Let’s just get it out of the way. Buffalo got embarrassed last week against the Patriots. I just want to take a few minutes to try and explain why fans are calling for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chan Gailey, Buddy Nix, and even Mario Williams to get the axe. Fans are getting frustrated in Buffalo, despite the Bills being 2-2 and in the middle of the AFC East race.
I’ll start with the most obvious one. I haven’t seen one Bills fan that hasn’t complained about him at least once. Ryan Fitzpatrick is… a problem. He’s the epitome of a “Jekyll and Hyde” quarterback. When he looks good, he looks EXCELLENT. When he looks bad, he’s AWFUL. In four games, he has 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. All 7 of those interceptions came in the team’s two losses to the Jets and Patriots (3 against the Jets and 4 against the Pats). In the wins against the Browns and Chiefs, he didn’t throw a single interception and had 5 touchdown passes. The thing is… he actually had MORE touchdown passes in the losses than he did the wins (3 against the Jets and 4 against the Patriots). Unfortunately, you can throw as many touchdown passes as you want but if you follow them up with awful looking interceptions, you’re putting your team in danger. To say that where Fitz goes, the team goes is an understatement.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Ryan Fitzpatrick. I think he has the ability to lead this team out of the basement of the AFC east and into the promised land. Whether or not he uses that ability is another question. People seem to forget that Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four picks this week, but he ALSO threw for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. The entire key to his success is to cut down on turnovers! That’s it! Make good decisions! Don’t give players like Tom Brady a short field bythrowing stupid passes! Suddenly the defense is carrying a much heavier load, the team ends up playing from behind, and the offense has to pass a lot more because they’re playing from behind… are you seeing a pattern here?
I don’t think he’s the franchise quarterback that the team so desperately needs. I think he is a good substitute for a franchise guy until we get one. But it better be soon, because the fans are getting sick of his Fitz-garbage.
Fitz isn’t playing like a guy who deserves the huge payday he got last year. Which leads me to my next point. He’s not the only overpaid player that isn’t earning their money. The Bills had an expensive offseason. One of the most expensive not only in team history but in league history. On their defensive line alone they spent $115.5 Million on defensive ends in the offseason ($96 Million on Mario Williams and $19.5 Million on Mark Anderson). With that kind of money, no quarterback on an opposing offense should feel safe. Instead, Mario Williams has been relatively quiet thus far. Instead of Mario or Mark Anderson dominating, it’s Bills veteran Kyle Williams leading the team with 3.5 sacks in the first four weeks.
I can understand people’s frustration with Mario’s lack of success so far, but to say that he deserves to be cut like I’ve been seeing on various message boards is possibly one of the dumbest things I’ve heard in a long time.
The entire “money” issue is the big one. I was able to find this chart that explains what the Bills spent in regards to the percentage of their salary cap.
The issue seems obvious. If almost 30% of our salary cap is being handed out to our defensive linemen, opposing quarterbacks should be running for their lives and pissing themselves. Instead, they have just about enough time to have a picnic in the backfield, call their mother and have a pleasant conversation, and catch up on their reading before any kind of pressure gets to them.
I applaud Ralph Wilson for finally spending money and not being a penny pincher, but if the guys he spent the money on play like this he isn’t likely to want to stick his neck out again.
The biggest reason that I think the Bills are still considered the “little brother” to the all-powerful Patriots lies in the coaching. When the Patriots started getting beat by Buffalo in the first half, Bills fans were excited but tentative to start celebrating too early for good reason. Bill Belichick is one of the savviest coaches in the league. He knows how to find a weakness in a team and exploit it as far as he can. Until either Belichick stops being an evil genius or the Bills get a coach that can match his savvy, they will be outcoached twice a year every year. You can have an elite team, but Bill Belichick will exploit even the tiniest weakness to his advantage. The advantage that he used this year was defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s use of a nickel package on defense. When Belichick noticed this, suddenly the Patriots started pounding the ball down Buffalo’s throat. RB’s Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden averaged over six yards a carry and combined for almost 250 yards. It’s a simple solution to the defensive package, but it was extremely effective. Instead of changing up the defensive schemes when the Patriots running game picked up, Wannstedt continued to use the nickel package to try and make WR threats Gronkowski and Welker a non-factor. Unfortunately, they still torched the Bills defense and were aided by a huge game in the rushing department. Wannstedt got outcoached by a mile. Plain and simple.
Let me make this abundantly clear. I DON’T think the Bills are done. I DO think that the next few weeks are going to be vital for this team. We’re sitting at 2-2, 3rd place in the division and with a division loss to both teams ahead of us in the AFC East. The keys to the rest of this season in terms of games have to be the remaining one against the Jets and the two against the Dolphins. I don’t think there’s much hope of beating New England on the road, so our three most important games to win for the remainder of the season are all division foes that we will hopefully be fighting with for second place behind New England. I think three out of our last four division games are totally winnable. That being said, if we get swept in the division again, all of this offseason’s spending and all the hope for change means…