The T.O. Watch has been temporarily shut down, replaced by a far more serious chain of events that can only be described as shocking.
First, commissioner Roger Goodell announced running back Marshawn Lynch would be watching the Bills' first three games from the sidelines, a penalty that was deserved if not predictable.
Less predictable, though, were the events of the past six days. After marching out a supposedly shiny no-huddle offensive scheme that had fans wondering if it was 1992 again, the Bills axed offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and replaced him with former quarterback and QB coach Alex Van Pelt.
As if that wasn't enough, they'll line up Sunday without recently cut Langston Walker, Pro Bowler Jason Peters' supposed replacement as Trent Edwards' blindside protector. In his place will be rookie Demetrius Bell, an athletic seventh-round, second-year man who started playing football just five years ago. Bell will be joined by two rookies at guard (Andy Levitre and Eric Wood), a new center (Geoff Hangartner) and a converted tackle (Brad Butler). Only Butler remains from last year's squad.
No worries, though. They're only playing the Patriots.
In what has become a yearly rite, Dick Jauron's Bills can look forward to another season opener of missed assignments, poor communication, youthful inexperience and terrible judgment. And a good old hearty laugh courtesy of Bill Belichick.
Yes, Van Pelt will have a chance to reveal his take on the no-huddle (he'll have a whole 216 hours to put it together), but knowing Jauron's penchant for stagnant offense and conservative defense, we'll see a whole lot of consistency.
Consistency. That was owner Ralph Wilson's explanation for keeping Jauron on board at the end of last season. The players like him, he said, and shaking up a team to start from scratch didn't seem too appealing.
And three days before the season opener, the Bills have the worst of both worlds—woeful inexperience and inconsistency at the offense's most crucial positions and a genuine commitment to Jauron's horrible status quo.
Walker's departure is only the latest straw in a tumultuous week, but his lack of effort doesn't say much about the team culture. Sure, the guy was forced to accept the unenviable position of left tackle on a team looking for a breakthrough year from its young quarterback. But it was the best chance to make a name for himself Walker's ever had. If a guy can't get up for that, then something's wrong.
A few days before firing Schonert, the Bills closed practice to the media for the first time in years. It seemed peculiar at the time but looks telling now. The Bills had good reason not to want to reveal the crumbling of their roster and scheme.
But unfortunately for fans, tuning out what results in New England won't be so simple. At least they still have T.O.
Charlie Specht is an analyst for BuffaloFootballReport.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.