season's successes?

The truth is, one season doesn't often blend into another in the NFL. Each season is a distinct entity. Sure, the Bills have some players to build around. But until they find some real stars in the draft, they're not going to build anything truly meaningful. It'll be the usual flimsy structure, a tenement of lowered standards.

Maybe Sunday's win left me flat be cause I had seen it so many times before. Watching Jake Delhomme throw side-armed flutterballs wasn't exactly new. I watched it just last year, in Carolina. The Bills won, 20-9. Delhomme threw for 325 yards, but had three interceptions. He was even worse this year, passing for 86 yards.

Delhomme is a backup now. So the Bills have two home wins this year, both against backups. The forgettable Shaun Hill of the Lions was the other. Last year, they beat Mark Sanchez as a skittish rookie. They beat Chad Henne. The Bills beat a lot of weak quarterbacks in the dark decade. What they never do is beat the good ones.

When a team shows up with a solid running game and a top-flight QB, the Bills go to pieces. Whoopie. They beat Jake Delhomme again! Beat Tom Brady for once, and I'll get excited.

After the debacle in Minnesota, Gailey said he had learned something about his team. He wouldn't elaborate, but I wondered if his team's overall lack of talent had begun to sink in. The Bills rebounded nicely against the Browns. They got back to playing the way they had over a competitive six-game stretch.

They're a resilient bunch, it's true. Maybe they'll steal one of the next three against their AFC East rivals and tack a 4-4 finish on that 0-8 start. You can't expect them to care if it drops them in the draft. But if they hope to be a real contender, management needs to nail some high draft picks and supplement their core of overachievers.

Otherwise, all this good feeling won't amount to much. Celebrate the guys for competing so hard. But hold this organization to a higher standard. Don't allow the people who put the team in this mess to wave around a 3-10 record as some sign of progress.

sullivan throws in some truisms, but, c'mon, this teams less than one full season into the gailey regime...what they've done should be lauded...and although i do agree that buffalo bills fans throughout the "dark decade" over react by glorifying positive steps forward, ya gotta give this bunch of no-names alot of credit...even if it means missing out on the highly-touted, all-universe, future hall-of-fame quarterback who hasn't even declared for the draft, much less taken an nfl snap...

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