A View from Calico Jack’s – 12/28/2006

I’m cheating a bit and writing my last column of the season prior to the last game…a game that would appear to be for little more than pride and ending the season on a high note.

I haven’t written for a while because, I’ll admit, I let my superstitions get in the way (I never did write that column on our group’s superstitions, by the way, because apparently I remain the only superstitious Bills fan). The Bills’ fortunes improved immediately after I failed to write a column. As their fortunes continued to improve, I remained a non-writer. A fact I never disclosed until this moment.

It was hard. I had completely mapped out a numerology column in which I discussed the fact that, one week after Losman threw for only 83 yards, he threw two 83-yard TD passes to Lee Evans (number 83). I was ecstatic after the last-minute wins over Houston and Jax, and the shutdown/shutout of the Fish. I was even excited by the near-wins over the elite teams in Indy and San Diego. But, again, I refrained.

That last paragraph, though, is actually quite telling about what an exciting, eventful second-half of the season it was. Unlike the second-half of Bledsoe’s near-playoff season which was foiled by Pittsburgh, we didn’t beat up on patsies. And while Bledsoe was like that fading light bulb from which you hope to get one last gleam of light before it goes pffft, Losman is just now powering up.

All of which means that, for the first time in quite a while, I am going to enter next season expecting the Bills to make the playoffs, and barring horrible injuries, won’t be satisfied with anything less. The time for morale victories has passed with this team. Seven years is more than enough for us to wait.

And wait we did. I was really impressed with the numbers that continued to turn out at Calico Jack’s and McFadden’s, despite a horrible mid-season record and games that collided with holidays. We have a core group that shows up almost without fail, which is fantastic.

Looking back at last week for just a moment…that last play (well, next-to-last play, actually) was a wretched way to end a really enjoyable game. I’m not as convinced as many that the Bills should have gone for the FG in those circumstances given the distance and wind. But…something a bit more organized and logical might have been nice, right? I mean, a seven-yard gain would have made a HUGE difference. The whole thing looked haphazard, and brought me back to some questionable calls from early in the year (fake punt, anyone?)

But, next year, our rookies will be seasoned, and our cap room will be large. This team is going somewhere…finally. Can’t wait to be there for the ride.

Finally, a quick comment on Nick Flick’s fine season-awards column. I agreed with him on almost everything, including the team MVPs. I would have pulled the trigger and made Takeo the most disappointing player, but that’s quibbling.

But, there is one MVP Nick failed to consider: Most Valuable Coach. I know the obvious choice is special teams coach Bobby April, or even our new head coach, but I think there’s an unsung Bills coaching hero who might have been equally or more valuable this season.

So, hats off to you, Mike Mularkey, and thanks for the two games you gift-wrapped for us! It’s like you weren’t even paying attention when you were here…

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