Game 7: Bills Retreat Home to Regroup vs. Cards

<B>Where to begin…: </B> <P> HEY KIDS! The Commander Tom Show brings its excitement right to your front door at Ralph Wilson Stadium this weekend! Come see Bledsoe the clown and all your circus favorites! Don't forget to bring your sense of humor… <P> Stadium programming note: All team songs will be replaced with circus music.

Disclaimer: The word "game" when used herein refers to the formal meeting of the Cardinals and Bills on Sunday on a football field and should not be mistaken so as to suggest or imply that the occurrences between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at said location will resemble those of an actual football game.

This is the team's easiest remaining home game. Following this game there will likely not be another game that the Bills are favored in throughout the remainder of the season. It will be a minor miracle if the team can win a road game where they have struggled now for two seasons worth of games and where they play in five of their last 8 contests. The Bills are 2-13 in their last 15 road trips and only play the Forty-Niners as a team typical of that which they have been able to beat on the road during that stretch and in the last road game of the season. So figure a finishing record of 1-10 plus whatever wins they can muster up at home. Certainly it would not be inconceivable to consider that the team may not win another game after this one in spite of the simple notion that they likely will.

The Cards have been a poor road team this season and don't figure to alter that this Sunday.

Writing about this team has become routine and incredibly mundane. The future of the team is also at stake given the way that it is managed and run. More on that in a week or two.

Key Players and Matchups:

The biggest matchup in this game will be the Bills vs. themselves. While not good at many positions, particularly the offensive line, they still do not yield significant talent mismatches in this game however. Then again, the same could have been said about the Jax, Raider, Miami, Jets, and Ravens games and the Bills allowed those teams to dominate for at least a half.

As to specific matchups, in spite of the fact that the Cardinals have a better record by a game, they simply do not hold any edges over the Bills nor present what should be any significant matchup problems. "Should" being the operative term here.

Aaron Schobel vs. Leonard Davis:

If there is a matchup to watch between the Bills' D and the Cards' O it is this one. Other than this however, for the Bills D there are few concerns and Schobel will not be intimidated by Davis. Then again, generally speaking it has not been the defense that is the biggest issue of the team. The rest of the Card OL consists of young inexperienced players or linemen of no consequence.

Bledsoe vs. himself:

Once again, how Bledsoe reacts when he gets pressured, if that even happens, will have fans holding their breath until either the receiver has the ball or it falls incomplete. Other than Bert Berry as a starter there should be little pressure even given the state of the Bills line. Nevertheless, that does not mean that Drew will not turn it into an epic struggle of sorts all by himself. Expect a relatively error-free and semi-productive, or possibly very productive game out of him nevertheless.

Either Jennings or Price vs. Bert Berry:

Other than Berry, there should be little pressure on Bledsoe for most of the day other than on blitzes. The Card linebackers and secondary are typical of the defensive backfields that Bledsoe lights up and of the teams that the Bills have been able to beat during the Donahoe-Bledsoe era.


What is there to say about this team anymore! It has a personnel strategy that is anyone's guess as to what it is. It more resembles a roller coaster ride regarding its logic and approach and that used by an excitable young fantasy football manager than a bonafide NFL GM. It has a GM and coaches who suffer from intense amnesia when it comes to their off and pre-season statements which is manifested in their Q & A sessions. It has coaching that thus far has not outperformed last season's "so-horrible-that-anyone-could-do-better" coaching. It has lackluster top paid players who often do as much harm as good for the most part and consistently don't come up on big plays. It has a defense that has yet to show up for all four quarters, or heck, even three of them. It has an offense that awakens on rare occasions such as the legendary blue moon and usually then only after the defense places the ball only yards from "where the offense needs to go" and after the type of prodding usually reserved for shy toddlers afraid to get in line for something, namely a series of gentle pats on the bottom urging them along in the direction that they should mosey off in.

It's a bad team facing a team that should be even worse, yet one that has a better record and has scored more points and which on paper does not even come close to matching up. Without looking and analyzing further, i.e., taking a page out of the Bills player personnel staffing approach, one would presume that the Cards, being from Arizona, probably don't play as well in northern climes in outdoor games after October. I realize that this game will be played on the 31st of October, but I used to live in Arizona, and believe me when I say that people there consider 55 to be quite frigid. That's when the down parkas come out. Yes, really. Regardless, this is what this season has boiled down to, making comments about the Arizona weather.

Before the game look for planes flying over dragging banners that say "Oy Vay!" One of my readers, an established member of the sports media over the years, suggested that that be the "rallying cry" of the Bills henceforth.

As well, and on a side note, rookie Head Coach Mike Mularkey is looking very rookie in his handling of the Henry-McGahee situation and does not inspire confidence. His best approach would be to openly state that the team needs to evaluate McGahee further and attempt to assess this draft pick aquired in tremendously risky fashion and at enormous expense and opportunity cost so as to aid in further assessing the future of this team. But noooo! Instead fans and media are treated to a teeter-tottering of opinion and hedging that make Bill Clinton look novice yet without the appearance of succeeding at it.

The goals of the Bills in this situation should not be to not generate and ill will between them and Henry in the ‘be careful what you wish for, it may occur' mantra. The new coach is once again between a rock and a hard place all of his own creation simply because he cannot let go of this season which is clearly shot from the vantage point of anyone following football with an IQ above that of a piece of burnt toast. He would have much more credibility in the eyes of fans and media if he were to simply come out and indirectly indicate that this team will do what is in its interests moving forward while canning all the crap about salvaging this season for whatever his reasons are.

This just in coach: This season is OVER!!!

Now admit it and save yourself the heartache and increasingly diminishing confidence with fans and media alike who are beginning to question your early competence. This is our team too and we do care about where it is in 2005, 2006, and 2007 and don't care anymore about winning two or three more games in a meaningless season all at the expense of future seasons!

Start McGahee, yes! Start all the youthful players that need further evaluation and are much more a part of the future of this team than the aging has-beens that Ol' Whitey has assembled that were something five seasons ago, or two or three even, but are nothing better than average today yet collecting paychecks commensurate with their histories, not their current production! Start Edwards, Anderson, Aiken, McGee at CB, slide Vincent to FS, work in some young linebackers in Posey's spot, etc. Losman when healthy is a no brainer. But do these things in the manner of "attempting to build this team going forward!" Please! The present approach on the outward appears to be tenuous at best and certainly not confidence-inducing at worst.

Bottom line:

This one is simple. If the Bills cannot put a hurtin' on the Cards, then someone needs to begin taking pulses of the coaching staff and players to see which ones are not breathing and then drag them over to the Erie County morgue. (Note to coaching staff: This can also be done during the game. If a player goes down, please check the pulse. Anything below 40 and just heave the body onto one of those little John Deere carts and have them toted over to the morgue.) Heck, perhaps ala Monty Python there should be a cart driving through the Bills locker room at the half with its driver shouting "Bring out your dead!" That may in fact be more efficient. Naturally you'll have to ignore the cries of "I'm not dead yet!" Trust us, they are! The definition of the word "efficiency" can be found in the dictionary as well fellas.

The Cards are not good. By now it's fully clear that neither are the Bills. But it's a home game in semi-brisk weather, although on what should be a clear day, that will aid the Bills if anything.

Expect whichever runner carries the ball the most to have strong success. In fact, I will step out and predict that the coaching staff uses this game vs. a weak Card rushing defense to repackage what is presently a very average running back (of the 1,200/12 variety) in McGahee to attempt to provide some degree of excitement for fans and media. If this occurs, he will respond with a favorable game as would Henry in this one. But Arizona is no Ravens or Pats defense.

Willis McGahee at present is nothing more than an average back that must develop much further in order to justify the resources, expense, and opportunity costs associated with his acquisition. He has given fans a taste of some of the things that will help him distinguish himself to the level of one of the best in the league but he is far from being there yet equally revealing that he needs to develop much more as well.

At present the Bills possess two very comparable running backs with differing styles, no more. McGahee's upside is much larger but so are the expectations and expense. However, if I had to choose between one or the other thus far for the next three or four seasons it would still be the more proven Henry easily. Either way, McGahee's upside has yet to come anywhere close to fully materializing. If he is not an entire echelon above Henry when he's finished, perhaps even greater, then it was not worth the means of his acquisition.

More than likely the Bills will use the same methods that they've used to date yet with greater success against a bottom-rate team. Frankly, I find it somewhat surreal that I cannot sit down and write about how badly the Bills should whoop up on Arizona and how anything short of a 20-point victory translates to unacceptable. But that's where this team has brought us, simply hoping that they can beat one of the worst teams in the league over the past recent seasons, at home, and without question.


Bills 27, Cards 10.

Further Disclaimers:

Warning: This game is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as an actual basis for rating the team or building up hopes that the Bills will ever be able to routinely beat teams not figuring to be present in the bottom 20% of the league by season's end!

Past results of this game should not be used as a basis for future performance.

The Bills caution that statements made by team officials in their press releases and in public otherwise may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These include statements as to unsubstantiated expectations, beliefs and future on-field performance, such as statements regarding their coaching and player prospects. All of these are based on past and dubious information and expectations that are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions. These risks and uncertainties are more fully described in their press releases smugly and carelessly flaunted in public. Should one or more or all of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should the assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary in outcome from those currently anticipated.

To discuss this article or other issues on the Bills, Tune into "The 2004 Bills Report" which can be heard this Thursday evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m. over the Internet at Call into the show live at 1-877-913-9739.


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