What a tease. Being sort-of bad is a cruel way for the Buffalo Bills to treat fans. Maybe they just ran out of ideas. There are only so many ways to surprise those who assume the crash position through muscle memory.
Sure, any way of falling short feels more frustrating during what you may have heard is a mind-boggling postseason absence. But many individual seasons have been merely crummy. Another seven-win season is a fairly unimpressive mark contributing to an heinous run.
Being only a little depressing doesn’t mean the typical game feels like a trip to the Magic Kingdom. The woeful mark of 112-160 during the impossible drought has meant a tremendous amount of letdown by percentage. Since making the postseason is binary, every single blasted year has been painful. Sports are fun otherwise.
Enduring a streak that’s gone through this many calendars is awful, of course, to the point of questioning why we’re being challenged like this. It’s not like we’re granted relief from our other team. The Sabres haven’t quite been a reward for enduring football; instead, the ice version is apparently supposed to make us think events in Orchard Park didn’t go that badly.
Legitimately thinking they could turn it around only means we end up hitting the ground harder. Overall, the Bills haven’t been comically rotten during any random season since 2000. Fate has a sense of humor. It’s just we’re the ones getting laughed at as we wonder if it’s finally time to get excited.
Rebuilds are tougher when we’ve been tricked into thinking a few tweaks are all that’s necessary. Winning close to half the time also creates another unfortunate practical effect, namely drafting later in the round. It’s additionally psychologically tougher to fire a coach near .500, as well, although this past season was a special occasion.
As bad as it’s been, it could’ve been worse. Believe me or not, as it’s true. There have only been two truly atrocious years since the Titans cheated, one of which ended with a reward of Mike Williams. If there was ever an argument against tanking, it’s a Texas-sized immobile tub of soft serve who wasted a rather large roster spot for a couple wretched years. I’m sorry to bring up the 2001 and 2010 seasons as the worst of the bad, but at least a paltry nine losses seems endurable by comparison.
Stick a needle in each open wound to see which hurts most. The debate over the worst Bills season this century would have to include frequent meal breaks. There are those five six-win seasons along with the unpleasant 5-11 2005. But there often hasn’t ben enough ghastliness to inspire a do-over, which tells you all you need to know about how the NFL is set up. When it’s best to give up with next season in mind, it’s little wonder that so many late-season games are dull despite the sport’s inherent excitement.
Fans can’t quite brag about their team going 9-7 in 2004, which is nonetheless known in these parts as the glory season. The infuriating finale cancelled out enjoyment of finishing with more wins than losses, which still seems scientifically impossible. Add three .500 seasons and four times when they went 7-9, and a pattern emerges of the Bills just being poor enough to avoid declaring bankruptcy. They’ve often finished lousily without being hideous enough to completely dismantle the roster. Tough decisions would’ve been easier if they had played even worse.
This only seems like football Hell. It’s actually Purgatory. A team that can only be understood religiously creates a ceaseless feeling of nothingness. Renew your season tickets now! The appalling moments at any point on the timeline aside, this sinful franchise must atone for behavior. As fans, we’re chained to the radiator. Being only a bit terrible overall leads to teams waffling on major change.
As dispiriting as it’s been, it could’ve been worse. And that actually would’ve made it better. An excuse to replace everyone might have allowed this club to start over at the foundation instead of duct-taping cracks in load-bearing walls. On the other hand, the outcasts can maintain their own hierarchy. The Bills have occasionally looked okay even when they’ve ended up looking in from the outside. Almost getting there may or may not be more excruciating. Individual sufferers can decide which is worse.
Now, yet another new hire must sweep the last guy’s crumbs. Rex Ryan left behind noisily empty promises, Snickers wrappers, and the draft’s first double-digit pick. The whimpering performance drowned out the loud chatter. He couldn’t even fail spectacularly.
Quiet proficiency would be the blessing fans have craved during the era of endless punishment. This could be the time when they’re actually close to breaking through. A taciturn coach must abandon the past. There’s no pressure on Sean McDermott: he only needs to know that we’ve seen this team be almost good enough before, and it doesn’t count.