If on Saturday night I told you that the Buffalo Bills would amass 481 yards of total offense, score 31 points, gain 35 first downs, and control the time of possession 33:50 to 26:10, you would sign up for that, right? Well you would be signing up for another loss to the New England Patriots. Make no mistake about it, the Bills have found every way possible to lose to the Patriots since the Tom Brady era began, but the loss on Sunday certainly enters the conversation for top 5 most painful, and that is a list if I have ever seen a list.
It seems to be the repeated rhetoric week after week, but the Bills are now really breathing down the neck of another long, playoff-less offseason. At 3-6 the Bills now have a sort week to prepare for the Miami Dolphins, a divisional mystery Chan Gailey has not been able to solve during his tenure in Buffalo. A 1-3 record includes two embarrassing losses last year to a day that hasn’t been consistently relevant since the days of Dan Marino. If the Bills lose to the Dolphins, you can essentially kiss a playoff berth we all optimistically hoped for at the start of the season goodbye.
So it is about that time of the week again, when every single media member in Western New York and beyond is forced to question the play calling of Chan Gailey. We saw the articles in every newspaper, heard every pundit, and pretty much had anyone who covers the Buffalo Bills tear Chan Gailey apart for play calling, particularly late. What I find funny is how much control members of the media that want Chan Gailey fired yesterday seem to think he has. No matter what play Chan Gailey calls on offense, his defense is still going to be awful.
I know the feeling is that a more ball control oriented offense will give the defense more rest and therefore magically lead to an unexplainable surge in talent, but if you watched the game Sunday you would have seen that the Bills still won the time of possession battle while throwing more than running. Do I think the Bills should run the ball more? Of course I do, C.J. Spiller is averaging 7.3 yards per carry for crying out loud! But it makes sense to throw the ball 40 times against the Patriots; they could not have a worse secondary. It was remarkable how many times the Patriots had eight men in coverage and still gave up 20-30 yard gains. You can’t blame the loss on an offense that gained 481 yards, you just can’t.
The Bills did not lose on Sunday because of the play calling of Chan Gailey. I haven’t been the biggest fan of his play calling this season but really think about. The Bills gave the Patriots 148 yards and 3 turnovers. You know why every single NFL “expert” says that you can’t commit penalties, turn the ball over and still expect to win games? Because you can’t, especially when it’s against a team like the Patriots. The Bills won virtually every category except for those two. If you’re looking for someone to blame for the lack of discipline found in the 14 penalties, sure, point the finger to Chan Gailey. Ignore the fact that going into Sunday the Bills were the 4th least penalized team in the NFL.
The positives exist in this loss from the Patriots. I feel as though I have typed this phrase before, but although it may seem bleak, Chan Gailey shouldn’t be fired tomorrow, Ryan Fitzpatrick does not need to head across the border to play in Canada, and no, Mario Williams is not this decade’s Terrell Owens. The game against the Dolphins tomorrow is probably the biggest in the Chan Gailey era. Bills fans have responded by selling out Ralph Wilson Stadium. We will now see how the people who are paid respond to having their backs against the wall. Get back to me in 48 hours about if Chan Gailey is on the hot seat…