The Buffalo Bills season was over a few weeks ago. Getting swept by the blasted Jets made it official. That nice touch didn’t make the emptiness any less vast. The bad plays still hurt while the rare successes inspired only indifference. I don’t recall who reached the end zone for our believed side. But the touchdown they conceded in zero seconds will haunt forever.
The recovery will be less painful than anticipated thanks to one unimpressive performance. For a club now 60 games below .500, that’s a win. Specifically, the absence of reckless speculation spurred by letting a backup take a few snaps during a meaningless finale will be nice in and of itself.
There weren’t even a few quality drives to create a silly controversy over the starter. EJ Manuel didn’t surprise, as he’s sadly a known quantity. As a player who didn’t reach his potential in Buffalo, he has fit right in.
An utter lack of productivity from top picks explains the biggest zero in sports. Twenty-four teams have made the playoffs over the last four seasons. It can’t be that hard. That’s unless you follow a special team that’s predictable in melancholy. The unique hardship where existence crushes your soul annually offers proof of an ordered universe. I didn’t claim said universe was fun.
Let’s figure how to make it count using results from a game that counts for nothing. A season finale against a poor foe may not be the best way to evaluate who will be coaching which starters much later this year. It’s insulting to compare the Season’s End Gala to garbage, which could be recycled and was at one time useful. Unlike discarded Tim Hortons cups, there was nothing ever desirable about a battle for draft position.
With no more silly games to distract us, we can get to the true fan’s passion, namely pretending things will change. As is biennial tradition, this particular interlude will feature making a case for the new coach differing from his many dreadful predecessors.
We’ve tried to pretend the next guy is different every time before. Yes, that includes Chan Gailey, sort of. Anticipating the preposterous is habitual. But that doesn’t make having to invent a scenario where the next guy breaks the curse any more thrilling. Nothing about the present joyless circus engenders confidence. We’re not even sure who’s ringmaster. There are ample clowns.
This column slot should be a game preview one of these years. But the pattern held, so enjoy the usual concentrated dose of woe instead. Bills fans are not discussing how the team looks before the playoffs after the finale because that simple pleasure is apparently impossible to obtain.
The fantasy of winning five out of every eight games is beyond the realm of comprehension. This franchise looks bad in more ways than one. The employees who choose players deserve special blame, as they’re harder to boo.
Owners could still fire Doug Whaley and Russ Brandon, and not just for fun, either. This team’s rotten culture is evident through on-field spoilage. Monday’s junkyard tour meant the loss to the Jets was somehow only the second-worst moment for the Bills this week. Anyone involved with creating this mess should be surprised if the key card works on the way in any random morning.
For now, the guy who thought Manuel was the answer is picking the next coach if you were savoring the new year too much. The postseason press conference answered every question except “Who’s in charge?” and “What is truth?” The surest sign of dysfunction is having to announce there’s none.
The biggest obstacle to a necessary wholesale change is pride. Firing front office personnel now would be an admission that the Pegulas didn’t clean out enough of the house. So, they should do that. Keeping that much rubbish teetering in the attic is a fire hazard. This is no time for ego, especially with so little about which to be pleased.
Starting over is bad enough when used as justification for not sustaining success. In Buffalo’s case, it’s not like they fell apart after some glorious run. The gloom merely continues to permeate.
In Star Wars terms, the Bills are falling deeper into the Sarlacc Pit. They’re way past Boba Fett. LeSean McCoy is the only Jedi returning, and even someone with his ability to control the Force can’t topple the empire singlehandedly. We need a Lando or three.
Football diehards shouldn’t be looking forward to free Sundays. But the season’s finish felt like relief. It’s as dreadful as it sounds. We’re used to appreciating the odd peaceful void, and that doesn’t make the emptiness more pleasant. Our fanbase hoped for a running clock to get to the offseason more quickly. Like Michael Scott’s tenure as Dunder Mifflin manager, games do no more than pass the time.
At least a final humiliation could help. Drafting sooner is the only nice part about being topped by Ryan Fitzpatrick again. They’d never waste a prime chance, right? For now, a Tim Murray-style tank in One Buffalo’s honor means the Pegulas’ portfolio remains consistent.
Most mortifyingly, Reggie Bush’s negative contribution makes him less productive than Ville Leino. If you’re not having fun watching your teams, tease them until they improve. We may as well use this time to spur improvement through practice.