It’s hard to see people you care about suffer – without power and feeling helpless.
But I’ll get to the Bills in a moment.
Seriously, I hope you all came out of Hurricane Sandy and the follow up storm healthy and with no, or minimal, property damage. I know it’s been rough for a lot of people.
Luckily, or not, we have the diversion of football.
The Bills are 3-5 at the midway point. A run down of the midway points of the prior five seasons:
2011: 5-3 (final record: 6-10)
2010: 0-8 (4-12)
2009: 3-5 (6-10)
2008: 5-2 (7-9)
2007 4-4 (7-9)
Are you familiar with the phrase, “water seeks its own level?” Regardless of how they get there, the Bills inevitably level out at mediocrity: whether that means a strong second half to reach 6-10 (last year), a poor second half to finish below .500 when the playoffs appeared possible (2008), or even going .500 in the second half to remove some of the sting of an 0-8 start (2010).
Never good enough to make the playoffs; never bad enough to draft the elite QB. No Andrew Luck. Just Bad Luck. Even when the team went 4-12, there were three worse teams.
But this year was going to be different, right? The defense, coupled with a good-enough, run-oriented offense and good special teams, was going to give us that second wild card team birth we’ve all prayed for (you know you’re a Bills fan when even your most craven football fantasies involve second wild card status.)
In reality, the Bills have very clearly shown us what they are: generally able to compete against poor and middling teams (the Browns, Chiefs and Titans, for example) and generally unable to compete against the elite or arguably elite (the Pats, 49ers and even the Titans, to name three – although the Titans game was more uninspired than it was embarrassing.) The opener against the Jets was probably the only game not true to form.
So, what happens from here? Six predictions, rooted in football knowledge that’s probably no better than yours, and in many cases lesser than yours:
- The second half schedule is pretty hard to call, but I envision another headlong rush to a just-below-.500 record. The team may still appear on the bottom of the networks’ playoff scenario charts in early December, but just for giggles. If your High Def settings aren’t working right, we’ll be cut off from the bottom of your screen.
- Unlike many other Bills fans I know, I’ve often wondered how the team would come to terms with eventually firing Chan Gailey. He struck me as too competent to give you a real reason; the time would simply come for a change. I suspect that time will come in January, and for good reason. And this time, the team will go for the hot assistant or young college coach. Unless Marty Schottenheimer or Rich Kotite are available. I’m actually not sure we’ll change Nix as the GM, though.
- Remember Fear the Beard? The next facial-hair chant will be Trash the Stache. I see no way that Dave Wannstedt survives this. At least he probably doesn’t hear the boos as loudly in the box as he would on the field. Unfortunately, his players, in turn, don’t seem to hear HIM. Or maybe they do – and that’s the real problem.
- There will be intense fan pressure to finally – for real this time – find a top-notch QB, probably through the draft. The problem is, the Bills’ mediocrity doesn’t typically put them in position to draft the “can’t miss QB.” For them, the Losmans are still on the board. They’ll have to find a way this time: I love Fitz, but never, ever saw him as a playoff-caliber starter. He’s the great backup everyone wants. As a starter, at some point he makes the Big Mistake nearly every game, and his ability to go deep comes into greater question by the week.
- There’ll be lots of debate about our running backs – two of our best and most popular players, and for good reason. I’d love to keep them both and maybe the Bills will. But, if one goes I suspect it’ll be Fred.
- I hate to say it, but Ralph is less and less visible these days. The Bills’ future will become an even hotter topic this off season, I suspect, as people question how much longer the Wilson family will be involved: a reasonable question when the owner is in his 90s, regardless of how visible he is.
Hope to see everyone at McFadden’s and Calico Jack’s this week? One thing we’ve proven after all of these years is that the group can still have fun even when the team isn’t.