Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's safe, Bills fans, to board the bandwagon again

Some skeptics remain, their disbelief understandably hardened by an 11-year playoff drought and the tease of 2008 when the Bills started 4-0 and finished with nine losses in their final 12 games.

But the legions of doubters are dwindling dramatically each week as this motley crew of overachievers pile up the points and rewrite history with comebacks that defy logic.

After watching Ryan Fitzpatrick & Co. emerge from the crater they dug themselves against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last Sunday to improve to 3-0, I left the ranks of the skeptical and climbed aboard the bandwagon.

And unlike three years ago I don’t believe I’m going to be nursing sprained ankles from having to jump off of it.

Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. Remember ’08, remember ’08. But the comparisons with that season just aren’t valid.

That was a team coached by Dick Jauron, quarterbacked by Trent Edwards and riding the runs of Marshawn Lynch.

This is a team coached by Chan Gailey, quarterbacked by Fitzpatrick and riding the runs and receptions of Fred Jackson.

Need I say more?

When I look back at that team and that start and how I, like so many others, was duped into thinking the corner had been turned, I realize that torrid start was merely a mirage. Jauron clearly didn’t have what it took to be a successful NFL head coach. Edwards was never the same quarterback after being KO’d by the Arizona Cardinals, and Lynch lacked the intelligence, grit, versatility and consistency of Steady Freddie.

In other words, those Bills were counterfeit. These Bills are real.

Gailey is as fine a play-caller as there is in the game. But beyond that, he is a respected leader who has convinced his players to believe in him, the game plan, and most importantly, themselves.

It was nice to see the past embrace the present at last Sunday’s riveting win at the Ralph.

There was Jim Kelly, waving the big Bills flag before the game and singing the praises of Fitz afterwards.

There was Thurman Thomas interrupting Jackson’s presser to give him a big bear hug at the podium.

There was Van Miller, the retired Voice of the Bills providing some unexpected play-by-play for all to hear in the press box. When Rian Lindell’s game-winning field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired, Van the Man boomed, “Take that New England,’’ undoubtedly echoing the sentiments of all the Bills fans and players who had endured 15 straight losses to the Patriots.

Yes, it’s still very early. The Bills have many flaws and injuries, and bad bounces can change fortunes in a hurry. But I really believe the corner has been turned. I think this bandwagon is bound for the playoffs, not the junk yard.

Fasten your seat belts, and enjoy the ride.


Sunday’s game in Cincinnati has been called a trap game. The feeling is the Bills will be overlooking the 1-2 Bengals and instead be looking ahead to next week’s heavily anticipated matchup with the Michael Vick-led Philadelphia Eagles in Orchard Park. I really don’t think that will be the case. Yes, the Bills have enjoyed some long overdue prosperity this season, and are receiving love from near and far, but they haven’t forgotten last year’s 0-8 start. Guys like Jackson, Fitz and Chris Kelsay will help keep them grounded. Call it Buffalo 30, Cincy 13.


Through three games, Fitzpatrick has followed the trend of slow start, fast finish. His pass efficiency rating from the first-through-fourth-quarter reads: 75.3; 82.3; 120.7 and 131.1. His completion percentage in the final quarter is 12 percent higher than it is in the other three quarters.


I think it’s great that Bills cornerback Drayton Florence graces the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. There are still some who subscribe to the SI cover jinx theory. Yes, there have been a number of subjects who have experienced bad luck following their cover appearances. But the reality is that the vast majority of cover subjects experience continued success after receiving the national exposure.


Wicked week for Boston fans, huh? First, they watch Brady blow a 21-point lead for the first time in his magnificent career. Then, they witness their Red Sox miss the playoffs, completing the biggest collapse in baseball history.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Scott. I have posted this previously but without response, so am trying again.

I have some copies of "Memories of Yankee Stadium" that I would love to get autographed, maybe inscribed, to some young baseball fans I know. Is there a place where I could mail them to you? If you don't want to post here, I can be reached at asktravis at gmail dot com. Thank you!

Alice Appleton said...

Loved these comments regarding Roger Maris. He was quite a guy along with Mickey Mantle. We saw Mantle many years ago in Florida at Spring Training. He was great!