Chalk up 2011 as another season without the playoffs for the Buffalo Bills. A promising start as spiraled out of control, now the Bills look no better than the 4-12 team they fielded last season.
Their recently extended quarterback is showcasing all of his flaws as the Bills offense has been solved by the rest of the league. Injuries are piling up, on both sides of the ball, and there are few players available to serve as adequate replacements. Defensively the Bills are completely lost as their coordinator doesn’t seem capable of altering his game plan once the opponent exploits the scheme.
Frankly, some fans may have seen this coming. Despite the quick start there were plenty of question marks surrounding the team. The lack of depth, lack of drafted players, too many undrafted fill-ins, too much unproven “talent” to succeed.
Yesterday’s game was supposed to be a bounce back. In fact, three weeks ago it was a game that was supposed to be a gimmie as the Bills continued to build their playoff resume. Funny how those things changed and an assumed victory against a bottom feeder turned into an ugly loss devoid of any success on either side of the ball for the Bills.
The Bills offense is a shell of the dynamic attack showcased earlier in the year. Their best weapon, Fred Jackson, has been rendered useless because defenses have made the team so one-dimensional. Fitzpatrick is throwing to bad receivers behind a bad line and it is showing in his stats. Now, Fitzpatrick has been equally poor during this run. Compared to the first five weeks, his throws are off, his decision making in questionable and there is little reason to endorse the contract extension he was given.
Defensively the Bills are worse off than they are on offense. They have a player originally signed to play defensive tackle at outside linebacker, the pass rush has evaporated and that has seriously affected the pass coverage; which is in dire condition.
There is no reason to really dredge up the details of this loss. It isn’t like the Giants game in which a couple bad throws cost the team the afternoon. Nor is this the Bengals game, where a committed running game could have changes Buffalo’s fortunes. Like the last three weeks, this was a contest in which the Bills’ opponent broke down their offense and exploited the weaknesses of their defense for the entire afternoon.
There are so many holes on this roster that a backslide was to be expected. There are just too many practice squad castoffs filling full-time roles at key positions. There are great examples of successful discoveries, I just think that maybe too much has been devoted to players that appear to be closer to project status rather than regular contributors. Erik Pears and Kraig Urbik are good examples of scouting. They are serviceable linemen who have contributed to this team. Pears has been so good that I am beginning to think tackle isn’t nearly the weak point it was entering the season. Of course, Demetrius Bell needs to make it through a complete season before that statement to really rings true.
Based solely on the overall lack of top-end talent and the tough injuries the team has suffered, the Bills are in a tight spot. It would just seem that some of the choices they have made regarding players have magnified their issues.