Reader E-Mails

The following are e-mails from selected readers and those that address issues that relate to positions taken in my analyses. Some are excerpts and some are entire e-mails with the readers' comments/questions in <I>italics.</I>

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E-mail #1:

First off I would like to say I haven't read all of your recaps/gradings of the Bills games, only the last three weeks. I am a fan of the Bills and always optimistic so it may be possible I see things threw rose colored glasses but I strongly disagree with some of your writings, this week especially.

My biggest gripe is that you believe playing Bledsoe and leaving Losman on the bench to be a bad decision and that playing JP would be more appropriate given our "miniscule odd of simply making the playoffs". How can a coach who has a chance, regardless of how small a chance, bench the QB that has gotten the team this far? Take a look at what has happened with the Giants. Coughlin has lost this team and alienated the whole team for what? The development of one player. While the Bills are a better team than the Giants, it is probable that Losman would struggle as do many rookie QBs not named Roethlisberger.

Although Bledsoe had a bad game last week, his rating over the winning streak is above 90. He performed well at home against St.L and on the road in Miami, which I think was the biggest step for the team. The team is gelling with Bledsoe back there, there is more balance, the sack numbers have dropped dramatically. As for his bad day yesterday, the conditions on the field were not ideal and the game he had was actually comparable to Tom Brady's performance against Cleveland the week before (11/20, 157 yds, 1TD, 1INT, 1 fumble). Do you suggest the Patriots bench him as well?

"OL: D The offense, particularly given all the hype in recent weeks, should have been able to run roughshod over this Brown D. The defense did the offense's work for them in this game, ….again!"

How can you say the offensive line did not perform well? The Browns front four is awful, that's a given, but anytime you allow one sack and rush for over 200 yds your line had a decent day. They controlled the line of scrimmage all day and with a 10-pt lead at halftime that quickly increased we need to eat up and that's what we did. The time of possession in the game was 60/40, I give much of that credit to our offensive line.

None of this is a personal shot at you, but I feel as if you are pessimistic in your writings. And think it is appalling that you say a team should bench a QB that has helped, not necessarily led, but helped a team to 4 straight wins when they still have playoff hopes that are not as far fetched as you make them out to be. One game back of a struggling Denver team and one back of a Baltimore team that still has to go to Indy and Pittsburgh. Sounds promising to me.

Thank you for your time,

Larry M.

Response:

Hey Larry,

Thanks for the note!!!

I'm always up for serious debate. ; )

Let's take your points one-at-a-time on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis in order:

How can a coach who has a chance, regardless of how small a chance, bench the QB that has gotten the team this far? Take a look at what has happened with the Giants. Coughlin has lost this team and alienated the whole team for what?

It all depends upon what your goals are Larry. I've had a problem with the Bills' goals throughout the Commander Tom era. There is little coordination amongst decisions almost seeming as if decision making is made in a vacuum with each decision being made with only that decision in mind and little concern or regard for the overall optimization as a team. As well, marketing and using the media to boost perceptions vice good solid and old-fashioned performance seems to have been the methodology used to promote the Bills throughout the same era.

To see things from my viewpoint, you have to understand the basis for my articles. You say you've read them, so I assume that that has not eluded you. We are a team that has a perception of "being a playoff caliber team" perhaps, but of one that is on some relevant winning streak. Without spending time reiterating things that I've already laid out quite clearly in past pieces, suffice it to say that this "winning streak" and the Bills' seven wins are over nothing teams. The one win that is over a team worth much is the Jets win and that was with the Jets having nearly two days fewer to prepare and rest given that they were coming off a big MNF game the week prior. Would we have beaten them had they had the full week to prepare/rest? Who knows.

The bottom line is that this entire thing will be very clear in three weeks. The Bengals are a .500 or so team and are not playoff caliber. Neither is San Francisco. So if the Steeler game means anything at all for them in their quest for homefield advantage, then it will be interesting indeed to see whether the Bills can hang in that game. That will be the Bills only flirtation with evenly matched and equally rested/prepared playoff teams other than the four losses to the Jets, Pats twice, and Ravens. Should we lose that game or not make the playoffs, then in hindsight, it will not have been a good idea to stick with Humpty. I go into far greater detail in my pieces. I'll have a piece on just this later on this week.

But your premise is that we'd be worse than we are now without Humpty in there and with Losman in there. I'll respond to that by asking a question, and when you answer it, please take into account the level of talent on all teams played in question;

Q: Did we need Humpty to defeat Miami (2-11) twice? How 'bout Cleveland (3-10)? Arizona (4-9)? Seattle (7-6)? The Rams (6-7)? Four of those games were at home too! If the answer is 'yes', then isn't it time to reconsider how good this team truly is?! If the answer is 'no', then my point is made.

Para 2: Humpty has been bad in most games played this season! His overall performance on the season is absolutely no different that it has been in 2002 or 2003. He lit up a bunch of poor teams then and played horribly against better teams otherwise contributing little in the most important games and he has done little differently, if anything at all, this season.

How can you say the offensive line did not perform well?

Simple: 139 net yards of offense in the first half with only 70 yards rushing and the "superstar" McGahee only rushing for 60 yards on 16 carries for fewer than four yards per carry. Is this good to you? Nearly a fourth of the Bills' rushing output on the day was on a reverse by Evans! Between Evans sole carry for 48 yards, Shaud Williams rushing in relief, Losman's scrambling again, in relief, and Smith's trick play rush, those four provided over half of the team's rushing output on the day. Again, vs. a team ranked 29th in rushing defense heading into this game. Six times the Bills started drives in Cleveland territory and only twice were we able to score a TD on those six setups.

Where was the solid execution with McGahee averaging 5.0 yards-per-carry? Where were the game-dominating drives consuming time and driving this offense downfield? Go take a look at the gamebook and see what's there. Not much and nothing indicative that this offense did anything better than average, if that, apart from what the D set up for them. The D set up 20 of the Bills' 37 points with the second team O putting up another 7 on the game's most impressive drive. The first team O on its own merits scored only 13 points. That's how. Can you honestly say, and after looking at the particulars, that you were impressed by this vs. the Browns who are horrific? I sure hope not!

As to the time-of-possession, that was mostly due to the fact that the Browns simply couldn't hold the ball at all. It had little to do with our offense, again, supporting my point above. Of 13 drives in this game, only four were 3-minutes or longer and the longest one of those was with Losman and Shaud Williams in there. The first team offense had only two drives longer than 3:23. Two.

None of this is a personal shot at you, but I feel as if you are pessimistic in your writings. And think it is appalling that you say a team should bench a QB that has helped, not necessarily led, but helped a team to 4 straight wins when they still have playoff hopes that are not as far fetched as you make them out to be. One game back of a struggling Denver team and one back of a Baltimore team that still has to go to Indy and Pittsburgh. Sounds promising to me.

Understood and I never take well-written, well-thought out notes as "shots at me." Trust me, "shots at me" look quite different. LOL

As to "appalling", let's just call it a difference of opinion. I've laid out what I think is all the rationale in the world for my points and in spades. But again, I'll defer to my paragraph above asking:

But your premise is that we'd be worse than we are now without Humpty in there and with Losman in there. I'll respond to that by asking a question, and when you answer it, please take into account the level of talent on all teams played in question; Q: Did we need Humpty to defeat Miami (2-11) twice? How 'bout Cleveland (3-10)? Arizona (4-9)? Seattle (7-6)? The Rams (6-7)? Four of those games were at home too! If the answer is 'yes', then isn't it time to reconsider how good this team truly is?! If the answer is 'no', then my point is made.

Frankly, I think it's "appalling" the level of "square peg-round hole" logic that has been used in vain and utterly futile attempts to "resurrect" a QB who has a history littered with mediocre performance and even poor performance vs. any team that is good and there are plenty of fans that fully agree with me on that point. I'm also appalled and saddened by the failure of the coaching staff and front office to admit to a huge mistake in bringing Humpty to Buffalo and more recently the refusal to sign a cheap free agent and spend the leftover $7 M on line help!

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, not a shred of evidence in Humpty's dossier that suggests he is even capable of having a good game in a playoff environment. Some fans will try to pull a single drive or half-a-drive from playoff game from among absolutely abysmal performance on the game otherwise to attempt to feebly justify such a notion, but the facts speak, no, scream out that Humpty is "playoff incapable." What else I find "appalling" is that we have coaches, and a GM, stubbornly hanging onto ridiculous notions that they can change what has been set in stone for well over a decade now. It is highly depressing as a fan of this team. Yet, the foolishness continues.

As to our playoff possibilities, no, I do think that they are far-fetched. We don't own a single tie-breaker if my analysis is correct. We have to win every single game and while it was nice beating scrub teams such as Seattle, the Rams, Arizona, Miami twice, and now Cleveland, I find it highly unlikely and improbable that we will beat both Cincy on the road and the Steelers in what is now shaping up to be perhaps a game that they'll need to win in order to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. There is no evidence to suggest that it will happen.

And just suppose for a brief moment that the "inconceivable" does happen. What are the chances that Humpty will play well enough vs. teams that he simply hasn't played well against for seasons now, such that we can rely on him to not play Santa in January and give the game to our opponents? There's plenty of evidence suggesting he will, that McGahee will not run well vs. such teams, that our D won't show up for four full Qs and hold those opponents to few enough points to win.

Once again, this will boil down to a hindsight evaluation. If we make the playoffs, then it will all make sense. If we end up getting dusted by Pittsburgh, then everything thing that I've been saying and am most concerned about will have become fully validated. If we drop two games, likely to Cincy and Pittsburgh, then it will become even clearer as this team finishes 8-8 while only capable of beating scrubs just as it has throughout the Commander Tom-Humpty era now. If the latter happens, then you'll have all kinds of fans saying that we should have started Losman, we should have done this or that.

But as I see it, best case for us is making the playoffs on notions of a ridiculously easy schedule yet fully unprepared and incapable of beating solid teams on equal terms. Assuming that happens, is it worth, would it have been worth postponing Losman's development for next season? I don't think it will have. Anything short of that "best case" scenario and it definitely would not have been. And why? All because the notions of this team being better than it actually is was built on sand and is a house-of-cards that I've been saying it is all along.

Will I admit that perhaps my analysis has fallen short? You bet I will, as soon as we beat Pittsburgh and decisively handle Cincy on the road! Not a game sooner. Wins over scrubs and teams at .500 or worse are no different that what I and many other fans have seen for two seasons now. Simply because there are more of them on the schedule does not alter the true competitiveness of this team.

Great e-mail Larry!!!

Thanks!!

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E-mail #2:

Mark,

I have to thank you for putting in print everything I have been trying to tell people about the latest Bills "resurgence" (and I use the term lightly). I enjoy watching Buffalo not lose but beating up on hapless Miami and Cleveland teams is less than satisfying. This playoff hype is getting old, this is a 7-6 team that has beaten: Miami twice, Cleveland, and three NFC West teams (the worse division in football) for 6 of those 7 wins. One quality win against the Jets is all they have to brag about. On the off chance that these guys sneak into the playoffs, I think we are looking at an embarrassing one and done on the road. I look for Buffalo to whomp the 49ers while the hype gets worse, maybe (I would not put money on it) sneak by Cincy and get blown out by the Stealers (playing hard to maintain home field advantage) at home for the last game of the season.

McGahee mania is worrying me as well, 27 for 105 is still less than 4 yards per carry and now he's fumbling the ball?! The Browns were a perfect team for him to have 120 yards in 3 quarters against, but he needed mop up carries to reach 100. Thanks for keeping it real about the situation. It s also annoying that blinded Bills fans and hyped up sports writers feel the need to denigrate the accomplishments of Travis Henry to help build up the McGahee hype. The man deserves better and I still need to see a 150-yard, 4+ yards per carry performance by McGahee against a quality team before I'll start believing. He had his chance against the Pats but he blew it (with the rest of the team). Maybe I'm crazy but I think if Travis Henry was healthy and got the same amount of carries as McGahee he would have similar if not better numbers. This "spark" phenomenon is nothing more than the offensive line blocking better against bad teams.

While its nice to see the Bills win and great to think that the draft pick they give Dallas won't be nearly as good as it could have been, these meaningless wins are just making the case for Donahoe to be back next year. That's scary.

In summary, love your take on things, thanks for the reality check.

Andy C.

Response:

Very nicely summed up. I would only add that "how far down the draft list" Dallas is does not impact us going forward nor does it recoup lost draft picks. It does knock us down just as many spots in round two and later rounds however. As fun as it is to wish for them moving down in the draft, it's far more detrimental for us to slip 10 or 15 spots in every single round after that, especially in round two where having a much earlier pick may land a player that slipped past the first round.

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E-mail #3:

How you feeling about your team? I still think they beat Cincy

Nick Romano, AFC East Report Analyst, NY Jets

Response:

The D still doesn't play well vs. solid teams. I'll know more after the Cincy game (D) and the Steeler game (all around).

I'm not sold yet. You have to keep in mind, that throughout the Humpty-Commander Tom era this team has had little difficulty beating teams that end up finishing .500 or worse. Yet, they have struggled immensely vs. teams that finish above .500 with .500 (or so) teams falling either way. The only times over the past three seasons, with only one exception v. your Jets in 2002 I believe, the Bills have not beaten a winning team w/o some sort of serious mitigating circumstance.

As well, fans are too quick to forget how horridly the D played just last week vs. Miami, not exactly the '90s version of the Niners offensively in allowing them to have their biggest game of the year.

What I see is a team where by-and-large in wins vs. poor teams, either the D or O shows up and often in conjunction with the STs, but rarely both and rarely for an entire 4 Qs. Yesterday for example, the O didn't really show up. It was the D that carried the day and set up 17 of the team's 37 with the second team O adding 7 more on the most impressive drive of the day. The first team O generated only 139 net yards and 17 points, all of which came courtesy of the D, in the first half with the worst starting FP being the Bills' own 48 and twice in Cleveland territory once only resulting in a FG.

And speaking of starting field position, few, if any, media members and analysts have pointed out the extreme change in field starting field position this season over last on drives resulting in TDs. It's approaching a 20-yard delta over that of last season for TD-producing drives. That's an enormous delta that doesn't seem to figure into anyone's analysis yet which is extremely relevant. It becomes even more relevant when one realizes that the odds of the Bills scoring from within their own half of the field are actually lower than last season. As a case-in-point, what if the field position were reversed from last season to this one; would the O be experiencing as much "success" as it has? I don't think so and all the hard facts support that it would not be.

I'm not impressed! The defense is too erratic and the offense is no better than it was last season only being pushed along "T-Ball" style by the D and STs but unable to generate long, extended, time-consuming and consistent drives on its own. As a case in point, the last drive by the second-team offense vs. the Browns generated almost as many yards as the three other TD drives by the first team offense, largely set up by the D, and took nearly a minute more time off the clock than all three of those drives combined.

Would this streak, our record, the points scored, etc. be the same if our opponents were the AFC West instead of the NFC West? I don't think they would.

But hey, I could be wrong. There is nothing concrete to date however to suggest anything to the contrary however. So I'm more of a "show me" skeptic in this case.

We'll see. Cincy certainly does not provide any sort of defensive challenge although they've held Pittsburgh to 19 recently, even though they allowed Cleveland to amass 48. But they also have beaten Baltimore in Baltimore recently and scored 27 against a Baltimore defense that is better in Baltimore than the Bills will likely be in Cincy. They also have beaten Denver as a second team headed for the playoffs possibly and they beat both teams without any serious mitigating circumstances unlike the Bills having beaten your Jets coming off a big Monday Night game but unable to beat similar teams otherwise. They also abused Kyle Boller and Jake Plummer whom Humpty is very much like in many ways in terms of begging for abuse.

If I had to guess, this game will be competitive, but Cincy is yet only another team on-or-about .500 caliber, no better at present. The true test, will be vs. Pittsburgh where that game for the Steelers is looking more and more as if it will mean something. With the Steelers and Pats tied up at 12-1, and the Steelers having beaten the Pats, and with the Pats having the Dolphins and Jets on the road followed by the Niners at home, and with the Steelers at the Giants, hosting Baltimore, and then at the Ralph, the Bills/Steelers game will likely have quite a bit of meaning for the Steelers.

That will essentially be a playoff game of sorts, although to a lesser extent in that it would only give them homefield throughout the playoffs, yet nonetheless, for the Steelers. So I am hoping that the game means that much to them so that we'll have a very good gauge as to how "playoff competitive" this team truly is at that point. The Bills will likely be playing as hard as possible in that the game will either mean a winning record (9-7) on the season or perhaps even 10 wins if they manage to beat the Bengals on the road. The Niners, even out on the Left Coast is almost a given win much as the Browns were. The Niners, Browns, and Dolphins along with the Titans and Raiders are the worst teams in the league easily. Some teams may be worse either offensively or defensively, but overall, both sides considered, those are the worst five teams in the league. And oh, just by-the-way, three of the Bill's current seven wins with the other teams not exactly being teams that inspire fear with the exception of your Jets and within the parameters mentioned above.

Either way, I'm thinking that the Bills will be unable to stop the Bengals' O and have to play far more efficient offense than they have this season by-and-large even throughout this four-game winning streak and certainly more so than yesterday's performance vs. the Browns. The Bengals are not going to hand the ball to the Bills' D as readily as many teams have this season. (Arizona, Browns, Miami, St. Louis) The Bills' O is going to have to earn the points in this game is my guess. Given that McGahee has by-and-large only "shone" late in games after games are well in hand, this will create an interesting scenario.

I have no idea what is going to happen anymore on any given Sunday with these Bills. All I know is that to date this "winning theme" has been built at the hands of the weak and feeble. This team may in fact be "playoff caliber", but as of now, beating up the physically retarded teams, particularly offensively speaking, is no clear indicator of that to be sure.

Thanks Chris!

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E-mail #4:

Mark,

I've been reading your opinions on the Bills since preseason. I, too, am not a fan of Donahoe or Bledsoe for many of the reasons you've stated. I doubt Donahoe will ever have a position of power in the NFL again. While the average fan might not be on to him, the real football people can see how ineptly/negligently he has blown an opportunity not only to restore this franchise to respectability, but also to begin another era of excellence. As for Bledsoe, He never was great and he's barely serviceable now. I have hopes that he is settling in and accepting/playing within his limited skills, keeping sacks and turnovers to a minimum and making throws with "Montana" like precision.

I would like to say this about McGahee. I consider this his rookie year. For him to perform this well coming off that injury (the replay still makes my stomach turn) is nothing short of remarkable. I think you're over analyzing his play a bit and, to be fair, you can't cry the blues on how we've neglected the OL and then be critical that he hasn't crushed inferior defenses. One last thing, in my opinion, Losman is not the savior so many fans think him to be. Ben Roethlisberger is a serious exception as to what to expect from an unseasoned QB. Losman will struggle and may or may not pan out. One thing for sure, Bills fans will suffer through another season of frustration and disappointment again next year.

Thanks, Mike Z..

Response:

Hey Mike,

I doubt Donahoe will ever have a position of power in the NFL again.

I can't agree with you more! Once this charade ends and this house-of-cards blows over unquestionably, then I believe he will return to the media. As I've stated often, he's more suited to employment in the marketing department of some consumer goods company. He's a very good marketer, but he's the type that would sell "special" ice to an eskimo before moving onto another sales job.

While the average fan might not be on to him, the real football people can see how ineptly/negligently he has blown an opportunity not only to restore this franchise to respectability, but also to begin another era of excellence.

Again, very nicely summarized! This will all come home to roost next season when, depending upon his handling of the decimation of our lines in free agency, we are completely non-competitive vs. above .500 teams, again!

As for Bledsoe, He never was great and he's barely serviceable now.

Yes. Most of my readers, if they have one fear, it is seeing Humpty as the starter next season too. Make no mistake, if he's on the team, he'll be the starter. Any talk of "competing the position" will simply be a smokescreen. Commander Tom's fully intent on riding Humpty to success or taking this team straight into the ground. This team will be a shell of what it is this season in 2007. Commander Tom has opted to use aging vets, ala marketing, in rebuilding this team, not solid drafting and acquisition of less expensive but more viable and far greater "value-for-the-money" types of players. He's a carrot chaser big time. What I mean by that is that he's after the carrot on the end of the string that horses chase to keep them pulling the wagon. They never get the carrot itself, but it's always out in front of them and they keep walking thinking it will eventually get to them. He uses that approach with fans and media.

I have hopes that he is settling in and accepting/playing within his limited skills, keeping sacks and turnovers to a minimum and making throws with "Montana" like precision.

Well, that's fine, but it'll never take this team far in the playoffs! One thing that many have failed to notice is that teams have rarely blitzed us this season, something that we would assuredly see in the playoffs, especially if we were to be behind, which is almost a given in any playoff game we'd be in. That spells disaster for Humpty and simply b/c he's had two good games vs. two scrub teams in the absence of much blitzing, it does not mean anything more. He has never in a dozen seasons now had a solid playoff game, ever. For it to happen in the future is ill-founded.

I would like to say this about McGahee. I consider this his rookie year. For him to perform this well coming off that injury (the replay still makes my stomach turn) is nothing short of remarkable. I think you're over analyzing his play a bit and, to be fair, you can't cry the blues on how we've neglected the OL and then be critical that he hasn't crushed inferior defenses.

I don't think I'm overanalyzing at all. In fact, I think I've hit the nail right on the head regarding McGahee. The media is all over him as if he himself is the reason for us winning. I will agree with all of your content about him in the above statement, but your statement is well short of the overblown hype being floated in the media. Travis Henry did more for this team in generating wins for us in 2002 and 2003. McGahee hasn't "won" a single game for us. Henry did many and ran far better in his 100-yard games overall than McGahee has. McGahee's has had relevant TDs in only one game this season and even those were primarily set ups with him largely only generating TDs once set up. He did little to help set them up.

What we're reading: "He's some sort of amazing superstar" for the most part. Truth: He hasn't carried a single game on his shoulders. Simply because he racks up yardage after the game is well within control is no big feat.

Why fans seem to think I'd like McGahee to break a leg, be bad, or anything else is beyond me. I'm hoping for the guy to become the second coming of Tomlinson, Ahman Green, or Priest Holmes. But so far he's not even achieved what Henry has over the past two seasons. It can be spun anyway people want it spun, but facts are facts. So I'm only calling it the way it is. Why should I call a RB great when after the team is up by 21 points in a hopeless blowout for our opponent, he ran well after that but offered little, if anything in getting us to a 21-point lead?

There is no reason, yet, the media looks at the numbers apart from any other meaningful analysis or performance breakdown and crowns him the next RB superstar. He can "break the long one at any time!" Oh yeah, then why does he have a 3.8 yards-per-carry average and a long run of less then Henry's last season, and that only on a misdirection play and not via the simple talent that "allows him to break the long one at any time?" His long is 31-yards otherwise. He may be capable, but as of yet he hasn't done it. Cleveland and San Fran will be good games for him to do that. (Cleveland post game note: It didn't happen….again!)

As to McGahee, I'm waiting for two things: first, for him to make it through this season without any injury whatsoever! He's gotten up a few too many times limping for my liking. Second, for him to breakout next season and provide something, other than "picking up the blitz", that Henry never provided. That means some serious corner speed, a burst after initial contact that just allows him to accelerate downfield for those long gains we've heard about but have not yet materialized, an ability to carry three or four defenders on his back to get those crucial yards (something that Henry has already shown), and a serious improvement in picking holes that he presently struggles with, among other things which as of yet have not happened.

One last thing, in my opinion, Losman is not the savior so many fans think him to be. Ben Roethlisberger is a serious exception as to what to expect from an unseasoned QB. Losman will struggle and may or may not pan out. One thing for sure, Bills fans will suffer through another season of frustration and disappointment again next year.

Well, same as for Losman as with McGahee. We won't know until we see him play for two or three seasons. Thus the relevance in getting him some solid playing time this season, which is now too late. Roeth is clearly an exception. What would also be an exception is for another 1983 QB season to bear out. That was over 20 years ago now and it's not repeated itself since. Yet, the media keeps talking about a repeat of the '83 QB draft every offseason during which 3+ QBs are selected in the first round. The odds are low for any 1st-round QB emerging as such. Roeth has, telling me that the mathematical odds are now lower for Losman, Manning, or Rivers. Rivers cooked his own goose by holding out this season!

Either way, I know what I saw out of Losman in the preseason, namely laser accurate passes on every single pass he threw! I'd like to see more and am highly optimistic for him if not for the team next season. Either way, for him to not provide what Humpty has he'd have to be a bust. Humpty still retains title to the most overrated QB on the season and in the history of the game to be sure.

On Bills fans suffering through yet a fifth season under what now will assuredly be another Commander Tom tenured season, yes, I agree. Jennings, Price, Edwards, Pat Williams are all free agents this offseason and the odds of us retaining all of them are slim to none. Price is only a vet-min/$1M journeyman backup lineman anyway. Williams, as much as I hate to say it given his having been the sole force on the Bills line with little help for seasons, is now clearly past his prime easily. He is also an average or below-average DT now regrettably. Adams' days are numbered although he's had a very solid season. Jennings is likely gone. Moulds, the choice is in his hands. If he opts to not restructure, he's gone too. His option. Harrison's ridiculous contract for a 32-year old WR won't help matters there.

I fully believe that the players are awaiting the outcome of this season prior to making their decisions. Money and opportunities/interest elsewhere will also factor in. But if we lose to the Bengals and Steelers, or the Niners to be sure, I believe that would pave the way for the onset of an exodus of players out of Buffalo as I've warned about over the past 24 months or so. Maybe not though, who knows.

Great e-mail Mike!!

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E-mail #5:

You have outdone even yourself this time - I am of course referring to 'twas the night before football. Having grown up in Rochester I became a Bills fan at a very young age and have stuck with them for a good 25 years now. I have only this year stumbled upon your weekly columns and I have to say that I find them to be a nice mix of biting sarcasm and thorough analysis. I think you're right about the some of the BS spin coming from the top out there, especially about Bledsoe. It's time for someone in the front office to say, "he's a great guy but he's lost (or maybe never had)the ability to take a team all the way." But at the same time I would hate to be a Giant's fan right now...the season started w/ a lot of promise and now, thanks to Coughlin's decision to go w/ Eli, their playoff hopes are all but dashed. I realize there's more than Eli responsible for their slide but I live in NYC so it's hard to watch the losing week after week. You want to talk about spin control...the Giants organization even has the team coming out and yelling back at the media in defense of Manning.

Anyway, keep up the writing and happy holidays.

Chris G.

Response:

LOL...

Thanks Chris!

At least the Giants will hit the ground running next season with Manning. That's why I'm not a big fan of drafting a QB in round one. Most don't work out, and while the pedigree is solid, it's no guarantee. As well, with Roeth looking so good in Pitt the odds for the other three QBs selected early in this draft succeeding just went down, statistically speaking of course. You waste years if you draft a guy high, pay him millions, and he's nothing ala Schuler and Leaf relatively recently to name a few among many others.

In Buffalo it's gonna take a good half a season at minimum, and that would be with a large degree of luck, or as much as two full seasons otherwise to get Losman to the point where he's capable otherwise. This would have been the perfect season to start him. This house-of-cards perception will fall over soon with the Cincy and Pitt games is my guess. But Humpty's a fully known quantity. The team, and media, using a couple of games, that's it, a couple of games to try and prove anything is ignorant and misleading.

They'll use it to build more notions of faulty successes and an excuse to waste more time. What most fans don't seem to realize is that this team is fast aging and has numerous players ready to fall off due to either free agency, age related ineffectiveness, or simply team disfavor. Most of that core of players will be gone after 2006 or playing at levels less than what we've gotten from them to date easily.

This team's management fails to realize one big thing, that at some point you want all aspects of the team coming together at once or very close to at once. But at the rate it's going just as the O gets up to speed, our D will be falling apart/off. There is simply little strategic management occurring here. Special teams has played insanely this season and is the only real and easily the primary (by a long shot) improvement from last season to this one. But it cannot be expected that they're going to play this way every season, especially as the schedule toughens up, which it will almost do due to the simple notion that it can barely be much easier than it's been this season and easily the easiest of the past four seasons all things considered.

Anyway, I digress, but this team, in it's own interests, should have been playing Losman by now. They have no real chance of making the playoffs and won't. But even for diehards who will cling to mathematical hopes in spite of anything suggesting astronomical odds like shipwrecked sailors cling to a lifeboat, even if the Bills "made the playoffs", there isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that they would be competitive with any single team in them in the AFC that has an equal amount of time to prepare. Not one thing!

But, given that this is a media-driven team from a management perspective, fans can expect Commander Tom and the media brigade to juice the orange for every last mili-ounce in attempts to justify their decision making. This should frighten the daylights out of fans truly seeking a playoff caliber team and an improvement because it translates to management by perceptions, not realities.

If Humpty is the QB entering next season, then by the time this offense is playoff capable, other parts of the team will likely not be. The Bills have a good enough defense now although they only seem to play well vs. scrub offenses and even then only for quarters at a time. Nevertheless, between them and the special teams, if we had an O we'd be competitive. Dusting some bad teams means simply that, that we dusted some bad teams. You can't constantly get routed and dominated by playoff caliber teams and make a realistic argument that none of that would matter in the playoffs! Yet, this is what is now occurring. If we can beat the Steelers in a meaningful game for them and one in which they need to win, then that would spell out something different perhaps. Until then however, "if ‘ifs' and ‘buts' were candy and nuts…"

If Losman starts next season, which is doubtful now on this team which is led by weak perceptions and not reality, then this season was wasted in getting him up to speed possibly costing us either next season in the event that he is a quick learner, or the following season if not, given that he will have gotten no meaningful playing time this season. It really is that simple. Yet, to expect our team to figure that out, well....

Thanks for the note Chris!!!

Mark

GO BILLS!!!

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net


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